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True Character
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True Character

October 23, 2009
Over the past several months, NEAR Shoemaker has returned images that show a real asteroid is much more complicated and diverse than the jagged Hollywood stereotype. This image of the inside of Eros' saddle - taken May 9, 2000, from an orbital altitude of 49 kilometers (30 miles) - vividly demonstrates that an asteroid is a real (albeit small) world with more geologic character to its surface than just an endless collection of craters. The landscape is dotted with boulders having sizes as small as the resolution of the images (8 meters, or 26 feet). Brightness markings 20 to 400 meters (65 to 1300 feet) across give the surface a mottled appearance. The whole scene is about 1.8 kilometers (1.1 miles) across.


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