Status Report

NEAR Shoemaker Pulls Back for Last Long View

By SpaceRef Editor
November 3, 2000
Filed under

NEAR Shoemaker is taking its last long-distance look at Eros, after a
maneuver Nov. 2 set it in a circular orbit 125 miles (200 kilometers) from
the center of the asteroid.

The 3.5-second engine burn at 10 p.m. EST refined the high-altitude orbit
where NEAR Shoemaker will spend the next month. The lofty perspective allows
NEAR Shoemaker to gather global color images of the asteroid’s southern
hemisphere, which was hidden from the sun (and too dimly lit for such work)
earlier in the mission. The NEAR team also plans to refine its Eros shape
model with additional surface-height measurements from NEAR Shoemaker’s
laser rangefinder.

After a Dec. 7 maneuver takes NEAR Shoemaker down to a 22-mile
(35-kilometer) orbit, the spacecraft will operate at that distance or lower
until the mission ends in February 2001. NEAR Shoemaker is currently 147
million miles (236 million kilometers) from Earth, circling Eros at just
more than 3 miles an hour.

SpaceRef staff editor.