Friday, November 04, 2022

The Spacecraft That Wasn't Designed To Land, But Did

In 1996, NASA launched an unmanned probe to go study an asteroid. We didn't know much about asteroids at the time, but that would change. The probe was named NEAR-Shoemaker, which stood for Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous, and after planetary geologist Eugene Shoemaker. The targeted asteroid was 433 Eros. NEAR-Shoemaker was the first probe to ever orbit an asteroid, and that was after it had already performed some unexpected side missions. Eventually, NASA decided to let it crash to end its mission, but it survived and continued to work for two more weeks! Hank Green of SciShow has the story of NEAR-Shoemaker's space exploits. (via Damn Interesting)

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