Carried SIR-C SAR radar. Payloads: Space Radar Laboratory (SRL) 1; Consortium for Materials Development in Space Com-plex Autonomous Payload (CONCAP) IV; three getaway special (GAS) payloads; Space Tissue Loss (STL) A, B; Visual Function Tester (VFT) 4; Shuttle Amateur Radio Experiment (SAREX) II.
NASA Official Mission Narrative
Mission Name: STS-59 (62)
Pad 39-A (50)
62nd Shuttle Mission
6th Flight OV-105
EAFB Landing (40)
Sidney M. Gutierrez (2), Commander
Kevin P. Chilton (2), Pilot
Linda M. Godwin (2), Payload Commander
Jay Apt (3), Mission Specialist 1
Michael R. Clifford (2), Mission Specialist 2
Thomas D. Jones (1), Mission Specialist 4
OPF-1 -- 12/14/93
VAB -- 3/14/94
PAD -- 3/19/94
Scientists around the world will be provided a unique vantage point for studying how the Earth's global environment is changing when Space Shuttle Endeavour is launched on Shuttle mission STS-59. During the 9-day mission, the Space Radar Laboratory (SRL) payload in Endeavour's cargo bay will give scientists highly detailed information that will help them distinguish human-induced environmental changes from other natural forms of change.
The Space Radar Laboratory (SRL) payload is comprised of the Spaceborne Imaging Radar-C/X-Band Synthetic Aperture Radar (SIR-C/X-SAR) and the Measurement of Air Pollution from Satellite (MAPS). The German Space Agency (DARA) and the Italian Space Agency (ASI) are providing the X-SAR instrument.
The imaging radar of the SIR-C/X-SAR instruments have the ability to make measurements over virtually any region at any time, regardless of weather or sunlight conditions. The radar waves can penetrate clouds, and under certain conditions, can also "see" through vegetation, ice and extremely dry sand. In many cases, radar is the only way scientists can explore inaccessible regions of the Earth's surface.
The STS-59 launch occured April 9, 1994 at 7:05am EDT from the Kennedy Space Center (KSC), Fla., at the start of it's 2 1/2 hour launch window. No OMS-1 burn was required. After ascent, APU #2 show signs of over heating and was shutdown at 7:21am EDT. APU's are only used during ascent and entry operations and are typically powered off shortly after launch. APU #1 and APU #3 were shut off shortly after APU #2. Main Engine Cutoff was at MET of 8:33 with Endeavour traveling at 25,777 feet per second. At MET, Endeavour was in an orbit of 117nm by 29nm. OMS-2 Burn was at an MET of 37 min for 1min, 42 sec for a burn of 164 fps. This placed Endeavour in an orbit of 121nm by 120nm.
The shuttle Endeavour completed it's six hour 3.5 mile journey to Pad 39A atop the crawler transporter at 1 p.m. on Saturday, 3/19/94.
A launch attempt on April 7 was delayed at least one day so that inspections could be done to insure Endeavour does has vanes of the proper radius in its liquid oxygen engine preburner. Inspectors at Rocketdyne's engine plant in Canoga Park, California discovered flaws in two components being tested and concerns were raised that Endeavours engines could contain similar components. The preburner's 3-inch nickel alloy vanes should have rounded tips while the vanes discovered by Rocketdyne had sharper tips. Engineers were concerned the sharper tips have a higher probability of cracking and that could cause a piece of debris to be pulled into the Liquid Oxygen High Pressure Oxydizer Turbopump (HPOT). This, in turn, could cause a premature engine shutdown. The inspections involved snaking a borescope thru the engine components on Endeavour and inspecting the engine vanes. Endeavour was verified to be in the proper configuration.
The launch attempt on April 8 was scheduled for 8:07am but the launch team protected an option in the countdown timeline which would allow Endeavour to launch one hour sooner at 7:07 a.m. EDT. By building flexibility into the launch time, NASA managers can evaluate predicted climatological and atmospheric conditions for the KSC area during the final part of the countdown and then select the optimum time for launch. The launch attempt on April 8 was delayed due to low cloud cover and then finally scrubbed at T-5 min due to bad weather (cross winds out of limits) at the Shuttle Landing Facility. A 24-hour turnaround scrub was initiated.
Inclination: 57 degrees
Duration: 11 days, 5 hours, 49 minutes, 30 seconds.
Distance: 4,704,875 miles
ET : SN-063
Edwards AFB April 20 at 12:55pm EDT Runway 22. Main landing gear touchdown at MET 11 days 5 hours 49 minutes 30 seconds. Nose gear touchdown 15 seconds later and wheel stop at 11 days, 5 hours, 50 minutes and 23 seconds. RCS OMS safing complete by 12:59pm EDT. Landing opportunities for KSC April 20 at 11:29 a.m EDT and 1:01 p.m. EDT were passed over due to cloud cover obscuring visibility at the shuttle landing facility.
