Almost Vertical Cliff on Eros
October 27, 2009
The NEAR Shoemaker Laser Rangefinder measures heights on Eros' surface by determining the time it takes for short pulses of laser light to travel from the spacecraft to the asteroid and back. A surface height profile measured this way (chart, lower right) reveals a nearly vertical cliff more than 100 meters (330 feet) high within the asteroid's 10-kilometer-wide (6-mile-wide) saddle-shaped depression, whose proposed name is Himeros. The location of the laser height profile is marked a' - f' in the upper panel, which is a mosaic, and in the lower left panel, which is a single image obtained at the same time as the laser height profile. The cliff looks very different in the two images because of the different lighting conditions.