Help Shape the Future of Space Exploration

Join The Planetary Society Now  arrow.png

Join our eNewsletter for updates & action alerts

    Please leave this field empty

Headshot of Emily Lakdawalla

Planetary Society Advent Calendar for December 19: Eros

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla

19-12-2009 17:43 CST


Not quite ten years ago, the Near Earth Rendezvous (NEAR) spacecraft arrived at the near-Earth asteroid Eros. NEAR accomplished many firsts. It was the first spacecraft to orbit an asteroid (and there has been only one other since), and, in an incredible finale to its mission, it actually touched down on the asteroid's surface. At the same time, it was the first in the Discovery line of relatively low-cost, missions, each led by a single principal investigator and required to launch within a few years of their selection. Others in the Discovery line have included Mars Pathfinder, Lunar Prospector, CONTOUR, Deep Impact, Genesis, Stardust, MESSENGER, Dawn, and Kepler. Altogether it's been a highly successful mission line.

I haven't seen very many amateurs working with pictures from the NEAR mission, so I was very pleased when Daniel Macháček showed up on a couple of months ago with his work on Mathilde, an asteroid that NEAR flew past before its encounter with Eros. I asked him to put together something on Eros, and here it is.

Eros in color

NASA / JHUAPL / Cornell / color composite by Daniel Macháček

Eros in color
NEAR took the images for this photo of the asteroid Eros on February 25, 2000. Eros has a highly irregular shape 34.4 by 11.2 kilometers in diameter. The image is a mosaic of four photos taken in infrared wavelengths, with color provided by lower-resolution frames captured through red, green, and blue filters.
If you'd like to see more of NEAR's images from Eros, here's a great website put together by Mark Robinson, who's now the principal investigator on the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter camera.

Each day in December I'm posting a new global shot of a solar system body, processed by an amateur. Go to the blog homepage to open the most recent door in the planetary advent calendar!

See other posts from December 2009


Or read more blog entries about:


Leave a Comment:

You must be logged in to submit a comment. Log in now.
Facebook Twitter Email RSS AddThis

Blog Search


Advocate for Space!

Fifteen years ago, Society members and passionate space advocates like you helped save the Pluto mission. Now we can do the same for missions to Europa and Mars.

Join over 27,600 people who have completed their petition and consider a donation to support advocacy efforts.

Sign Our Petition

Featured Images

Charon in 3D
Space Launch System on the launchpad (artist's concept)
The Magnificent Neptunian System
Pluto's blue skies
More Images

Featured Video

A Perfect, Clear Day: LightSail's Launch

Watch Now

Space in Images

Pretty pictures and
awe-inspiring science.

See More

Selfies to Space!

Take flight with a selfie on LightSail™ in 2016!

Send a Selfie Now

Connect With Us

Facebook! Twitter! Google+ and more…
Continue the conversation with our online community!