PIA03142: NEAR Shoemaker's Path
Target Name: Eros
Is a satellite of: Sol (our sun)
Mission: NEAR Shoemaker
Spacecraft: NEAR Shoemaker
Instrument: Multi-Spectral Imager
Product Size: 2667 x 2000 pixels (width x height)
Produced By: Johns Hopkins University/APL
Addition Date: 2001-02-17
Primary Data Set: NEAR Home Page
Full-Res TIFF: PIA03142.tif (671.8 kB)
Full-Res JPEG: PIA03142.jpg (184.2 kB)

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This plot shows NEAR Shoemaker's projected path from orbit to the surface of Eros on Feb. 12. Viewed from the sun, Eros is moving in a clockwise direction as it spins on its axis, while the spacecraft moves counterclockwise in a circular orbit 35 kilometers (22 miles) from the asteroid's center. The pair will be about 316 million kilometers (196 million miles) from Earth.

NEAR Shoemaker will de-orbit with a short engine burn at 10:31 a.m. EST, about 4 hours before it's scheduled to reach the surface. The final leg of the controlled descent begins with the spacecraft about 5 kilometers (3 miles) above Eros; it will then execute an unprecedented series of four engine burns designed to slow its descent from about 20 mph to about 5 mph. NEAR Shoemaker is expected to touch down in an area bordering Himeros, the asteroid's distinctive saddle-shaped depression, after providing the highest-resolution images ever taken of Eros' boulder-strewn, cratered terrain.

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.

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