A piece of space shuttle Columbia, which was disintegrated on re-entry over the Texas state on February 1, 2003, has emerged as the Texas lake dried up because of drought.

The piece that emerged from the waters of Lake Nacogdoches, close to Nacogdoches in eastern Texas, is a 40-inch spherical reactant tank. A substantial amount of Columbia debris had fallen over the lake, following the disaster.

Nacogdoches police sent NASA a photo of the aluminium object, and one of the original shuttle engineers was able to confirm its provenance. NASA spokeswoman Lisa Malone told Space.com: "One of the guys had been here more than 30 years and recognized it, and said, 'That's one of the tanks'."

NASA will be reuniting the piece with other Columbia debris in Kennedy Space Center's Vehicle Assembly Building with the already found 38 to 40 percent of the shuttle's remains. The remaining parts could be burned up or may be still lying where they fell on Earth.

Malone said, "From time to time throughout the year we do get phone calls and emails from people about items they think are debris."

The Space Shuttle Columbia disaster occurred on February 1, 2003, shortly before it was scheduled to conclude its 28th mission, STS-107. The Space Shuttle Columbia disintegrated over Texas during re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere, resulting in the death of all seven crew members. The loss of Columbia was a result of damage sustained during launch when a piece of foam insulation the size of a small briefcase broke off from the Space Shuttle external tank (the main propellant tank) under the aerodynamic forces of launch. The debris struck the leading edge of the left wing, damaging the Shuttle's thermal protection system (TPS), which shields it from heat generated with the atmosphere during re-entry.

On board the space shuttle were commander Rick Husband; pilot William McCool; mission specialists David Brown, Kalpana Chawla and Laurel Clark; payload commander Michael Anderson; and payload specialist Ilan Ramon. All of them were killed.

Malone added that new discoveries of Columbia debris "opens old wounds". She said: "It always makes you think about the accident and Columbia and the crew of course. It always does serve as a reminder," said the report.

Check out the video: