Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

2000 April 17
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Flying Over Asteroid Eros' West End
Credit: NEAR Project, JHU APL, NASA

Explanation: The robot spacecraft NEAR Shoemaker continues to orbit asteroid Eros. This condensed 40-minute long time-lapse sequence taken last month shows what it looks like to pass within 200 kilometers of Eros' west end. The north pole of the rotating mountain is toward the bottom of the picture. This month NEAR-Shoemaker closes to within 100 kilometers, and by the end of this month will orbit only 50 kilometers from the center of this 33-kilometer long asteroid. One reason for moving in so close is to determine if 433 Eros has a magnetic field. NEAR Shoemaker, launched in 1996, is run by a computer similar to a PC released 15 years ago (12 MHz, 256K).

Tomorrow's picture: Ice Line

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Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (USRA)
NASA Technical Rep.: Jay Norris. Specific rights apply.
A service of: LHEA at NASA/ GSFC
& Michigan Tech. U.