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Discovery separated from the International Space Station on Dec. 19 to begin two days of final homecoming preparations, including a focused inspection of the orbiter's heat shield, deployment of three small scientific satellites and a checkout of landing systems.
Space Test Program-H2-Atmospheric Neutral Density Experiment (STP-H2-ANDE)
"Two microsatellites launched from the Shuttle payload bay will measure the density and composition of the low Earth orbit (LEO) atmosphere while being tracked from the ground. The data will be used to better predict the movement of objects in orbit.
"ANDE will be launched from the Space Shuttle cargo bay. The two micro satellites will be contained inside the ICU canister. Once the ICU canister is a safe distance from the Space Shuttle, two micro satellites will be released at an altitude of approximately 350 km.
"ANDE was deployed on December 21, 2006 from the Space Shuttle Discovery during the STS-116 Mission. At deployment, only one of the spheres successfully left the ICU (Internal Cargo Unit). Approximately 4 hours after deployment, the second satellite separated from the ICU after experiencing thermal changes."