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Space Spinner! Astronaut Shows What Fidget Spinners Do in Orbit

How awesome is a fidget spinner in space, where your body can do all the spinning you want? Pretty awesome, it turns out.

Astronauts on the International Space Station showed off their tricks in microgravity while playing with the popular toy, one of the trend-making objects of 2017.

The fidget spinner, adorned with a NASA logo, shows up in a new video on YouTube doing jitters and spins in front of the Cupola, a multiwindow view that the astronauts use for Earth observations (and occasional relaxation). [How Fidget Spinners Work: It's All About the Physics]

But then the astronauts get a hold of the toy and do some crazy tricks of their own. In the video, NASA flight engineer Mark Vande Hei (@Astro_Sabot) starts off the festivities with some slow circles, holding the spinner in his hand.

NASA astronaut Randy Bresnik plays with a fidget spinner on the International Space Station. (Image credit: NASA/Randy Bresnik/Twitter)

Then Vande Hei floats right beside some other crewmates who elect to spin superfast while holding the spinner. (It's possible that Vande Hei helped them spin up quickly, but that's not shown in the video.) NASA's Randy Bresnik (@AstroKomrade) does quick rotations about his waist, NASA's Joseph Acaba (@AstroAcaba) does forward somersaults, and the European Space Agency's Paolo Nespoli (@Astro_Paolo) somersaults backwards.

"A fidget spinner in space! How long does it spin? I'm not sure, but it's a great way to experiment with Newton's laws of motion!" Bresnik wrote on Twitter.

NASA Johnson added in theYouTube post, "Allowing the fidget spinner to float reduces the bearing friction by permitting the rate of the central ring and outer spinner to equalize, and the whole thing spins as a unit."

It would be really cool to see the fidget spinner during a spacewalk, but that's unlikely to happen. NASA and other space agencies are very conscientious about space debris, as even small objects can pose a threat to the International Space Station.

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Elizabeth Howell
Elizabeth Howell is a contributing writer for who is one of the few Canadian journalists to report regularly on space exploration. She is pursuing a Ph.D. part-time in aerospace sciences (University of North Dakota) after completing an M.Sc. (space studies) at the same institution. She also holds a bachelor of journalism degree from Carleton University. Besides writing, Elizabeth teaches communications at the university and community college level. To see her latest projects, follow Elizabeth on Twitter at @HowellSpace.