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This is a group of photographs taken of Eros by the NEAR spacecraft during its approach.
Click on image for full size
The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Laurel, Maryland.

NASA is Getting NEAR Eros
News story originally written on February 9, 2000

The Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous (NEAR) spacecraft is heading towards the asteroid, Eros. It is scheduled to begin its orbit around the giant rock on Valentines Day, February 14th. This will be the first time a spacecraft has been sent to an asteroid.

Scientists say the NEAR craft is right on course. Although actually getting the craft into orbit won't be easy, keeping the orbit without crashing into the asteroid is even trickier. Eros has an unusual shape and rotation. Scientists have to watch the craft and asteroid closely, and maneuver NEAR so it doesn't crash.

"No one has ever orbited a small body in space," says Dr. Robert Farquhar, NEAR mission director. "The orbital stability is rather tenuous, and as we travel around Eros our navigation maneuvers must be perfect to keep us from crashing into it."

NEAR will study the composition and history of Eros. It will also determine whether or not Eros has a magnetic field. Scientists are also hoping to spot any moons that may be circling the rock. Eros is one of the largest asteroids known. Eros is estimated to be 23 * 8 * 8 miles, about twice the size of Manhatten Island.

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