A picture by artist Pat Rawling of the NEAR spacecraft in front of Eros.
Click on image for full size
Courtesy of Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory
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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