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03 August 2011

Has Texas drought exposed Shuttle Columbia piece?

This Aug. 1, 2011 handout photo provided by the Nacogdoches Police Department shows a 4-feet in diameter sphere found in Lake Nacogdoches, Texas on Monday, Aug. 1. Police say low water levels at the lake during the drought have led to recovery of a container-like object that could be from space shuttle Columbia. The shuttle broke apart and burned in February 2003, scattering remnants over East Texas. (AFP Photo)

Aug 2 (Reuters) - The prolonged drought in Texas has revealed what officials think may be a piece of the Space Shuttle Columbia, which broke apart over east Texas as it re-entered the atmosphere in 2003.

Greg Sowell, a police sergeant in the city of Nacogdoches, about 160 miles northeast of Houston, said the falling levels of Lake Nacogdoches revealed an unexpected object.

"We found a large, about four foot diameter, round, what appears to be a tank of some sort," Sowell said. "We have reason to believe this may be a part of the Columbia Space Shuttle."

Columbia broke apart upon re-entry into the atmosphere on Feb. 1, 2003, killing the seven crew members on board. Debris from the spacecraft, which disintegrated over a wide area of east Texas, has been found in some 2,000 locations across eastern Texas and western Louisiana, including in Nacogdoches.

A record drought has gripped Texas. "Due to the drought, Lake Nacogdoches is at an approximately nine-foot low," he said. "There has been an unusually large area of the lake which is normally underwater which has been exposed."

- Reuters