19 September 2001 Analysis of laser radar measurements of the asteroid 433 Eros
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Abstract
After a 5-year mission, a 4-year transit followed by a one-year mission orbiting the asteroid 433 Eros, the Near-Earth Asteroid Rendezvous-Shoemaker (NEAR) spacecraft made a controlled landing onto the asteroid's surface on 12 February 2001. Onboard the spacecraft, the NEAR Laser Rangefinder (NLR) facility instrument had gathered over 11 million measurements, providing a spatially dense, high-resolution, topographical map of Eros. This topographic data, combined with Doppler tracking data for the spacecraft, enabled the determination of the asteroid's shape, mass, and density thereby contributing to understanding the internal structure and collisional evolution of Eros. NLR data indicate that Eros is a consolidated body with a complex shape dominated by collisions. The offset between the asteroid's center of mass and center of figure indicates a small deviation from a homogeneous internal structure that is most simply explained by variations in mechanical structure. Regional-scale relief and slope distributions show evidence for control of some topography by a competent substrate. It was found that pulse dilation was the major source of uncertainty in single-shot range measurements from the NLR, and that this uncertainty remains consistent with the overall 6-m range measurement system accuracy for NEAR. Analysis of NLR data fully quantified the geodynamic nature of this planetesimal, ergo, illustrating the utility of laser altimetry for remote sensing.
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Timothy D. Cole, Maria T. Zuber, Greg Neuman, Andrew F. Cheng, R. Alan Reiter, Yanping Guo, David E. Smith, "Analysis of laser radar measurements of the asteroid 433 Eros", Proc. SPIE 4377, Laser Radar Technology and Applications VI, (19 September 2001); doi: 10.1117/12.440105; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.440105
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