Explaining spin


Q: You are the real aerospace engineering professor on a game show, and the person seated next to you is the imposter. Each of you must convince the audience that you are the true professor. The host asks the imposter, a sportswriter who washed out of aerospace engineering after a semester, to explain why some satellites are spin stabilized. The imposter proclaims that “a spin-stabilized satellite follows a smooth orbital path and attitude around Earth, and if it weren’t spun, it would tumble and float confusingly, much like a baseball pitcher’s knuckleball, and for the same reason: a baseball is not perfectly spherical, and gravitational perturbations make it tumble.” Now it’s your turn. What would you say?

Send a response of up to 250 words that someone in any field could understand to aeropuzzler@aerospaceamerica.org by noon Eastern Aug. 5 for a chance to have it published in the next issue.

Explaining spin