Apologies if I'm not getting the terminology quite right with this question. Some natural satellites (e.g., most planets) have orbital position and axial tilt disconnected; that is, they're rotating about an axis, and that axis is fixed in space, pointing closer or further from the star depending on position in its orbit. Other satellites (e.g., most moons) are tidally locked; that is, their orbit and rotation are synchronized so the same face always points at is planet (requiring an axis of spin close to perpendicular, I think).
Somewhat similarly, the ISS in normal operations keeps a constant face towards the Earth, but this requires some control mechanisms (mostly gyros) to continually rotate/pitch the station and maintain that attitude. I believe there are some artificial satellites that keep their axis of rotation pointing towards the Earth in a stable configuration.
My question is this: Could there be a satellite that maintains a long axis horizontal to the host body, travels in the direction of that axis, and rotates about that axis?
Taking this image of the ISS as a comparison: If the extensions in the y-axis were removed (the solar panels and heat sinks), could the x-axis be kept horizontal with the Earth (as is the normal mode), while rotating/rolling about that x-axis (which differs from the normal mode)?
- Would such a configuration be stable, or close to stable?
- Would it be possible or likely to happen naturally?
Some other related articles:
- Does the ISS always face the Earth?
- Why does the ISS points always the same side towards the Earth?
- Does a satellite naturally turn in phase with its orbit, always facing Earth?
I'm mostly thinking about the case of something like a standard asymmetrical asteroid or minor plant orbiting a star, if that makes a difference.