Spinning around the Sun between Mars and Earth, the asteroid 433 Eros was visited by the robotic spacecraft NEAR-Shoemaker in February 2000.
High-resolution surface measurements made by the NEAR Laser Rangefinder (NLR) have been combined in the visualization of this image based on the 3D model obtained from the spinning space rock.
The NEAR probe allowed scientists to discover that Eros is a single solid body, that its composition is practically uniform, and that it formed during the early years of our Solar System. However, there are still some mysteries, including why some rocks on the surface have disintegrated.
On February 12, 2001, the NEAR mission reached an impressive end when it landed by collision on the asteroid surface, surviving well enough to send back an analysis of the composition of the regolithic surface. Unless revived by NASA, the NEAR probe will likely remain in the asteroid for billions of years as a monument to human ingenuity at the end of the third millennium.
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