Date sent: Tue, 08 Jul 1997 08:33:46 -0400 (EDT)
From: Benny J Peiser <>
Subject: Deep Space Maneuver Retarget NEAR For Asteroid 433 Eros Encounter
Priority: NORMAL

from: Ron Baalke <>

Johns Hopkins University
Applied Physics Laboratory

For more information contact:

Helen Worth
JHU/APL Office of Public Affairs
Phone: (301) 953-5113
fax: (301) 953-6123

Donald Savage
NASA Headquarters Office of Space Science
Phone: (202) 358-1547
fax: (202) 358-3093.


Deep Space Maneuver Retarget NEAR for Asteroid 433 Eros Encounter

The trajectory for the Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous (NEAR) spacecraft
was adjusted at 6:30 a.m. EDT, today, to target the spacecraft for an
Earth swingby in 1998. An 11-minute firing of its bi-propellant engine
slowed NEAR down by 269 meters per second (602 mph) to a current speed
of about 18,244 meters per second (41,000 mph) and nudged the
spacecraft about half a degree from its previous path. This maneuver
puts NEAR on track for a close Earth flyby on Jan. 23, 1998, which will
bend the spacecraft's trajectory into the orbital plane of asteroid 433

"Everything went beautifully and we are now on target for a rendezvous
with Eros in January 1999," says NEAR Mission Director Dr. Robert W.
Farquhar of The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory
(APL), Laurel, Md., where NEAR was designed and built. Spacecraft
Systems Engineer Andrew G. Santo, also of the Applied Physics
Laboratory, says, "The burn was performed so accurately that fuel that
had been allocated for further correction can now be used during the
orbital phase."

Today's maneuver was the first time the large thruster engine was
fired. The next scheduled firing of the engine, Dec. 20, 1998, will
mark the beginning of the Eros rendezvous sequence.

The flawless deep space maneuver continued the success story of the
NEAR mission that began with its Feb. 17, 1996 launch from Cape
Canaveral Air Station in Florida. On June 27, 1997, the spacecraft
completed a flyby of asteroid 253 Mathilde, sending back spectacular
images of a dark, battered carbon-rich rock believed to date from the
beginning of the solar system. The flyby was the closest look at any
asteroid to date and the first encounter with a C-type (carbon-based)
asteroid. The Mathilde images were the first science return of NASA's
Discovery Program. A radio science experiment measured for the first
time the mass of an asteroid.

The NEAR mission, which will end Feb. 6, 2000, after a year-long study
of Eros, will provide the first comprehensive study of a near-Earth
asteroid. The mission has been managed by APL, where the Mission
Operation and the Science Data centers are located.

Mathilde flyby updates can be obtained on the Mathilde homepage at: Photographs of the first
Mathilde images, the NEAR spacecraft, and the NEAR launch are available
upon request.

CCCMENU CCC for 1997