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 August 03
Explanation: Last month the NEAR Shoemaker spacecraft swooped closer to Eros, orbiting only 22 miles (36 kilometres) from the centre of the asteroid. These two images taken on July 19 (left) and July 24 (right) reveal the diminutive world's pocked and mottled surface in amazing detail, showing features as small as 19 feet (6 metres) across. Eros is thought to be a primordial, undifferentiated asteroid based on X-ray and gamma-ray studies of its surface composition. In the left picture, its surface layer or regolith is seen to be laced with bright and dark regions while in the right hand image dark regolith appears to have filled in some crater floors. The left and right images span an area about 2,600 feet (800 metres) and 3,000 ft (900 metres) wide respectively. On July 31, NEAR Shoemaker returned to its familiar 31 mile (50 kilometre) orbit, circling Eros serenely at about 6 miles per hour.
Authors & editors:
NASA Technical Rep.: Jay Norris. Specific rights apply.
A service of: LHEA at NASA/ GSFC
&: Michigan Tech. U.