Propellant conservation measures have paid off and Endeavour’s crew was notified this morning that the mapping operations will continue for the full nine days as planned prior to launch. “That’s great news,” replied Pilot Dom Gorie. “They’re getting some fantastic data on this mission.”
As of noon today, 81 percent, or more than 39 million square miles of the target area had been mapped once. That exceeds the land area of the Americas, Africa and Australia combined. More than 47 percent of the target area – over 22 million square miles – has been mapped with two or more passes. Endeavour images 40,000 square miles of land every minute.
Astronaut Chris Hadfield in Mission Control transmitted the good news to the crew aboard Endeavour while all six astronauts were awake conducting a shift change. The crew is working around the clock on two shifts conducting the detailed mapping operations. Several fuel-saving steps have been implemented, including a change in the way excess water is dumped overboard, and allowing more flexibility in holding Endeavour and the 200-foot mast in the proper attitude. The final conservation measure will be the deletion of the eighth trim burn, which controllers believe can safely be deleted by adjusting the sixth and seventh burns without a disruption to data collection.
Exuberant scientists today released new radar images of the San Andreas Fault in California, the Los Angeles basin, Southern California’s San Gabriel Mountains, and the island of Hokkaido, Japan, birthplace of Mission Specialist Mamoru Mohri. “We’re well on the way to making the best topographic map of the world ever,” said Dr. Diane Evans, chief scientist in the Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s Earth Science Office. “We are ecstatic about this data set.” She said the level of detail in maps resulting from this Shuttle Radar Topography Mission should help scientists better understand earthquakes and mudflows.
Science operations continued through the seventh day of the mission, with trouble-shooting a problem with one of six high data-rate recorders on board being the only issue of significance. The recorders are used to capture the masses of data collected during the SRTM mission on 270 tapes.
Earlier today, Mohri spoke about the mission with Japanese Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi and the Minister of State for Science and Technology. Later, he joined Dom Gorie and Janice Voss for interviews with The Weather Channel and two television stations. Janet Kavandi briefly joined them to send greetings to her hometown of Springfield, MO.
Meanwhile, EarthKam continues its record-breaking production of images, having processed 1,355 images. The project allows school students to remotely take pictures of the Earth using a camera mounted in one of Endeavour’s windows.
The orbiter continues to perform smoothly and provide a solid platform for the most accurate and unified topographical mapping of the Earth ever produced. The next status report will be issued at 6 a.m. Friday, or as mission events warrant.
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