Landing was originally scheduled 11:52am on Tuesday, April 19, 1994 on KSC's runway 33. The landing was postponed a day (from STS-59 MCC Status Report #30) due to weather violations in the landing area. The first opportunity was waived off due to cloud cover obscured clear visibility of the runway. The second (and last) KSC landing opportunity for April 19th (which would have resulted in a landing at 12:23 pm) was also waived due to clouds and high winds in the vicinity of the Shuttle Landing Facility. The decision was made following near continuous review of the weather conditions by flight controllers at the Johnson Space Center and Astronaut Robert "Hoot" Gibson flying the Shuttle Training Aircraft at the landing site.
On Tuesday, April 19, 1994, 11:30 a.m. CDT (from STS-59 MCC Status Report #31) Endeavour and its six astronauts will remain in space an additional day. Four landing opportunities are available Wednesday -- two in Florida and two at Edwards Air Force Base in California. KSC remains the prime landing site with Edwards serving as the backup. The Florida landing times are 10:29 a.m. and 12:01 p.m. central. The California landing times are 11:54 a.m. and 1:26 p.m. central. The deorbit burn designed to drop Endeavour out of orbit for the landing phase will occur about 50 minutes prior to touchdown.
Endeavour began its sixth mission this morning with an on-time launch at 7:05 am eastern time. Soon after, the six astronauts began activating the sensitive radar equipment in the payload bay that will be operated around the clock during the next 10 days.
By Saturday, April 9, 1994, 8 pm EDT, The Space Radar Laboratory-1 experiments of NASA's Mission to Planet Earth were all activated and began their study of the Earth's ecosystem.
STS-59 ground controllers finished activating Spaceborne Imaging Radar-C (SIR-C) and began processing its first images of the Earth, while engineers working with the X-Band Synthetic Aperture Radar (X-SAR) worked their way through some initial activation problems.
Meanwhile, the Measurement of Air Pollution from Satellite (MAPS) instrument took data on the carbon monoxide content and distribution in the atmosphere since shortly after launch and scientists are processing its data.
During the initial activation of the X-SAR package, controllers reported they were unable to fully power up the high power amplifier that provides power to the radar. The problem was in the low voltage circuit internal to the power amplifier. Engineers were not immediately able to explain the problem, so they temporarily turned off the power amplifier for about three hours while developing a troubleshooting plan. The problem was traced to an oversensitive protection circuit, a type of circuit breaker in the instrumentation. The radar lab engineers then bypassed the protection circuit and began again turning on the instrument, called the X-band Synthetic Aperture Radar, or X-SAR, at about 4:20 p.m. Saturday, and it has worked without incident since being repowered, completing 100 percent of its scheduled observations overnight.
Since then, X-SAR controllers have continued a deliberate, step by step check of the instrument and successfully bounced X-band radar pulses off the Earth and recorded data. All of the instrument's circuits recorded normal readings. The crew also activated the Space Tissue Loss investigations on the middeck, and the Get Away Special experiments in the cargo bay.
As of Sunday morning, April 10, 1994, the radar laboratory has taken data readings on more than 40 targets including Howland, Maine; Macquarie Island; the Black Sea; Matera, Italy; and the Strait of Gibraltar. Scientists also have gathered information on three of the 19 "supersites." The supersites are the highest priority targets and the focal points for many of the scientific observations. Sunday's supersite observations have included global carbon and hydrologic cycles in Duke Forest, North Carolina; hydrological cycles around Otzal, Austria; and geological data on Lake Chad in the Sahara. Observation sites for Sunday afternoon included Gippsland, Australia; Sable Island; Toronto, Canada; Bermuda; Bighorn Basin, Wyoming; Chung Li, China; and Mammoth Mountain, Calif. The supersite opportunities are Raco, Michigan, and the Gulf Stream.
By Sunday, April 10, 1994, 8 p.m. EDT (MCC STS-59 Status Report #5), Space Radar Laboratory-1 has taken data readings over targets including Nelson House, Manitoba, and Sable Island, Nova Scotia, Canada; the Azores Islands; Gippsland and Alice Springs, Australia; Toronto, Ontario, Canada; the Bermuda Islands, Cuiaba and Pantanal, Brazil; Wyoming's Big Horn Basin; Chung Li, China; Sarobetsu, Japan; Mammoth Mountain, Calif., Cerro Aconcagua, Argentina; Cerro Laukaru, Chile and the Baikal Forest and Kamchatka Peninsula in Russia.
Sunday evenings supersite observations by the Spaceborne Imaging Radar-C (SIR- C) and the X-Band Synthetic Aperture Radar (X-SAR) -- those taken over 19 areas that have been deemed especially significant by the scientists planning the observations -- focused on the interaction of plants and animals in the ecology of the forests of Raco, Mich.; hydrologic cycles around Bebedouro, Brazil; tectonic plate activity around the Galapagos Islands in the South Pacific; and the transfer of heat through wave energy in the Southern Ocean.
