Fabulous data are streaming in, and Eros is turning out
to be as geologically diverse and fascinating as anyone
could have hoped. The new images have once again driven
home a lesson that scientists have learned many times
before – whenever we obtain new observations at a
significantly higher resolution, we learn something new.

We have an excellent example in the region of Eros
discussed in the updates for February 14 and February 8,
2000. The crater discussed on February 8, seen in the
image-of the-day for February 7, frame 11:09:45, is the
very same crater that appears at the center of the image
for February 14. In the earlier image, taken at a
distance of 7700 km, the crater appeared to be perfect,
in the sense of having an (apparently) perfect bowl
shape with a prominent rim. In the later image, taken at
330 km distance giving 23 times higher resolution, we
can see that the crater is decidedly imperfect. It is
all the more beautiful for its blemishes – the boulder
lying in the bowl, the evidence for underlying layered
structure, the grooves crosscutting the rim.

It is also evident in the February 14 image-of-the-day,
as well as that for February 15, that there are bright
patches on the surface at scales of a kilometer or
smaller. I have yet to hear anyone on the team hazard a
guess as to what these are.

Andy Cheng
NEAR Project Scientist