Communications with the NEAR spacecraft on the surface of Eros have ended, the last reception of signal was at 7:00 p.m. EST on 28 February. See the NASA pressrelease for more details. A graph of the measurements of the gamma-ray spectrometer on the surface of Eros is available.
NEAR Shoemaker touched down on the surface of Eros at 3:01:52 p.m. EST (20:01:52 UT)Monday, 12 February and contact has been maintained. The spacecraft apparently came to rest with the camera and gamma-ray spectrometer pointing towards the ground and the solar panels and low gainantenna pointing generally towards the Earth and Sun. Ample power is available and data can be transmitted at about 10 bits/sec.
The spacecraft impacted at a velocity of about 1.5 to 1.8 meters/second(3.4 to 4.0 mph). The spacecraft obtained 69 high-resolution images before touchdown, the final image showing an area 6 meters across. NEAR was not designed as a lander, but survived the low-velocity,low-gravity impact, a signal continued after the "landing" using the omni-directional low-gain antenna as a beacon. The NEAR team will not be attempting to lift off from the asteroid again. For more,see the NASA Press Release
For details of the plans for the landing, see the 31 January NASA Press Release
Launch Date: 17 February 1996 - 20:43 UT (3:43 PM EST)
Launch Vehicle: Delta IIPlanned on-orbit mass: 805 kg (includes 318 kg propellant)
Power System: Solar panels of 1800 W
The Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous (NEAR) mission is the first of NASA's Discovery missions andthe first mission ever to go into orbit around an asteroid. The spacecraft is equipped with an X-ray/gamma ray spectrometer, a near-infrared imaging spectrograph, a multispectral camera fitted with aCCD imaging detector, a laser altimeter, and a magnetometer. A radio science experiment will also be performed using the NEAR tracking system to estimate the gravity field of the asteroid. The...