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Published on Aug 8, 2007
Scientists are releasing highly detailed 3-D views of the near-Earth asteroid 433 Eros. The images were not captured by a camera, but are the product of over 8 million observations from the NEAR Laser Rangefinder (NLR). The NLR measures heights on Eros' surface by determining the time short pulses of laser light take to travel from the spacecraft to the asteroid and back. NEAR team members use this information to build detailed models of Eros' shape, which in turn help them understand the asteroid's collisional evolution and internal structure. The shape of Eros also provides a context for interpreting images and compositional information.