— To assist in the search, NASA released the following examples of what people who live in the debris area might see. If you believe you have found a piece of Columbia, do not disturb or handle it. Instead, contact your local law enforcement authorities.
February 1, 2003
— NASA has established a hotline and e-mail address for the public to report information that may help investigators studying the loss of space shuttle Columbia.
Anyone who discovers debris from the accident or who has film or video evidence that may be of value to the investigation team is urged to use these contacts. Please avoid contact with any debris, as it may be hazardous due to the toxic propellants that were aboard the shuttle.
Telephone reports should be directed to:
Text reports and images should be e-mailed to:
NASA has also established a location where Internet users may upload their media files to be reviewed:
All debris is U.S. Government property and is critical to the investigation. All debris from the accident is to be left alone and reported to authorities. Unauthorized persons found in possession of accident debris will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
Authorities say pieces of the shuttle are scattered over a 311-square kilometer area centered over eastern Texas. Some parts are believed to have fallen in the neighboring states of Arkansas and Louisiana.
Most of the debris fell on the town of Nacogdoches, TX, about 230 kilometers northeast of Houston.
Communication and tracking of space shuttle Columbia was lost at 9:00 a.m. ET Saturday at an altitude of about 203,000 feet in the area above north central Texas. At the time communications were lost the shuttle was traveling approximately 12,500 miles per hour (Mach 18). No data was received in mission control after that time.
Flight controllers secured all information, notes and data pertinent to today's entry and landing by space shuttle Columbia and continue to methodically proceed through contingency plans.