A large volume of images of Eros' surface have been taken in the nearly seven months that NEAR Shoemaker has been orbiting the asteroid. From these pictures, the first good understanding of the surface of an asteroid has begun to emerge. One of the key findings is a variety of brightness features inside Eros' craters. This picture, taken July 22, 2000, from an orbital altitude of 50 kilometers (31 miles), shows three craters, each about 600 meters (2000 feet) in diameter, aligned horizontally in this view across the bottom of the frame. The two craters at the right have well-developed, nearly continuous deposits of brightened regolith. In the crater at the left, more subtle, discrete tongues with elevated brightnesses are barely discernible on the crater wall. With a little imagination, the two craters to the right appear almost like eyeballs peering sideways at their distinctively different neighbor.
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.