This image of asteroid Eros, taken by NASA's NEAR Shoemaker on June 19, 2000, shows the southwestern wall of the saddle containing bands of bright regolith.

Within Eros' "saddle" - the large indentation in the peanut-shaped asteroid - diverse landscapes and brightness contrasts defy preconceived ideas of asteroids as mere cratered space rocks. NEAR Shoemaker took this image of the southwestern wall of the saddle on June 19, 2000, from an altitude of 51 kilometers (32 miles). The saddle wall contains bands of bright regolith, which may be exposed subsurface material yet to experience the "darkening" effects of surface impacts and solar wind. The whole scene is approximately 1.9 kilometers (1.2 miles) across.

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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