Two faces of Eros

The imager on the NEAR spacecraft took these two images of
the asteroid 433 Eros three hours apart on Thursday,
February 3, after a critical braking maneuver. At that time
the spacecraft’s distance from the asteroid was
approximately 5,590 miles (8,950 km). These images were
used to track the relative position of NEAR and Eros to
evaluate the braking maneuver.

The three-hour span between the images covers nearly
three-fifths of Eros’s 5.27-hour rotation. The “saddle” in
Eros’s shape, which is at the left in the first view
(left), has rotated to the upper right in the second view.
Also in the right view a small feature near the terminator,
possibly an impact crater, has become visible. Resolution
of NEAR images, in this case 0.6 miles (0.9 km) per pixel,
is improving by about 15% daily so new details of Eros are
becoming available constantly.

(Images 0125011535 and 0125022354.)