At the end of 2018, the OSIRIS-Rex space probewent to the orbit of the asteroid Bennu and revealed interesting features about its structure. It would seem that with such proximity of the device, all new discoveries should be made only with the help of its on-board equipment, but no. NASA researchers found that the asteroid's rotational speed is constantly increasing - this feature was recorded not by a probe, but by ground telescopes and the Hubble Observatory. After this discovery, researchers have new questions and assumptions.
Asteroid Bennu is moving at a speed of 101,000 km / h. At the same time, every 4.3 hours he makes a full turn around his axis. After analyzing the data for 1999, 2005 and 2012, NASA researchers concluded that the speed of rotation of the object is gradually increasing. According to their calculations, every century the speed of rotation increases by one second.
This acceleration may seem insignificant,but since Bennu’s age is estimated at 4.5 billion years, this feature can tell a lot about the asteroid’s history. For example, it was the acceleration that could be the cause of numerous irregularities, and in the distant future it could simply fly apart.
Researchers have several theories aboutcauses acceleration of rotation of the object. One of them says that the speed increases due to the reduction of the diameter of the asteroid with the loss of cobblestones - about the same thing happens when the skater straightens his arms to accelerate. Also, the acceleration can be explained by the appearance of the YORP effect, when the frequency of rotation is affected by sunlight.
NASA intends to continue to explore this feature.asteroid. For more accurate information, researchers will use OSIRIS-REx hardware. With all this, the main task of the device is to collect soil samples - in order not to damage the equipment, NASA intends to begin collecting in the safest place. To do this, she asked the online community to help with the mapping of the surface, where each pebble is counted.
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