According to the press release from the NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Cassini Imaging Central Laboratory for Operations, the Cassini, spacecraft is going to make close approach to the odd shape Saturn’s moon, Hyperion on Saturday, May 31.
The spacecraft will pass Hyperion with about 21,000 miles or 34,000 kilometers between them, at approximately 9:36 a.m. or 6:36 a.m. PDT.
The images taken by the spacecraft is expected to arrive on Earth within 24 to 48 hours.
Scientists are having high hopes that they will encounter different terrain on Hyperion than the mission has previously explored in detail, but this is not guaranteed.
Hyperion rotated chaotically and unpredictably in space as it orbits Saturn. This is a problem because of its unpredictability; in most of the Cassini’s previous close approaches has encountered the similar face of the moon.
Hyperion is having low density for such a large object, about half that of water. So this low density makes the moon porous, with weak surface gravity.
This characteristic possessed by the moon tends it to compress when hit by an impactor, rather than excavating it and most material that is blown off the surface.
The next flyby of Cassini after May 31 is on June 16, when the spacecraft will pass 321 miles above icy Dione. The June flyby will be the mission’s penultimate close approach to that moon.
Cassini is going to make two close flybys of the Active moon Enceladus in October. It this flyby it will be as close as 30 miles.
In late 2015, the spacecraft will again depart Saturn’s equatorial plane, where moon flybys occur most frequently, to begin the year long setup of the mission’s final year.
Finally Cassini will repeatedly dive through the space between Saturn and its rings.
The Cassini-Huygens mission is a project of NASA, ESA and the Italian Space Agency.