Endeavour crewmembers successfully completed their second “flycast maneuver” trim burn early Monday, as the spacecraft continued to gather data that will greatly improve our topographical knowledge of the Earth’s surface. Scientists already have expressed delight with low-resolution “quick look” data, which revealed features not shown on today’s best maps.
By early Monday morning, about 20 million square miles had been imaged. By the planned end of the mission, more than 45 million square miles will have been imaged twice.
Processing of the huge amount of data gathered by Endeavour – enough to fill about 13,500 CDs if all goes according to plan – will result in maps 30 times more accurate than the best global data available now. The maps also will be of unprecedented uniformity.
The flycast maneuver reduces stress on the almost-200-foot mast extending from Endeavour’s cargo bay. The orbiter flies tail-first during mapping operations. For the maneuver, it was moved to a nose-first attitude with the mast extending upward. A brief reaction control system pulse began the maneuver. The mast rebounded forward after a slight deflection backwards. As it straightened, a stronger thrust stopped its motion while increasing the orbiter’s speed.
Endeavour is in a low orbit, and is slowed by the upper atmosphere. The crewmembers make daily flycast maneuver trim burns to keep the spacecraft in the proper altitude for mapping.
Flight controllers and crewmembers are troubleshooting a cold gas jet, a thruster on the SRTM outboard antenna. The jet is designed to help control the mast’s attitude, a function now being performed by Endeavour’s reaction control system jets. The mapping mission continued uninterrupted as flight controllers worked to develop propellant-conserving strategies.
Members of the Blue Team, Pilot Dom Gorie and Mission Specialists Janice Voss and Mamoru Mohri, continued to manage the Payload High Rate Recorders, changing the high-density tapes that will return the mapping data to Earth. About 270 of those tapes are expected to be filled.
Members of the Red Team, Commander Kevin Kregel and Mission Specialists Janet Kavandi and Gerhard Thiele, are sleeping. They are scheduled to be awakened at 10:14 a.m. Central Standard Time.
The next mission status report will be issued at 6 p.m. Monday, or as events warrant.
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