Hyperion's discovery came shortly after John Herschel had suggested names for the seven previously-known satellites of Saturn in his 1847 publication Results of Astronomical Observations made at the Cape of Good Hope. Lassell, who saw Hyperion two days after Bond, had already endorsed Herschel's naming scheme and suggested the name Hyperion in accordance with it. He also beat Bond to publication.
Hyperion has a porosity of about 0.46 .
Hyperion's surface is covered with deep, sharp-edged craters that give it the appearance of a giant sponge. Dark material fills the bottom of each crater. The reddish substance contains long chains of carbon and hydrogen and appears very similar to material found on other Saturnian satellites, most notably Iapetus.
The latest analyses of data obtained by NASA's Cassini spacecraft during its flybys of Hyperion in 2005 and 2006 show that about 40 percent of the moon is empty space. It was suggested in July 2007 that this porosity allows craters to remain nearly unchanged over the eons. The new analyses also confirmed that Hyperion is composed mostly of water ice with very little rock. "We find that water ice is the main constituent of the surface, but it's dirty water ice," said Dale Cruikshank, a researcher at NASA Ames Research Center.
The Voyager 2 images and subsequent ground based photometry indicate that Hyperion's rotation is chaotic, that is, its axis of rotation wobbles so much that its orientation in space is unpredictable. Hyperion is the only known moon in the solar system that rotates chaotically, but simulations suggest that other irregular satellites may have done so in the past. It is unique among the large moons in that it is very irregularly shaped, has a fairly eccentric orbit, and is near another large moon, Titan. These factors combine to restrict the set of conditions under which a stable rotation is possible. The 3:4 orbital resonance between Titan and Hyperion may also make a chaotic rotation more likely. The odd rotation probably accounts for the relative uniformity of Hyperion's surface, in contrast to many of Saturn's other moons which have contrastive trailing and leading hemispheres.