A slight press on the pedal today adjusted NEAR’s flight
path to Eros one more time before the spacecraft’s
historic encounter with the asteroid on Valentine’s Day.

The 23-second engine burn bumped NEAR from 18 mph to 22
mph relative to Eros, and shifted the target point for
its closet approach to the asteroid by 0.6 degrees. The
maneuver was the second of two speed-and-trajectory
adjustments the NEAR team designed just last week, after
the craft went into “safe” hold while preparing for a
larger rendezvous burn on Feb. 2.

The first maneuver – which NEAR executed flawlessly on
Feb. 3 – slowed the spacecraft’s approach speed from 43
mph to 18 mph. These were the last scheduled rendezvous
burns before Monday’s orbit insertion, during which NEAR
becomes the first spacecraft to orbit an asteroid.

NEAR is 2,879 miles (4,633 kilometers) from Eros – about
the same distance as a straight path between the Florida
Keys and the northwest corner of Washington state.