Rosetta finds a rocky jewel

Spacecraft images asteroid during close encounter

7:12am, September 6, 2008

On September 5, the European Space Agency's Rosetta mission became the first spacecraft to take a close-up portrait of a rare type of asteroid that lies in the main belt, between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. The craft captured images of a 5-kilometer-wide asteroid, called 2867 Steins, while flying within 800 kilometers of the rocky body's surface.

Rosetta found that the grayish asteroid is shaped like a diamond, measuring about 5.9 kilometers by 4 kilometers. "We observed a new jewel in the solar system," said Rosetta scientist Uwe Keller during a Sept. 6 press briefing at ESA headquarters in Darmstadt, Germany.

A camera on Rosetta identified 23 craters bigger than 200 meters across, with the largest crater, on the north side of Steins, measuring 2 kilometers in diameter. The camera also spotted a chain of small craters near the rim of the

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