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Live worms from Columbia experiments found.




Submitted by Arthur - N1ORC 

April 30, 2003, 3:41PM

Live worms from Columbia experiments found in shuttle wreckage
By MIKE SCHNEIDER
Associated Press 
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - Hundreds of worms being used in a science
experiment aboard the space shuttle Columbia have been found alive in
the wreckage, NASA said today. 
The worms, known as C. elegans, were found in debris found in Texas
several weeks ago. Technicians sorting through the debris at Kennedy
Space Center in Florida didn't open the containers of worms and dead
moss cells until this week. 
All seven astronauts were killed when the shuttle disintegrated over
Texas on Feb. 1. Columbia contained almost 60 scientific investigations.

"To my knowledge, these are the only live experiments that have been
located and identified," said Bruce Buckingham, a NASA spokesman at the
Kennedy Space Center. 
The worms and moss were in the same nine-pound locker located in the
mid-deck of the space shuttle. The worms were placed in six canisters,
each holding eight petri dishes. 
The worms, which are about the size of the tip of a pencil, were part of
an experiment testing a new synthetic nutrient solution. The worms,
which have a life cycle of between seven and 10 days, were four or five
generations old, Buckingham said. 
The experiment was put together by researchers at the NASA Ames Research
Center in California. 
The moss, known as Ceratodon, were used to study how a spaceflight
environment influences cell growth. During Columbia's flight, shuttle
commander Rick Husband sprayed the moss with a chemical that destroyed
protein fiber. He also sprayed the moss with formaldehyde to preserve
it. Seven of the eight aluminum canisters holding the moss were
recovered. 
The experiment was put together by an Ames Research Center researcher
and Dr. Fred Sack at Ohio State University. 
"The cells were surprisingly well-preserved, but we're analyzing how
useful it's going to be," Sack said. 
Researchers said they don't know if the worms will still have any
scientific value since they were supposed to have been examined and
unloaded from Columbia within hours of landing 
"It's pretty astonishing to get the possibility of data after all that
has happened," Sack said. "We never expected it. We expected a molten
mass." 
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