The Measurement of Atmospheric Pollution from Satellite instrument also continued to take readings of the concentration and distribution of carbon monoxide throughout the troposphere.Crew members reported good Earth observation photography opportunties over the Northeast Pacific Ocean and the frozen lakes of the Raco supersite area, as well as fires in the Sierra Madre mountains of Mexico.
On flight day two, the Red Team crew of Commander Sidney M. Gutierrez, Pilot Kevin P. Chilton and Payload Commander Linda M. Godwin began its sleep shift about 5 p.m. CDT, and will awaken at 2 a.m. The Blue Team crew members, Jay Apt, Michael R. Clifford and Thomas D. Jones awakened about 4 p.m. to begin their third flight day on orbit, and will go to bed about 5 a.m.
As of Monday, April 11, 1994, 6:30 a.m. CDT (from MCC STS-59 Status Report #6) three real-time radar images were downlinked from Endeavour overnight. A view of the Sahara Desert in Algeria, one of the geology sites, will help scientists to map surface and subsurface structures. The Spaceborne Imaging Radar-C and the X-Band Synthetic Aperture Radar can penetrate the Sahara's dry sand cover to reveal centuries-old drainage patterns. The desert salt flat regions showed up on the image as bright ridges.
Also, the two radar imaging systems were calibrated over Matera, Italy, and Oberpfaffenhoffen, Germany, near Munich. Students from the University of Munich are participating in a concurrent ecology project. The students measure soil moisture, forestry parameters, and the biomass of agricultural crops in the area at the same time the radar data is gathered. The students' measurements will be compared with the radar images to help scientists verify information about the interactions of the various elements of Earth's environment.
Thus far in the mission, all 16 "supersites" planned for observations have been completed. Supersites are those with highest priority throughout the flight. Of the 51 total science sites thus far, 40 have been obtained. The 11 that have been missed due to recalibration operations will be replanned and obtained during the rest of the flight.
Mission Specialist Thomas D. Jones gave scientists real-time observations of thunderstorms over Taiwan, the Philippines and New Guinea to augment data being gathered by the Measure of Atmospheric Pollution from Satellite (MAPS) experiment. Jay Apt described a "good-sized" dust storm on the northwest coast of Australia. MAPS takes readings of the levels of carbon monoxide in Earth's lower atmosphere.
The MAPS project's Vickie Connors reported to Endeavour's Red Team of crew members that there is good correlation between what the instruments on board are reading compared to data gathered on the ground. The air pollution measuring experiment has been in operation since about 3 hours after launch and has collected more than 38 hours of science data. It has mapped nearly half of the Earth's carbon monoxide distribution.
Concluding Flight Day 3, the Blue Team of Jay Apt, Michael R. Clifford and Tom Jones started their sleep period beginning about 8 a.m. The Red Team of Sidney M. Gutierrez, Kevin P. Chilton, and Linda M. Godwin went to work a few minutes after five this morning.
By Monday, April 11, 1994, 6 p.m. CDT, (from STS-59 MCC Status Report #7) several more real-time images were processed by the X-Band Synthetic Aperture Radar today, looking at the Sahara Desert in Algeria, a geology site, and the area around the Japanese Islands, an oceanography site. Endeavour flew over the southern portion of Japan, and the quick-look processor showed oil slicks covering the ocean. Scientists from a Tokyo research laboratory are working with an oceanographer from Hamburg, Germany, to interpret the radar images. Of particular interest to those scientists was the ocean front where cold and warm currents meet.
The X-SAR images were being complemented by Spaceborne Imaging Radar-C images recorded on board for analysis after the flight, and with Earth observations photography and notes recorded by the crew.
Mondays radar work included calibration passes over Palm Valley, Australia, and the Amazon forests of Brazil; oceanography observations over the Northeast Pacific Ocean, the Gulf Stream, the Southern Ocean and the gulf of Mexico; ecology observations over Altona, Manitoba, Canada; geology observations over the Bighorn Basin, Wyoming; hydrology studies of Mammoth Mountain, California, and geology studies of the tectonic activity around the Galapagos Islands of the southeastern Pacific.
Payload Commander Linda M. Godwin reported good photography of "tremendous" thunderstorms over South America and ocean wind patterns around the Galapagos. She also reported three Shuttle Amateur Radio Experiment contacts with students at Ealy Elementary School in West Bloomfield, Mich., and Country Club School in San Ramon, Calif., and Boy Scouts in Richardson, Texas.
Endeavour continues its flawless performance allowing the crew to devote all its time to science work. The crew has reported air bubbles in the water supply for Endeavour's galley, and flight controllers are working on a plan to alleviate this nuisance for the crew. The orbiter circles Earth every 89 minutes at an altitude of 120 nautical miles.
