Kirsten Williams

Headquarters, Washington, DC

(Phone: 202/358-0243)

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

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
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


Friday, Jan. 21, 2000

(all times shown are EST)

9 a.m. Mission Overview

  • 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

Noon NASA TV Videofile

2 p.m. 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.