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RafaelAustin
2003-Feb-25, 10:20 PM
I just saw that they found a piece of Columbia's wing near the Texas-New Mexico border, and I remember hearing claims that debris was seen coming off the shuttle over California.

Wouldn't even a small piece of metal burning up on re-entry be very visible? Aren't most meteor showers composed of very small meteorites? Would something as small as a bolt have a visible trail? Or are the velocities completely different?

Glom
2003-Feb-25, 10:24 PM
Even moderately large pieces would be visible at night. In the daylight, it's much harder to see them.

Crap is hitting the atmosphere all the time but most is too small to be seen. Pieces do have to be a little bit larger to be significant. I doubt a bolt burning up would be very visible especially during the day.

2003-Feb-25, 10:25 PM
I think coulbia broke up because it started to spin and the heat shields on one side went to the other and a chain reaction started.

Glom
2003-Feb-25, 10:29 PM
I think it was the other way round. Aerodynamics has an extremely powerful ability to hold attitude of the aircraft at such high speeds.

I think that the wing broke up, causing a loss of aerodynamic stability and that resulted in the spin. The wing breakup is so far blamed on orbital debris damaging tiles.

RafaelAustin
2003-Feb-25, 10:30 PM
Thanks Glom. Any guess as to how big something would have to be before it is visible? And this was in the early morning (sunrise?) California time.

Guess I'm just wondering if anyone had a video of Columbia passing over the West Coast, would anything have been visible anyway?

daver
2003-Feb-25, 10:47 PM
On 2003-02-25 17:29, Glom wrote:
I think it was the other way round. Aerodynamics has an extremely powerful ability to hold attitude of the aircraft at such high speeds.

I think that the wing broke up, causing a loss of aerodynamic stability and that resulted in the spin. The wing breakup is so far blamed on orbital debris damaging tiles.



Orbital debris? I thought they were back on insulation (3 pieces so far, and counting).

Glom
2003-Feb-25, 10:51 PM
On 2003-02-25 17:47, daver wrote:
Orbital debris? I thought they were back on insulation (3 pieces so far, and counting).


Maybe. You're probably better informed than I am.

So just to recap. They rejected the initial suspicions of the one bit of ET insulation. Then they moved to orbital debris. Now that they've counted more bits of ET insulation, they're reactivating investigations into that.

daver
2003-Feb-26, 12:05 AM
On 2003-02-25 17:51, Glom wrote:


On 2003-02-25 17:47, daver wrote:
Orbital debris? I thought they were back on insulation (3 pieces so far, and counting).


Maybe. You're probably better informed than I am.

So just to recap. They rejected the initial suspicions of the one bit of ET insulation. Then they moved to orbital debris. Now that they've counted more bits of ET insulation, they're reactivating investigations into that.



That's my understanding, but i could easily have missed some updates.

http://www.spaceflightnow.com/columbia/status.html has some recent updates.

A piece appears to have separated from Columbia during the second day on orbit. The piece appears to have been relatively lightweight.

Hydraulic pressure appears to have been lost (i'm guessing in the elevon control).

Some tiles have been found. Parts of a videotape have been found.

Irishman
2003-Feb-28, 02:44 PM
I wouldn't say reactivating. Even when they announced early on that they didn't think the foam impact was the whole story, they still continued investigation of the insulation and possible effects, including plans for impact tests.

As far as I know, the object separating from the shuttle on day two has not been identified. It can't be foam insulation. Most likely ice, but not definitive (yet, if ever).