This image of asteroid Eros, taken by NASA's NEAR Shoemaker on April 13, 2000, shows large craters in the north polar region; part of the ridge that wraps one-third of the way around Eros; western part of the saddle; a dense field of enormous boulders.

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 boulders.

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.

View all Images