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.

2007 February 17
See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download
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Stereo Eros
Credit: NEAR Project, JHU APL, NASA

Explanation: Get out your red/blue glasses and float next to asteroid 433 Eros, now over 220 million kilometers away! Orbiting the Sun once every 1.8 earth-years, asteroid Eros is a diminutive 40 x 14 x 14 kilometer world of undulating horizons, craters, boulders and valleys. Its unsettling scale and bizarre shape are emphasized in this picture - a mosaic of images from the NEAR Shoemaker spacecraft processed to yield a stereo anaglyphic view. Along with dramatic chiaroscuro, NEAR's 3-D imaging provided important measurements of the asteroid's landforms and structures, and clues to the origin of this city-sized chunk of solar system. The smallest features visible here are about 30 meters across. After spending a year in orbit around Eros, the historic Near Shoemaker spacecraft made the first ever landing on an asteroid's surface February 12, 2001.

Tomorrow's picture: pillars of creation

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Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (USRA)
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