Launch date: 17 February 1996
Mathilde flyby date: 27 June 1997
Eros orbit operations: Feb. 2000 through February 2001
The Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous (NEAR) mission to the near-earth asteroid 433 Eros was launched in Feb. 1996 and carried out Eros orbital operations from Feb. 2000 through Feb. 2001. It acquired the first comprehensive, spatially resolved measurements of the geomorphology, reflectance spectral properties, and shape of an asteroid, and X-ray and gamma-ray spectral measurements of elemental abundances from orbit and the surface. The ambient magnetic field in the vicinity of Eros was also measured. On the way to Eros, the spacecraft also performed a flyby of the asteroid 253 Mathilde in June 1997, obtaining image data and a mass determination.