Carried Astro 2 astronomy payload with 3 UV telescopes.(attached to Endeavour).Payloads: Ultraviolet Astronomy (ASTRO) 2; Middeck Active Control Experiment (MACE); Protein Crystal Growth—Thermal Enclosure System (PCG-TES) 03; Protein Crystal Growth—Single-Locker Thermal Enclosure System (PCG-STES) 02; Commercial Materials Dispersion Apparatus Minilab/Instrumentation Technology Associates, Inc. Experiments (CMIX) 03; Shuttle Amateur Radio Experiment (SAREX) II; two getaway special experiments.
NASA Official Mission Narrative
Mission Name: STS-67 (68)
Pad 39-A (53)
68th Shuttle Mission
8th Flight OV-105
10th Night Launch
1st Launch new AF Range Control Center
Longest Mission to date
EAFB Landing (44)
Stephen S. Oswald (3), Commander
William G. Gregory (1), Pilot
Tamara E. Jernigan (3) , Payload Commander
John M. Grunsfeld (1), Mission Specialist
Wendy B. Lawrence (1), Mission Specialist
Ronald A. Parise (2), Payload Specialist
Samuel T. Durrance (2), Payload Specialist
Scott D. Vangen (0), Alternate Payload Specialist
OPF -- 10/21/94
VAB -- 02/03/95
PAD -- 02/08/95
01/05/95 - Interface Verification Test
01/11/95 - End-to-End Communications Test
02/03/95 - Rollover to VAB
02/13/95 - Launch Readiness Review
02/08/95 - Rollout to LC-39A
02/14/95 - Start Terminal Countdown Demonstration Test
02/15/95 - Flight Readiness Review (10:00am)
02/15/95 - Terminal Countdown Demonstration Test T-0 (11:00am)
02/20/95 - Close AFT Engine Compartment
02/21/95 - Ordanance Installation
02/24/95 - Close Payload Bay Doors
02/26/95 - Crew Arrives at KSC (10:45pm)
02/27/95 - Begin STS-67 Launch Countdown (2:00am)
ASTRO-2, MACE, GAS(x2),PCG-TES-03,PCG-STES-02,SAREX-II,CMIX-03,MSX
Astro-2 is the second dedicated Spacelab mission to conduct astronomical observations in the ultraviolet spectral regions. It consists of three unique instruments - the Hopkins Ultraviolet Telescope (HUT), the Ultraviolet Imaging Telescope (UIT) and the Wisconsin Ultraviolet Photo-Polarimeter Experiment (WUPPE). These experiments will select targets from a list of over 600 and observe objects ranging from some inside the solar system to individual stars, nebulae, supernova remnants, galaxies and active extragalactic objects. This data will supplement data collected on the Astro-1 mission flown on STS-35 in December 1990 aboard Columbia. Because most ultraviolet radiation is absorbed by Earth's atmosphere, it cannot be studied from the ground. The far and extreme ultraviolet region of the spectrum was largely unexplored before Astro-1, but knowledge of all wavelengths is essential to obtain an accurate picture of the universe. Astro-2 will have almost twice the duration of its predecessor, and a launch at a different time of year allows the telescopes to view different portions of the sky. The mission promises to fill in large gaps in astronomers' understanding of the universe and lay the foundations for more discovery in the future.
On the Middeck, science experiments include the Protein Crystal Growth Thermal Enclosure System Vapor Diffusion Apparatus-03 experiment (PCG-TES-03), the Protein Crystal Growth Single Thermal Enclosure System-02 (PCG-STES-02), the Shuttle Amateur Radio Experiment-II (SAREX-II), the Middeck Active Control Experiment (MACE), the Commercial Materials Dispersion Apparatus Instrumentation Technology Associates Experiments-03 (CMIX-03) and the Midcourse Space Experiment (MSX).
The Middeck Active Control Experiment (MACE) is a space engineering research payload. It consists of a rate gyro, reaction wheels, a precision pointing payload, and a scanning and pointing payload that produces motion disturbances. The goal of the experiment is to test a closed loop control system that will compensate for motion disturbances. On orbit, Commander Stephen S. Oswald and William G. Gregory will use MACE to test about 200 different motion disturbance situations over 45 hours of testing during the mission. Information from MACE will be used to design better control systems that compensate for motion in future spacecraft.
