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NEAR's Risky Embrace With Eros

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Science  29 Jan 1999:
Vol. 283, Issue 5402, pp. 621
DOI: 10.1126/science.283.5402.621

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Last month, the Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous space probe, known as NEAR, ignored all messages from its mission controllers for a crucial 27 hours and went speeding past its target. The interruption did not scuttle the mission, but it did deprive space aficionados, at least for the coming year, of witnessing one of the more elegant demonstrations of the art of spacecraft navigation and mission design: easing a car-sized probe into orbit around an oddly shaped asteroid about 1 billionth the mass of Earth.