STS-107 was a space shuttle mission by NASA using the Space Shuttle Columbia, launched January 16, 2003. This was a multi-disciplinary microgravity and Earth science research mission with a multitude of international scientific investigations conducted continuously during 16 days in orbit.
The seven-member crew died on February 1, 2003 when the shuttle disintegrated during reentry into the Earth's atmosphere. The cause of the accident was determined to be a piece of foam that broke off during launch and damaged the thermal protection system components (reinforced carbon-carbon panels and thermal protection tiles) on the leading edge of the left wing of the Shuttle orbiter, causing an extensive heat build-up. During re-entry the damaged wing slowly overheated and came apart, eventually leading to loss of control and total disintegration of the vehicle.
STS-107 carried the SPACEHAB Double Research Module on its inaugural flight, the Freestar experiment (mounted on a Hitchhiker Program rack), and the Extended Duration Orbiter pallet.
One of the experiments, a video taken to study atmospheric dust, may have detected a new atmospheric phenomenon, dubbed a "TIGER" (Transient Ionospheric Glow Emission in Red).
On board the Columbia was a copy of a drawing by Petr Ginz, the editor-in-chief of the magazine Vedem, who depicted what he imagined the Earth looked like from the Moon when he was a 14-year-old prisoner in the Terezin concentration camp. The copy was in the possession of Ilan Ramon and was lost in the crash.
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