On Tuesday, April 12, 1994, 3 a.m. EDT a real-time image was downlinked from the X-Band Synthetic Aperture Radar showing a region of the Andes Mountains in Bolivia. The X-SAR quick-look processor in the Payload Operations Control Center at JSC allows scientists to see a radar image as it is being recorded on special high-density tapes aboard Endeavour. Scientists hope to learn more about the topography and climate in the Central Andes including the movement of the Earth's crust, called plate tectonics, and erosion, such as mudslides, caused by climatic changes.
During the Blue Team's shift, the X-Band Synthetic Aperture Radar and the Spaceborne Imaging Radar-C collected images of oceanography sites including the South Pacific Ocean, the East Australian Ocean currents, and the North Atlantic ocean; geology sites at Cerro Laukaru, Chile, snow cover at Otztal, in the Austrian Alps, and Ha Meshar, Israel; and ecology sites at Howland, Maine, and Duke Forest, North Carolina.
Jay Apt reported a large thunderstorm area over the central Pacific Ocean, and later mentioned clear weather over South America with no fires spotted. Tom Jones commented on the largest lightning storm seen so far on the mission over western Africa, and good Earth observations photography over Altai, China, and the Yellow River.
Thomas D. Jones, Mission Specialist 4 on this flight, had the second half of his workday off duty today. Crew members are routinely given off-duty time during the longer Shuttle flights to relax. Other crew members will alternate time off as the mission progresses.
The Red Team began their work about 7 a.m. EDT on Tuesday April 12, 1994. Gutierrez and Chilton slept in an extra hour because they were about an hour and a half late going to sleep the night before after working on an in-flight maintenance procedure to eliminate air bubbles that were collecting in the drinking and food preparation water. The astronauts connected the water dispensing hose directly to the supply tank, bypassing the galley water outlet. A later test during the Blue Team's shift indicated that bubbles still may get into the drink bags through the opening where water goes into the drink container.
Also overnight, a real-time image was downlinked from the X-Band Synthetic Aperture Radar about 2 a.m. central time showing a region of the Andes Mountains in Bolivia. Scientists hope to learn more about the topography and climate in the Central Andes including the movement of the Earth's crust, called plate tectonics, and erosion, such as mudslides, caused by climatic changes.
On the blue shift as well, Jay Apt reported a large thunderstorm area over the central Pacific Ocean, and later mentioned clear weather over South America with no fires spotted. Tom Jones commented on the largest lightning storm seen so far on the mission over western Africa, and good Earth observations photography over Altai, China, and the Yellow River. Jones had the second half of his workday off duty. Crew members are routinely given off-duty time during the longer Shuttle flights to relax, and the other crew members will alternate time off as the mission progresses. The blue team will again take over operations onboard for the next shift beginning at about 6 p.m. central today.
During this shift, live X-SAR moving images were downlinked of the area surrounding Sarobetsu, Japan, one of the high-priority calibration sites for the X-band antenna. Scientists on the ground measured the strength of the radar signal and the size of the swath being imaged.
Ground investigators also were developing topographic maps of Japan and searching for the optimum way in which to use the three radar antennas for mapping rice fields.
X-SAR's quick-look processor also showed images of the Bay of Campeche in the Gulf of Mexico as well as the land around Veracruz, Mexico. Ground investigators were taking simultaneous measurements of the ecological test site, looking for soil and vegetation information during the dry season of the tropical forest there. Comparative readings will be taken during the wet season with the STS-68 SRL-2 flight in August. Endeavour's crew was asked to document the weather and human disturbances of the area's ecology, looking in particular for evidence of fires, storm damage and clear cutting.
The SIR-C L- and C-band radars continue to record data on board Endeavour and to downlink selected data takes for processing at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
Godwin reported that the crew had a cloud-free opportunity to photography Chickasha, Okla., one of the 19 "supersites" that are receiving special attention by the radar instruments, and that they had seen sea ice along the coast of the Kamchatka Peninsula of Russia.
Crew members reported that bubbles are continuing to form in their galley water supply, and flight controllers were preparing to uplink and in-flight maintenance procedure that is expected to eliminate the nuisance. On Wednesday, April 13, 1994, 7a.m. EDT, the STS-59 Blue Team -- Jay Apt, Rich Clifford and Tom Jones -- completed its fifth working day in space with a handover to the Red Team of Sid Gutierrez, Kevin Chilton and Linda Godwin.
During the Blue shift, researchers watched televised downlinks of live X-SAR moving images of surface and subsurface structures in the Namib Desert in South Africa to improve researchers' understanding of radar back scatter. Scientists also viewed radar images of sea ice and seasonal melt in the Sea of Okhstok off the coast of Siberia and a critical region of expanding drought in the Sahel area of the Sudan in Africa. At the high-priority calibration site at Matera, Italy, ground- based engineers measured the strength of the radar signals and the size of the swath being recorded on the radar tapes aboard Endeavour.
