Eros: Shape, topography, and slope processes

P. C. Thomas, J. Joseph, B. Carcich, J. Veverka, B. E. Clark, J. F. Bell, A. W. Byrd, R. Chomko, M. Robinson, S. Murchie, L. Prockter, A. Cheng, N. Izenberg, M. Malin, C. Chapman, L. A. McFadden, R. Kirk, M. Gaffey, P. G. Lucey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

138 Scopus citations


Stereogrammetric measurement of the shape of Eros using images obtained by NEAR's Multispectral Imager provides a survey of the major topographic features and slope processes on this asteroid. This curved asteroid has radii ranging from 3.1 to 17.7 km and a volume of 2535 ± 20 km3. The center of figure is within 52 m of the center of mass provided by the Navigation team; this minimal difference suggests that there are only modest variations in density or porosity within the asteroid. Three large depressions 10, 8, and 5.3 km across represent different stages of degradation of large impact craters. Slopes on horizontal scales of ∼300 m are nearly all less than 35°, although locally scarps are much steeper. The area distribution of slopes is similar to those on Ida, Phobos, and Deimos. Regions that have slopes greater than 25° have distinct brighter markings and have fewer large ejecta blocks than do flatter areas. The albedo patterns that suggest downslope transport of regolith have sharper boundaries than those on Phobos, Deimos, and Gaspra. The morphology of the albedo patterns, their lack of discrete sources, and their concentration on steeper slopes suggest transport mechanisms different from those on the previously well-observed small bodies, perhaps due to a reduced relative effectiveness of impact gardening on Eros. Regolith is also transported in talus cones and in connected, sinuous paths extending as much as 2 km, with some evident as relatively darker material. Talus material in at least one area is a discrete superposed unit, a feature not resolved on other small bodies. Flat-floored craters that apparently contain ponded material also suggest discrete units that are not well mixed by impacts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)18-37
Number of pages20
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Asteroids
  • Eros
  • Geodesy
  • Geology
  • NEAR

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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