Eros's Contorted Shape
October 22, 2009
These three images of the asteroid Eros were taken on December 23, 1998 from the Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous (NEAR) spacecraft as it flew by the asteroid. The images, taken over 2.5 hours as the spacecraft range from the asteroid decreased from 5880 to 2375 miles (9486 to 3830 kilometers), are shown here with renditions of the asteroid's shape from the same perspectives. Eros is a very elongated object about 21 by 8 by 8 miles (33 by 13 by 13 kilometers) in size. Qualitatively, the asteroid's shape has been compared to a shoe, a battered boat, or a peanut. The model of Eros's shape was constructed from all of the images acquired during the flyby, using horizon profiles, shadow locations, and measured locations of landmarks.
Topics: Environment, NEAR Shoemaker, 433 Eros, 2012, Spacecraft, EROS, Near-Earth object, Asteroid, Planetary defense, Space exploration