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Some Data from <i>Columbia</i> Crew's Experiments Saved - 2003-02-06

The U.S. space agency, NASA, says a lot of the scientific work of the space shuttle Columbia crew has been preserved, despite the tragic end to the mission.

Columbia's astronauts looked after more than 80 experiments from 16 countries in physics, human physiology and cell science, flame and smoke behavior and advanced materials.

NASA science official Howard Ross says half or more of the data in certain areas, such as combustion, materials, and soil research, was saved because it had been transmitted to researchers on the ground before the disaster.

But he says he does not expect much of the biological data to be recovered because the physical samples remained on board and were presumably destroyed when Columbia disintegrated.

"In all these experiments, some of the data gets downlinked, some of it gets stored on board. We still hold out a little hope," he explained. "Perhaps we can recover some of the data that was recorded on board."

Mr. Ross said NASA and the research community will decide what experiments to fly again, either aboard a future shuttle flight or on the International Space Station.