At 10:33 a.m., with Eros about 203 miles (327 kilometers) below, NEAR's small hydrazine thrusters fired for 57 seconds, slowing the spacecraft's approach to walking speed and easing it into the asteroid's weak gravitational pull. The rendezvous took place about 160 million miles (256 million kilometers) from Earth.
"NEAR is now the first spacecraft to successfully lock into orbit around an asteroid," says Mission Director Dr. Robert Farquhar, from the NEAR Mission Operations Center at the Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Md. "We're making history here today."
Over the next 24 hours, instrument data and pictures of the asteroid taken after the orbit insertion burn will provide more details about NEAR's precise position around Eros. The first orbit images from NEAR are expected this afternoon.