STS-99 Day 8 Highlights
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- On Friday, February 18, 2000, 7:00 a.m. CST, STS-99 MCC Status Report # 15
- With unprecedented detail of well over half of the world's terrain
already safely stored aboard, Endeavour's crew continued mapping the
Earth uninterrupted this morning, marching toward more than nine full
days of radar observations thanks to successful fuel conservation
- Early today, Endeavour completed its sixth "Flycast
Maneuver" trim burn, a gentle engine firing that maintains the
Shuttle's altitude at around 150 statute miles for the precise mapping
work. Today's burn gave the Shuttle a slightly larger boost than
previous daily firings, a measure that will allow controllers to save
fuel by eliminating a subsequent firing on Sunday. The next trim burn
is now planned for midday on Saturday.
- So far, the Space Radar Topography instruments aboard Endeavour have
mapped 83 percent, or almost 40 million square miles, of the target
area once, an area larger than the Americas, Africa and Australia
combined. More than 50 percent of the target area, over 24 million
square miles, has been mapped with two or more passes. Endeavour
images 40,000 square miles of land every minute, a rate that would
allow the Shuttle to map the state of Alaska in 15 minutes and the
state of Rhode Island in less than two seconds.
- In addition to the changes in trim burns, other fuel conservation
measures aboard Endeavour have included changing the way waste water
is dumped overboard, slightly relaxing the spacecraft's stringent
attitude control guidelines and limiting the use of some
equipment. Early in the mission, the failure of a tiny thruster at the
end of the 197-foot mast protruding from Endeavour's cargo bay
resulted in increased use of the Shuttle's steering jets and fuel. On
Thursday, flight controllers noted that the small nitrogen gas
thruster on the mast now appeared to be again providing some thrust, a
trend that could further improve the Shuttle's predicted fuel
- While the radar mapping continues, a student-operated camera mounted
in one of Endavour's windows also has set a record pace. So far, the
experiment, called EarthKAM, has sent down almost 1,400 photos of
Earth to middle school students. On four previous shuttle flights
combined, EarthKAM sent down a total of about 2,000 photos.
- Working around the clock, Endeavour's crew is divided into two
shifts. The Blue Team -- Pilot Dom Gorie and Mission Specialists
Janice Voss and Mamoru Mohri -- are now on duty. Voss and Mohri took
time out from their work this morning to provide television of the
high-rate recorders used for the mapping operations and a
High-Definition Television Camera.
- The recorders use high-density tapes to capture the radar mapping
data. About 270 tapes will be recorded, containing a volume of data
that would fill about 13,500 CDs. The data will allow topographical
maps to be created of a majority of Earth that will be several times
more accurate than are available today. The HDTV camcorder aboard
Endeavour is one of the first steps in NASA's transition to HDTV.
- The Red Team, Commander Kevin Kregel and Mission Specialists Janet
Kavandi and Gerhard Thiele, are sleeping and will awaken at 10:14
a.m. CST. The entire crew will participate in a press conference at
11:59 a.m. today, fielding questions from U.S. and Japanese reporters
at NASA centers. Subsequently, Thiele, Kregel, Kavandi and Voss will
take a call from German Research Minister Edelgard Buhlmann.
- On Friday, February 18, 2000, 6:00 p.m. CST, STS-99 MCC Status Report # 16
- Mission managers late this afternoon announced a nine-hour extension
to the data-taking portion of the mission. That means that mapping of
the Earth now will continue until about 6 a.m. Monday. Astronaut Chris
Hadfield in Mission Control relayed the good news shortly before 4
p.m. to Commander Kevin Kregel and the rest of Endeavour's
crew. "That's super news," Kregel replied. "I'm sure the folks at the
Jet Propulsion Lab and NIMA are really ecstatic about that."
- As of noon today, 88 percent, or more than 42 million square
miles of the target area had been mapped once. More than 57 percent of
the target area - over 27 million square miles - has been mapped with
two or more passes. Endeavour images 40,000 square miles of land every
minute. At that rate, it can image an area the size of Rhode Island in
just 2 seconds.
- Scientists today released radar images of the San Andreas Fault and
the Rose Bowl area in southern California, the Kamchatka Peninsula in
Russia's Far East, and the Hawaiian Island of Oahu. Scientists predict
that the level of detail in maps resulting from data collected during
the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission will help scientists better
understand hazards such as wildfires, lava flows, tsunamis and floods.
- Science operations continued smoothly through the mission's eighth
day, with all radar and support hardware continuing to work better
than hoped. "Everything is perfect. It's incredible," observed Marian
Werner, X-SAR project manager for the German Aerospace Agency, which
provided the X-band radar system used by SRTM.
- Earlier today, Endeavour's six astronauts gathered together for
their traditional news conference, answering questions from U.S. and
Japanese reporters. NASA Administrator Daniel Goldin and German
Research Minister Edelgard Buhlmann also congratulated the crew on the
success of the mission and the potential benefits of the resulting
- EarthKam continues its outstanding performance. It has nearly
equaled the number of images produced during its first four flights
combined, with more than 1,700 images produced thus far.
- Endeavour continues to perform smoothly and provide a solid platform
for the most accurate and unified topographical mapping of the Earth
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