NASA's information page on Columbia says this:
Located Debris All debris is United States Government property and is critical to the investigation of the shuttle accident. Any and all debris from the accident is to be left alone and reported to Government authorities. Unauthorized persons found in possession of accident debris will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
Which is why I'm happy and sad that BBC News is reporting this:
Two Texans have been charged stealing two pieces of debris from the wreck of the Columbia shuttle which broke apart over the US at the weekend. [more]
NASA's latest report emphasises looking for the missing link, lending credence to the assumption that a piece of lightweight foam really couldn't have done critical damage to Columbia.
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