News of the WeekPlanetary Science

NEAR Finds a Battered But Unbroken Eros

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Science  25 Feb 2000:
Vol. 287, Issue 5457, pp. 1378-1379
DOI: 10.1126/science.287.5457.1378b

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When the Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous (NEAR) spacecraft went into orbit around the asteroid Eros last Monday, planetary scientists were expecting to see a body little worn by the ravages of time. According to conventional theory, Eros had escaped from the main belt of asteroids between Mars and Jupiter shortly after it was formed and therefore should have arrived near Earth less blemished by impacts than siblings that remained behind. But data from NEAR reveal that the asteroid took a heavier beating than expected, NEAR team members announced last week; the pitted surface suggests a slower, unconventional passage out of the main belt.