[meteorite-list] Credit Card-Sized Fragment Of Columbia Found In California?

From: Matson, Robert <ROBERT.D.MATSON_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Thu Apr 22 10:18:25 2004
Message-ID: <AF564D2B9D91D411B9FE00508BF1C86901B4E6E0_at_US-Torrance.mail.saic.com>

Hi Ron and List,

We've been having this discussion all day on Seesat-L. Forget
Joshua Tree, CA -- it cannot happen. Here's how I explained it
to someone earlier today:

"... in order for the debris to have any chance of traveling in
the correct direction, it would have to have come off while
Columbia was still over the western Pacific. But if a tile
(or something else with a high drag coefficient) came off at
this point, it would still have travelled ballistically along
with the Shuttle since the altitude at this point was over
50 miles. There's practically no atmosphere to speak of,
and you're still well above the jet stream. By the time
the debris has dropped low enough to experience significant
differential drag, it's already over western Nevada.
"Joshua Tree is not far from Twentynine Palms, CA, home to a
large military base. I think it's much more likely that if
any debris did drop out of the sky on someone's driveway in
Joshua Tree, it's associated with that base."


-----Original Message-----
From: Ron Baalke [mailto:baalke_at_zagami.jpl.nasa.gov]
Sent: Wednesday, February 05, 2003 2:48 PM
To: meteorite-list_at_meteoritecentral.com
Subject: Re: [meteorite-list] Credit Card-Sized Fragment Of Columbia
Found In California?
> Hello List, I wish NASA would put out a map showing the flight path in
> better detail. Shuttle debris in Joshua tree, in southern California, YA
> RIGHT! The shuttle flew over N.California! Shuttle debris in Phoenix AZ.
> shuttle flew over N. AZ !

I did find this ground track map for Columbia:


As far as finding debris well off the flight path,
I think that it is possible with the shuttle tiles or any lightweight
material. I have a sample of a shuttle tile that I purchased at the
Visitor's Center at Kennedy Space Center. It is very light, and I can
see it traveling large distances away from the shuttle by the winds,
particularly if it is has separated from the shuttle at very high
altitudes. Also, don't forget, there is something like 24,000 tiles
on the shuttle. Since they were designed to to dissipate heat and
survive in high temperature, I wouldn't be surprised if all the tiles
survived reentry and reached the ground.

Ron Baalke
Received on Wed 05 Feb 2003 05:48:07 PM PST

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