The Space Shuttle Columbia was returning from a 16-day research mission, STS-107, with nominal system performance prior to the beginning of the entry interface into earth's upper atmosphere. Approximately one minute and twenty four seconds into the peak heating region of the entry interface, an off-nominal temperature rise was observed in the left main landing gear brake line. Nearly seven minutes later, all contact was lost with Columbia. Debris was observed periodically exiting the Shuttle's flight path throughout the reentry profile over California, Nevada, and New Mexico, until its final breakup over Texas. During the subsequent investigation, electron microscopy techniques were crucial in revealing the location of the fatal damage that resulted in the loss of Columbia and her crew.