Two Get Away Special (GAS) payloads are also on board. They are the G-387 and G-388 canisters. This experiment is sponsored by the Australian Space Office and AUSPACE ltd. The objectives are to make ultraviolet observations of deep space or nearby galaxies. These observations will be made to study the structure of galactic supernova remnants, the distribution of hot gas in the Magellanic Clouds, the hot galactic halo emission, and emission associated with galactic cooling flows and jets. The two GAS canisters are interconnected with a cable. Canister 1 has a motorized door assembly that exposes a UV telescope to space when opened. UV reflective filters on the telescopes optics determine its UV bandpass. Canister 2 contains two video recorders for data storage and batteries to provide experiment power.
Launch March 2, 1995. 1:38:34 am EST. Launch window was 2 hour 30 min.
At 9:09pm EST, the only launch constraints were weather related with a 40% chance for launch. At 9:11pm the astronauts had their breakfast in the astronaut quarters on the 3rd floor of the Operations and Checkout building . Commander Stephen S. Oswald and William G. Gregory were given a final weather briefing while the rest of the crew suited up. At 10:22pm, the STS-67 crew left for Pad 39-A and arrived at 10:42pm. By 11:58pm the crew was all loaded and communications air-to-ground voice checks were completed. By 12:50am on 3/2/95, the door to Endeavour's mid-deck was sealed and a go was given to clear the white room.
There were 4 minor problems tracked during the count. The first problem occured early in the count. An experimental configuration of communications system caused a timing glitch that was quickly corrected. This configuration enables the orbiter to use the TDRSS during ascent in lew of the Bermuda Tracking station. The goal was to get a communications lock via TDRSS in 7 seconds instead of a normal 40 seconds and if successful, this will improved safety and may eventually reduce the need for the Bermuda Tracking station. The second problem was a minor leak in the LH2 storage system on Pad 39-A. This leak will be investigated when crews visit the pad after launch. The third minor problem occured when Endeavours Fuel Cells showed a degradation in Fuel cell efficency. This was traced to a Helium contamination during EDO pallet fill. A purge of the line fixed the problem.
At 1:26am a poll of the launch team identified all teams but one were go for launch. The final problem was an indication that the B-supply secondary heater of the Flash Evaporator System was approaching a redline condition. This system is normally shutoff just before launch. At 1:29am the primary FES was brought online and the clock was picked up with a plan to count down to the T-5 min mark. The FES was verified as good and the count only suffered a 1 min delay with this problem. APU prestart was complete at 1:32am. APU start completed at 1:34am. Launch occured at 1:38am EST.
Good SRB Seperations. Negative Return called at 1:42am EST, all 3 SSME's performed well. At T+6min Endeavour was at 367,000ft altitude and 335nm downrange. At T+7min Endeavour was at 359,000ft and 354nm downrange, traveling at 11,200mph. At T+8:30, (1:47am EST) the Space Shuttle Main Engines (SSME) cutoff as planned with Endeavour traveling at 16,700mph, 800nm downrange. External Tank seperation confirmed at 1:48am EST.
Earlier during the STS-67 mission flow, on 02/21/95, a failed shuttle Mass Memory Unit #1 was removed from Endeavour and replaced with one from Discovery . On 02/23/95, troubleshooting was done on a minor leak in Endeavours Flash Evaporator System (FES) Freon coolant loop. The system was overpressurized and it was determined the leak posed no impact to launch.
Altitude: 187 nm
Inclination: 28.45 degrees
Duration: 16 days, 15 hours, 08 minutes, 48 seconds.
Distance: 6.9 million miles
ET : SN-69
MLP : 1
Dryden Flight Research Center, EAFB, March 18, 1995 at 4:47 p.m. EST Runway 22. At 1:05pm EST the port Payload Bay Door was closed with the remaining door closed and latched by 1:08pm EST. At 3:35pm EST, Endeavour was given a go for deorbit burn with the start of the 517ft/sec burn occuring at approximately 3:40pm EST. Endeavour went subsonic at 46,000ft. Main gear touchdown at MET (16/15:8:47), nose wheel touchdown at (16/15:9:01) and wheels stop at MET (16/15:9:46sec).
