Video suggests Hitomi tumbling in orbit

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Video taken by an amateur astronomer of Hitomi shows it spinning out of control, another indication that something catastrophic occurred to the newly launched X-ray telescope.

The video shows an object that looks like Hitomi, which lost contact Saturday with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), shining and then turning extremely dark in short intervals. The wild changes in brightness might mean its sunlight-reflecting side is moving turbulently. “The fact that it is rotating with extreme variations in brightness indicates that it is not controlled and that some event caused it to begin its rotation,” Paul Maley, a former NASA flight controller who observed Hitomi from the ground in Arizona, was quoted as saying.

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