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'[EE]:: Microscopic and Microanalytical Techniques '
2007\02\08@020643 by Russell McMahon

For general interest.
Lecture here in far away NZ tomorrow.


Dear Alumni,

As a graduate of the Faculty of Engineering, you are cordially invited to
attend the public lecture, Microscopic and Microanalytical Techniques
Utilized During the Space Shuttle Columbia Accident Investigation, as part
of the Microscopy New Zealand 2007 Conference.  Details are:

DATE: Friday 9th February
TIME: 12 noon
VENUE: Room 4.319, Faculty of Engineering, 20 Symonds Street, Auckland

Microscopic and Microanalytical Techniques Utilized During the Space Shuttle
Columbia Accident Investigation
S.J. McDanels
NASA, Kennedy Space Center, Florida, USA.

Abstract: Following the loss of the space shuttle Columbia, the monumental
effort of accident investigation and reconstruction commenced.  Over 16,000
people participated in various aspects of the investigation.  Ultimately
over 84,000 pieces of debris were recovered.  Of the large number of pieces
found, eventually the investigation focused on a few thousand pieces which
showed the most promise of yielding clues as to the events leading to the
loss.  Finally, this number was reduced to several hundred pieces of primary
interest.  Of the many teams involved, the Materials and Processes Team,
composed of scientists, engineers, and technicians from across the United
States, used the macro- and microscopic features observed on the debris, in
conjunction with the microanalytical results of various deposits found
adhering to the remnants, to help determine the sequence of events prior to
the disintegration of the orbiter.

Examination of the fracture surfaces from many pieces of debris helped
differentiate between specimens that had been damaged after the break up of
the Columbia, versus before the break up.  The chemical analyses of the
deposits helped determine the sequence of events inside the left wing prior
to the disintegration of the orbiter.  All analyses and testing indicated
that several of the reinforced carbon/carbon composite leading edge panels
from the left wing had sustained various degrees of post-breakup damage,
particularly debris form the Panels 8 and 9 region.

Each layer of deposit corresponded to a particular piece of hardware from
within the wing structure itself; the earlier the material was deposited,
the earlier it had been exposed to the impinging plasma stream.  After the
plasma had breached the wing, the wing's structural integrity was eventually
compromised, ultimately resulting in the catastrophic loss.

Speaker Biography:
Steve McDanels received his Materials Science and Engineering degree from
the University of Florida. His professional career began at the Naval
Aviation Depot in Pensacola, Florida, performing accident investigation and
failure analysis of fixed wing and rotor wing aircraft. He transferred to
NASA and began working as a materials engineer at the Kennedy Space Center,
performing failure analysis and accident investigation on Shuttle, Space
Station and ground support equipment hardware. Steve is currently Chief of
NASA's failure Analysis and Materials Evaluation Branch at KSC. He was
recently awarded the NASA Exceptional Achievement Medal


Catherine Kerins
Communications Manager
Faculty of Engineering

The University of Auckland
Private Bag 92019
Auckland Mail Centre
Auckland 1142
New Zealand

Phone: +64 9 3737599 Extn 84761

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