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 April 17
Explanation: The robot spacecraft NEAR Shoemaker continues to orbit asteroid Eros. This condensed 40-minute long time-lapse sequence taken last month shows what it looks like to pass within 200 kilometres of Eros' west end. The north pole of the rotating mountain is toward the bottom of the picture. This month NEAR-Shoemaker closes to within 100 kilometres, and by the end of this month will orbit only 50 kilometres from the centre of this 33-kilometre long asteroid. One reason for moving in so close is to determine if 433 Eros has a magnetic field. NEAR Shoemaker, launched in 1996, is run by a computer similar to a PC released 15 years ago (12 MHz, 256K).
Authors & editors:
Jerry Bonnell (USRA)
NASA Technical Rep.: Jay Norris. Specific rights apply.
A service of: LHEA at NASA/ GSFC
& Michigan Tech. U.