Press Release

Shuttle Radar Topography Mission Status

By SpaceRef Editor
February 12, 2000
Filed under






Friday, February 11, 2000, 6 p.m. PST

Space shuttle Endeavour astronauts have successfully
deployed the longest rigid structure ever built in space and
continued work to check out the equipment they will use to
produce unrivaled three-dimensional images of the Earth’s surface
using a JPL-developed radar.

Extension of the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission’s mast
began at 3:27 p.m. PST, and after 17 minutes, all 87 cube-shaped
bays of the structure were deployed. Total length of the mast is
60.95 meters (just under 200 feet). Space Shuttle Endeavor was
launched from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, Florida, at 9:44 a.m.
PST (12:44 p.m. EST) today. The Shuttle Radar Topography Mission
is managed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

The shuttle was also successfully maneuvered into the proper
attitude, or orientation, for mapping. This orientation points
the shuttle payload bay — and its inboard and outboard radar
antennas — at the Earth. Endeavour’s tail is leading the way as
the shuttle orbits about 240 kilometers (about 150 statute miles)
above the surface. The astronaut crew then began a series of jet
thruster firings to test the ability of dampers to absorb the
force of planned maneuvering jet firings and keep the inboard and
outboard antennas properly aligned. This alignment is crucial for
scientists who will need to combine the radar images received by
the two sets of antennas.

The Shuttle Radar Topography Mission will record radar data
in both C-band and X-band radar wavelengths. This data eventually
will be processed into 3-D maps of the Earth that are 30 times
more exact that those currently available. These maps will be
important to scientists in many disciplines, ranging from ecology
to geology to hydrology, as well as a number of military and
commercial applications.

Radar mapping operations are schedule to begin late tonight.

Endeavour is orbiting the Earth in an orbit inclined 57
degrees to either side of the Equator for the radar mapping of a
majority of the Earth’s surface. The shuttle completes one orbit
every 90 minutes at an altitude of about 240 kilometers (150

The mission is a partership between NASA and the National
Imagery and Mapping Agency. Also collaborating are the German
Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum fur Luft- und Raumfart) and
the Italian Space Agency. JPL manages the project for NASA’s
Earth Sciences Program in Washington, D.C. JPL is managed by the
California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.


SpaceRef staff editor.