It's a little ironic, but work done by astronauts on the space shuttle Columbia may eventually help improve the fuel economy of cars and trucks right here on earth, while reducing pollution in our atmosphere.
That's because among the 80 scientific experiments conducted during the final mission of the Columbia were two that could lead to cleaner engines, especially diesels.
One experiment, conceived by a professor at the University of Michigan, had to do with the formation of soot. The other involved igniting extremely lean fuel mixtures in the weightless environment.
Both experiments were deemed successful.
Nothing can make up for the terrible loss of the Columbia and her crew. But what they did could benefit us all, for years to come.