NEAR first image of Eros
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NEAR first image of Eros

October 22, 2009
This first image of the asteroid 433 Eros was acquired by the multispectral imager on the Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous (NEAR) spacecraft on November 5, 1998, at a distance of 2.5 million miles (4 million kilometers) from the asteroid. Eros, located at the center of the image and circled, appears against the star background in a single illuminated pixel. At the time of the image, NEAR was located 200 million miles (321 million kilometers) from Earth, and the radio signal which transmitted the image from the spacecraft took nearly 18 minutes to reach Earth. The image is a part of a 5.3-hour sequence of images that show Eros over one full rotation of the asteroid. Repeated imaging of Eros through January will be used to refine knowledge of NEAR's trajectory relative to the asteroid, to plan firings of the spacecraft's engines to slow the craft and place it into orbit.

Currently, NEAR is approaching Eros at a rate of 2100 miles per hour (945 meters per second). Three firings of NEAR's engines, beginning on December 20, 1998, will slow spacecraft velocity relative to the asteroid to near 10 miles per hour (5 meters per second) at Eros orbit insertion on January 10, 1999.

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