The EarthKAM, a digital camera mounted at an overhead window on Endeavour's flight deck, continues its record setting pace. A little after 4 a.m. CST Saturday flight controllers reported it had sent down more than 2,018 images, the combined total of the four previous flights on which it had flown.
The camera takes pictures for middle school students. Through the Internet, their schools' mission operations centers are linked to the EarthKAM Mission Operations Center at the University of California at San Diego. Except for setup, initial camera pointing and lens changes, no crew involvement is required for normal operations.
Meanwhile, flight controllers continued to successfully conserve fuel and electricity aboard Endeavour and plan an extension of the mapping work.
The nine-hour extension of imaging operations means that mapping will continue until about 6 a.m. Monday. Successful completion of the 9 days, 18 hours of mapping will mean that almost all of the target area will be imaged -- only small areas of the United States, already well mapped, would be missed. The target area is the 80 percent of the Earth's land between 60 degrees north, the latitude of Hudson Bay, and 56 degrees south, Cape Horn at the tip of South America. It is home to 95 percent of the Earth's people. With the current plan, more than 99.9 percent of the area would be imaged at least once. More than 94.6 percent of it would be covered at least twice, and almost half would be imaged at least three times.
Scientists reported that by early Saturday 89.6 percent of the target area, 42.7 million square miles, had been mapped once. About 60.1 percent, or 28.6 million square miles, had been imaged at least twice. The Shuttle Radar Topography Mission's sophisticated radar continued to collect surface imaging data at a rate of 40,000 square miles a minute.
Commander Kevin Kregel and Mission Specialists Gerhard Thiele and Janet Kavandi, the Red Team, and the Blue Team members Pilot Dom Gorie and Mission Specialists Janice Voss and Mamoru Mohri, held their crew news conference Friday. Today Kregel and Thiele will answer questions from German news media representatives and later speak with dignitaries at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.
The Red Team is asleep and is to be awakened at 10:14 a.m. The Blue Team remains on duty until 11:59 a.m. The next status report will be issued at 6 p.m. Saturday or as events warrant.
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