The NEAR spacecraft passed its final flight test last
week, flawlessly rehearsing the 30-hour rendezvous
sequence that will precede its orbit of asteroid Eros.

The sequence includes a low-phase flyby on Feb. 13,
during which NEAR will fly directly between Eros and the sun. The pass affords a unique
opportunity to map the
minerals on Eros’ northern half under optimal lighting; a similar operation in October will cover
the asteroid’s southern hemisphere.

NEAR remains on course for its Feb. 14 rendezvous with Eros, which is now about 15,250 miles
kilometers) away from the spacecraft. The NEAR team
continues searching for small moons or space debris
around Eros, though none appear in the approach images NEAR has taken over the past two
weeks. The latest
pictures from NEAR — as well as a second movie of the asteroid’s rotation — will appear on the
NEAR Web site this week.