On Friday, March 17, 1995 at 8 a.m. CST, STS-67 MCC Status Report #30 reports: Endeavour had 3 scheduled KSC landing opportunities for Friday 3/17/95 (1:53pm CST on orbit 246, 3:30pm CST on orbit 247 and 5:07pm on orbit 248) but they have been waived off due to bad weather at the Kennedy Space Center. NASA managers elected not to call up landing support at the backup landing site at Edwards Air Force Base in California for Friday and would keep the astronauts aloft for an extra day in the event weather prevents a landing in Florida.
For Saturday, backup landing support at Edwards has been activated and there were 6 landing opportunities for March 18, 1995. (KSC landing at 2:18pm CST on orbit 261, Edwards landing at 3:47pm CST on orbit 262 and another KSC opportunity at 3:55pm CST. Two other Edwards landings and one KSC landing opportunities exist later in the day. Mission Highlights:
On Thursday, March 2, 1995 at 2:18am CST (MET 1hr 39min), the payload bay doors were opened and the crew was given a go for orbit operations.
STS-67 Flight Day 1 Highlights:
STS-67 MCC Status Report #01 reports: The crew -- Commander Stephen S. Oswald, Pilot William G. Gregory, Payload Commander Tamara E. Jernigan, Mission Specialists John M. Grunsfeld and Wendy B. Lawrence, and Payload Specialists Samuel T. Durrance and Ronald A. Parise -- readied the shuttle and ASTRO-2 to support 15 and a half days of astronomical observations. The Blue Team of crew members -- Jernigan, Lawrence and Durrance -- were on duty mornings aboard the spacecraft while their fellow crewmembers, called the Red Team, slept. The Red crew members took over duties at about 10:52 a.m.
On Thursday, March 2, 1995 at 8:00 a.m. CST, STS-67 MCC Status Report #02 reports: The Blue Team -- Payload Commander Tammy Jernigan, Mission Specialist Wendy Lawrence and Payload Specialist Sam Durrance will wrap up its first day on orbit shortly before noon Central time. The Red Team -- Commander Steve Oswald, Pilot Bill Gregory, Mission Specialist John Grunsfield and Payload Specialist Ron Parise will then continue with the science activities.
On Thursday, March 2, 1995 at 5:00 p.m. CST, STS-67 MCC Status Report #03 reports: Activation and calibration of the Astro-2 ultraviolet telescopes are continuing slightly behind schedule following a steering jet leak that has twice forced closure of the instruments protective doors. The leak is in a reaction control system thruster designated R4R, a jet in the right aft orbital maneuvering system pod that is aimed to the right of the shuttle. Flight controllers worked with the crew to close the manifold that supplies oxidizer and fuel to that jet, which effectively stopped the leak.
The doors on the Hopkins Ultraviolet Telescope, the Wisconsin Ultraviolet Photo-Polarimeter Experiment and the Ultraviolet Imaging Telescope were first closed to protect the instruments from any remaining oxidizer coming out of that jet after the manifold was closed. Once the thruster's propellant lines had been evacuated, the telescope doors were reopened. The doors were briefly closed again while residual propellant downstream of the closed manifold dissipated, but are now open and all scheduled operations have resumed.
The failed jet, which is not being used to position the orbiter for its science operations, is not a safety hazard in any way, and does not affect the mission duration. The flight control team is looking at options in dealing with the jet, but has not yet decided whether any additional actions will be necessary.
On Thursday, March 2, 1995 at 8 a.m. CST, STS-67 MCC Status Report #04 reports: The Instrument Pointing System continues to perform well. The preliminary assessments of IPS stability and accuracy show that the system is operating well. Control loop software, gyro and accelerometer response have been good, and Optical Sensor Package performance has been excellent with two of three trackers slightly exceeding performance expectations. IPS controllers in Houston are currently tracking no problems or issues, and team members do not anticipate a change in the IPS's performance.
The payload control team at the Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Ala., however, is looking at several reported excursions in ASTRO-2's pointing abilities that have required the crew to repeatedly fine tune the instruments after establishing the platform's reference point for celestial observations. Controllers in Houston and Huntsville are working on procedures that will reduce the number of calibrations needed.