While the X-SAR quick look processor in JSC's Payload Operations Control Center fed the real-time images to scientists, the SIR-C and X-SAR instruments recorded the information on special high-density tapes in Endeavour's crew cabin.
At about 2:45 a.m. Houston time while Endeavour passed over Australia, Jay Apt exchanged greetings with the Russian Cosmonauts aboard the MIR space station aboard Endeavour as the two spacecraft passed within 1,200 nautical miles of each other above Australia. Both crews used amateur radio equipment for the contact which was monitored real-time by many amateur radio stations via telebridge systems and rebroadcasts.
All three Blue Team astronauts exercised on the bicycle ergometer during their work shift for an ongoing biomedical study of exercise as a possible countermeasure for the deconditioning which astronauts experience in their cardiovascular systems during space missions. The study will evaluate a total of 72 astronauts over several Shuttle missions.
Mission Specialist 2 Rich Clifford had off-duty time for the second half of his work day. The astronauts will alternate off-duty time over the course of the flight. Also, an in-flight maintenance procedure to install a make-shift seal for drink bags and food containers at the galley water dispenser helped reduce bubbles in the drinking and food preparation water.
On Wednesday, April 13, 1994, 10:30 a.m. CDT, Red Team crew members Sid Gutierrez, Kevin Chilton and Linda Godwin were on duty for their fifth shift of the mission. New observations by the Space Radar Lab- 1 (SRL-1) instruments during the past day have included Shuttle Imaging Radar-C (SIR-C) data on the Kamchatka Peninsula in Russia and calibration data taken simultaneously by the SIR-C and its companion instrument, the X-Band Synthetic Aperture Radar, of Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany. Observation data obtained by SRL-1 has already been used to produce a vegetation and biomass map for a forest in Raco, Michigan as well, and more data has been taken of the rain forest around Manaus, Brazil, in the Amazon River Basin.
On Wednesday, April 13, 1994, by 6 p.m. CDT, the Shuttle Imaging Radar-C (SIR-C) and X-Band Synthetic Aperture Radar (X-SAR) processed information on sites including the Kamchatka Peninsula in Russia, Ruiz, Colombia, and Sonora, Mexico, for geologists; the Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany, and Sarobetsu, Japan, calibration sites for the radar's designers; the Raco, Michigan, and Amazon River Basin forests for ecologists; and the Southern Ocean for oceanographers. The Measurement of Air Pollution from Satellite instrument continues to record how much carbon monoxide is present in the troposphere and where it is located.
The crew reported good photography opportunities over Manitoba, Canada, saying the lakes appear more "bluish" than anticipated. They also reported their first opportunity to photograph Chickasha, Okla., one of the 19 supersites that is of special interest to hydrologists studying the globe's water cycle. Gutierrez was interviewed by CNBC Television's Tom Snyder and Clifford will answer questions from Mutual Radio network listeners during an interview for the Jim Bohannan show at 11:15 p.m. central.
On Thursday, April 14, 1994, 3:30 a.m. CDT, Mission Specialist Rich Clifford answered listeners' questions about space flight, the SRL-1 mission objectives, and the quality of life aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour during a 20-minute interview on Mutual Radio Wednesday night.
At 12:13 a.m. central time, six minutes of real-time radar images were televised for scientists as Endeavour flew across Europe. The Otztal, Austrian Alps, hydrology super site is important to scientists studying how the snow cover influences runoff in the area and the amount of water available to surrounding areas from the melted snow. Recent heavy snows in Bavaria will contribute even more information to researchers. The new images from the Spaceborne Imaging Radar-C (SIR-C) and the X-Band Synthetic Aperture Radar (X-SAR) will be compared to previous radar images obtained from radar systems mounted in aircraft.
The SIR-C and X-SAR instruments have recorded images for ecological studies at Baikal Forest, Russia, Mabira, Uganda, and Western Sayani, Siberia; for oceanography research at the East Australian coast, the North Atlantic, and the Gulf Stream; for studies of Earth's water cycle at Mammoth Mountain, California, Chickasha, Oklahoma, and Bebedouro, Brazil. Images were gathered for geologists at Cerro Laukaru, Chile, Altai, China, and Mount Pinatubo, Philippines; along with calibration of the systems' radar beams at the Amazon River in South America, and at the Flevoland, Netherlands, super site.
The Blue Team reported good photography of a gigantic fire-scarred area in China that burned in 1987. This region is of special interest to the Measurement of Atmospheric Pollution experiment for studies of forest regrowth after a fire event. The MAPS experiment measures the carbon monoxide in Earth's lower atmosphere to help investigators determine how well the atmosphere can clean itself of "greenhouse gases," chemicals that can increase the atmosphere's temperature.
