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Solar System - Small bodies of Solar System Topics

  • Weekend Meteors

    2000April 6, 2011

    On Friday the 13th of October a brilliant fireball startled stargazers in Texas and Kansas. But that was just a piece of space junk -- a real meteor shower arrives this weekend when Earth passes through a stream of debris from Halley's comet.

  • The Baffling Geminid Meteor Shower

    2000April 6, 2011

    Most meteor showers are caused by comets, but the Geminid meteor shower, which peaks next Wednesday morning, seems to come from a curious near-Earth asteroid named 3200 Phaethon.

  • The Moonlit Leonids 2000

    2000April 6, 2011

    Our planet is heading for a minefield of cosmic dust streams laid down by periodic comet Tempel-Tuttle. The result could be a series of three Leonid meteor outbursts on Nov. 17 and 18, 2000. The bright quarter Moon, which will lie in the constellation Leo, could overpower faint meteors.

  • First Light from Eros Orbit

    2000April 6, 2011

    NEAR's first close-up pictures from Eros orbit have arrived at Earth. This story includes a beautiful image of a large crater on the asteroid and highlights from this afternoon's NASA press briefing.

  • Meltdown!

    2000April 6, 2011

    Comet LINEAR continued to blow itself apart this weekend as astronomers around the world monitored the action. The comet is still bright enough to see through amateur telescopes, but it's fading fast. This story compares the breakup of comet LINEAR with another famous fragmented comet, Shoemaker-Levy 9, that collided with Jupitersix years ago.

  • A Close Encounter with a Space Rock

    2000April 6, 2011

    This morning a half-kilometer wide asteroid is zooming past Earth barely 12 times farther from our planet than the Moon. In cosmic terms, it's a near miss, but there is absolutely no danger of a collision. Instead, the encounter offers astronomers an unusually good opportunity to study a near-Earth asteroid.

  • A Close Encounter with Asteroid Eros

    2000April 6, 2011

    NASA's NEAR Shoemaker spacecraft swooped 5 kilometers above the surface of 433 Eros on Oct 26th, marking its closest-ever approach to the tumbling space rock. Scientists hope the flyby will uncover clues about extra boulders and missing craters on the near-Earth asteroid.

  • Guess Who's Coming to Breakfast?

    2000April 6, 2011

    The NEAR spacecraft is now less than 1000 km from asteroid 433 Eros. It is scheduled to enter orbit around the space rock at 10:33 EST on Monday morning. Critical science observations are slated to begin 11 hours earlier when the spacecraft passes directly between the Sun and Eros.

  • Square Craters

    2000April 6, 2011

    NASA's NEAR Shoemaker spacecraft has spotted square-shaped craters on asteroid Eros, a telltale sign of mysterious goings-on in the asteroid belt long ago. Square craters add to accumulating evidence that the Eros is riddled with cracks and ridges that extend the entire 33 km length of the peanut-shaped space rock.

  • Perseid Dawn

    2000April 6, 2011

    The Perseid meteor shower peaks on August 12, 2000. This year the bright, nearly-full Moon will outshine the Perseids most of the night, but for an hour between moonset and sunrise on Saturday morning, star gazers could witness a brief but beautiful meteor shower.