Discovery’s astronauts spent the first half of their day supporting observations of Comet Hale-Bopp using a small ultraviolet telescope mounted in the side hatch window of the orbiter.
Following Stevie Ray Vaughn’s "The House is Rockin’" wakeup call from Mission Control, the six astronauts got down to the business of the day, including Mission Specialist Steve Robinson’s observations with the small ultraviolet telescope. The experiment, called the Southwest Ultraviolet Imaging System (SWUIS), was used with different filters to gather video and telemetry data on what the comet is made of and how it is responding to solar wind conditions.
While Commander Curt Brown and Pilot Kent Rominger maneuvered the orbiter to point its side hatch window toward the comet’s location, Payload Commander Jan Davis once again placed the Shuttle’s robot arm in a strategic location to provide shading of the window during the telescope’s observations. Two more observation days are planned before Discovery’s mission comes to a close.
Brown and Rominger also watch over orbiter thruster firings and rendezvous maneuvers in support of the CRISTA-SPAS satellite, now in its fifth day of free flight away from Discovery. The orbiter maintains a distance of between 25 and 60 nautical miles from the satellite so that investigators can communicate with the spacecraft using the shuttle as a conduit for the link. In concert with the satellite’s on-orbit data gathering, a number of ground-launched rocket and balloon validation flights are being conducted from Wallops Island off the coast of Virginia.
In addition to assisting Brown and Rominger with orbiter system oversight, Flight Engineer Bob Curbeam, today continues his work with the Bioreactor Demonstration System designed to perform cell biology experiments under controlled conditions.
Canadian Payload Specialist Bjarni Tryggvason, today continues his work with the Microgravity Vibration Isolation Mount which uses magnets to levitate a platform and protect sensitive microgravity processing experiments from vibrations.
Discovery’s STS-85 crew is scheduled to begin an 8 hour sleep period at about 4:30 this afternoon and awaken at 12:41 Wednesday morning.
The next scheduled mission status report will be issued later this afternoon.
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