Jay Apt had off-duty time for the first half of the Blue Team's sixth work day in space. During his off-duty time, Apt exercised on the bicycle ergometer and recorded his heart rate and perceived exertion for biomedical investigators. Apt was back on duty at 1 a.m. central time until 7 a.m. when the Blue Team will hand over to the Red Team of Sid Gutierrez, Kevin Chilton and Linda Godwin.
On Thursday, April 14, 1994, 6 p.m. CDT the Spaceborne Imaging Radar-C and X-Band Synthetic Aperture Radar observations included passes over the Northeast Pacific Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico, the Sea of Okhotsk and the Southern Ocean for oceanographers; Ruiz, Colombia, Kliuchevskoi, Kamchatka, Stovepipe Wells, Calif., and the Galapagos Islands for geologists; Sena Madureira, Brazil, for ecologists; and Bebedouro, Brazil, and Chickasha, Okla., for hydrologists.
The X-SAR science team's quick-look data processor produced moving video images of the Chickasha site, starting just north of the Oklahoma border in Kansas and ending just south of the Oklahoma River in Texas. Hydrologists will study the data to learn how well the radar is able to determine the soil moisture content as it fluctuates from day to day and week to week, taking advantage of recent storms that have brought rain to the area. Dr. Ted Engman of Goddard Space Flight Center is working with a team of 15 students from Ninnekah (Okla.) High School to take ground measurements that will tell scientists exactly how deep the radar is measuring the soil moisture.
On Friday, April 15, 1994, 3 a.m. CDT (per STS-59 Status Report #17) The STS-59 Blue Team -- Jay Apt, Rich Clifford and Tom Jones -- are monitoring, along with ground-based Payload scientists, 26 separate data takes on their shift. Fifteen of those radar imagery sessions are for oceanographers studying wave patterns, how the ocean temperatures affect atmospheric heating and cooling, and the surface features of ocean and sea floors. Geology sites imaged today include Ruiz, Colombia, Merv, Iran, and Siberia. The radar antennae were calibrated on the flight day seven Blue Shift at Mount Fugendake, Japan, and Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany. Researchers studying the water cycles of Earth at the Bebedouro, Brazil, super site; the Khumba, Himalayan, site; and the Orgeval Watershed, France, site will get radar data from today's orbits to compare with flyovers on other mission days. Ecology targets recorded overnight include Baikal Forest in Russia, Thetford, England, and Gujarat, India.
Tom Jones commented that the pollution cloud noted over Manilla Bay in the Philippines on flight day six was almost invisible today. At about 1:50 a.m. central time, Jones reported that the astronauts had seen fires along the west coast of Burma and smoke over Tasmania. These visual observations supplement data being gathered on the Measurement of Air Pollution by Satellite (MAPS) experiment, which measures how well Earth's lower atmosphere can cleanse itself of "greenhouse gases" that affect atmospheric temperatures.
Payload investigators watched a live downlink of X-Band Synthetic Aperture Radar (X-SAR) images from the coast of Spain over the Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany, calibration super site. While the X-SAR and the Spaceborne Imaging Radar-C (SIR-C) recorded the images aboard Endeavour, students on the ground simultaneously took agricultural biomass measurements and soil moisture samples. The radar image investigators will include the students' data in the postflight analysis of the Mission to Planet Earth studies.
As of Friday, April 15, 1994, 11:30 a.m. CDT, on Endeavour's seventh day of around-the-clock observations of Earth winds down, scientists on the ground are elated with the view already afforded them by the radar observations completed.
One of the instruments aboard, the Measure of Atmospheric Pollution from Satelllites, or MAPS, has exhausted its supply of infrared film, and a preliminary composite of the distribution of carbon monoxide in Earth's atmosphere it measured is being developed. MAPS' information may assist scientists as they study the amounts of "greenhouse gases" in the atmosphere, gases that could lead to a general warming of the planet.
Other notable images in work on the ground include views of the Mt. Pinatubo volcano in the Phillipines and a composite image of Hawaii's Kilauea volcano using all three radar frequencies aboard Endeavour. In addition, views of the Galapagos Islands and a stereo view of the Kamchatka Peninsula, Russia, are being prepared. Still, the vast majority of information obtained by the Space Radar Lab remains stored on data-recording tapes aboard Endeavour and will not be available for processing until after landing.
The Red Team -- Sid Gutierrez, Kevin Chilton and Linda Godwin -- are now in their seventh 12-hour work shift onboard, continuing to supplement the radar data with still photography as Endeavour crosses above the various sites. More than 14,000 still photographs are expected by the end of the flight as a bonus to the radar information.
On Friday, April 15, 1994, 6 p.m. CDT, Chilton explained to the public how a vast network of ground scientists and students camped in the field at many of the worldwide sites assist with the radar observations, and Godwin answered questions supplied by Cable News Network viewers around the world.
The crew is continuing to work on a nuisance with it galley, the presence of bubbles in the water used for drinking and rehydrating food. Engineers on the ground developed the in-flight maintenance procedure in an effort to provide some relief for the crew and to fully understand the problem so that it can be eliminated on future flights.
