NASA Remembers Fallen Astronauts

NASA scientists Dr. Bruce Davis, Rodney McKellip, and Bill Graham joined thousands of volunteers almost one year ago as part of the recovery effort - helping to map out where the millions of pieces of the Space Shuttle Columbia had landed.

"We were trying different imaging techniques that could see down through canopy or see through a vegetation layer and find metal.When we would see hits, then we would have to get a team to go and confirm our hit," said Dr. Bruce Davis.

But they soon realized the recovery efforts involved more than just technology.

"Lots and lot of technical challenges like that that for some of us at NASA we became very engaged in , and absorbed with. And you would forget that there was also this human tragedy element to it until such a time when you would see the hearse. In an instant when you saw something like that you could be brought back to be reminded that hey this isn't just a technological challenge or logistical challenge that engineers were responding to because that's what engineers do, but it also is a great human tragedy and there was loss of life here," said Rodney McKellip.

And on the first Day of Remembrance, these scientists believe the best tribute to the astronauts of Columbia, the Challenger, and even Apollo 1, is to keep exploring.

"Exploration doesn't come cheaply. And I don't want to make any light of the astronauts and their families. It's a very risky business in an environment that is not conducive to human life. And so they understood that risk and took that risk as explorers. It's through the exploration efforts and risks that these guys take that we are able to push the envelope," said Bill Graham.

You, too, can pay tribute to the astronauts.

Bay St. Louis artist Elizabeth Veglia created a mosaic mural to honor the astronauts of all three shuttle tragedies.

Starting February 2, you can place tile pieces on the mosaic which will be permanently located at Stennisphere.