Pilot Steve Lindsey and Mission Specialists Steve Robinson and Pedro Duque checked out a new communications systems for use during spacewalks. The new, digital communications system should provide enhanced communication quality between the space-walking astronauts, the orbiter and the flight control team in Houston.
Work with the Orbiter Space Vision System (OSVS) concluded today with a test of camera quality under varied lighting conditions. Robinson cycled through Discovery's payload bay cameras exposing each to day and nighttime conditions to validate how well the cameras can "see" the OSVS targets. Deactivation of some of the experiments began today. After using the Electronic Nose one last time to test the shuttle's air quality, Brown deactivated it for the rest of the mission. The Electronic Nose is a miniaturized electronic air quality monitoring system that mimics the way the human nose detects changes in the air. Duque also shutdown the Microgravity Science Glovebox and stowed equipment associated with that research facility.
The crew took time from its busy day today to talk with U.S., Japanese and European reporters at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, as well as with reporters gathered at the European Space Agency's Villafranca tracking facility outside Madrid, Spain.
Vice President Al Gore, former Astronaut Scott Carpenter and school children from the Washington D.C. area also had an opportunity to talk with the astronauts, asking questions about John Glenn's return to space and the work being done in orbit.
For the final time later this evening, Payload Specialists Glenn and Chiaki Mukai will don sleep nets and specially-instrumented suits to monitor brain waves, eye movements, muscle tension, body movements and respiration during their sleep period.
Preliminary weather forecasts indicate generally favorable weather to support Saturday's landing at 11:10 a.m. Central time at the Kennedy Space Center. Remnants of tropical storm Mitch are expected to pass through the area and move off Florida's east coast Friday night, allowing good weather for landing on Saturday.
Discovery is orbiting the Earth every 95 minutes at an altitude of about 341 statute miles with all systems operating well.