On March 10, 2000, this image of Eros was acquired by the imager on the NEAR Shoemaker spacecraft, from a range of 206 kilometers (127 miles). The area shown in the image is 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) across, and the smallest detail visible is 20 meters (65 feet) across. Here, the spacecraft was over the shaded interior of the "saddle," looking over the north polar region to the limb. The shadowing at the upper right is due to oblique lighting. The narrowness of the illuminated part of Eros in the center of the frame results from viewing the narrow "waist" of Eros' irregular peanut-like shape.
This image is from one of a large number of imaging sequences acquired during the first of two "200-kilometer" (124-mile) orbits. The second 200-kilometer orbit, in autumn 2000, will provide similar views of southern latitudes. The purpose of many of the sequences in this orbit is to view the northern and equatorial latitudes of the asteroid under conditions similar to those at the time of this image, looking straight down on a part of the surface (called a "low emission angle") while the surface is obliquely illuminated (called a "high incidence angle"). The resulting views bring out surface morphology and are crucial to making a global map of Eros.
Built and managed by The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Laurel, Maryland, NEAR was the first spacecraft launched in NASA's Discovery Program of low-cost, small-scale planetary missions. See the NEAR web page at http://near.jhuapl.edu/ for more details.