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Political Expediency Propels Columbia Disaster Investigation
The video, which indicated foam debris falling away from the ship's external fuel tank slammed into the lower leading edge of the orbiter's left wing within a few feet of where it merged with the fuselage, was contrast enhanced to show the debris and the suspected impact zones with a bit more clarity than previously seen.
The video, however, does not appear to show any damage to the underside of the wing following the impact.
[CAIB Chairman Adm. Harold Gehman Jr] "As you see after the debris goes by, there's no missing tile. Nothing's missing, so once again we have these tantalizing little pieces of evidence that don't fit together.
From that point in the investigation, the CAIB was stuck with a very nasty dilemma best characterized below.
Spaceflight Now, March 11, 2003
"If the aerodynamic surface were disturbed long before reentry, that then leads you to believe there was some physical misarrangement of the wing that had nothing to do with entry. On the other hand, all of our photographic evidence indicates if there was a physical misarrangement on the wing it was so tiny it's not visible to anybody else, which would lead you (to believe) that it was some kind of a thermal event which was the triggering event which then started the unzippering process."
"And so, the fact that the orbiter was fighting an aerodynamic misarrangement earlier than we previously had thought makes my riddle very intriguing."
The key here is the admittance of the photographic evidence of no hole, and the logical conclusion that the problem was during reentry, possibly heating related. This is explained further below.
Spaceflight Now, March 11, 2003
For her part, Widnall sees "a heating event followed by a very rapidly developing aerodynamic event."
While she declined to speculate on what caused the thermal event, she said, "there is a point in time when the guidance and control analysis indicates the onset of a rapidly increasing, I hate to use the word - yaw movement - because it's so technical, but it's the twisting moment on the vehicle."
Could some kind of electrical strike have explained the rapidly developing aerodynamic event that caused the yaw movement? Who knows, NASA or any other division of government has not dedicated acceptable funds or time to finding out.
The evidence above is very important and is worth summarizing before continuing.
This logical thermal event leads us to the electrical theory.
We have been investigating the possibilities of the electrical theory since the day of the tragedy and have published the following articles. We strongly suggest reading these to assist in your understanding of the complexities involved with this complex phenomenon.
The crux of the argument is that Terra Research's advanced technology detected very strong scalar energy readings generated by deep underground earthquake precursor activity during shuttle reentry. This precursor energy excites the upper atmosphere, which can become very dangerous during high velocity traversal. This interaction also intensifies thermodynamics and there is evidence of just such a significant increase during reentry.
"Aerodynamic and thermal analysis indicates that although reentry surface temperatures are supposed to be in the 2,500-3,000F design range, it is possible the wheel well and internal areas of the left wing were exposed to superhot gases in the 9,000F range that would cause instant burn through of the aluminum structure, which melts at only 1,000F."
"A preliminary look at the OEX data gathered during ascent reportedly shows what was described as "a potentially interesting signature," but NASA and CAIB officials cautioned that the readings may have been the result of a sensor failure or a wiring defect totally unrelated to the suspected foam strike along the leading edge of Columbia's left wing."
Since mainstream science does not understand the effects that scalar energy from deep underground can have, they feel they must dismiss such data as defects. This dismissal is characteristic of other aspects in the investigation such as infrasound.
Infrasonics are acoustical energies with frequencies below the normal hearing threshold. When typical sprites and elves occur in the atmosphere, we can detect them by their infrasonic signatures.
SFGate.com, June 5, 2003
"There had been a suggestion of a high-altitude lightening strike," said study leader Henry Bass, director of the National Center for Physical Acoustics at the University of Mississippi. "But had that been the case, we would have seen other data. There were no such data."
Once again, science has ignored a line of investigation that could have provided significant data because of an assumption that they know all there is to know about the upper atmosphere. That is why science frequently refers to this area of the atmosphere as "the ignorosphere." The fact is that science does not know how or even if infrasound propagates in the mesosphere. Science cannot even clearly define the boundaries of where sound begins from the troposphere to the mesosphere. Therefore, to dismiss the electrical theory based on this ignorance is extremely unscientific.
Thankfully, at least one NASA scientist is not being so hasty as to throw the baby out with the bath water and is demanding further study in this area.
SFGate.com, June 5, 2003
Although the thrust of the infrasound report is that nothing unexpected was revealed by infrasound signals, other scientists are not so certain. In a separate report, NASA physicist Alfred Bedard, of the NOAA Environmental Technology Laboratory in Boulder, Colo., said Columbia's infrasound signature did show subtle differences from those of other shuttles re-entries he had tracked.
Bedard, an expert in detecting the infrasound signatures produced by high atmospheric lightening known as sprites, agreed that there were no sounds of sprites on the tapes. However, he said that Columbia's trailing wake contained infrasonic ‘impulses' he'd not detected before. "These surges, to me, were unusual," Bedard said.
The CAIB seems to base their logic to dismiss the infrasound evidence on opinions rather than solid scientific investigative evidence.
While a good portion of evidence relevant to this investigation has made it into the public domain for closer scrutiny, NASA is dismissing the possible smoking gun for the electrical theory, which remains a tightly guarded secret.
Photograph Still Withheld
The theory that an electrical phenomenon was the cause of this disaster was born from initial reports of a photograph that an amateur photographer took in the San Francisco area. The photographer originally requested that NASA withhold the photo from the media until they had a chance to study it thoroughly. NASA and the CAIB have since declared it an artifact of camera jiggle and seem to have declared it worthless.
SFGate.com, June 5, 2003
Although NASA has declined requests for a copy of its analysis of the image, spokeswoman Patricia Brach has told The Chronicle that investigators concluded that it was probably created by accidental camera movement. "At this time, it appears to be camera jiggle," she said.
Why then has NASA not released the image along with every other photograph and video now publicly available?
If there were some forms of electrical phenomena during reentry, then the breakup of the left wing could have been through the delaminating of the RCC panels that occurs in normal electrical strikes. No one involved in this investigation seems to have discussed this possibility. If the photograph shows the strike near the left wing, then it would bolster this line on inquiry even more.
The validity of the electrical theory does not hinge on this photograph, but it could provide the piece of evidence that would make the rest of the scientific and public communities pay a lot more attention when viewed in the context of all other dismissed evidence.
Investigate the "Ignorosphere"
Rather than admitting that there is a distinct lack of knowledge on the upper atmosphere requiring much needed attention, CAIB members have dismissed the possible atmospheric effects on the shuttle and focused primarily on what they understand, foam.
CNN, July 7, 2003
[CAIB member Scott Hubbard] added: "The board's goal was to connect the dots between the foam-shedding event and the proximate or the direct cause of the accident, and that's what this whole test program has been about . I think today we made that connection."
It seems that the investigation has indeed been primarily political, and we have sacrificed and reduces the focus of progressing our understanding of science to connecting a single foam event to the tragedy.
The fact is that while the media can use this theory to wrap up their coverage, NASA politicos should remember that we have swept other vital science, which still needs further investigation, under the carpet.