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Ask the Crew: STS-99

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Question #11Janet Kavandi's Reply

From: Elwood Marshall, Redondo Beach, CA
To:
Mission Specialist Janet Kavandi

Question: With a continuous two shift flight, is it very difficult for the crew members that are awake to keep from disturbing the crew members that are sleeping in the mid deck?

Kavandi: Yes it is. It is not very difficult, but we are very cautious so that we do not disturb the people downstairs. We try as much as we can to do all of our work upstairs. On this mission, that is fairly easy because all the recorders are upstairs that we are using to map the Earth. The only things that we need to go downstairs for are to get a bite to eat now and then and the restrooms are downstairs. So we are as cautious as we can and as quiet as we can so that we do not wake the other shift.

Mission Specialist Janet Kavandi
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Question #12Janet Kavandi's Reply

From: Nguyen, Conyers, GA, Age 16
To:
Mission Specialist Janet Kavandi

Question: If you could choose a planet to live in other than Earth, what would it be and why?

Kavandi: Even though it is not a planet, I would like to go to the Moon. I have always dreamed of going to the Moon since I was a child and since I watched the first astronauts that went to the Moon walk on that surface. And I think I would enjoy going there and living in a colony there. Of course, many other people would like to go to Mars and then out to other planets in the solar system. Gerhard would like to do the Mars thing. So far in our foreseeable future, those are probably the two locations that we would be able to set up a base to live on within the next 100 years or so.

Mission Specialist Janet Kavandi
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Question #13Janet Kavandi's Reply

From: Jeremy Nichols, Santa Rosa, CA
To:
Mission Specialist Janet Kavandi

Question: Some of the astronauts appear to wear a watch on each wrist. Why is this?

Kavandi: You can see that I am wearing a watch on each wrist. The reason I do this is so that I have a reference to what my home time is. Houston, Texas, is where most of us live, and I would like to always know what time it is in Houston. This is a good reference to me to know what time my family is getting up, my kids are in school or coming home. In fact, I think they are home from school right now and possibly watching as we speak. The other watch that I keep is for the MET, the Mission Elapsed Time, of our actual flight, and that clock starts at the moment that we launch and it counts up in days hours and minutes since the launch. So since we launched a week ago Friday, we have been up in space seven days, four hours and 39 minutes and that is what we keep on this other arm.

Mission Specialist Janet Kavandi
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Question #14Janet Kavandi's Reply

From: 1st graders, M.L. King School, Poenix, AZ
To:
Mission Specialist Janet Kavandi

Question: What is the purpose of this mission?

Kavandi: This mission is a space radar mission, the purpose of which is to map the entire surface of the Earth between the -60 and +60 latitude. This is going to give us the best maps that we have of the surface of the Earth so far. So we are going to go everywhere between Alaska or Hudson Bay all the way down to the southern tips of South America and Australia on the Southern Hemisphere.

Mission Specialist Janet Kavandi
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Question #15Janet Kavandi's Reply

From: 1st graders, M.L. King School, Poenix, AZ
To:
Mission Specialist Janet Kavandi

Question: What makes you float?

Kavandi: As you can see we are free-floating here. What is happening is that as we are spinning around the Earth our velocity would normally make us want to fly away from the surface. However, since the Earth is so massive, it has a great gravitational pull, as you all know, there on the Earth and that keeps pulling us around in a circle as we go around the Earth. Therefore, we are continually in a free fall, and it appears that we are always floating inside the vehicle.

Mission Specialist Janet Kavandi
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Question #16Janet Kavandi's Reply

From: 1st graders, M.L. King School, Poenix, AZ
To:
Pilot Janet Kavandi

Question: How do you breathe?

Kavandi: We breathe pretty much the same way we do on Earth. We carry our own oxygen and our own air supply inside the shuttle so that we are able to breathe in the shuttle the same way that we are able to do on the Earth.

Mission Specialist Janet Kavandi
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Question #17Gerhard Thiele's Reply

From: Lauren Cohen, Gaithersburg, MD, Age 14
To:
Mission Specialist Gerhard Thiele

Question: What is a trim burn and why is it done daily?

Thiele: A trim burn is necessary because, although we are out in space, we are so close to Earth that there is still a tiny little bit of atmosphere outside and that leads to friction and the shuttle's orbit slowly decays over a period of time. Now, we can't afford this on this specific mission because we are mapping the Earth and we have to fly very precise orbits so every 24 hours roughly we raise our altitude by about a nautical mile or two so that the orbits that we fly to map the Earth match perfectly.

Mission Specialist Gerhard Thiele
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Question #18Gerhard Thiele's Reply

From: Germany
To:
Mission Specialist Gerhard Thiele

Question: What is the time up there when you are in orbit onboard the shuttle?

Thiele: The answers are provided in German.

Mission Specialist Gerhard Thiele
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Question #19Gerhard Thiele's Reply

From: Germany
To:
Mission Specialist Gerhard Thiele

Question: How exactly can you detect Germany from up there and what is special about Germany?

Thiele: The answers are provided in German.

Mission Specialist Gerhard Thiele
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Question #20Janet Kavandi's Reply

From: Jennifer Hart, Kaimuki, Hawaii, Age 32
To:
Mission Specialist Janet Kavandi

Question: What aspects of Hawaiian volcanoes will be mapped by the SRTM?

Kavandi: Coincidentally, we just passed over the main island of Hawaii earlier this morning (Saturday, February 19). It was a perfectly clear day, and I was actually able to look right down into the crater of Molokai. The SRTM itself will be able to radar map the entire surface of the volcano as well all the other volcanoes on the island of Hawaii, and probably be able to detect the differences in the different lava flows that have happened throughout the different centuries.

Mission Specialist Janet Kavandi
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Curator: Kim Dismukes | Responsible NASA Official: John Ira Petty | Updated: 04/07/2002
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