Never thought we'd ever utter these words, but... can anyone recommend a spin doctor for NASA? | 3/14/2019 | Staff
AavyAavy (Posted by) Level 4
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Bennu, the asteroid targeted by NASA for its OSIRIS-Rex mission, is spinning at increasing rate and scientists aren’t quite sure why.

The asteroid, shaped somewhat like a tabletop spinner, is rotating faster and faster, taking one fewer second to rotate per hundred years. It may not sound like much, but given enough time, the whole asteroid might tear itself apart, according to a team of astronomers.

NASA - Spacecraft - Stalking - Asteroid - Aim

But don’t worry, NASA's OSIRIS-REx spacecraft stalking and surveying the asteroid, with the aim to extract and analyze a sample from its surface, won’t be in any danger any time soon. It’ll take millions of years before anything dramatic happens.

Bennu, measuring 510 metres from top to bottom, completes a full rotation every 4.3 hours while whipping around the Sun at an average speed of 63,000 miles per hour. It's, on average, 105 million miles from the Sun, close to Earth's 93-million-mile orbit.

Researchers - Records - Observations - Bennu - Motion

The researchers dug through records of observations of Bennu, studying its motion at three different times: in 1999, 2005, and 2012. They found a discrepancy when they looked at the asteroid’s rotation speed.

“You couldn’t make all three of them fit quite right,” said Mike Nolan, a senior research scientist at the University...
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