Following yesterday’s decision by mission managers to extend mapping operations, Endeavour’s astronauts are set to continue collecting data until 5:44 a.m. Central time Monday. At that point preparations will begin to stow the 200-foot-long mast for the remainder of the mission. This 9-hour extension allows for almost 100 percent of the planned coverage of the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission.
The mission’s target mapping area includes about 47.6 million square miles. As of noon, 92 percent, or about 44 million square miles, of the target area had been mapped once. More than 65 percent of the target area – nearly 31 million square miles – has been mapped with two or more passes. Only 80,000 square miles of the target area, mostly in North America, will remain unmapped by the end of mapping operations. Highly accurate topographic maps of these areas already exist.
Clearly elated, scientists released new images of Oahu, Molokai, Lanai and west Maui, Hawaii; Dallas, Texas; Salalah, Oman; and Tasmania, Australia. Quick-Time movies of Hokkaido, Japan, home of Mission Specialist Mamoru Mohri, and of Brazil, also were released. “I have to believe that scientists all over the world are giving a standing ovation to the SRTM team,” observed Dr. Jeffrey Plaut, a research scientist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. He said that maps resulting from SRTM data would help archaeologists study ancient cultures and the lands they inhabited, and better understand the reasons for their demise.
Science operations continued on schedule through the mission’s ninth day, with all radar and orbiter systems continuing to work smoothly.
Endeavour’s crew carried out the seventh trim burn of the mission earlier today. This “flycast maneuver” keeps the spacecraft at the proper altitude for mapping and is designed to reduce the stresses on the mast and minimize the loads at the tip. This was the last flycast maneuver planned during the mission.
Earlier today, Commander Kevin Kregel and European Space Agency astronaut Gerhard Thiele spoke to reporters gathered at the German Space Operations Center in Oberpfaffenhofen and in Munich. At 7:14 p.m., the crew will send greetings to the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, the world’s largest.
Endeavour’s systems continue to perform flawlessly as it circles the Earth at an altitude of about 150 statute miles. The next status report will be issued at 6 a.m. Sunday, or as mission events warrant.
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