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February 8, 2016 - Asteroid of Love

Asteroid of Love  On Valentine’s Day in 2000, after traveling 3.2 billion km (2 billion mi) over the course of five years, NASA’s solar-powered Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous (NEAR) Shoemaker spacecraft became the first spacecraft to orbit an asteroid when it began circling 433 Eros, a 33-km-long (20.5-mile) near-Earth asteroid. Nearly a year later, fifteen years ago this week, NEAR Shoemaker made another first when it touched down on the surface of Eros after a controlled descent. NEAR returned surface data for another two weeks, and gathered unprecedented data on the characteristics, composition, and geology of Eros. Discovered in 1898, Eros is named after the Greek god of love, and despite being an NEA, will never impact Earth, even though its orbit does on occasion bring it even closer than Mars.

Image credit: NASA / JPL / JHUAPL

Weekly Calendar

February 8-14, 2016

Holidays - Sky Events - Space History

 

Moon phase Monday 8

Chinese New Year

New Moon 9:39 AM ET

1828: Jules Verne born
1974: 84-day Skylab 4 mission ends, last crew to occupy Skylab
2010: STS-130 Endeavour launched

Moon phase Tuesday 9

Neptune 2° south of Moon

1971: Apollo 14 returns from Moon; last post-mission quarantine

Moon phase Wednesday 10

Ash Wednesday

Moon at perigee

1990: Galileo spacecraft passes by Venus on its way to Jupiter
1992: First Atlas II launch

Moon phase Thursday 11

1970: First Japanese satellite launched
1984: STS-41B Challenger makes first shuttle landing at KSC
1997: STS-82 Discovery launched
2000: STS-99 Endeavour launched
2010: Solar Dynamics Observatory launched

Moon phase Friday 12

Uranus 1.7° north of Moon

1963: NASA selects contractor to build the Crawler Transporter
1974: Mars 5 enters orbit around Mars
2001: NEAR-Shoemaker lands on asteroid Eros

Moon phase Saturday 13

1852: Johan Dreyer born
1937Sigmund Jähn born, first German to fly in space

Moon phase Sunday 14

Valentine’s Day

1972: Luna 20 launched
1980: Solar Max launched
1990: Voyager 1 takes solar system "family portrait"
2000: NEAR-Shoemaker orbits asteroid Eros

Suggestions for new history dates or better links? Corrections for errors on this page? Please e-mail me.