A Brief History
On February 14, 2000, the American spacecraft NEAR Shoemaker orbited asteroid 433 Eros, the first spacecraft from Earth to orbit an asteroid.
NEAR Shoemaker had been designed for NASA by the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory and was launched in 1996. Not only did the spacecraft make history with its orbit, a year later it made space history again by being the first spacecraft to touch down on an asteroid, the same 433 Eros.
The spacecraft was named after Eugene Shoemaker, an American geologist that studied impact craters on the Earth, but also studied events in our solar system. After his death in 1997, his ashes were delivered to the Moon via the Lunar Prospector space mission!
Question for students (and subscribers): What space mission would you most like to see accomplished? Please let us know in the comments section below this article.
Your readership is much appreciated!
For more information, please see…
Doremus, Gene. Exploring Space: The High Frontier. CreateSpace, 2016.
Nataraj, Mirmala. Earth and Space: Photographs from the Archives of NASA. Chronicle Books, 2015.
The featured image in this article, a graphic of the NASA – space probe NEAR that visited the asteroid Eros and landed on it at the end of its mission, is in the public domain in the United States because it was solely created by NASA. NASA copyright policy states that “NASA material is not protected by copyright unless noted“. (See Template:PD-USGov, NASA copyright policy page or JPL Image Use Policy.)
You can also watch video versions of this article on YouTube.