The Record of What Came Before
October 23, 2009
Impact craters are the most common, pervasive, and scientifically informative landforms on Eros. This image from NEAR Shoemaker, taken March 20, 2000, from a range of 206 kilometers (128 miles), shows a highly cratered region of the asteroid. The whole scene is 7.4 kilometers (4.6 miles) across. Craters are formed by the explosive impacts of asteroid fragments that have rained onto the surface over the eons. A freshly exposed surface will have fewer craters than a surface exposed to space for a longer time. The great number of impact craters in the pictured region indicates that it has been an extremely long time since this region was wiped clean, or "resurfaced," by a geologic process such as the chipping off of part of the asteroid. Also, the greater abundance of smaller craters reveals that small asteroid fragments have impacted Eros more frequently than large asteroid fragments.