Cassini performed back-to-back flybys of Saturn moons Tethys and Hyperion last weekend, coming closer than ever before to each of them. Tethys has a scarred, ancient surface, while Hyperion is a strange, spongy-looking body with dark-floored craters that speckle its surface. New images, mosaics and a movie of these bodies are available at http://ciclops.org, http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov and http://www.nasa.gov/cassini.
Images of Tethys taken during Cassinis close approach to the moon on Sept. 24, 2005, reveal an icy land of steep cliffs and craters. Cassini photographed the moons south pole, a region not seen by NASAs Voyager spacecraft.
A giant rift called Ithaca Chasma cuts across the disk of Tethys. Much of the topography in this region, including that of Ithaca Chasma, has been thoroughly hammered by impacts. This appearance suggests that the event that created Ithaca Chasma happened very long ago. Near a prominent peaked crater named Telemachus are the remnants of a very old crater named Teiresias. The ancient impact site is badly overprinted and eroded by impact weathering and degradation. All that remains is a circular pattern of hummocks that mark where the old crater rim existed. Many of the fresh-appearing craters exhibit unusually bright crater floors, in contrast to the dark-floored craters seen on Saturns oddly tumbling moon Hyperion. Images of Hyperion taken on Sept. 26 show a surface dotted with craters and modified by some process, not yet understood, to create a strange, "spongy" appearance, unlike the surface of any other Saturn moon.
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