DATE=2/18/2000 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT TITLE=SHUTTLE (L) NUMBER=2-259329 BYLINE=DAVID MCALARY DATELINE=WASHINGTON CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: The radar mapping mission of the U-S space shuttle Endeavour may be extended because of extraordinary fuel conservation measures by the astronauts and flight control team. V-O-A Science Correspondent David McAlary reports. TEXT: One day after mission managers decided to let shuttle radar mapping activities proceed for the full planned nine days, they say they may add nearly half a day to allow more coverage of Earth's terrain than expected. This is a stark reversal from earlier in the week, when flight controllers thought they would have to cut the mapping by one day because shuttle fuel consumption was higher than expected. Endeavour pilots had to fire the orbiter's jet thrusters more often than planned to compensate for the failure of a jet at the end of a 60 meter long radar mast that was designed to keep the mast steady. But changes in several fight maneuvers have saved enough fuel since Tuesday to turn the situation around better than flight managers expected. Mission Operations official Milt Heflin says this has given his team the option of extending the mapping nine hours. // HEFLIN ACT // We spent a lot of time working to save propellant and we've done a very good job with that. So we don't want to just rest on our laurels right now. We'd like to see if there is anything we can possibly do to squeeze some more science time out of this mission. // END ACT // Mr. Heflin says the extra mapping time would come from the time set aside for an emergency spacewalk for astronauts to crank the radar mast in manually, if necessary. The mast extended automatically without a problem on the first day of the flight and Mr. Heflin says it is likely to have problems coming back in. // HEFLIN ACT // This perhaps could be a good trade here to try to squeeze out as much as we possibly could, knowing that we've got a perfectly good, healthy system and have no reason to believe we cannot bring the mast in and latch it and come home. // END ACT // Two radar systems are bouncing signals off land surfaces to create the most complete and detailed three-dimensional topographic map ever produced. They receive enough data every 90 seconds to map an area the size of the U-S state of Florida - about 140- thousand square kilometers. // REST OPT // New images released Friday reveal a unique perspective of Los Angeles, California and surrounding areas - including Pasadena, home to the U-S space agency's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, or J-P-L, which is managing the mapping mission. Showing it to reporters, J-P-L project scientist Mike Kobrick said the resolution of the map is so detailed he can see many familiar landmarks. // KOBRICK ACT // This is Pasadena seen from the south - the San Gabriel Mountains in the back, Mount Wilson, J- P-L is about two-thirds of the way down to the left. You see the I-210 freeway. I can find my house. I can pick out running trails that I run up toward Mount Wilson. This is just spectacular! // END ACT // As of early Friday, after one week in orbit, the shuttle radars had mapped 99 million square kilometers of Earth's terrain. That is 83 percent of the planned coverage -- even without the extra nine hours being considered. (SIGNED) NEB/DEM/PT 18-Feb-2000 17:09 PM EDT (18-Feb-2000 2209 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .