back to article 'Puzzling structures on surface' of YU55 spaceball

NASA boffins have released a short video clip of the huge dead-black spaceball YU55, roughly the size of a nuclear aircraft carrier, which barrelled past Earth inside the Moon's orbit last night. They say it shows "puzzling structures" on the surface of the mysterious cosmic spheroid. As YU55 is blacker than charcoal to …


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    1. MacGyver

      Hubble? The space-based telescope, not the corspe of the dead astronomer.

      A better question would be "why don't we ever point the Hubble at things. Now, understand I have no idea where the Hubble is other than "in space", I have no idea if it can move, no idea if it can focus on things less than millions of light years away, and no idea if anything like "the Earth" would have been between the Hubble and the flying rock.

      So it really was just a question, I would like to know why we never see pictures of Mars or anything else other than galaxies far-far away.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @ everyone who responded and downvoted me

      Haha, you 'tards... I thought that was soooo blatently sarcastic everyone would spot it was a joke! Either you're all American, or evidently people are sleepvoting on Wednesdays.


  1. Christoph

    What's puzzling?

    The structures are obviously the lids over the Clanger tunnels.

  2. goats in pajamas

    Cheated again.

    I thought it was the Big Breasted Space Amazons from How'sYerFather Prime come to rescue me from mundanity.

  3. Nick Gisburne

    It's a potato

    Keith Lemon can presumably confirm it.

  4. Anonymous Coward


    Way to work the word "nuclear" in there to ramp up the FUD, Reg. :) How big is a nuclear aircraft carrier compared to a regular one? (What do the other ones run on anyway?)

    BTW, us yankees only understand how big things are if you measure them in football fields. :)

    1. Chris 244

      Stupid Merkin or Obvious Troll?

      Nuclear carrier ~100 000 tons

      Non-nuclear carrier ~10-20 000 tons powered by gas turbines and/or diesel engines

      I would be interested in knowing how you would convert from a unit of mass into "football" fields.

      1. Graham Dawson Silver badge

        A fully-occupied stadium surrounding a football would have a particular, known mass that could be short-handed to "football field" in a pinch.

      2. Rob Dobs

        you wouldn't

        But really when trying to "see" the size of this object the actual size and not mass may be easier to visualize. You could measure its diameter and divide that by 100 yards. Pretty simple really

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Warren James Palmer wrote a trilogy about an alien race that quickly conquered our earth by towing huge asteroids behind their ships and then releasing them to fall upon the major cities of our planet. Saves money in the long run I guess. Are we sure there's just the one asteroid and nothing else distorting the stars in the inky blackness...?

    1. Chris 244

      Ever heard of Robert A. Heinlein?

      Many years ago I read a certain book called The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. I'm pretty sure Mr. Palmer read it, too.

      1. IsJustabloke

        I CHOOSE to enoble a simple forum post!

        Not to mention Messrs Niven and Pournelle's Footfall

  6. Michael H.F. Wilkinson

    To put the resolution into perspective

    resolving 4m at 300,000 km is an angular resolution of 0.00275 seconds of arc. My 8" telescope does just 0.57 seconds of arc.

    So yeah, HD would be possible easily, if you pad the image with a sufficient number of black pixels

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Blacker as charcoal ?

    What might be interesting here is that this description was also once used to describe the surface of Halley's comet.

    Just saying'

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      How much more black could this be?

      None. None more black.

      1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson

        So black it hurts the eyes!

        According to Zaphod Beeblebrox, at least

    2. John 62


      Is it as black as a priest's socks? Those priests' socks you get in Habithat are properly black. Any other black socks are just really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really dark blue. You shouldn't get black socks from anywhere else: they're only out to shaft you.

  8. Graham Dawson Silver badge

    Putting on a serious face for a moment, I have to assume that the "puzzling structures" refers to the apparent, enormous crater that seems to be just about visible on the right, almost facing us as it rotates in to view. A lot of very small objects in the solar system appear to have these very large craters and they're quite a problem for current models, as the force required to make such a large crater would generally be enough to pulverise the object being impacted.

    The most well known is Phobos, which has a crater on one end that almost can't be explained. Theories have been mooted as to how such a crater could be formed but none are really quite adequate. Research, as they say, is ongoing.

    1. Rob Dobs

      Very simple

      YU55 is Solid Gold (or more realistically solid Iron) it was struck by a large granite (or softer) type rock.

      Did the people who make current models not consider the general idea that things can be made from different substances with different strengths?

      Another very simple proposal. Large moon sized object (with existing crater in its surface) it blasted into several large pieces by very fast moving hard object. One piece (with crater still on surface) goes shooting through galaxy and over time of colliding with many tiny objects in the universe gets a relatively round shape, with large surface crater in-tact.

      Or maybe its a cleverly disguised Ion cannon..?

      1. Graham Dawson Silver badge

        Not so simple. It's stupendously rare for objects in space to meet at anything other than relatively enormous speeds, which is why the problem exists - at such speeds the objects in question would shatter regardless of their composition.

