NEAR image of the day for 2000 Mar 23

First Eros Flyover Movie

On March 7, 2000, the imager on the NEAR Shoemaker spacecraft acquired the first of several planned "flyover movies" of Eros. This one shows the "saddle" region from a range of 205 kilometers (127 miles). A flyover's purpose is to show a region of the asteroid during continually changing lighting conditions, with solar illumination coming from a variety of directions and elevations above the surface. With the Sun in different positions, features with different orientations become more evident. Also, with the Sun low to the surface, brightness variations are dominated by the shadows cast by landforms. In contrast, with the Sun high in the sky, brightness differences are dominated by the intrinsic differences in reflectivity of the surface materials. The combination of illuminations maximizes the ability to characterize landforms and to separate the effects of topography from differences in reflectivity.