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The Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous (NEAR) was the first mission to orbit and eventually land on an asteroid. A phenomenal success, the mission returned with hundreds of thousands of images, spectra, and other measurements about the large near-Earth asteroid 433 Eros. Some of the scientists and engineers who made NEAR such a success describe the mission here in their own words, from the initial concept studies, through the development phase, launch, cruise operations, the flyby of asteroid Mathilde, the near-catastrophic main engine failure in 1998, the heroic rescue and recovery of the spacecraft, the amazing year-long up-close look at one of Earth's most primitive celestial neighbors, and, finally, the daring attempt to land the spacecraft on Eros at the end of the mission. The book is illustrated throughout with images from the mission and explanatory diagrams. Jim Bell is an Assistant Professor in the Cornell University Astronomy Department whose research focuses on the geology, chemistry, and mineralogy of planets, asteroids, and comets using data obtained from telescopes and spacecraft missions. He is a member of a number of space science teams, including the NASA Mars Pathfinder and NEAR. Author of some 70 first and co-authored journal publications, he is a frequent contributor to popular astronomy magazines and radio shows. The International Astronomical Union recently awarded him the honor of having asteroid 8146 Jimbell named after him. Jacqueline Mitton is the Press Officer and a fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society, a member of the International Astronomical Union, and a Member of the Division of Planetary Sciences of the American Astronomical Society. She is the author or co-author of 16 astronomy books; her most recent being The Cambridge Dictionary of Astronomy (2001).
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