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A.F. Cheng (JHU/APL), NEAR Team
The NEAR Shoemaker spacecraft entered orbit around the near Earth asteroid 433 Eros on February 14, 2000. Since then, nine months of intensive study have revealed that Eros is a complex and fascinating object. The average density of Eros is about that of Earth's crust, as first found in NEAR's December 1998 flyby and since confirmed in orbit. NEAR Shoemaker has measured the first x-rays and obtained the first laser altimetric data from an asteroid. The bulk elemental composition of Eros is consistent with that of ordinary chondrites. Such a composition is also inferred from visible and near infrared spectra. The S-IV asteroid Eros is not a differentiated body, but we are still searching for evidence of partial differentiation and compositional or structural heterogeneity. We are also searching for intrinsic magnetization of Eros. The surface of Eros is surprising in many ways. There is a pervasive global fabric consisting of a variety of ridges, grooves, and chains of pits or craters. Many craters appear to be structurally controlled. Some regions appear to be extensively resurfaced. Boulders are ubiquitous. We will highlight some of the latest results and discuss possible implications for the origin and evolution of Eros.