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October 26, 2009
Some regions of Eros, like any other planetary body, pack a lot of rich geologic detail into small spaces. On Earth, for example, the Alps, Himalayas or Rockies hold "records" that show how the Earth works as a planet, and match those key features with scenes of beauty that capture the imagination. This NEAR Shoemaker picture, taken August 4, 2000, from an orbital altitude of 49 kilometers (30 miles), provides a wealth of information on Eros. The boulders near the center of the frame have intricate shapes that may indicate what causes Eros to fracture and break apart in a particular way. The oblong crater in the upper right of the frame has a bright ring in its interior wall that may hold information about subsurface properties. And the many small, smooth patches show that, very locally, some process either erases craters or resists their formation. At the same time the landscape provokes the imagination: the group of craters just to the right of the cluster of rocks bears an uncanny resemblance to a giant footprint or track. The whole scene is about 1.8 kilometers (1.1 miles) across.


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