CCNet-ESSAY, 16 February 2000


By Michael Paine

Special to  posted: 06:23 am EST  11 February 2000   

First, the good news: Asteroid Eros is not on a collision course with
the Earth.

At roughly twice the size of Manhattan Island, Eros is huge compared
with other known near Earth asteroids. A collision by an object this
size would be more devastating than the impact that is thought to have
finished off the dinosaurs 65 million years ago.

Eros in the news because, on Monday, after a torturous four year
journey, the NEAR spacecraft will attempt to become an artificial moon
of Eros. A successful NEAR mission to Eros will show that we have the
ability to rendezvous with an asteroid and to orbit it.

This ability is crucial if -- some scientists would say "when" -- an
asteroid is discovered to be on a collision course with the Earth.

. . . .

Complete essay


CCCMENU CCC for 2000