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Asteroid Rendezvous: NEAR Shoemaker's Adventures at Eros Hardcover – 1 Aug 2002
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'… you will find that the opinions of the mission director vie with the leader and members of the science team … This diversity of views makes the book refreshingly reminiscent of the cut and thrust of space mission planning and execution. the illustrations are superb, with the most astounding images of asteroids obtained so far. Asteroid Rendezvous is a really informative and enjoyable book and a most fitting tribute to an astoundingly successful space mission.' New Scientist
'This is a collection of personal accounts of the successful NEAR-Shoemaker mission from the scientists and engineers who worked on it. … The enthusiasm of the teams involved with this mission comes across forcefully, as well as the numbers of people and their diverse concerns. It is also a good round-up of current thinking on asteroid composition, not least because the observations from this mission make up a significant part of our body of knowledge about these small but important members of the solar system.' A&G
'Bell and Mitton have written an excellent text and it is well illustrated.' Richard Taylor, Spaceflight
' … I am pleased with this hardcopy record of what was an exciting mission with many thrills and spills for the reader to follow. I particularly appreciated the bibliography page, which contains some excellent and very pertinent pointers for further information, including books, general articles, technical papers and Websites. I for one will want to follow up on some of the details mentioned in the text for which I now have an appetite to learn more.' Journal of the British Astronomical Association
An account of NASA's NEAR mission to the asteroid Eros, by some of the scientists and engineers most closely involved with it. They recount the whole dramatic story, from concept to the first ever landing of a spacecraft on an asteroid, and the resulting discoveries. Highly illustrated for the general reader.See all Product description
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The NEAR spacecraft runs into a serious problem by a too short "burn". Near shuts down in the safe mode. Later the scientists are able to save the mission by swinging the spacecraft and using earth as a sling shot to change the trajectory of NEAR to reach EROS but the mission takes longer. Near survives a couple of near catastrophes but due to back up procedures the scientists are able to save the mission.
The mission was OVER 100% successful. First as an extra the NEAR spacecraft takes images of another asteroid Mathilde. It is a very dark object and through NEAR images and data from NEAR on how Mathilde is affecting the spacecrafts passing the scientists determine this class C asteroid has lots of carbon and is not solid but a bunch of debris compacted with void space. Not dense and a spacecraft first taking images of a class C asteroid.. They intentionally blow a cover off the camera to get more light to get images. Unfortunately this causes contamination problems for later taking images of EROS but they are able to compensate.
Many fantastic images of EROS taken and you can actually see small boulders. Many impact craters and a huge uplift crack found from an ancient impact. There is much debris/regolith on EROS. Data from NEAR Shoemaker allows scientist to determine EROS is in a completely different class than Mathilde. Eros is a class S asteroid. Its mostly silicon and has an elongated bent potato shape with a much more homogeneous composition and denser; similar to Mar's Phobos moon. The scientists are able to determine EROS probably originally was an old asteroid in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter but because of collisions became a Near Earth Orbit asteroid and is a big one about the size of Cape Cod near Boston.
Near Shoemaker had a magnetometer, A near infrared Spectrometer, a Multi spectral imager, x ray solar monitor sensors, a laser range finder and an x ray/gamma ray spectrometer so much more was done than just taking pictures.
Some historical firsts. First encounter with a class C asteroid. First encounter with a near earth asteroid. First spacecraft to orbit a small body in space. First spacecraft to land on a small space body.
Myself personally I have much more interest in a manned Mars mission and eventual colonization but this NEAR Shoemaker mission was spectacular. #1 it was a low cost mission that was completed on time and under budget. #2 It is extremely important to determine the composition of Near Earth Orbit objects that could threaten Earth. Remember the dinosaurs had a very bad day when an asteroid slammed into the Earth 65 million years ago. Also there has been many impacts on the earth since then. #3 the NEAR Shoemaker spacecraft was never designed to land on EROS. The great group of scientists and technicians were able to safely land NEAR on EROS and NEAR was still mostly functional. The solar panels for power were still working as well as the x ray/gamma ray spectrometer getting data about EROS exterior composition. They also got great images as the spacecraft descended.
So many more questions raised about asteroids from the NEAR Shoemaker data from asteroids Mathilde and Eros.
The scientists ,technicians and builders of NEAR are to be commended on achieving an OVER 100% mission. Great job! A truely remarkable mission and a great book describing it. No difficult math. You don't need a degree in astrophysics to enjoy this book. Great for anyone interested in planetary exploration and asteroids. A nice addition to our families library.
After a long gestation period, NEAR began its voyage to Eros on 17 February 1996, the first mission flown under NASA's new Discovery program, a series of low-cost planetary science projects. NEAR finally moved into orbit around Eros on 14 February 2000, roughly a year later than intended.
Throughout 2000, NEAR explored Eros offering spectacular pictures and a rich harvest of spectroscopy data. At the conclusion of the mission, on 12 February 2001, the mission team landed it on the surface of Eros. Although the NEAR spacecraft was not designed to survive landing, its instruments remained operational until 1 March 2001.
In "Asteroid Rendezvous" several of the scientists and engineers who conducted the NEAR mission describe it in their own words from initial concept studies through development, launch, and cruise operations. The book is liberally illustrated throughout with both stunning images from the mission and explanatory diagrams.
"Asteroid Rendezvous" is long on description and celebration and short on analysis and critical examination. Even so, it is a very interesting book, and a fine start in documenting the history of this important mission. It will be of interest to amateur astronomers and general readers who want to know about the American space program. It will serve as grist for future serious historical studies of planetary exploration.