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Kirsten Williams Headquarters, Washington, DC (Phone: 202/358-0243)

January 12, 2000

Eileen Hawley Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX (Phone: 281/483-5111)



A series of background briefings on the upcoming Shuttle Radar Topography Mission, designed to map up to 80% of the Earth's populated surface in 11 days, will be held on Friday, Jan. 21, at NASA's Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX.

The mission, designated STS-99, also is designed to produce unrivaled three-dimensional images of the world. Orbiting at 145 miles above the Earth, with two radar antennas mounted in the Shuttle payload bay and two extended on a 200-foot-long mast, this new imaging system will be able to measure the undulations of landscapes that have been sculpted through the millennia.

The radar will image mountains and deep valleys carved by glaciers and rivers like those in the Andes, the Rocky Mountains and the Himalayas of Asia; vast expanses of deserts and coastal plains around the world; as well as cold regions and forests of the northern latitudes. The mission also will map vestiges of ancient human settlements, such as the eighth-century Khmer civilization of Angkor, Cambodia.

The technology used in the mission is also being tested for use on the International Space Station.

The 13-ton radar system will be able to collect highly accurate, high-resolution images of the Earth's crust between 60 degrees north latitude and 56 degrees south latitude. The regions to be mapped are home to about 95 percent of the world's population and will be imaged with an accuracy of better than 100 feet.

The briefings will begin at 9 a.m. EST with an overview of the mission objectives and unique hardware followed at 10 a.m. EST

by a briefing about the science and technology of this unique imaging system. Following a break at noon for the daily NASA Video File, the STS-99 astronauts will hold their preflight press conference beginning at 2 p.m. All of the briefings will be carried live on NASA Television.

NASA Television is available through the GE-2 satellite, transponder 9C, located at 85 degrees West longitude, vertical polarization, with a frequency of 3880 MHz, and audio at 6.8 MHz.

Following the STS-99 mission briefings, round-robin interviews with the crewmembers will be held for reporters at Johnson and for those reporters who make advance arrangements to participate by telephone. Media wishing to participate in the round-robin interviews must fax their requests to the Johnson Newsroom by close of business Friday, Jan. 14. The fax number is


STS-99 PREFLIGHT BRIEFINGS Friday, Jan. 21, 2000 (all times shown are EST)


Mission Overview

a.m. Paul Dye, Lead Flight Director, Johnson Space Center Dr. Earnest Paylor, NASA's Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM) Program Scientist, Office of Earth Science, NASA Headquarters

10 a.m.

Technology and Science Briefing

Dr. Michael Kobrick, SRTM Project Scientist, Jet Propulsion Laboratory Thomas A. Hennig, SRTM Program Manager, National Imagery and Mapping Agency Dr. Diane Evans, Earth Science Program Chief Scientist, Jet Propulsion Laboratory Marian Werner, X-band Synthetic Aperture Radar Project Manager, DLR (German Space Agency) Edward Caro, SRTM Chief Engineer, Jet Propulsion Laboratory


2 p.m.

NASA TV Videofile

STS-99 Crew Press Conference Kevin Kregel, Commander

Dom Gorie, Pilot Gerhard Thiele (European Space Agency), Mission Specialist 1 Janet Kavandi, Mission Specialist 2 Janice Voss, Mission Specialist 3 Mamoru Mohri (NASDA), Mission Specialist 4

3 p.m.

STS-99 Crew Round-Robin Interviews

These interviews will not be carried on NASA TV.