Astronomers discovered something strange about the asteroid Phaethon

rows of greyish lumps
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The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency intends to launch its DESTINY+ mission to the near-Earth asteroid Phaethon in 2024, with the goal of flying near the space rock in 2028, so this “potentially dangerous” asteroid has been studied. intensively in the run-up to the mission.

Researchers recently made a particularly remarkable discovery about Phaethon: Its spin is speeding up. the asteroidThe rotation period is decreasing by 4 milliseconds per year. Even a small change like this could affect DESTINY+ observations. Knowing the specific spin rate allows the team to more accurately predict the asteroid’s orientation during the spacecraft’s flyby; in turn, that allows the team to be more specific with their observations.

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