Five years after the Columbia space shuttle broke up over Texas, a delegation of NASA astronauts and a scientist will attend a memorial conference for Israeli astronaut Col. Ilan Ramon and the six other crew members who died. The memorial day for the Columbia crew, February 1, is usually marked by formal ceremonies in Israel and the US. However, the Prime Minister's Office could not say on Sunday whether such a ceremony would be held this year. Prof. Colin Price of the Department of Geophysics and Planetary Sciences at Tel Aviv University will host the NASA delegation on Tuesday. It is expected to include astronauts Sunita Williams and Mike Lopez-Alegria and scientist Dr. Nagine Cox. The members of the delegation, together with Tel Aviv University faculty, will present the conclusions of the research the seven Columbia crew members conducted. "A group of Tel Aviv University researchers and I took part in the research Ilan Ramon and his friends conducted during their journey in space," Price told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday. The research explored the connection between desert dust and clouds and rain, and the connection between dust, thunderstorms and a type of storm electricity called "sprites" that were first identified in 1989. A sprite is a large-scale but low-intensity pulse that can extend upward from the top of a thunderstorm to heights approaching 100 km. "Ilan Ramon and his colleagues on the voyage succeeded in filming these phenomena from the space shuttle, and we received the data in real time. That enabled the continuation of this research," said Price, who worked with Ramon for several years. "The memorial day is a very private day for us, and besides working together, our department got to know Ilan Ramon from up close. It was, and it is still, a great loss," he said.