On Saturday, April 16, 1994, 3 a.m. CDT (from STS-59 MCC Status Report #20), At about 11:30 p.m. and again at 1:15 a.m. central time, Jay Apt used Endeavour's Shuttle Amateur Radio to talk with fellow astronauts Norm Thagard and Bonnie Dunbar and two Russian cosmonauts at the Star City training center outside Moscow, Russia. At the Star City facility, Thagard is training as the prime U.S. crew member and Dunbar as a backup for a 1995 joint U.S./Russian mission aboard the Russian MIR space station.
The Blue Team -- Jay Apt, Rich Clifford and Tom Jones -- reported several visual observations including fires burning in Africa and a line of thunderstorms over northeastern Brazil. Payloads scientists asked the crew to add the Rugen Island, off Germany's northern coastline in the Baltic Sea, to their list of Earth observations photography.
Among the numerous radar images recorded on the Blue shift were views for oceanographers over the North Sea and the Labrador Sea; for ecologists over sites at Chulchaca, Yucatan, Mexico, Duke Forest, North Carolina, and Manaus Cabaliana, Brazil; and for geologists at Fort Zinder in the Sahara Desert, the Karakax Valley, China, and Zhamanshin, Russia.
On Saturday, April 16, 1994, 12:30 p.m.CDT, (from STS-59 MCC Status Report #21), the Space Radar Lab-1 instruments also are continuing to operate well, and all observations are being made on schedule. Although the majority of information that has been gathered is stored aboard the shuttle, scientists remain intrigued by data that has been transmitted to the ground. Recent images processed on the ground include a composite map of the ancient riverbeds detected beneath the sands of the Sahara desert. The map will help scientists study what the region looked like in ancient times and how once-productive areas can become desert.
The crew was sent a preliminary composite map of carbon moxide distribution in Earth's atmosphere derived from measurements made the the MAPS instrument aboard Endeavour, an instrument that studies air pollution.
The sites being observed today include areas of Japan and Italy. All of the observation sites have been recorded at least once at this point in the flight, and remaining observations are to supplement the data already obtained.
On Saturday, April 16, 1994, 7 p.m.CDT (from STS-59 MCC Status Report #22), the Space Radar Lab-1 instruments are continuing to record their observations of the Earth below according to schedule. The sites being observed today included areas of Japan, Italy, Russia, Chile, China, Uganda and Saudia Arabia. All of the observation sites have been recorded at least once, and remaining observations are to supplement the data already obtained.
One annoyance that has been worked since the first day of the flight has been laid to rest with the successful in-flight maintenance procedure to get rid of air bubbles in the crew's water supply, and the crew has worked with experts on the ground to pinpoint how those bubbles were getting into food and water containers.
Godwin spent 15 minutes being interviewed by television reporters in Atlanta and Nashville.
On Sunday, April 17, 3 a.m. CDT (from STS-59 MCC Status Report #23) the Blue Team --Jay Apt, Rich Clifford and Tom Jones -- is recording radar images for scientists studying how elements of Earth's land surfaces, water resources, and plant and animal life work together to create Earth's livable environment. Geology sites covered on the Blue shift include Puerto Aisen, Chile, Charana, Bolivia, and Bangladesh; ecology sites at Les Landes, France, Western Sayani, Siberia, and Chimalapas, Mexico; and oceanography sites over the North Sea and, later this morning, the Equatorial Pacific Ocean.
Two televised downlinks of moving radar images from the X-Band Synthetic Aperture Radar system fed through the X-SAR quick-look processor at JSC allowed mission scientists to view regions from the Sahara Desert to Russia, with a calibration data take at Matera, Italy. The Payload Operations Control Center later told the Blue Team that the Matera calibration "was perfect." Another moving image downlink covered an ecology site at Les Landes, France, south of Bordeaux, followed by another calibration at the Oberpfaffenhofen super site. There students from the University of Munich gathered agricultural crop biomass measurements and soil moisture readings at the same time aircraft-mounted radar systems, sponsored by the European Space Agency, also measured the radar beams emitted by the SIR-C and X-SAR instruments.
On Sunday, April 17, 12:30 p.m. CDT (from STS-59 MCC Status Report # 24), Endeavour's flight control surfaces and thruster jets were checked out today to ensure they are in good working order for Tuesday's planned landing at the Kennedy Space Center at 10:53 a.m. CDT. The latest weather forecast at landing time shows scattered clouds and only a slight chance of rain offshore.
While consoles in Mission Control concentrated on the orbiter systems checks, the payload community continued to gather data using the Space Radar Laboratory equipment located in the payload bay. The round-the-clock observations with two types of radar and an air pollution monitoring system is monitored by two teams of astronauts aboard the Orbiter and three teams of scientists in the payload control room adjacent to the primary flight control room.
