Hard Drive Disaster Recovery
As Darth Vadar would say, “Most Impressive.”
When the Space Shuttle Columbia burned in the atmosphere in February of 2003, I thought it was safe to assume that nothing of scientific value would have survived the heat of re-entry. I was grossly mistaken.
“When we got it, it was two hunks of metal stuck together. We couldn’t even tell it was a hard drive. It was burned and the edges were melted,” said Edwards, an engineer at Kroll Ontrack Inc., outside Minneapolis. “It looked pretty bad at first glance, but we always give it a shot.”
During Columbia’s fateful mission, the drive had been used to store data from a scientific experiment on the properties of liquid xenon.
Most of the information was radioed to Earth during Columbia’s voyage. Edwards was able to recover the remainder, allowing researchers to publish the experiment in the April issue of a science journal, Physical Review E.
Most of the data on the 340 megabyte hard drive was located together in the inner portion, which sustained the least damage. It was fortunate that NASA had not used a modern, state-of-the-art operating system, which commonly scatters information all over the drive, but a rather ancient and outmoded one. Perhaps you’ve heard of it – it’s called DOS.