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15-Feb-00 | Near-Earth Asteroid Rendezvous (NEAR) has successfully entered orbit around asteroid 433 Eros!

At 15:33UTC on 14 February, NEAR fired its hydrazine thrusters for 57 seconds, slowing its trajectory enough to be captured by Eros’ weak gravity. About fifteen minutes later word reached Earth that the burn had completed as planned. Although scientists have only the vaguest idea of the mass of Eros, a fact that helped to make the rendezvous extraordinarily tricky, the resulting orbit wound up being roughly circular and very close to expectations. NEAR is the first spacecraft to orbit any small body, and will now settle in for a year of detailed observations and delicate orbit adjustments. It was launched aboard Delta II flight 232 on 17 February, 1996.


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