Air Force imagery confirms Columbia wing damaged is the topper today, at Spaceflight Now (an Aviation Week story).

The Chronicle is continuing to build on the purple-lighting-bolt story, including a detailed discussion on upper-atmosphere electricity discharges that’s interesting in its’ own right.

In the story iself, the image to the left of the headshot is a link to a larger graphic that includes photos of the sort of phenomena the reporter and scientist are exploring in the story.

UPDATE: NASA examines Air Force Photos of Shuttle, notes the NYT. The story includes a photo of the image on a large screen over the shoulder of a NASA official, and there appears to be an irregularity in the shape of the left wing (which appears on the lower side of the image).

However, it’s not at all conclusive, and more analysis of the photo is sure to be forthcoming.

UPDATE 2: Spaceflight Now has the image as a discrete graphic. Their article backs up my initial impression above. However, the NASA briefing photo seen at the Times appears to have some minor differences, probably reflective of the conditions the image was displayed under.

Interestingly, the NYT story cites the Aviation Week story seen at the top of this entry. The later story, also at Spaceflight Now, quotes James Dittemore, whom I beleive to be the official in the NYT photo.

He says, in part, “I’m aware there may be some of you who are saying this photo is revealing. We have looked at it, we had it during the week, and it’s not tremendously revealing to us yet. I’m not an expert at looking at these types of photos and so we’re asking experts to do an evaluation of the photo … to help us understand if there’s anything wrong with the left wing.”