This image of asteroid Eros, taken by NASA's NEAR Shoemaker on Feb. 29, 2000, shows the north polar region highlighting the major physiographic features of the northern hemisphere; the saddle seen at the bottom.

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 mosaiced. 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.

Built and managed by The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Laurel, Maryland, NEAR was the first spacecraft launched in NASA's Discovery Program of low-cost, small-scale planetary missions. See the NEAR web page at http://near.jhuapl.edu/ for more details.

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