The NEAR Shoemaker spacecraft has been commanded to begin collecting data from the surface of 433 Eros.

NASA announced on Feb. 14 it was extending the NEAR
mission for up to 10 days to gather data from the
spacecraft’s gamma-ray spectrometer, a scientific
instrument that could provide unprecedented information
about the surface and subsurface composition of Eros.
Mission controllers at the Johns Hopkins University
Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Md., have
configured the instrument to begin collecting and
recording this information.

NEAR Mission Operations Manager Robert Nelson said the
team is also sending commands to prevent the rest of the
spacecraft from sending data to its onboard recorder,
since the only reliable telemetry link is through NEAR
Shoemaker’s low-gain antenna. “Now that we have landed,
collection and recovery of critical gamma-ray data is
our primary objective,” he said.

NEAR Shoemaker’s historic Feb. 12 touchdown on Eros
turned out to be a mission planner’s dream – providing
NEAR team members with more scientific and engineering
information than they ever expected from their carefully
designed series of descent maneuvers. The spacecraft
gently landed at 3:01:52 p.m. EST, ending a journey of
more than 2 billion miles (3.2 billion kilometers) and a
full year in orbit around the large space rock.