Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.
2000 March 8
Explanation: As the robot spacecraft NEAR lowers itself toward asteroid 433 Eros, more surface details are becoming visible. Last week's maneuvers brought NEAR to within 204 kilometres of the floating mountain's surface. With increased resolution, NEAR's camera then documented Eros' unusual shape, craters large and small, boulders, and mysterious grooves similar to asteroid Gaspra and Martian moon Phobos. If you could stand on Eros, you would still be too small to be visible on this recent image, which shows features as small as 20 metres across. However, you would feel gravity only 1/1000 that on Earth, so that you could easily jump over even this large 5 kilometre wide crater.
Authors & editors:
Jerry Bonnell (USRA)
NASA Technical Rep.: Jay Norris. Specific rights apply.
A service of: LHEA at NASA/ GSFC
& Michigan Tech. U.