On Friday, March 3, 1995 at 4 p.m. CST, STS-67 MCC Status Report #05 states: Commander Steve Oswald and Pilot Bill Gregory set up the Middeck Active Control Experiment (MACE) hardware. MACE is a five-foot long flexible beam with mock satellite instruments mounted at either end. It will float free in the shuttle's lower deck, and the astronauts will measure how disturbances caused by one instrument affect the performance of the instrument at the experiment's opposite end. The information gathered will assist engineers in designing more stable space structures. The crew tested the MACE equipment and its communications with the ground. Some problems were experienced initially in sending information from the ground to the experiment during checkouts, however such an uplink of information is not planned or needed for the MACE operations for several days. Meanwhile,
On Saturday, March 4, 1995 at 1 p.m. CST, STS-67 MCC Status Report #06 reports: During the past shift, the crew received word from scientists who designed the Australian ultraviolet experiment that is flying in two Getaway Special canisters in the cargo bay. The experimenters reported they have achieved 100 percent of desired observations and expressed a sincere thanks and appreciation for the support they received during this mission. In addition, Jernigan and Lawrence participated in an interview with National Public Radio as Durrance supported the Astro-2 observations.
STS-67 Flight Day 4 Highlights:
On Sunday, March 5, 1995 at 1 p.m. CST, STS-67 MCC Status Report #07 stated that there has been some indications that the crew's stationary bicycle exercise is imparting some vibration to the shuttle that is interfering with the Instrument Pointing System's ability to precisely direct the Astro-2 telescopes at their targets. The crew is being asked to schedule exercise a little earlier so that the vibration has stopped by the time Endeavour moves into darkness and celestial observations must resume.
On Monday, March 6, 1995 at 5 p.m. CST, STS-67 MCC Status Report #09 reports: The STS-67 astronauts continue to operate the ASTRO-2 payload and also worked with several microgravity experiments and talked with students on the ground around the world through the Shuttle Amateur Radio Experiment. The Blue Team -- Payload Commander Tammy Jernigan, Mission Specialist Wendy Lawrence and Payload Specialist Sam Durrance -- worked with the Commercial Materials Dispersion Apparatus Instruments Technology Associates Experiments (CMIX) and checked on the health of the Protein Crystal Growth biotechnology experiments.
Lawrence also sent special greetings to the 19 men and women who reported to the Johnson Space Center today representing the Astronaut Class of 1995. The Red Team -- Commander Steve Oswald, Pilot Bill Gregory, Mission Specialist John Grunsfeld and Payload Specialist Ron Parise -- went on duty about noon CST. As Grunsfeld and Parise supported Astro-2 observations, Oswald coordinating a successful data transfer that will help Middeck Active Control Experiment scientists and engineers design large spacecraft. Gregory practiced for the end of the 15 1/2 day mission on the PILOT landing simulator.
On Tuesday, March 7, 1995 at 9 a.m. CST, STS-67 MCC Status Report #10 reports: Earlier this morning, flight controllers did some troubleshooting after a circuit breaker tripped, cutting power to a portion of the Commercial Materials Dispersion Apparatus Instrumentation Technology Associates Experiment (CMIX). When Lawrence reset the circuit breaker on the middeck experiment and repowered the heater controller, ground controllers noticed a short. Lawrence subsequently was directed to turn off the heater, which maintained a slightly higher temperature (20 degrees Centigrade vs. 4 degrees Centigrade) for a portion of the Commercial Refrigerator Incubator Module (CRIM). three of the four experiment trays already had been chemically fixed, and scientists won't know until after landing what affect the heater loss will have on the samples. The CMIX/CRIM experiments which require no heat, referred to as the "cold" experiments, were unaffected by this event.
Other activities performed by the Blue Team include a successful alignment of the inertial measurement units which was performed by Lawrence, and a 12-hour water dump using the flash evaporator system was initiated this morning.
On Tuesday, March 7, 1995 at 4 p.m. CST, STS-67 MCC Status Report #11 reports: Commander Oswald transferred data from the ground to the orbiting Middeck Active Control Experiment via a high-speed air-to-ground link as Gregory took care of orienting the shuttle for its Astro-2 observations and performed housekeeping duties.Grunsfeld and Parise each were scheduled for some off-duty time.
