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P. C. Thomas (Cornell University)
Galileo and NEAR data on asteroids Gaspra, Ida, Mathilde and Eros provide much of our view of the surfaces and interiors of small asteroids. Both Gaspra and Eros have suggestions of structural continuity even though the latter displays evidence of massive fracturing. Ida and Eros (and Phobos and Deimos) have similar distributions of surface slopes, suggesting common net effects of impacts and local gravity in shaping the surfaces. The data for Eros in particular show substantial regolith and a great variety of features generated by downslope motion. Eros also has color and morphologic features indicative of particle sorting by size or possibly by composition. The great variety of features and the efficacy of gravity on these small objects are some of the major surprises of their early analysis. These characteristics will affect more general interpretation of asteroid processes and future exploration strategies.
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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 34, #3< br> © 2002. The American Astronomical Soceity.