This is a mosaic of four images taken by NEAR Shoemaker on September 5, 2000, from about 100 kilometers
(62 miles) above Eros. The knobs sticking out of the surface near the top of the image surround a
boulder-strewn area (featured as the Image of the Day for April 4, 2000) and are probably remnants of ancient
impact craters. The very faint grooves that run diagonally across the surface in this image may have formed
during a collision between the asteroid and a smaller body.
(Mosaic of images 0143581726, 0143581602, 0143581788, 0143581664)
NEAR Shoemaker obtained the two images in this mosaic on September 16, 2000, from a vantage point 100
kilometers (62 miles) above Eros. This view shows one of the asteroid's ends, and is interesting because the
area appears very flat and smooth, with few impact craters. The largest craters (one just left of center and another
at bottom right) have degraded to where they no longer have rims, which implies that they are relatively old. The
shallow concave area in the upper middle of the mosaic is the outline of the boulder-strewn region highlighted on
April 4, 2000.
(Mosaic of images 144528837, 144528713)
This montage of NEAR Shoemaker images, taken September 5, 2000, from an orbital altitude of 100
kilometers (62 miles), shows the north equatorial region of Eros' saddle. This region is known to exhibit
brightness mottling, which may come from exposure of regolith less darkened by the space environment. In
this spectacular view, the western part of the saddle faces the Sun, highlighting brightness variations in the
surface materials. This type of lighting also minimizes shading variations.
(Mosaic of images 0143581009, 0143581071, 0143581133, 0143581195)
Craters generally tend to be round, but this image shows some craters that are more square than round. The
likely reason for this is that Eros had some fractures (known as structural features) at its surface that were
present before the impact events that formed the craters. These fractures can be seen in the lower part of the
top crater. When the impacts that formed these craters occurred, the resulting crater cavities were influenced by
the fractures. The result is that the crater rims that run parallel to the fractures are straighter than craters
located in nonfractured areas. Geologists call this kind of effect on the craters "structural control", and a similar
occurrence can be seen on Earth at Arizona's Barringer Meteor crater, which also has a slightly squared-off
shape to its rim. Note also the boulder perched just beyond the right hand rim of the top crater that looks like a
bright speck in the image. The shape of the boulder can be seen by its shadow, which is cast onto the crater
floor. The shadow shows that the boulder is diamond shaped, and it appears to be standing on one tip. This
image was taken on April 26, 2000, when NEAR Shoemaker was 50 kilometers above the surface.
NEAR Shoemaker took the four images in this mosaic on September 9,
2000, from an altitude of about 100 kilometers (62 miles). NEAR
Shoemaker's current orbit affords a global look at Eros much like earlier
in the mission, but from a more southerly perspective. The top of this
mosaic shows Eros' saddle, and curving around at upper right is the
large bright-and-dark groove (featured on May 9 and June 2 ). The
bright curved feature is a broad topographic rise separating the saddle
region from the most boulder-rich area on the asteroid (featured April 4).
(Images 143707341, 143707256, 143707426, 143707511)
The camera on NEAR Shoemaker caught this long view of Eros' southern hemisphere during a stereo imaging
sequence on September 6, 2000, from an orbital altitude of 101 kilometers (63 miles). This view adds context to
high-resolution images taken from lower orbits with "footprints" only one-fourth to one-third the size. Craters
shown in the left foreground of the image are about 1.3 kilometers (0.8 miles) across.
NEAR Shoemaker's camera caught this crater -- nicknamed "the paw" -- during a color imaging sequence on
September 2, 2000, from an orbital altitude of 51 kilometers (32 miles). Several smaller craters superimposed on
the southern rim of the large, 5.3-kilometer (3.3-mile) diameter impact crater help create a shape that resembles
a giant animal footprint, thus the nickname. The bright material is believed to be relatively freshly exposed regolith
uncovered after surface material slid down the crater wall. It appears brighter because it has not been exposed to
the space environment for as long as the darker areas around it. The whole scene is 1.4 kilometers (0.9 miles)
This view of a long groove on Eros was captured by NEAR Shoemaker's camera during an imaging sequence
taken on September 1, 2000, from an orbital altitude of 83 kilometers (52 miles). The groove that cuts across the
top of the image is 140 meters (460 feet) across but only a few meters deep. It is easily visible here only because
it is so obliquely illuminated that the subtle topography stands out. Grooves are thought to have formed over deep
fractures in the asteroid, possibly where loose regolith has drained into the cracks. This particular groove appears
to be relatively old because a rather large 400-meter (1300-foot) diameter impact crater (seen in the upper right of
the image) has been superimposed on it. The whole scene shown here is 2.7 kilometers (1.7 miles) across.
