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NEAR Showed Us a Rocky World of Love

The asteroid Eros imaged by NEAR Shoemaker on March 3, 2000. (NASA/JPL/JHUAPL)

The asteroid Eros imaged by NEAR Shoemaker on March 3, 2000. (NASA/JPL/JHUAPL)

This image of the asteroid Eros—named after the Greek god of love—was captured on March 3, 2000, by NASA’s NEAR Shoemaker spacecraft. It’s actually a mosaic of six separate images acquired from a distance of 127 miles from the 20-mile-wide asteroid, and reveals many large boulders scattered across the surface down to about 160 feet in size. The ubiquitous boulders on Eros are believed to be fragments of its own native rock, shattered by countless impact events over time.

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Giant Asteroid to Approach Earth Jan. 31

Asteroid 433 Eros as seen by NASA's NEAR spacecraft on Feb. 29, 2000. (NASA/JPL/JHUAPL)

It’s huge – 21 miles across! It’s bright – magnitude 8.7, maybe more! And right now it’s coming close to Earth – the closest it’s come in 37 years! Why haven’t they told us about this?!?

Well, actually they have. It’s asteroid 433 Eros, and on Tuesday it will come within 16.6 million miles of Earth just as expected. Close, but still pretty far out. Still it will offer astronomers a great chance to observe its position, and with the help of amateur skywatchers around the world, better calculate its distance and thus the distance from Earth to the Sun. Science!!!

Read more about 433 Eros’ visit here on Universe Today.

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