12th Day of February

2001 – The first spacecraft to land on an asteroid

The Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous – Shoemaker (NEAR Shoemaker), renamed after its 1996 launch in honour of planetary scientist Eugene Shoemaker, was a robotic space probe designed by the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory for NASA to study the near-Earth asteroid Eros from close orbit over a period of a year.

The mission succeeded in closing in with the asteroid and orbited it several times, finally terminating by touching down on the asteroid on February 12, 2001.

2001 – The first spacecraft to land on an asteroid

The primary scientific objective of NEAR was to return data on the bulk properties, composition, mineralogy, morphology, internal mass distribution and magnetic field of Eros.

Secondary objectives include studies of regolith properties, interactions with the solar wind, possible current activity as indicated by dust or gas, and the asteroid spin state.

Extra Note: The first scheduled rendezvous burn was attempted on December 20, 1998 at 22:00 UT. The burn sequence was initiated but immediately aborted. The spacecraft subsequently entered safe mode and began tumbling.

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