On Wednesday, March 8, 1995 at 8 a.m. CST, STS-67 MCC Status Report #12 reports: Astro-2 observations continue, including ultraviolet views of spiral galaxies, the interstellar medium and a very luminous and hot Wolf Rayet star. A successful alignment of the inertial measurement units was performed earlier this morning. Excess water will be dumped through the flash evaporator system today. All consumables are at the appropriate levels at this time in the record-setting mission.
On Wednesday, March 8, 1995 at 4 p.m. CST, STS-67 MCC Status Report #13 reports: Mission Specialist Wendy Lawrence beamed down a video postcard, narrating a tour of the Space Shuttle Endeavour and showing what life aboard is like. The tour included views of the aft flight deck, where astronomical observations are being conducted; the forward flight deck, where shuttle maneuvers are orchestrated; and the middeck, where experiments are studying biotechnology and flexible space structures and the day-to-day activities such as food preparation and personal hygiene are taken care of.
Oswald worked again with the Middeck Active Control Experiment as Gregory took care of orienting the shuttle for its Astro-2 observations and performed housekeeping duties. Grunsfeld and Parise directed the trio of Astro-2 telescopes toward its targets. Gregory and Grunsfeld also conducted an interview with KFWB Radio in Los Angeles.
On Thursday, March 9, 1995 at 8 a.m. CST, STS-67 MCC Status Report #14 reports: Looking out of the Shuttle's window, Wendy Lawrence recorded volcanic activity on an island south of Burma and replayed the brief video at about 5:45 a.m. CST. An alignment of the inertial measurement units and a water dump through the flash evaporator system were successfully performed this morning. Earlier this morning Commander Stephen Oswald downlinked video of the Middeck Active Control Experiment showing the effects of vibrations on spacecraft. Through this experiment, researchers want to learn how to actively control flexible structures in space. Lawrence continued maneuvering the orbiter while Jernigan and Sam Durrance continued the Astro-2 observations of the ultraviolet universe.
On Thursday, March 9, 1995 at 5 p.m. CST, STS-67 MCC Status Report #15 reports: Oswald worked with the Middeck Active Control Experiment as Gregory pointed the shuttle so that the payload bay telescopes could acquire their targets. Gregory also flew another simulation on the PILOT landing trainer. Grunsfeld and Parise directed the trio of Astro-2 telescopes toward its targets. Oswald, Grunsfeld and Gregory were interviewed by Glen Farley of KING-TV in Seattle at 4:30 p.m.
On Friday, March 10, 1995 at 5 p.m. CST, STS-67 MCC Status Report #17 reports: Commander Steve Oswald conducted more work with the Middeck Active Control Experiment, the MACE device, which is collecting engineering data about the effect of vibrations on free-floating structures. Pilot Bill Gregory spent some time answering questions sent by computer users on the Internet regarding Endeavour's astronomy mission. Hundreds of thousands of questions have been placed on the Internet since the start of the mission, prompting the astronauts to respond when time permits.
On Saturday, March 11 1995 at 5 p.m. CST, STS-67 MCC Status Report #19 reports: Gregory continued work with the Portable In-Flight Landing Operations Trainer, PILOT, a laptop computer and hand controller designed to simulate Shuttle landings. The device helps Shuttle Commanders and Pilots to stay sharp during long duration flights.
STS-67 Flight Day 10 Highlights:
On Sunday, March 12, 1995 at 9:30 a.m. CST, STS-67 MCC Status Report #20 reports: Tammy Jernigan, Sam Durrance and Wendy Lawrence assisted ground controllers in Alabama with fine-pointing of the three telescopes. For the first time, an observation was made of the Moon as the Shuttle passed south of Hawaii on the 161st orbit of the mission in an effort to gather ultraviolet data to help determine the Moon's origin. Several additional observations of moons and asteroids will be made throughout the mission.
