Endeavour astronauts began mapping operations on the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission, which will provide maps of the Earth unprecedented in accuracy and uniformity. The first swath was begun as the orbiter crossed over southern Asia and continued until Endeavour flew over the continent’s eastern coast and moved over the northern Pacific Ocean. The mapping will continue through the mission until the antenna mast is retracted before landing.
Because of the 24-hour-a-day activity aboard Endeavour, the six crewmembers are divided into two teams. Blue Team members Dom Gorie, Janice Voss and Mamoru Mohri began the first mapping swath, covering a 140-mile-wide path, at about 11:31 p.m. Friday. It was the beginning of coverage of more than 70 percent of the Earth’s land surface. The mapping will cover an area between 60 degrees north and 56 degrees south, where about 95 percent of the Earth’s population lives.
The Red Team, led by Mission Commander Kevin Kregel, includes Mission Specialists Janet Kavandi and Gerhard Thiele. Their first shift was intense. It included deployment and checkout of the almost 200-foot mast supporting the outboard antenna structure. It is the largest rigid structure ever deployed in space. The Red Team began its sleep period at about 10:45 p.m. Friday and is scheduled to be awakened at 6:44 this morning.
After mast deployment, tests revealed that the mast’s damping system, designed as a kind of a shock absorber for the mast, was not working as expected. Flight controllers decided to leave the dampers in their locked position. Calculations showed that the mast was at no risk without the dampers activated.
All planned science data takes have been acquired successfully and all indications from the telemetry show that the radars are performing nominally. Data has been sent to JPL for analysis and early indications are that the data is of excellent quality. Additional reports about mapping results are expected about 12:00 noon CST.
Shortly after 5:30 a.m. Saturday, Voss and Gorie held a news conference with correspondents from NBC and CNN.
Saturday is scheduled to be the first full day of Shuttle Radar Topography Mission mapping. Endeavour systems continued to function normally.
The next mission status report will be issued at 6 p.m. Saturday, or as events warrant.
- end -