        And, whatever idea is picked, it has to explain why there are so many of them here in our solar system. If it were just one or two it could be put down to fortuitous meetings and unusual circumstances, but the number of objects that display these characteristics has moved well beyond the realms of random chance into "good god that's scary". That's why there's a somewhat unacknowledged problem with the current models. They can't account for the number of these objects with craters so large that they should have been destroyed by the impact.

        For asteroids there are proposals that many are actually loose conglomerations of material held together by microgravity, which works to a certain extend but can't explain Phobos and other solid objects with similar features.

        So research is ongoing. :)

        1. Rob Dobs

          still seems simple

          OK so as you say these multiple objects we've seen are just bits of debris from larger objects held together in a sphere, why can't some of the larger pieces of debris still carry the scars (craters) of impacts with their previous larger body (before it was broken up)

          Also maybe there used to be more objects moving at a slower speed, but more of them got captured by planets and other objects, and now we only see more object moving at a higher speed.

          Don't stop the research or anything, but really not a terrible bit mystery to me.

  9. David Kelly 2

    Phineas & Ferb?

    I expected to see "Phineas & Ferb" etched on the surface. :-(

  10. TS

    Mass of Aircraft carriers


    "I would be interested in knowing how you would convert from a unit of mass into "football" fields."

    Sorry, we Americans don't understand mass, only size. Bigger'n aircraft carrier, we understand. As massive as an aircraft carrier may get through. 3X the mass of an aircraft carrier will draw blank stares.

    As for nuclear vs. non-nuclear, the JFK wasn't that much smaller than Nimitz class. It displaced less, but again, we don't understand mass, only football fields.

  11. Anonymous Coward

    The puzzling structures.....

    Are acne. Don't stare at the zits, YU55 is self-conscious about them.

    I for one welcome our poorly complexioned, humanity-harvesting overlord, and I would like to remind him that as a marketing professional I am ideally placed to entice my fellow humans into his digestive tentacles!!

  12. John McCallum


    Isn't that one of the reasons that the Russians are trying to get a sample return mission to Mars orbit?

  13. Will Godfrey Silver badge

    but does it have rounded corners?

  14. Stu 18

    Damm fault on the black

    And the set goes to Alexandar Demtetri Schamozzacoff... what a night he is having...

  15. Charlie van Becelaere

    I for one

    welcome our puzzlingly structured asteroidal overlords.

  16. Crasho

    It's not an asteroid, it's an advertisement

    For your information, that is a 3D holographic projection of a minecraft sphere as part of a huge advertising campaign put out by a partnership with Pixar and Madison avenue for Apple. Since minecraft is the cool game, Apple has co-opted it as a platform for Steve jobs to make his last Keynote address and to make it one no one will ever forget. As it gets closer the 'structures' will become more apparent until it stops spinning and is stationary and Steve Jobs will speak from the grave announcing the latest product from Apple. The ultimate in presentations. Why do you think they rolled out the 4S and not the 5?

    Now you know. And soon the whole world will as well.

  17. I am the Walrus

    So it's a black object on a black background.

    Do the interesting structures on the surface spell out "Disaster Area" by any chance? I'll grab my coat, or should that be towel?

  18. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    Impact crater?

    To me it looked like there could be a large impact crater, like Mimas has. This would at least be a bit odd.

  19. Fr. Ted Crilly

    erm who's lifted my disaster area deathship


  20. Andrew_b65

    Time travel

    It's clearly what's left of Moonbase Alpha transported back from the, er, past in 1999 after it so cruelly exploded, whilst in some strange time paradox our own version of the Moon still exists.

  21. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

    Is This a Cosmic Design?

    What are the dimensions of those... structures?

  22. Wombling_Free


    Oh, they're just ditches.

    In neat, rectangular rows....

  23. Winkypop Silver badge

    Jesus, I've told you once before!

    ....don't throw stones in space!

    - God *

    * were it to exist

  24. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    Extraordinary CodeXSSXXXX Rendering

    Does anyone else, watching that short looped video clip, see it as a glans penis? For NASA shafting of ...... well, their revenue stream is drying up and sexy alien play would certainly be a universal game changer. They will have to admit though that the mysterious East has fabulous hidden treasures which can easily attract leading master pilots/space cadets/ to their fantastic programs which are bound to have learned from the expensive mistakes that delivered so very little with all that has gone before, ergo can one expect a wholly different program to be produced and broadbandcasted with definite vision in an indefinite discipline.

  25. Mark Berry

    It is clearly

    an Apple logo. They like to mark the things they patent.

  26. Matthew 17

    Russion Mars probe failure, coincidence?

    I think not, clearly more to this story.

    We've removed the ability to put people in space and will have everyone off the ISS in the next few weeks.

    The recession is obviously all part of the plan, to be revealed next year.

    Game over man, game over!


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