Get the coffee ready. Starting late this evening – as
NEAR begins regular observations of asteroid Eros – the NEAR Mission Operations Center at
the Applied Physics
Laboratory stays open around-the-clock to monitor the

The 24-hour operations mark a milestone in the mission to Eros, which intensifies with
rendezvous maneuvers on Feb. 2 and the actual orbit insertion on Feb. 14. NEAR is 29,800
miles (48,000 kilometers) from Eros, but its instruments are already collecting valuable navigation
data and detailed scientific information on the large
space rock. Starting Jan. 11, the NEAR team will begin downloading this information daily
through NASA’s Deep Space Network. The raw data will be available on the
NEAR Science Data Center Web site a week after it’s

“The spacecraft is doing a lot of work, and we need to make sure things are happening the
way we expect,” says Mark Holdridge, NEAR mission operations manager. “This is the stretch
drive as we prepare for the orbit