NEAR spacecraft. Artwork depicting the NEAR spacecraft orbiting Asteroid 433 Eros. NEAR (Near- Earth Asteroid Rendezvous) is the first mission in NASA's Discovery programme of small, low-cost spacecraft. Launched in February 1996, NEAR will first fly by asteroid 253 Mathilde (1997) before entering orbit around 433 Eros in 1999. NEAR will conduct a 10-month survey of the asteroid using visible light cameras, infrared and X-ray spectrometers and a laser altimeter. Discovery missions take less than 3 years to develop, and are limited to $150 million for construction, launch and the first 30 days of operation.
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