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February 9, 2015 - NEAR-Sighted Eros

NEAR-Sighted Eros  Fifteen years ago this week, the Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous (NEAR) spacecraft became the first spacecraft to orbit an asteroid. NEAR orbited 34 km-long (21 mi) Eros at distances from 320 km (200 mi) down to 3 km (2 mi). After studying Eros for a year, NEAR Shoemaker (as it was renamed, in honor of pioneering astrogeologist Eugene Shoemaker) lowered its orbit gently until it actually landed on the surface and transmitted data—another first. This composite image shows the eastern and western hemispheres of Eros. The smallest detail visible is 35 m (120 ft) across. The top mosaic shows bright wavy banding exposed in the interior walls of the large saddle-shaped depression at lower left. The bottom image shows similar brightness in a smaller crater wall near the limb at left.

Image credit: NASA / JPL / JHUAPL

Weekly Calendar

February 9-15, 2015

Holidays - Sky Events - Space History

 

Moon phase Monday 9

1971: Apollo 14 returns from Moon; last post-mission quarantine

Moon phase Tuesday 10

1990: Galileo spacecraft passes by Venus on its way to Jupiter
1992: First Atlas II launch

Moon phase Wednesday 11

Mercury appears stationary
Last Qtr Moon 10:50 PM ET

1970: First Japanese satellite launched
1984: STS-41B Challenger makes first shuttle landing at KSC
1997: STS-82 Discovery launched
2000: STS-99 Endeavour launched
2010: Solar Dynamics Observatory launched

Moon phase Thursday 12

Saturn 2° south of Moon

1963: NASA selects contractor to build the Crawler Transporter
1974: Mars 5 enters orbit around Mars
2001: NEAR-Shoemaker lands on asteroid Eros

Moon phase Friday 13

1852: Johan Dreyer born
1937Sigmund Jähn born, first German to fly in space

Moon phase Saturday 14

Valentine’s Day

1972: Luna 20 launched
1980: Solar Max launched
1990: Voyager 1 takes solar system "family portrait"
2000: NEAR-Shoemaker orbits asteroid Eros

Moon phase Sunday 15

1564: Galileo Galilei born
1973: Pioneer 10 becomes first spacecraft to pass through the asteroid belt
2013Meteor explodes over Chelyabinsk, Russia injuring 1,500 people

Suggestions for new history dates or better links? Corrections for errors on this page? Please e-mail me.