Journal of Forensic Sciences
Volume 52 Issue 3 Page 731Issue 3 - 737 - May 2007
Diary of an Astronaut: Examination of the Remains of the Late Israeli Astronaut Colonel Ilan Ramon's Crew Notebook Recovered After the Loss of NASA's Space Shuttle Columbia
Abstract:Two months after the fatal re-entering into the Earth's atmosphere of Columbia flight STS-107, the remains of Israeli astronaut Colonel Ilan Ramon's Crew Notebook were found strewn in a field in San Augustine County, TX. The random pile of papers was found to have survived the calamity of the Shuttle's disintegration remarkably well. Most of the papers recovered were torn and/or washed out to varying degrees but only mildly charred around the edges. The sheets of paper could be categorized into four groups: Group I: eight sides of paper written while in space in black ink and in pencil—Ramon's personal diary; the writing on these eight sides of paper survived well and is only missing where the pages were torn. Small fragments found in the field were physically matched to holes in the pages thus locating their original positions in the text. Group II: six sides of technical preparation notes written by Ramon before the mission. The writing on these pages was washed out entirely, but much of it was visualized using infrared luminescence. Group III: eight sides of personal notes prepared by Ramon before the mission written in blue ink. The writing on these pages was barely visible to the naked eye and not visualized by infrared luminescence, but was made largely legible by digital enhancement imaging. Group IV: a few sides of printed technical information. These pages were mostly intact and were not examined at length as they contained standard printed material. After completion of examinations at the Questioned Document Laboratory of the Israel Police, the diary was transferred to the Paper Conservation Department of the Israel Museum for preservation and strengthening treatments.
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