Logo: University of Southern California

USC Researcher Loses Data Aboard Columbia Shuttle

February 02, 2003 —

An experiment by Paul Ronney, professor of aerospace and mechanical engineering had the Space Shuttle Columbia's astronauts creating miniscule balls of flame -- setting records for the weakest flame and leanest mixture ever burned in space or on Earth. The flames -- too weak to be seen by the human eye -- could lead to more efficient and cleaner automobile engines.

Associated Press and United Press International carried the story around the world:
"We were getting some of it downloaded but lost quite a bit of data," Mohamed Abid told the L. A. Times for a story about ruined scientific experiments. Abid is a researcher working with Ronney. "We only got a fraction of the data."
Abid also touted the benefits of space research noting that if the USC experiment brought only a slight improvement in the efficiency of internal combustion engines, the results would more than pay for the cost of research.
Ronney knew and worked with all seven of the astronauts lost with Columbia. Please click here for his thoughts on the tragedy.