Encyclopedia Astronautica
2000.02.20 - STS-99 Mission Status Report #20


Earth radar mapping continues smoothly on its last full day with Endeavour's crew scheduled to wrap up operations early Monday morning at 5:53 Central Time. As of noon today, 99 percent, or about 47 million square miles of the target area had been mapped once. More than 87 percent of the target area - nearly 42 million square miles - has been mapped twice.

With another 10 minutes added to mapping operations, complete mapping of Australia will be completed with Flinders Island on the northeast corner of Tasmania being the final area mapped. Stowage of the 200-foot-long mast is set to begin at 7:14 a.m. By 7:50 tomorrow morning, the radar system and pallet should be deactivated.

The additional 10 minutes of mapping brings the total imaging time to nine days, 18 hours, 10 minutes, which equates to 99.96 percent of the planned coverage area being mapped during the mission. The coverage area extends from Hudson Bay in the north to the tip of South America, an area equal to 47.6 million square miles. Only 80,000 square miles of the target area - about the size of West Virginia - will remain unmapped by the end of mapping operations. However, the majority of this unmapped area is in North America and already has been accurately mapped.

Images released today included Oahu, Hawaii; Miquelon Island and St. Pierre Island, Newfoundland; Kamchatka, Russia; and Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany (home of the German Aerospace Agency). Other new images showed Katmandu, Nepal; Cotopaxi, Ecuador; and Baikal, Russia. Data of volcanic sites around the world, such as Hawaii and Kamchatka, will be useful for studying the history of volcanic activity in dormant volcanoes, as well as for hazard preparedness in active volcanic areas. Areas mapped today include Yellowstone National Park; Mauna Loa, Hawaii; and Ayers Rock, Australia.

Shuttle Radar Topography Mission program scientist Dr. Earnest Paylor described the mission as "a magnificent accomplishment," noting that equatorial regions of the Earth previously unmapped due to constant cloud cover have been mapped by SRTM radar. Tom Hennig, SRTM program manager for the National Imagery and Mapping Agency, called the success of the mission "absolutely wonderful."

Tomorrow, Endeavour's crew turns its attention to returning home, with landing scheduled for 3:52 Central Time Tuesday afternoon at the Kennedy Space Center, Florida. Check out of the flight control surfaces and orbiter thruster jets is scheduled to begin at noon. After the orbiter systems checks are complete, the crew will begin stowing the cabin for Tuesday's landing.

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