Date: 27 Jun 1997
This image mosaic of asteroid 253 Mathilde is constructed from four images acquired by the Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous (NEAR) spacecraft on June 27, 1997.
The images were taken from a distance of 1,500 miles (2,400 kilometers). Sunlight is coming from the upper right. The part of the asteroid shown is about 36 x 29 miles (59 x 47 kilometers) across. Details as small as 1250 feet (380 meters) can be discerned.
The surface exhibits many large craters, including the deeply shadowed one at the center, which is estimated to be more than 6 miles (10 kilometers) deep. The shadowed, wedge-shaped feature at the lower right is another large crater viewed obliquely. The angular shape of the upper left limb of the asteroid results from the rim of a third large crater viewed edge-on. The bright mountainous feature at the far left may be the rim of a fourth large crater emerging from the shadow. Mathilde's angular shape is believed to result from a violent history of impacts. NEAR acquired over 500 images of Mathilde during the encounter, including high-resolution views and color images. NEAR data from Mathilde represent the first science return from NASA's Discovery Program of small missions designed to yield top-quality science at low cost.