The STS-59 mission's six astronauts held their traditional in-flight news conference answering questions about the significance of the mission. Following the news conference, Commander Sid Gutierrez, Pilot Kevin Chilton and Flight Engineer Rich Clifford checked the orbiter systems while the payload crew of Mission Specialists Linda Godwin, Jay Apt and Tom Jones documented activity with the payload.
On Monday, April 18, 1994, 2 p.m. CDT, (from STS-59 MCC Status Report # 26), Endeavour's crew is starting to pack up while final radar observations of Earth are being made and Shuttle mission STS-59 winds down, aiming toward a 10:52 a.m. central landing Tuesday at Florida's Kennedy Space Center.
Aboard Endeavour, the Red Team crew members -- Commander Sid Gutierrez, Pilot Kevin Chilton and Payload Commander Linda Godwin -- are in the last half of their 10th 12-hour work shift of the flight. Early in the shift, Gutierrez and Chilton performed a standard checkout of the systems Endeavour will use for tomorrow's return home and found them in excellent shape. Meanwhile, observations with the Space Radar Lab-1 instruments have continued without interruption.
The radar lab will continue observations until just after midnight central time, when it will be powered off for the landing. The instruments have taken advantage of one extra day in orbit, added to the flight because of abundant supplies, to gain observations of several unscheduled areas around the globe. Some of the unplanned observations made include glaciers in Alaska, flooding in the midwest, areas of Cambodia in Southeast Asia, and Almaz, Russia.
The weather forecast is favorable for a landing in Florida tomorrow, although flight controllers will be watching a possibility of low clouds and a slight chance of showers in the area. Endeavour's first opportunity for landing Tuesday, and the time at which all activities are aiming toward, would begin with an engine firing at 9:58 a.m. central, on Endeavour's 165th orbit, to begin a descent to a touchdown on KSC's runway 33 at 10:52 a.m. central. A second opportunity exists on Endeavour's166th orbit beginning with a deorbit burn at 11:28 a.m. central leading to a touchdown in Florida at 12:23 p.m. central. Two opportunities also exist tomorrow for a landing at Edwards Air Force Base, California, but shuttle managers do not plan to use them, and would stay in orbit for an extra day for more attempts at a Florida landing before landing in California.
On Monday, April 18, 1994, 5 p.m. CDT (from STS-59 MCC Status Report #27) Endeavour's Red Team -- Commander Sid Gutierrez, Pilot Kevin Chilton and Payload Commander Linda Godwin -- is in the last hours of its 10th shift of the STS-59 mission. Early in the shift, Gutierrez and Chilton performed a standard checkout of the systems Endeavour will use for Tuesday's return home and found them in excellent shape. Gutierrez and Chilton also maneuvered the the shuttle to a new attitude and calibrated the Heads-Up Display they will use for landing.
Observations with the Space Radar Laboratory-1 (SRL-1) instruments continued without interruption. SRL-1 also switched to its backup electronics package. Scientists switched from the primary electronics systems -- which have worked flawlessly throughout the flight -- to verify that the redundant system functions as well.
SRL-1 will continue observations until just after midnight, when it will be powered off for the landing. The instruments have taken advantage of one extra day in orbit, added to the flight because of abundant supplies, to gain observations over targets of opportunity.
On Tuesday, April 19, 1994, 11:30 a.m. CDT STS-59 MCC Status Report #31 reports: Endeavour and its six astronauts will remain in space an additional day. Clouds and high winds in the vicinity of the runway precluded a return to the Kennedy Space Center today.
Four landing opportunities are available Wednesday -- two in Florida and two at Edwards Air Force Base in California. KSC remains the prime landing site with Edwards serving as the backup. The Florida landing times are 10:29 a.m. and 12:01 p.m. central. The California landing times are 11:54 a.m. and 1:26 p.m. central. The deorbit burn designed to drop Endeavour out of orbit for the landing phase will occur about 50 minutes prior to touchdown.
Mission Control's entry team will evaluate weather conditions and make a final decision on the landing site after taking over control of the mission about 4:30 Wednesday morning.
Following today's wave off, the crew reconfigured the orbiter systems for the added day on orbit and reactivated a portion of the Space Radar Laboratory payload in the cargo bay. The Space Imaging Radar system (SIR-C) was the only part of the payload to be reactivated.
The data recorded during the STS-59 mission would fill the equivalent of 20,000 encyclopedia volumes. Payload managers reported late Monday night that more than 70 million square kilometers of the Earth's surface, including land and sea, have been mapped on this flight. This figure represents about 12 percent of Earth's total surface. The Space Radar Laboratory obtained radar images of approximately 25 percent of the planet's land surfaces.
The full complement of payloads will fly again on the STS-68 mission aboard Endeavour in August. The spacecraft remains in a stable 116 nautical mile orbit. References: 1 , 2 , 5 , 6 , 7 .