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Monday, 12 February, 2001, 17:11 GMT
Making space history

Space exploration takes an historic step forward by landing a probe on a 21-mile long asteroid. The Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous (Near) craft alights on the surface of rocky Eros millions of miles from the Earth. BBC News Online looks at the milestones of the Near mission.


Touchdown

The surface of Eros as sent back from the probe
The surface of Eros as the probe landed

The craft makes a successful landing on the surface of Eros, sending back remarkable pictures to mission control. Scientists at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory were delighted by the quality of the images, describing them as "unbelievable". The BBC's Fergus Walsh reports.

 Click here to watch


Risky landing

The surface of Eros is not an ideal landing site
The surface of Eros is not an ideal landing site

The craft is not actually designed to land - the manoeuvre is only being attempted because it is close to the end of its useful life. Whatever happens to Near, the data obtained will tell astronomers a lot about the features on the surface. The BBC's Dr David Whitehouse reports.

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A year in orbit

Much has been learned about Eros over the last year
Much has been learned about Eros over the last year

The Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous (Near) craft will attempt to land on the surface of Eros, millions of miles from the Earth. Near has been orbiting Eros for about a year performing a survey of accuracy of the large potato-shaped chunk of rock. The BBC's Tom Heap reports.

 Click here to watch


Near makes history

Mission Control in Maryland will follow events closely
Mission Control in Maryland will follow events closely

On the 14th February 2000 the tiny Near spacecraft sweeps into a trouble-free orbit around the asteroid Eros, becoming the first spacecraft to orbit an asteroid. It fulfilled its Valentine's day date just over a year after its first attempt failed. The BBC's Sue Nelson reports.

 Click here to watch


Mission aims

Near is prepared for launch
Near is prepared for launch

Eros is made of material left over from the birth of the solar system and the planets some 4.5 billion years ago. It belongs to a rogue population of asteroids that split from the main asteroid belt. Professor William Boynton from Arizona University explains the aims of the mission.

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