NASA releases first color image of asteroid
(CNN) -- NASA and Johns Hopkins University on Thursday released the first color image of Eros, the first asteroid ever orbited by a manmade satellite.
The Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous craft began obtaining a series of images from 210 miles (330 kilometers) above the surface hours after it began orbiting the Manhattan-sized asteroid on Monday.
After a four-year journey to Eros, the NEAR craft has begun a yearlong close-up study of the asteroid, which orbits the sun from a distance of 160 million miles.
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Although Eros itself poses no threat to Earth, scientists hope the $224 million mission will determine the asteroid's origin and offer clues about how to protect Earth from catastrophic collisions with other large space rocks.
Built and managed by The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland, NEAR was the first spacecraft launched in NASA's Discovery Program of low-cost, small-scale planetary missions.
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