During space shuttle Columbia's 16-day mission, more than 80 experiments were conducted. Many animals were aboard the shuttle for experimental purposes, including mice, bees, worms and ants. The results of many of these experiments were lost with the shuttle, but some results were sent before the spacecraft exploded.
Some of the data collected as part of Israel's experiment to measure dust above the Mediterranean were sent to NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. Although there were few dust storms during Columbia's flight, Ilan Ramon succeeded in collecting images of a storm over Israel and the surrounding area. January is generally a poor time for finding dust storms, but as the takeoff was repeatedly delayed, Ramon had little choice.
On Thursday, fires in the Amazon rain forest were photographed. In recent years, scientists from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and from other institutions around the world have learned that huge fires like these can influence precipitation levels. According to a scientist involved in the project, the photos of Amazon fires will help determine the relation between the fires and the climate.
Images of "red lightening" were also captured and sent to earth. This is an electrical phenomenon glowing red and purple above thunderstorms, which lasts less than a millisecond.
In another experiment, microbes were exposed to zero-gravity conditions. NASA said that data from this experiment was lost. The astronauts were also asked to collect samples of their own blood, urine and saliva. The aim was to bring these samples back to earth to try to learn about phenomena such as the loss of calcium and the thinning of bones and muscles.
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