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Fwd = NEAR Shoemaker Moving In for a Better Look at Eros

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  • Frits Westra
    Forwarded by: fwestra@hetnet.nl Originally from: baalke@jpl.nasa.gov Original Subject: NEAR Shoemaker Moving In for a Better Look at Eros Original Date:
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 31, 2000
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      Forwarded by: fwestra@...
      Originally from: baalke@...
      Original Subject: NEAR Shoemaker Moving In for a Better Look at Eros
      Original Date: Fri, 31 Mar 2000 14:00:07 -0800 (PST)

      ========================== Forwarded message begins ======================


      NEAR Shoemaker Moving In for a Better Look at Eros
      March 31, 2000
      http://near.jhuapl.edu/news/flash/00mar31_1.html

      The true nature of Eros becomes a bit clearer --
      literally -- as NEAR Shoemaker moves into a lower orbit
      this weekend.

      Shortly after 9 p.m. (EST) on Saturday, April 1, the
      spacecraft will fire its thrusters for about 40 seconds
      and begin gradually descending into position to start a
      62-mile (100-kilometer) orbit on April 11.

      Since March 3, NEAR Shoemaker has been in a nearly
      circular orbit some 127 miles (205 kilometers) from the
      center of Eros. NEAR team members say halving the
      spacecraft's distance to the rotating space rock will
      yield sharper images of the abundant geological features
      on the asteroid's surface, giving them a chance to learn
      more about the relationship between the many ridges,
      grooves and craters.

      Earlier than expected, the team is also gathering
      information on the asteroid's elemental makeup. With the
      help of three solar flares on March 22 and 23, the
      spacecraft's X-Ray/Gamma Ray Spectrometer (XGRS) picked
      up additional fluorescent "signatures" of magnesium,
      aluminum, silicon, calcium and iron on the Eros surface.
      The readings were similar to those the XGRS detected
      during a solar flare on March 2 -- from four times the
      distance the instrument is designed to operate.

      "From that distance, the readings verify that the
      instrument has the sensitivity we need," says Dr. Jacob
      Trombka, XGRS instrument team leader from NASA's Goddard
      Space Flight Center. "They continue to show us that the
      calibration is on target and the instrument is working
      as it should."

      NEAR Shoemaker is about 135 million miles (218 million
      kilometers) from Earth, moving 3 miles an hour around
      Eros. The spacecraft is six weeks into its historic,
      yearlong mission to study the asteroid.

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