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A picture by artist Pat Rawling of the NEAR spacecraft in front of Eros.
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Courtesy of Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory

Nearly There...
News story originally written on February 11, 1998

Thanks to a recent Earth swing-by, the NEAR spacecraft is on its final approach. NEAR stands for Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous. This is the spacecraft that flew by asteroid Mathilde in June 1997, past Earth in January 1998 and is now on its way to asteroid Eros, the final mission target!

NEAR is scheduled to arrive at Eros in December 1998. It will orbit the asteroid at an altitude of 600 miles. The spacecraft will descend to 200 miles altitude by February and will continue to lessen its altitude during a year long study of the 25 mile long asteroid. Scientists hope to map the surface of the asteroid as well as determine its composition and chemical characteristics. On February 6, 2000, the mission will come to its climax as the NEAR spacecraft decends onto the asteroid (hopefully in a controlled fashion!).

This is an unique and exciting mission - stay tuned for more details!

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Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA