The Atmospheric Laboratory for Applications and Sciences - 3 (ATLAS-03) is the primary payload aboard STS-66. It will continue the series of Spacelab flights to study the energy of the sun and how it ... affects the Earth's climate and environment. The ATLAS 3 mission will make the first detailed measurements from the Shuttle of the Northern Hemisphere's middle atmosphere in late fall. The timing of the flight, when the Antarctic ozone hole is diminishing, allows scientists to study possible effects of the ozone hole on mid-latitudes, the way Antarctic air recovers, and how the northern atmosphere changes as the winter season approaches.
In addition to the ATLAS-03 investigations, the mission will include deployment and retrieval of the Cryogenic Infrared Spectrometer Telescopefor Atmosphere, or CRISTA. Mounted on the Shuttle Pallet Satellite, the payload is designed to explore the variability of the atmosphere and provide measurements that will complement those obtained by the Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite launched aboard Discovery in 1991. CRISTA-SPAS is a joint U.S./German experiment.
Other payloads in Atlantis cargo bay include the Shuttle Solar Backscatter Ultraviolet (SSBUV-7) payload and the Experiment on the Sun Complementing ATLAS (ESCAPE-II). Payloads located in the middeck include the Physiological & Anatomical Rodent Experiment (PARE/NIR-R), Protein Crystal Growth-Thermal Enclosure (PCG-TES), Protein Crystal Growth- Single Locker (PCG-STES), Space Tissue Loss/National Institute of Health (STL/NIH-C), Space Acceleration Measurement System (SAMS) and the Heat Pipe Performance-2 Experiment (HPP-2).
[Summary provided by NASA]