The camera on NEAR Shoemaker took this picture of a section on Eros' southern hemisphere on August 30,
2000, from an orbital altitude of 97 kilometers (60 miles). One of the mission objectives at this altitude is to cover
the southern hemisphere taking images that look straight down onto the surface, as in this image. For
cartography - that is, making maps - this kind of geometry is favored because it results in minimal distortion of
surface features. The scene shown in this image is 4.1 kilometers (2.5 miles) across.
On August 28, 2000, the camera on NEAR Shoemaker took this picture of Eros' limb from an orbital altitude of 100
kilometers (62 miles). The two craters near the top left part of the frame are about 2.2 kilometers and 1.6
kilometers (1.4 miles and 1 mile) in diameter, respectively. The top large crater is thought to be relatively old
because many smaller craters have been superimposed on its rim and interior--an indication that it has been
subjected to a very long period of bombardment by impacting meteors. The whole scene is about 3 kilometers
(1.8 miles) across.
This NEAR Shoemaker picture, taken August 6, 2000, from an orbital altitude of 49 kilometers (30 miles),
shows Eros' horizon near the time of local sunset. The surface is dark because of the oblique
illumination, but several boulders catch the sunlight and appear like bright sentinels on the landscape.
The brightest of the boulders, just to the upper right of the deeply shadowed crater in the foreground, is
about 30 meters (100 feet) across. The whole scene is about 2.2 kilometers (1.4 miles) across.
One of the surprising findings about Eros is the extent to which geologic activity has wiped out ancient
craters on parts of the asteroid's surface. This picture, taken with NEAR Shoemaker's digital camera on
August 5, 2000, from an orbital altitude of 52 kilometers (32 miles), shows part of the "saddle" region, in
which many craters have been obliterated. Only two curved rim segments remain of the large crater in
the right-middle part of the image. The whole scene is about 2.2 kilometers (1.4 miles) across.
This image, taken August 5, 2000, from an orbital altitude of 49 kilometers (30 miles), shows the inside
wall of "the paw," the large, 5.3-kilometer (3.3-mile) diameter crater that dominates Eros' western
hemisphere. Here the local contrasts in brightness of surface material are among the most dramatic on
the asteroid. Bright, relatively newly exposed regolith has streamed slowly downslope to form tongue-like
shapes that meet older, darker regolith exposed to the effects of solar wind and micrometeorite impacts.
The whole scene is about 1.4 kilometers (0.9 miles) across.
Some regions of Eros, like any other planetary body, pack a lot of rich geologic detail into small
spaces. On Earth, for example, the Alps, Himalayas or Rockies hold "records" that show how the
Earth works as a planet, and match those key features with scenes of beauty that capture the
imagination. This NEAR Shoemaker picture, taken August 4, 2000, from an orbital altitude of 49
kilometers (30 miles), provides a wealth of information on Eros. The boulders near the center of the
frame have intricate shapes that may indicate what causes Eros to fracture and break apart in a
particular way. The oblong crater in the upper right of the frame has a bright ring in its interior wall that
may hold information about subsurface properties. And the many small, smooth patches show that,
very locally, some process either erases craters or resists their formation. At the same time the
landscape provokes the imagination: the group of craters just to the right of the cluster of rocks bears
an uncanny resemblance to a giant footprint or track. The whole scene is about 1.8 kilometers (1.1
NEAR Shoemaker images of Eros' saddle region show landscapes that couldn't differ more from what
one might have expected for an ancient, crater-battered body. Early images of the northern part of the
saddle stunned mission scientists with their abundance of boulders and lack of craters. Recent images
of the southern part of the saddle, now well illuminated having emerged from the southern hemisphere's
long night, continue this fascinating picture show. This picture, taken August 3, 2000, from an orbital
altitude of 50 kilometers (31 miles), shows a region about 1.4 kilometers (0.9 miles) across. Boulders
as small as 8 meters (26 feet) across are visible. In this part of the saddle, small patches of brighter
regolith also occur among the rocks.
Impacts to Eros slowly and continually modify the appearance of the asteroid's surface. This NEAR
Shoemaker image taken July 23, 2000, from an orbital altitude of 38 kilometers (24 miles), shows the
effects around a crater that is nearly a mile (1.6 kilometers) across. An impact excavated a huge gouge,
and caused some of the excavated material to form a thin cover on parts of Eros. The fastest-moving
fraction of the crater's ejecta (traveling at more than several meters per second) escaped Eros, whereas
slower-moving material eventually returned to the surface. The boulders in the foreground, about 15
meters (50 feet) across, are typical of the largest pieces in a crater's ejecta. Over time the surface layer
slid off the crater's walls to expose brighter material from below, which has not yet been darkened by
space weathering. The picture shows a region about 1 kilometer (0.6 miles) across.
