Paper models, photos and musings of a Paper Kosmonaut

07 February 2012

For Eugene

    Since I came down here to rest
    Nothing but dust and rock
    From far before life came to be
    Your name was given to me on the way out
    But you soon sped after me
    into the eternal night
    Can you see me from the moon?
    - A salute from Eros

Cheers in the control room as telemetry showed no more movement. The first landing on an asteroid was history.
On 12 february 2001 the small probe NEAR-Shoemaker gently touched down on the surface of Eros. Its journey began almost exactly five years earlier, when a Delta 7925-8 lifted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at the 17th of february 1996. A Star 48 kick motor sent the probe, then named NEAR off in the right direction. When NEAR 'woke up" its name was changed into NEAR Shoemaker.
This build is a full scratchbuild - apart from this bit,
for which I used NASA's model plan.
Scale is approximately 1/144.
I used chocolate wrapper and blue and metallic paper.
Eugene Shoemaker was a geologist born in 1928 who specialized in astrogeology, the science and the study of the other planets in our Solar System. While training the American astronauts for their Apollo flights he himself got into the program and was a potential first geologist to walk on the moon. Unfortunately, due to a disease he had he was disqualified. He kept on training the astronauts and after Apollo ended, he started to work on asteroids. He also co-discovered a new comet, which plummeted itself in Jupiter's atmosphere one year after the discovery., leaving a massive scar in the cloud deck of the big planet.
Only 69, he died in a car accident in 1997.
Some of his ashes were carried to the moon with the Lunar Prospector probe which impacted on its surface on the 31th of July 1999.

The NASA model was very crude, so I had to do a lot of research to get all the little instruments about right.

The backside of the solar panels.

The magnetometer on top of the dish was suspended by cotton thread which I reinforced with CA.

This moment was great. It started to look like the probe.

NEAR-Shoemaker had a troublesome journey which almost went wrong. An accident during an orbital insertion burn to get NEAR to orbit Eros was aborted and got the thrusters to fire uncontrollably for a long time. It took a whole day before contact was re-established. No one knows what happened but the fuel on board NEAR was now almost down to the level that there was no more room for errors. They brought NEAR into an orbit around the sun which was close to that of Eros.
In 2000 they again attempted to get the probe into orbit around the asteroid, which they did, and a year later after busloads of photos and data they landed the probe on the asteroid itself.

The base was made from paper maché, real rocks and sand to imitate dust.
This time even I was amazed of its tinyness.

The Shoemaker has landed.

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