back to article Never thought we'd ever utter these words, but... can anyone recommend a spin doctor for NASA?

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 …

  1. nagyeger

    Blame it on the thrusters

    It's a right pig to get them aligned properly.


    1. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: Blame it on the thrusters

      I think it's part of the braking effect as it gets ready to rendezvous with humanity.

      1. et tu, brute?

        Re: Blame it on the thrusters

        Or it's spinning up to provide gravity before it wakes it's sleepers...

        1. Rich 11 Silver badge

          Re: Blame it on the thrusters

          Sleepers? Nah. Take a closer look at the photo.

          It's a Borg cube.

    2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Blame it on the thrusters

      No, you can't blame it on the thrusters.


      Don't blame it on the sunshine.

      Don't blame it on the moonlight.

      Don't blame it on the good times.

      Blame it on the Yarkovsky‐O'Keefe‐Radzievskii‐Paddack effect

      BOOGIE sounds so much better than YORP, don't you think?

      1. mr_souter_Working

        Re: Blame it on the thrusters

        but they are blaming it on the Sunshine

        1. AndrueC Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          Re: Blame it on the thrusters

          So now the cube is walking on sunshine?

  2. Will Godfrey Silver badge

    Someone is 'avin a larf

    I'll console myself with a few of these ->

    First it was the rubber duck, then its dad, now we get an oversized OXO cube. I'm just expecting to hear they've found Ringworld.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Someone is 'avin a larf

      "I'm just expecting to hear they've found Ringworld."

      Under construction

    2. HildyJ Silver badge

      Re: Someone is 'avin a larf

      They did - Tabby's Star - but astronomers don't want to admit it.

      1. zuckzuckgo Bronze badge

        Re: Someone is 'avin a larf

        I think that is more like a Dyson sphere, and not the kind that sucks.

  3. Big_Boomer Silver badge


    Of course the fact that it's slowly losing it's volatiles and becoming more dense couldn't possibly explain the increase in spin? Think of a figure skater who pulls their arms in.

    1. Semtex451

      Re: Doofuses!

      “That was when we came up with this idea that it had to be accelerating.”

      Also, I miss the days when a boffin sounded like a boffin and used words like 'postulated'

      But perhaps I'm stuck in 1950's sci-fi land

      1. DropBear

        Re: Doofuses!

        ...even simply "concluded" would do...

        1. Semtex451

          Re: Doofuses!

          I suspect generation Z boffins are all on weed.

      2. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

        Re: Doofuses!

        If only they could tell us that whilst sucking on a pipe wistfully.....

    2. oldcoder

      Re: Doofuses!

      That only happens when the mass is pulled to the center.

      1. Semtex451

        Re: Doofuses!

        Shurley it is effectively pulling mass to the centre?

        Relative mass at the centre is increasing as the surface is venting, shedding mass. The body is losing total mass but from the surface only.

        Increasingly over time, the body's mass is becoming relatively higher at the centre of the mass, as the surface sheds volatiles decreasing both mass and density at the surface.

        Think of it as a spinning top whose external most edge is becoming a deepening layer of sponge, effectively pulling mass to the centre.

        Or am i having a stroke?

  4. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

    I believe Malcolm Tucker is currently having an apoplectic fit.

    1. defiler Silver badge

      But isn't that all the time.

      Bat people??!

      1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

        Quiet bat people.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    spin doctor for NASA

    whirling faster and faster, so spin doctor needed, get it? :/

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: spin doctor for NASA

      Superman is trying to spin it around, but he's moving really slowly because he's got a pocket full of kryptonite.

    2. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

      Re: spin doctor for NASA

      Maybe two princes?

  6. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    It's just a big Crookes radiometer.

    1. Robert Helpmann?? Silver badge

      It's just a big Crookes radiometer.

      Not quite. Those only work in partial vacuum and rely on gas flow to cause movement. In the current situation, I think you mean to say that photon radiation pressure is causing the acceleration.

  7. Scott Pedigo


    The point defense Gatling guns are spinning up.

    1. Stevie Silver badge

      Re: Incoming...

      Launch Hammerheads!

      1. eldakka Silver badge

        Re: Incoming...

        With frickin' lasers on their heads.

  8. Korev Silver badge
  9. TRT Silver badge

    Rename it.

    Asteroid Balkhi-Rumi

  10. Ima Ballsy

    Maybe it has ....

    Menieres Disease ?

  11. Swiss Anton

    Space Hamster

    I think its because of the space hamster running around inside it.

  12. grumbler

    Giant Space Wombat

    Judging by the shape and texture it's obviously a cuboid turd left by a giant space wombat marking its territory.

    1. Spherical Cow Bronze badge

      Re: Giant Space Wombat

      Well yes you are obviously correct, by why is the turd's spin getting faster? Cosmic dung beetles?

  13. arctic_haze

    A second per century?

    We all are doomed!

  14. sitta_europea

    Big, wet comet hits dry, porous, spinning asteroid. Outside of asteroid gets wet.

    Water soaks into middle of asteroid, reducing moment of inertia.


    1. Spherical Cow Bronze badge

      Water would need to be liquid to soak in. Bennu's surface temperature ranges from -37C to +6C which sounds hopeful however the atmospheric pressure is basically zero: any water will boil off. Of course the outgassing steam might give the spin a push!

      1. I&I

        Possible surface detail effects including capillary, local hotspots. Fractal fun.

  15. Spherical Cow Bronze badge

    A giant Aeolipile?

    One or more jets of outgassing material directed at an angle from the surface could cause it to spin faster.

  16. Sceptic Tank

    Wow! An entire space article that did not blame anything on dark matter / dark energy, mention the search for intelligent life in the universe at all, and did not mention that a black hole is so dense that nothing, not even light, can escape. Whatever is the world coming to?

  17. Jakester

    Spin Acceleration Makes Sense..

    If there are any volatiles coming from the surface of the asteroid, the acceleration makes perfect sense. As the asteroid rotates, the surface facing the sun will have a temperature gradient that will have the center of highest temperature that is shifted a slight angle from the sun in the direction of rotation. The out-gassing on the hotter surface would exert more pressure on that quarter of the asteroid vs the other quarter facing the sun. The two quarters facing away from the sun would have significantly less out-gassing, having minimal effect on any acceleration/deceleration.

  18. I&I

    Shrinking (by compression) ? Interesting equilibrium then (beyond “ballet dancer”). Combined gravity and mucky material effects against centrifugal. That should sort things out.

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