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September 12, 1996

Ed Campion
Headquarters, Washington, DC
(Phone: 202/358-1778)

Eileen Hawley
Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX
(Phone: (281)/483-5111)

Release: RELEASE: 96-187

Brown to Command Mission to Study Earth's Atmosphere

Three-time Shuttle veteran Curtis L. Brown, Jr. (Lt. Col., USAF) will command the crew of STS-85 during Discovery's 11-day mission to study changes in the Earth's atmosphere. STS-85 is targeted for a July 1997 launch.

The pilot for this mission will be Jeffrey S. Ashby (Cmdr., USN). Mission Specialists are N. Jan Davis, Ph.D., Robert L. Curbeam, Jr., (Lt. Cmdr., USN), and Stephen K. Robinson, Ph.D. Ashby, Curbeam and Robinson are members of the 1995 class of astronauts and will be making their first trips to space. Davis is a veteran of two previous Shuttle missions.

During the flight, Davis will use Discovery's robot arm to deploy the CRISTA-SPAS payload (Cryogenic Infrared Spectrometers and Telescopes for the Atmosphere - Shuttle Pallet Satellite) for about 48 hours of free-flight. CRISTA-SPAS consists of three telescopes and four spectrometers that will measure trace gases and dynamics of the Earth's middle atmosphere. Davis also will operate the robot arm for CRISTA-SPAS retrieval.

Two other instruments mounted on the Shuttle Pallet Satellite also will study the Earth's atmosphere. The Middle Atmosphere High Resolution Spectrograph Instrument (MAHRSI) will measure hydroxyl and nitric oxide by sensing UV radiation emitted and scattered by the atmosphere, while the Surface Effects Sample Monitor (SESAM) will evaluate the effects of atomic oxygen on optical materials.

The Shuttle Pallet Satellite on which the scientific instruments are mounted is a self-contained platform that provides power, command, control and communication with Discovery during free-flight. CRISTA-SPAS previously flew on STS-66 in 1994. STS-85 will mark the fourth in a series of missions designed to study the Earth's atmosphere.

The crew also will support the Manipulator Flight Development (MFD) investigation being sponsored by NASDA, the Japanese Space Agency. MFD consists of three separate experiments located on a support truss in the payload bay and is designed to demonstrate applications of the Shuttle's robot arm for possible use on the Japanese Experiment Module of the International Space Station.

Several Hitchhiker payloads, including the Technology Applications and Science-01 (TAS-01), the International Extreme Ultraviolet Hitchhiker-02 (IEH-02), the Solar Extreme Ultraviolet Hitchhiker (SEH), and the Ultraviolet Spectrograph Telescope for Astronomical Research (UVSTAR) will be housed in Discovery's payload bay, operating independently of crew support during the flight.

For complete biographical information on the STS-85 crew and other astronauts, see the NASA Internet astronaut biography home page at URL:


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