With the Sun high in Eros' sky, shadows disappear and bright surface features stand out. In this
picture taken by NEAR Shoemaker on July 19, 2000, from an orbital altitude of 36 kilometers (22
miles), the Sun is nearly overhead. The steep local slopes are hard to see without shadows, but the
lacework of bright and dark regolith is at its most conspicuous. The image shows a region about 800
meters (2,600 feet) across. The smallest visible rocks are about 6 meters (19 feet) across.
NEAR Shoemaker's incredibly detailed images from the low orbit around Eros continue to surpass the expectations of the mission team. This picture, taken July 24, 2000, from an orbital altitude of 36 kilometers (22 miles), shows a region about 900 meters (3,000 feet) across. Some of the largest boulders in the scene, such as the broken one at the upper left, show angular shapes. Many smaller boulders litter the scene; the smallest ones visible here are about 6 meters (19 feet) across.
Regolith seems to have banked up against several rocks. In some places, like the large crater below the
center of the picture, regolith also appears to have filled, or "ponded," in low spots.
Though it looks like raindrop impressions on a sandy beach, this image is actually a section of asteroid Eros that has an abundance of large, smoothed craters and a deficit of small craters. The pattern of impressions gives us clues to Eros' geologic history. The relative lack of small craters -- which should be far more abundant -- suggests that a resurfacing of this part of the asteroid has buried or removed the small craters.
The picture was taken July 12, 2000, from an orbital altitude
of 46 kilometers (29 miles), and shows a region about 1.6
kilometers (1 mile) across.
Exploration of small asteroids by spacecraft and
ground-based radar has shown that these tiny worlds come
in many sizes and shapes. This NEAR Shoemaker image,
taken July 12, 2000, from an orbital altitude of 38 kilometers
(24 miles), brings home the irregularity of the tiny little world
called Eros. Looking down the length of the asteroid, one
sees near, middle, and far horizons. The whole scene is
about 0.9 kilometers (0.5 miles) across.
The many craters on Eros' surface attest to its battering by
meteors - mostly debris ejected from other asteroids. This
picture, taken July 7, 2000, from an orbital altitude of 50
kilometers (31 miles), neatly encapsulates the effects of a
long history of impact cratering. Two overlapping craters,
probably formed many millions of years apart, form a
composite depression nearly 1.6 kilometers (1 mile) long.
Large boulders, perhaps broken off Eros during these
impacts, are perched on the craters' edge. The largest
boulder, on the horizon in the center of the picture, is about
40 meters (130 feet) long. The whole scene is 1.8
kilometers (1.2 miles) across.
On June 14, 2000, NEAR Shoemaker trained its camera on Eros' large, 5.3-kilometer (3.3-mile) diameter crater for a series
of color pictures intended to measure the properties of regolith inside the asteroid's craters. In this false color view -- taken
from an altitude of 50 kilometers (31 miles) -- redder hues represent rock and regolith that have been altered chemically by
exposure to the solar wind and small impacts. Bluer hues represent fresher, less-altered rock and regolith, such as the
bright patches that have been less affected by "space weathering." In that process, during micrometeorite impacts, rock
reacts with miniscule amounts of trapped solar wind and is chemically changed. Interestingly, most of the large boulders
have been just as affected as the regolith. This suggests either that the rocks are relatively old, or that they are "dirty" from
an adhering film of regolith particles.
(Composite of images 0136359580, 0136359582, 0136359584)
This mosaic of eight images -- which NEAR Shoemaker snapped on May 14, 2000, from an altitude of 50 kilometers (31
miles) -- covers the region southwest of Eros' large, 5.3-kilometer (3.3-mile) diameter crater. The bright patches at upper
right are relatively freshly exposed regolith on the inside wall of the crater. The two large, subdued craters in the center of the
mosaic are each about 1 kilometer (0.6 miles) wide. The boulder on the floor of the crater to the left is one of the larger
rocks on Eros, more than 90 meters (295 feet) across. The whole scene is about 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) across.
(Mosaic of images 0133697893, 0133698083, 0133698273, 0133698463, 0133698653, 0133698843, 0133699033,
This picture of Eros, taken from NEAR Shoemaker on June 20, 2000, shows a stunning aspect of the "bent" asteroid's
peanut-like shape. The far side of the asteroid looms like an enormous wall beyond a near horizon in the foreground. The
image was taken from an altitude of 51 kilometers (32 miles) and shows a region about 1.4 kilometers (0.9 miles) across.