On Sunday, March 12, 1995 at 5 p.m. CST, STS-67 MCC Status Report #21 reports: Both Grunsfeld and Parise enjoyed a few hours off to relax before heading into the final days of the mission, trading places on the aft flight deck to operate the Instrument Pointing System and the telescopes while the other took a break from research duties. Gregory used Endeavour's ham radio gear to talk to students at the J.J. Fray Elementary School in Rustburg, Virginia and the crew continued to respond to questions about their mission and spaceflight in general placed on the Internet and faxed up to the Shuttle by flight controllers.
On Monday, March 13, 1995 at 8 a.m. CST, STS-67 MCC Status Report #22 reports: Jernigan and Durrance were interviewed by C-SPAN earlier this morning and discussed various aspects of the mission and space flight in general with viewers.
On Monday, March 13, 1995 at 5 p.m. CST, STS-67 MCC Status Report #23 reports: Commander Steve Oswald spent most of the day working in the middeck with the MACE experiment, the Middeck Active Control Experiment, a device rigged with sensors to measure the degree of vibration on free-floating structures. Engineering data from the experiment will be used by technicians in the design of spacecraft of the future. Oswald and Mission Specialist Wendy Lawrence, both graduates of the Naval Academy, joined Payload Specialist Ron Parise to discuss various aspects of the flight with Midshipmen gathered at Annapolis. Lawrence is the first female graduate of the Naval Academy. The in-flight interview also featured greetings to the crew from former astronaut Charles Bolden, who currently serves as the Deputy Commandant at Annapolis.
On Tuesday, March 14, 1995 at 8 a.m. CST, STS-67 MCC Status Report #24 reports: Endeavour's crew was notified of the Mir-18 launch shortly after the Soyuz capsule reached orbit. STS-67 Commander Steve Oswald responded, "Okay, great news, thank you very much....Bet you Normie's glad to be there." Oswald and Thagard flew together on Discovery's STS-42 mission in January 1992.
On Tuesday, March 14, 1995 at 5 p.m. CST, STS-67 MCC Status Report #25 reports: Before turning in for an eight-hour sleep period, the Blue team astronauts, Wendy Lawrence, Tammy Jernigan and Sam Durrance, joined their colleagues in the traditional in-flight Crew News Conference, answering questions from correspondents on everything from astronomical research to the symbolism of the launching of U.S. astronaut Norm Thagard on a Russian rocket this morning to begin an historic three-month stay on the Mir Space Station.
Earlier today, NASA's Mission Management Team decided NOT to extend Endeavour's flight beyond Friday's planned landing at the Kennedy Space Center. Citing the wealth of scientific data already acquired by the Shuttle's telescopes and the conservative approach being taken in slowly building up the length of time for orbiting crews, Mission Operations Representative Jeff Bantle said the decision to end Endeavour's journey on time was made after weighing numerous factors regarding a mission extension, both pro and con.
On Wednesday, March 15, 1995 at 8 a.m. CST, STS-67 MCC Status Report #26 reports: Mission Specialist Tammy Jernigan, a native of Chattanooga, talked with a Tennessee radio station along with crew mate Wendy Lawrence. The discussion centered around the astronomical observations being conducted throughout the mission as well as homeowner- type questions posed to Jernigan, making her third flight aboard the Shuttle. Along with Sam Durrance, the three astronauts have been choreographing orbiter maneuvers with instrument pointing to precisely aim the ASTRO observator at the desired celestial targets throughout the universe.
Before Lawrence turns in, she will join Oswald and Gregory in the routine, pre-entry checkout of Endeavour's flight control system, which includes verifying the health of the moveable surfaces on the wings and tail used during the atmospheric reentry portion of landing. One of the Endeavour's three hydraulic systems is required during portions of the checkout scheduled to begin about 12:30 this afternoon.
On Wednesday, March 15, 1995 at 4:30 p.m. CST, STS-67 MCC Status Report #27 reports: Endeavour's astronauts successfully tested their ship's flight control systems today in preparation for Friday's scheduled landing at the Kennedy Space Center. Commander Steve Oswald, Pilot Bill Gregory and Mission Specialist Wendy Lawrence fired up one of Endeavour's auxiliary power units to test the Shuttle's aerosurfaces as part of the routine prelanding tests to insure that Endeavour is ship-shape for its high-speed return to Earth.
