One more on Columbia

Roamy here.  I thought I had wrapped up my series of space posts yesterday because I couldn’t think of anything else to write for Columbia that hadn’t already been covered.  However, a conversation brought on a brain wave.  So today, on the 8th anniversary of the Columbia accident, I’m going to write about some of the science that was recovered from STS-107.

Columbia’s last mission was a rare launch away from the International Space Station.  It was a microgravity science mission with 80 different experiments.  The crew was divided into two teams, Blue and Red, so that the experiments could be done around the clock during the entire mission.  About 30% of the data was downlinked to the ground during the mission itself.  This included several experiments on fire behavior and suppression in space.  (Flames are round.)

Some of the flames were so small and weak, they gave off 1% of the heat of a birthday candle.

Data was recovered from a partially melted disk drive, one of the 84,000 pieces of debris recovered in Texas and Louisiana. 

Some of the experiments survived re-entry and were recovered, including two for cancer research.  The most bizarre of all, an experiment with C. elegans worms was found, with the worms still alive in their petri dishes.

A new memorial to the STS-107 crew, the new Patricia Huffman Smith Museum opens today in Hemphill, Texas.  Hemphill is near where the crew’s remains and the flight recorder were found.  The townspeople were very helpful during the recovery process.  The museum also honors Jules F. Mier Jr. and Charles Krenek, who died in a helicopter crash while assisting the search for Columbia debris.