What can they learn from the debris? - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

What can they learn from the debris?

Undated-AP -- Searching for clues from "Columbia's" wreckage offers some special challenges.

Pieces of the space shuttle are strewn over thousands of square miles of woods, lakes, fields and neighborhoods in two states.

Experts say debris might be so damaged by its plummet through the searingly hot atmosphere that it won't have any information to offer.

When it comes to clues, patterns of burning could shed light on the theory that the shuttle's protective tile skin failed. And the location of debris could offer clues to the sequence of destruction.

One expert warns against jumping to conclusions. He says in airplane crash investigations, "your first guess as to what caused it is almost always wrong."

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