NEAR’s historic first image from Eros orbit

Today at 10:33 AM EST the NEAR spacecraft
was successfully inserted into orbit around 433 Eros,
becoming the first artificial satellite of an asteroid.
Just over an hour later, NEAR pointed its camera at the
asteroid and took this picture from a range of 210 miles
(330 km) above the surface. Mission navigators and
operators will use this image and others to be taken later
to traingulate on landmarks on the asteroid’s surface,
precisely measuring position of the spacecraft to plot
NEAR’s course.

Features as small as a 100 feet
(30 meters) across can be seen. This view shows the 3-mile
(5-kilometer) impact crater which the spacecraft has spied
for over a week during its approach. The two smaller
craters superimposed on its rim are each about 1.2 miles (2
kilometers) across. An enormous boulder a full 170 feet (50
meters) in size sits on the large crater’s floor. Other key
features of the surface are shallow subsurface layering
exposed near the tops of crater walls, and shallow grooves
crossing the surface and cutting the crater’s

(Mosaic of images 0125957025 and 0125957087)

Image archive