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Columbia Space Shuttle Disaster Explained (Infographic)

by Karl Tate, Infographics Artist | February 01, 2013 09:14am ET


On Feb. 1, 2003, the shuttle Columbia was returning to Earth after a successful 16-day trip to orbit, where the crew conducted more than 80 science experiments ranging from biology to fluid physics. However, the seemingly healthy orbiter had suffered critical damage during its launch, when foam from the fuel tank’s insulation fell off and hit Columbia’s left wing, tearing a hole in it that later analysis suggested might have been as large as a dinner plate.

The damage occurred just after Columbia’s liftoff on Jan. 16, but went undetected. During re-entry, the hole in a heat-resistant reinforced carbon carbon panel on Columbia’s left wing leading edge allowed super-hot atmospheric gases into the orbiter’s wing, leading to its destruction.

Killed in the Columbia shuttle disaster were STS-107 mission commander Rick Husband and included pilot Willie McCool, mission specialists Kalpana Chawla, Laurel Clark and David Brown, payload commander Michael Anderson and payload specialist Ilan Ramon, Israel’s first astronaut.



A subsequent inquiry by the Columbia Accident Investigation Board (CAIB) faulted NASA’s internal culture as much as the foam strike as causes of the shuttle disaster. The Columbia accident ultimately led then-President George W. Bush to announce plans to retire NASA’s space shuttle fleet (which was more than 20 years old at the time) once construction of the International Space Station was complete. A capsule-based spacecraft was planned to replace the shuttles. [Photos: The Columbia Space Shuttle Tragedy]

NASA’s space shuttle fleet resumed launches in July 2005, after spending more than two years developing safety improvements and repair tools and techniques to avoid a repeat of the Columbia disaster. In 2011, NASA launched the final space shuttle mission, STS-135, to complete the shuttle fleet’s role in space station construction.

In 2012, NASA’s three remaining shuttles – Discovery, Atlantis and Endeavour – were delivered to museums in Washington, D.C., Florida and California, while the test shuttle Enterprise was delivered to New York City. Under President Barack Obama, NASA was directed to rely on private spacecraft to launch Americans to the International Space Station and return them to Earth. NASA, meanwhile, is developing a new giant rocket – the Space Launch System – and the Orion space capsule for future deep-space missions to an asteroid, the moon and Mars.

Video: Remembering Columbia’s Crew – ‘In Their Own Words’


snide morons and the space pen


If I am correct in understanding Einstein’s theory that nothing can move faster than light with the exception of space itself, then is it possible that a neutrino is somehow capable of expanding the space behind it and contracting the space in front of it in order to appear as if it is going faster than light without actually travelling faster than light? If so, then it would appear that Einstein would still be correct and that Miguel Alcubierre Moya’s metric may be a little more than speculative. Could warp drive and the USS Enterprise 1701 arrive before the 23rd century?

neutrino (English pronunciation: /njuːˈtriːnoʊ/Italian pronunciation: [neuˈtriːno]) is an electrically neutral, weakly interacting elementary subatomic particle[1] with a half-integer spinchirality and a disputed but small non-zero mass. It is able to pass through ordinary matter almost unaffected. The neutrino (meaning “small neutral one”) is denoted by the Greek letter ν (nu).


In any case, even if the guys at CERN are correct about Einstein being wrong about the universal speed limit, the discovery is pretty cool. I wouldn’t worry about Einstein, though. He and Newton will always be around.

GENEVA (AP) — The chances have risen that Einstein was wrong about a fundamental law of the universe.

Scientists at the world’s biggest physics lab said Friday they have ruled out one possible error that could have distorted their startling measurements that appeared to show particles traveling faster than light.

Many physicists reacted with skepticism in September when measurements by French and Italian researchers seemed to show subatomic neutrino particles breaking what Nobel Prize-winning physicist Albert Einstein considered the ultimate speed barrier.

The European Organization for Nuclear Research said more precise testing has now confirmed the accuracy of at least one part of the experiment.

“One key test was to repeat the measurement with very short beam pulses,” the Geneva-based organization, known by its French acronym CERN, said in a statement.

The test allowed scientists to check if the starting time for the neutrinos was being measured correctly before they were fired 454 miles (730 kilometers) underground from Geneva to a lab in Italy.

The results matched those from the previous test, “ruling out one potential source of systematic error,” said CERN.

Still, scientists stressed that only independent measurements by labs elsewhere would allow them to declare that the results of their experiment were a genuine finding.

“A measurement so delicate and carrying a profound implication on physics requires an extraordinary level of scrutiny,” said Fernando Ferroni, president of Italian Institute for Nuclear Physics. “The positive outcome of the test makes us more confident in the result, although a final word can only be said by analogous measurements performed elsewhere in the world.”

According to Einstein’s 1905 special theory of relativity, nothing is meant to be able to go faster than the speed of light — 186,282 miles per second (299,792 kilometers per second).

But the researchers said in September that their neutrinos traveled the distance from Geneva to Gran Sasso 60 nanoseconds faster, when the margin of error in their experiment allowed for just 10 nanoseconds. A nanosecond is one-billionth of a second.



Lately, I have been interested in creating animations. As part of my research, I have been searching the web for tutorials. I came across the above video and thought that it was awesome, not to mention that it describes a little of how I feel trying to learn and implement animations.

Really Cool! Below are other versions.

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