After a short break in data-gathering to accommodate the flight control system test, Mission Specialist John Grunsfeld and Payload Specialist Ron Parise resumed ultraviolet studies of distant celestial objects with the trio of ASTRO-2 telescopes housed in the Shuttle's cargo bay. Oswald, Gregory, Grunsfeld and Parise also answered questions from the Cable News Network as their marathon mission nears its end. The astronauts will begin to deactivate and stow equipment Thursday in preparation for their planned homecoming Friday.
On Thursday, March 16, 1995 at 8 a.m. CST, STS-67 MCC Status Report #28 reports: Astronomical observations using the ASTRO-2 payload will continue throughout Friday morning aboard Endeavour prior to the transition from payload operations to the landing timeline, four hours before the deorbit ignition of the Shuttle's orbital maneuvering system engines.
On Thursday, March 16, 1995 at 5 p.m. CST, STS-67 MCC Status Report #29 reports: Commander Steve Oswald spoke with U.S. Astronaut Norm Thagard aboard the Mir Space Station in a radio hookup between the two spacecraft. Former shuttle crewmates, Oswald and Thagard exchanged congratulations on their respective flights and discussed the symbolic importance of Thagard's venture as the first American to visit the Russian space outpost. Thagard and his Russian crewmates arrived at Mir early this morning to begin three months of scientific and medical research.
The Red team astronauts -- Oswald, Pilot Bill Gregory, Mission Specialist John Grunsfeld and Payload Specialist Ron Parise -- conducted final data takes with the ASTRO telescopes and reviewed entry messages prepared by the flight controllers who will guide Endeavour to its scheduled landing tomorrow afternoon at the Kennedy Space Center. Tonight, at 6:33 PM CST, Endeavour will eclipse the existing endurance record for a Shuttle, breaking the mark of 14 days, 17 hours and 55 minutes in orbit. That record was set by Columbia last year, on the STS-65 mission.
On Thursday, March 16, 1995 at 11 p.m. CST, STS-67 Payload Status Report #31 reports: (14/22:22 MET) Science activities for the second Astro observatory (Astro-2) ended shortly after 11 p.m. CST, with all three telescopes taking ultraviolet observations of the full moon. More than 200 separate successful observations were made of over 100 celestial objects selected by HUT investigators. All of these observations made up 21 separate investigations, 14 carried out by permanent members of the HUT team and 7 by guest investigators who joined the HUT team for Astro-2.
One of Davidsen's primary objectives for HUT during Astro-2 was to use two high redshift quasars as background lighting to search for helium in the space between galaxies. Detecting helium in intergalactic space and determining how much of it is there could provide answers to the questions about the "Big Bang" that is believed to have marked the beginning of our universe. "I can tell you that we succeeded in getting data needed to answer these questions. It's too early to say what the answer might be, but it will be very exciting to see these data," explained Davidsen.
In other Astro-2 observations, HUT made simultaneous ultraviolet measurements with the Hubble Space Telescope of Jupiter's aurora, or northern lights, and its effect on the planet. HUT scientists also studied the atmosphere of Jupiter's moon Io and the torus (donut-shaped cloud) of ionized gas it produces around Jupiter. HUT astronomers say observations such as this will lead to a greater understanding of the processes taking place on that planet.
Ultraviolet emissions from the atmospheres of Venus and Mars were also targets of observations for HUT during this mission. Detailed analysis may reveal the presence of several interesting elements, including argon, neon and helium.
HUT also observed less distant quasars and Seyfert galaxies to study details of their ultraviolet radiation. The studies could help confirm the theory that these objects contain supermassive black holes, which swallow matter from their surroundings. The observations could shed light on the dynamics of the gas clouds in the nuclei, or cores, of such active galaxies.
HUT observed other celestial objects during the course of this mission. The telescope was used to study extragalactic objects, numerous cataclysmic variable stars, symbiotic star systems, hot white dwarf stars and several starburst galaxies to help astronomers learn more about the life of stars, from "birth" to the violent explosion marking the "death" of a star.
Another of Astro-2's instruments, the Ultraviolet Imaging Telescope (UIT), which was developed at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md., took wide-field, electronically intensified images of objects in ultraviolet light on film. UIT astronomer Dr. Steve Maran explained, "Our data say we got good exposures on all the science programs and high-priority targets. Now, we'll just have to wait until we get our film developed." Maran was referring to the many images UIT made, including about 2 dozen large spiral galaxies to be used in an ultraviolet atlas of such objects. The atlas will be a fundamental resource for astronomers for many years to come.
