Astronomy Picture of the Day
September 4, 2012

Orbiting around Asteroid 433-Eros
Orbiting around Asteroid 433-Eros

Credits: NASA - NEAR Project - Arizona State University; Credits fo the additional process. and color.: Dr Paolo C. Fienga/LXTT/IPF

This picture of the Asteroid 433-Eros is a mosaic of 4 (four) images (frames n. 0125956839, 0125957025, 0125957087, 0125957273) that were all obtained by the NASA - NEAR Spacecraft on February 14, 2000, immediately after the Spacecraft's insertion into orbit around the Asteroid (notice that the NASA - NEAR Spacecraft has been the first unmanned Spacecraft to enter into orbit around an Asteroid). 

We are looking down over the North Pole of 433-Eros, directly at one of the largest Impact Craters visible on its Surface, which measures approx. 4 miles (such as about 6 Km) across. Inside the Crater Walls there are subtle variations in color and brightness that hint at some layering of the Rock in which the Crater formed. Narrow Grooves that run parallel to the long axis of 433-Eros cut through the South-Eastern part of the Crater Rim. A house-sized Boulder is present near the Floor of the Crater and it appears that it might have rolled down the somehow "bowl-shaped" Inner Wall of the Crater. A large number of (possibly Ejecta) Boulders is also present on other parts of the Asteroid's Surface. Furthermore, the Surface of 433-Eros is, in general, heavily cratered, thus indicating that the Asteroid should be quite old.

This image-mosaic has been colorized in Absolute Natural Colors (such as the colors that a human eye would actually perceive if someone were onboard the NASA - NEAR Spacecraft and then looked outside, towards the Asteroid 433-Eros), by using an original technique created - and, in time, dramatically improved - by the Lunar Explorer Italia Team.

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