NewsPlanetary Science

Where Do Meteorites Come From? A NEAR Miss May Tell

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Science  09 Feb 1996:
Vol. 271, Issue 5250, pp. 757
DOI: 10.1126/science.271.5250.757


Meteorites have pelted Earth from space for billions of years, but the identity of their source has long stumped planetary scientists. To pin it down, scientists intend to throw something back: the Near-Earth Asteroid Rendezvous (NEAR) spacecraft. Later this month, NEAR will begin a 3-year journey to the asteroid Eros, using remote sensing to match the asteroid's composition against Earth's meteorites. But critics say NEAR's orbit—just 30 kilometers above the asteroid—is still too far, and the only way to get a solid answer is to collect a surface sample—a much more expensive proposition.