1 Apr


Astronomy is the study of all the objects found in the space of the universe, for example, stars, moons, asteroids, comets, galaxies, planets, and nebulae. The study of this involves launching spacecraft into the space to help collect information, the information aids in gathering information to help in the research. These processes include gamma ray which burst supernovae explosive and cosmic microwave background radiation.

The Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous is a mission that was named in honor of a scientist Gene Shoemaker. The mission was designed to study the near earth asteroid 433 Eros, which was one of the largest asteroids near the Earth.  The mission’s aim was to establish the nature and the origin of the asteroid, which was near the earth’s orbit. Most this near object to the surface contains more information on how the earth was formed and the other planets. It was designed to take a period of one year. The NEAR mission was the first ever mission to orbit an asteroid, and it was also the first one to orbit around the asteroid for over one year, (Jim 5). The primary aim of the mission was to collect data on the bulk properties, mineralogy, morphology, composition, internal mass distribution and the magnetic field of Eros. The secondary objective was to study the current activities as it was indicated by the gas and dust on the asteroid and its interaction with the solar wind.

The NEAR space was designed and was about the size of a car.  It was made of aluminum panels of 18 –square-ft. It was 9-ft 2in long together with its antenna. Its entire four solar panels measured six ft long and four ft wide. The spacecraft comprised of the gamma ray spectrometer which was used to determine which elements that were present on the asteroid.  A camera that was multi-spectral and it was fitted with CCD imaging detector and an infrared imaging spectrometer (Jim 5). It was equipped with a laser rangefinder to determine the distance to the asteroids. Experiments were also carried out to establish the gravity of the asteroid and find out its mass and density using the NEAR tracking system. All the instruments in the NRAR spacecraft weighed 1,775 lbs including the fuel at the time of launch.

The lightweight spacecraft was launched on February 17, 1996.It made it way into the orbit around Eros after four years; this was on February 14, 2000. The object was totally dark and of the total sunlight that was shown on it, only 4 per cent was reflected. As NEAR was swung by the trajectory which collected energy from the earth’s gravity, it captured out shots and films of the planet. The thousands of images of high resolutions were obtained from the spacecraft. These pictures showed 6,760 rocks which were larger than 16 yards across wide.  Most of the rocks seemed to be ejected from one crater which was situated near one end of the asteroids, (Russell, C T 21).

NEAR Shoemaker gathered enough data which completed one of the most detailed scientific profiles done ever of small celestial bodies. The mission has already answered most fundamental scientific questions asked in the class of asteroids. The NEAR scientists gathered at least 100,000 craters and almost 1 million boulders which were house-sized. It was discovered that the surface of the Eros was very smooth Communication with NEAR came to an end on February 28, 2001. Attempts to re-establish connection since then have failed.