Asteroid Bennu Is Spinning Faster Than Usual, Puzzling The Scientists


It seems that scientists have another mystery on their hands. A NASA probe explores the Asteroid Bennu, and it appears that it already noticed something strange. As it turns out, Asteroid Bennu is spinning faster than usual.

Until now, the rock has been spinning once every 4.3 hours. However, the researchers that work on the NASA OSIRIS-Rex mission observed that the Bennu’s rate of rotation is speeding up.

“As it speeds up, things ought to change, and so we’re going to be looking for those things and detecting this speed up gives us some clues as to the kinds of things we should be looking for,” explained Mike Nolan, lead author on the new research and a geophysicist at the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory at the University of Arizona, head of the OSIRIS-REx mission’s science team.”We should be looking for evidence that something was different in the fairly recent past and its conceivable things may be changing as we go,” he added.

Asteroid Bennu is now spinning much faster than usual, puzzling the scientists of the NASA’s OSIRIS-Rex mission

It appears that the data used by researchers was, in fact, the one collected by two telescopes between 1999 and 2005, to which they added data collected by the Hubble Space Telescope in 2012. When comparing the datasets, researchers observed that something isn’t right.

“You couldn’t make all three of them fit quite right,” Nolan explained. “That was when we came up with this idea that it had to be accelerating.”

That is quite a rare phenomenon, and scientists can’t determine the cause for Asteroid Bennu’s acceleration. There is one theory that says that the material which moves around on Asteroid Bennu is the one affecting the space rock’s rotation rate, as well as the material that leaves the asteroid for good. The Yarkovsky–O’Keefe–Radzievskii–Paddack (YORP) effect is another explanation. This effect is caused by sunlight.


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