Discovery launched from Kennedy Space Center on September 12, 1991 at 7:11 PM EDT and landed at Edwards AFB on September 18 at 12:38 AM PDT. The shuttle orbited 81 times at an altitude of 313 nautical miles at an inclination of 57 degrees and travelled 2.2 million miles. The mission lasted 5 days, 8 hours, 27 minutes, and 38 seconds.
A satellite was launched to study the upper atmosphere and ozone layer.
The Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (UARS), was deployed on the third day of the mission. During its planned 18-month mission, the 14,500-pound observatory made the most extensive study ever conducted of the Earth’s troposphere, the upper level of the planet’s envelope of life sustaining gases which also include the protective ozone layer.
UARS had ten sensing and measuring devices: Cryogenic Limb Array Etalon Spectrometer (CLAES); Improved Stratospheric and Mesospheric Sounder (ISAMS); Microwave Limb Sounder (MLS); Halogen Occultation Experiment (HALOE); High Resolution Doppler Imager (HRDI); Wind Imaging Interferometer (WlNDII); Solar Ultraviolet Spectral Irradiance Monitor (SUSIM); Solar/Stellar Irradiance Comparison Experiment (SOLSTICE); Particle Environment Monitor (PEM) and Active Cavity Radiometer Irradiance Monitor (ACRIM II).
The secondary payloads were: Ascent Particle Monitor (APM); Middeck 0-Gravity Dynamics Experiment (MODE); Shuttle Activation Monitor (SAM); Cosmic Ray Effects and Activation Monitor (CREAM); Physiological and Anatomical Rodent Experiment (PARE); Protein Crystal Growth II-2 (PCG II-2); Investigations into Polymer Membrane Processing (IPMP); and the Air Force Maui Optical Site (AMOS) experiment.
Atlantis was crewed by Commander John O. Creighton, Pilot Kenneth S. Reightler, and Mission Specialists Mark N. Brown, Charles D. Gemar, and James F. Buchli.