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Two faces of Eros
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Two faces of Eros

October 22, 2009
The imager on the NEAR spacecraft took these two images of the asteroid 433 Eros three hours apart on Thursday, February 3, after a critical braking maneuver. At that time the spacecraft's distance from the asteroid was approximately 5,590 miles (8,950 km). These images were used to track the relative position of NEAR and Eros to evaluate the braking maneuver.

The three-hour span between the images covers nearly three-fifths of Eros's 5.27-hour rotation. The "saddle" in Eros's shape, which is at the left in the first view (left), has rotated to the upper right in the second view. Also in the right view a small feature near the terminator, possibly an impact crater, has become visible. Resolution of NEAR images, in this case 0.6 miles (0.9 km) per pixel, is improving by about 15% daily so new details of Eros are becoming available constantly.