UIT made for the first time ultraviolet images of the entire moon. These images will be studied to investigate the ultraviolet reflectivity of the moon, and to correlate changes in reflectivity with known changes in lunar surface features. This information can then be used to compare with the reflectivity of other planetary satellites in our solar system to understand more about their surfaces and the physical processes that have been responsible for their evolution.
Scientists for UIT will spend the next several years analyzing their data from Astro-2. Some of these data include a census of rare, hot stars (with temperatures over 15,000 degrees Kelvin) in about a dozen star clusters. These hot stars, very much more evolved than the sun, have shed their outer layers so that scientists can see almost down to their nuclear-burning cores.
UIT imaged more than 20 elliptical galaxies during this mission. The photographs will allow astronomers to map the still-mysterious "ultraviolet excess" - an excessive amount of ultraviolet radiation coming from galaxies containing large quantities of old stars, which normally have low ultraviolet emissions. This astronomical oddity was first noticed by WUPPE Principal Investigator Dr. Arthur Code over 25 years ago. In order to better understand this excess emission, UIT scientists will combine their images of clusters and galaxies with spectra from HUT and data from the Hubble Space Telescope.
Observations of some of the faintest galaxies in the universe were photographed by UIT during Astro-2. Astronomers took advantage of the very dark sky background, using UIT to photograph very low surface brightness galaxies. "This could be the UIT observation with most potential for surprises," said UIT team member Dr. Steve Maran. "Ground-based observations show an unexpected blue glow. Our ultraviolet images may tell us where it's coming from."
UIT also made images during over 140 co-observations of objects selected by HUT and WUPPE. In one series of co-observations, UIT got about 13,000 seconds of ultraviolet imaging of the quasar field 1700+64. UIT scientists will examine these images, searching for unusual ultraviolet-emitting objects over a vast range of distances in the universe.
"We obtained a treasure chest of data for all our major programs, "said Dr. Arthur Code, principal investigator for WUPPE. Polarization measurements reveal the orientation of light as it is influenced by astronomical media. "Until this mission, the only set of ultraviolet spectropolarimetry in existence was that obtained during Astro-1 and a few objects obtained by the Hubble Space Telescope. Astro-2 observations greatly expand the data base and present a number of tantalizing results," Code said. He summarized the theme of WUPPE observations as "making stars" - how material is put back into the interstellar medium and builds new stars.
WUPPE sampled some 20 different views for its study of the interstellar medium, using hot stars located behind interstellar dust clouds to measure the properties of the grains. In addition to examining the dust clouds in the Milky Way, WUPPE studied the interstellar medium in a nearby galaxy, the Large Magellanic Cloud.
The instrument also got excellent observations of four Wolf- Rayet stars, an evolutionary stage of massive stars in which strong stellar winds eject shells of material into the interstellar medium.
WUPPE's study of rapidly rotating "Be" stars, which yield matter back into space in the form of an equatorial disk and polar wind, covered a large range of spectral temperatures and rotation rates within the Be class. Results will be used to test the validity of new theories about the nature of these stars, developed after surprising results from Astro-1.
The Wisconsin instrument gathered more information on interstellar dust with their observation of a reflection nebula, binaries, massive supergiant stars, and active galaxies. The WUPPE team benefited from "unexpected serendipity," Code said, when observations of three recently exploding novae gave the team a unique opportunity to follow the early history of these stellar explosions. "The results imply that the shell of gas ejected from the nova is asymmetrical from very near the beginning of the outburst," Code reported.
A major factor in the mission's success was the smooth operation of the Instrument Pointing System (IPS), which pointed the three telescopes at their targets, and the Image Motion Compensation System (IMCS), which sensed small disturbances and compensated for them in two of the telescopes. "The IPS and IMCS for the first time achieved operational capacity," Astro-2 Mission Manager Robert Jayroe said. "In my estimation, the IMCS and IPS teams have done everything but make the hardware stand up and do a tap dance." References: 2 , 5 , 6 , 7 .