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The Sciences

Now that’s a hard drive!

Bad AstronomyBy Phil PlaitMay 7, 2008 1:00 AM


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When the Space Shuttle Columbia disintegrated over Texas in 2003, it was a disaster and tragedy for many obvious reasons. One news item that was lost -- literally -- amidst the wreckage was that some scientific experiments being done were also destroyed. However, there is a somewhat happier ending for at least one of them. An experiment done on board Columbia was testing certain physical properties of xenon gas. The data were recorded on a hard dive, and it was assumed the drive burned up or was destroyed upon impact along with most everything else from the mission. However, the hard drive was recovered. Not only that, but the data on the drive were recovered as well! And now, years after the accident, the scientists were able to publish their results, which is rather nice to hear. I'm not happy with NASA's direction of late in sacrificing science for ill-advised missions, and I was never happy about the science capabilities of the Shuttle or the space station. But it's nice to see, in one small way, that some of what science was being done was able to be saved.

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