Spaceflight Now: Breaking News

NEAR sees Eros' eastern and western hemispheres
Posted: Feb. 29, 2000

Photo: JHU/APL
On February 23, the NEAR spacecraft obtained a sequence of image mosaics showing Eros' surface as the asteroid rotated under the spacecraft. At that time the range to the surface was approximately 355 kilometers (220 miles).

These two mosaics, part of that sequence, show the stark beauty of the two opposite hemispheres. The smallest detail visible is 35 meters (120 feet) across. The top mosaic shows wavy brightness banding exposed in the interior walls of the saddle. In the bottom mosaic, similar banding is visible in one of the craters near the limb at left. To the right, the angle of the illumination accentuates the quasi-linear troughs near the terminator.

Successful firing of NEAR's thrusters on February 24, placed the spacecraft on course for insertion into the next lower orbit, at a 200 kilometer (120 mile) altitude. Images from that orbit, commencing in early March, will have nearly twice the spatial resolution of data returned so far.

Built and managed by The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Laurel, Maryland, NEAR was the first spacecraft launched in NASA's Discovery Program of low-cost, small-scale planetary missions.

Other coverage
NEAR lowered - A brief engine firing nudges NEAR ever closer to 433 Eros.
First science - Early data from NEAR indicates that 433 Eros is no ordinary space rock.
First orbit image - NEAR's first view of Eros after entering orbit around the asteroid.
Mission Status Center - our comprehensive coverage from orbit insertion.
Encounter Preview - background about NEAR's arrival at asteroid 433 Eros.

Eros' Heart - NEAR captures a heart-shaped object on asteroid Eros.

Road to Eros - montage of images show the asteroid from NEAR during approach over the past three weeks.
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