NEAR Shoemaker focused on a group of large boulders on Eros' horizon for this picture, taken on June 19, 2000, from an
altitude of 51 kilometers (32 miles). One of the boulders (marked by the arrow) is about 30 meters (98 feet) high and has a
large overhang on its right side. The right-hand tip of the boulder is about 10 meters (33 feet) off the ground, providing a
space under the overhang large enough to park a tractor-trailer truck. The whole scene is approximately 1.9 kilometers (1.2
NEAR Shoemaker images have shown many large boulders on Eros' surface, but seldom are the boulders as big and as
close as the ones in this image taken on June 20, 2000, from an altitude of 51 kilometers (32 miles). Nestled within the
700-meter (2300-foot) diameter crater at the center of the picture are four particularly large rocks whose tops protrude out
from the shadowed crater interior and into sunlight. The center boulder, the largest, is about 100 meters (330 feet) across.
The whole scene is approximately 1.9 kilometers (1.2 miles) across.
NEAR Shoemaker's scientific observations of Eros focus on different priorities as the spacecraft descends into lower orbits. For example, during the 100-kilometer (62-mile) orbit from April 11 - 22, 2000, the camera's mission was to build a global photomosaic under optimal viewing conditions. Due to the asteroid's irregular shape, doing this required imaging Eros repeatedly until each spot had been covered just right.
This swath of images - taken April 13 as part of that mapping campaign - shows
several of the asteroid's major features. From top to bottom, these include large
craters in the north polar region; part of the ridge that wraps one-third of the way
around Eros; the western part of the saddle; and a dense field of enormous
(Mosaic of images 0131031742, 0131031827, 0131031912, 0131031997)
Some impact craters occurring on Earth and on other planetary bodies come in close pairs. These double craters are sometimes the result of the chance superimposition of two distinct impact events. However, a few double craters are also thought to have formed by the impact of two similarly sized bodies that are traveling in close orbit or touching each other. The near-Earth asteroid 4769 Castalia, which has been imaged by radar, is one of the most promising candidates for being such a "contact binary."
This image, taken on June 10, 2000, from an orbital altitude of 51 kilometers (32 miles), caught an obliquely illuminated
view of a double crater on Eros. The two craters are so close to each other that they merge into the single dumbell-shaped
depression in the center of the image. Each of the two craters is about 550 meters (1800 feet) across. The whole scene is
1.9 kilometers (1.2 miles) across.
While NEAR Shoemaker orbits Eros, the asteroid appears too large for the camera's field of view. In order to get a complete view of the surface from a particular vantage point, several images are mosaicked. To do this, the digital images returned by the spacecraft are draped over a computer model of the asteroid's shape.
This spectacular view -- looking down on the north polar region -- was constructed from six images taken February 29,
2000, from an orbital altitude of about 200 kilometers (124 miles). This vantage point highlights the major
physiographic features of the northern hemisphere: the saddle seen at the bottom; the 5.3-kilometer (3.3-mile)
diameter crater at the top; and a major ridge system running between the two features that spans at least one-third of
the asteroid's circumference.
(Mosaic of images 0127275100, 0127275164, 0127275246, 0127275310, 0127275456, 0127275520)
Color imaging of Eros from the NEAR Shoemaker spacecraft has shown the asteroid's color variations are very subdued when compared to those of other planetary bodies, such as Mars. However, both the imager and the near-infrared spectrometer have detected discernible color differences between parts of the asteroid.
One location on Eros with distinctive color is the eastern side of the "saddle." This color composite image of that region was taken
April 2, 2000, from an orbital altitude of 201 kilometers (125 miles). In this false color representation, the red and green image
planes were taken in different wavelengths of infrared light, and the blue image plane was taken in blue light. NEAR scientists
interpret the bright and greenish-gray appearing regions near the rim of the saddle to represent relatively fresh exposures of
subsurface soil. In contrast, the pinkish looking soil covering other areas is thought to have been modified by exposure to small
impacts and the solar wind.
(Composite of images 130105837, 130105839, 130105841)
More information on asteroid 433 Eros
Asteroid Fact Sheet
NSSDC Asteroid Home Page
Information on the Multispectral Imager
Information on the NEAR Mission Profile and Trajectory
Images from the Eros and Mathilde Flybys
NEAR Eros Images - Applied Physics Lab, JHU
NSSDC NEAR Home Page
Detailed information on NEAR from the NSSDC Master Catalog
NSSDC Planetary Home Page