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NEAR Captures Asteroid's Heart ... In A Photo

Date:
February 15, 2000
Source:
Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory
Summary:
The Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous spacecraft, approaching its Valentine's Day date with a space rock named for the Greek god of love, has snapped a picture of the asteroid's heart. Literally. Asteroid 433 Eros has what appears to be a heart-shaped crater or depression in its surface.

Media Contacts: Mike Buckley 240-228-7536, orHelen Worth240-228-5113

The Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous (NEAR) spacecraft, approaching its Valentine's Day date with a space rock named for the Greek god of love, has snapped a picture of the asteroid's heart. Literally.

The image, one of 8,000 photos of asteroid 433 Eros taken by NEAR since January, shows what looks like a large heart carved in the asteroid. The image is posted on the NEAR Web site.

"It truly is a valentine from Eros," says NEAR Mission Director Robert Farquhar.

NEAR's digital camera captured the feature Feb. 11 from 1,609 miles (2,590 kilometers) away. The image surprised science team members Saturday as they processed the incoming data. The narrow, 3-mile (5-kilometer) heart-shaped depression appears just below a large ridge on the 21-mile (33-kilometer) potato-shaped asteroid. Until the spacecraft sends closer images, however, NEAR team members at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) can't say for sure what the shadowy heart really is.

It's a tantalizing mystery," says Dr. Joseph Veverka, of Cornell University, who leads the NEAR imaging team. "It makes you wonder, what other secrets are lurking in the heart of Eros?"

NEAR will begin unfolding such mysteries when the spacecraft meets up with Eros Monday at 10:33 a.m. (EST) and becomes the first spacecraft to orbit an asteroid. APL designed and built NEAR and manages the mission for NASA. For the latest mission news and images, visit the NEAR Web site at http://near.jhuapl.edu.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory. "NEAR Captures Asteroid's Heart ... In A Photo." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 February 2000. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/02/000214094354.htm>.
Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory. (2000, February 15). NEAR Captures Asteroid's Heart ... In A Photo. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/02/000214094354.htm
Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory. "NEAR Captures Asteroid's Heart ... In A Photo." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/02/000214094354.htm (accessed October 21, 2014).

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