Scanning the news pages, I see that NASA is now setting up their conference news coverage jointly about the Space Shuttle and Space Station. My guess is that would take the attention off of the dilemma orbiting the earth. They could present the bad news, “Oh, by the way, we’ve detected 2 gap fillers protruding from an awkward and vital part of the shuttle’s underbelly, and oh, the Space Station is doing really well!”
Gap fillers, made of heat-resistant alumina-borosilicate fiber, fill the space between the shuttle's tiles when they expand and contract due to extreme temperature fluctuations. If these gap fillers aren’t properly placed, that means that when the tiles are heated upon re-entry, heat will get inside and we’ll have another Columbia disaster on our hands. Additionally, the ones in question require a space walk to fix, and the astronauts have already gone on more “space walks” to fix shit than planned. I think the scientists at NASA are planning on having the astro-pit crew use scissors or pliers to cut or rip off the protrusions.
I just want to reiterate that heat shield damage was responsible for the loss of Space Shuttle Columbia and its seven astronauts on February 1, 2003. Haven’t we learned anything?