Lisa Malone, a spokeswoman for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, said the agency is trying to decide whether to send its own team to Lake Nacogdoches or let local agencies handle the recovery, CNN reported. NASA said the piece of metal, about 4 feet across, is part of a tank.
"It's one of ours," she said.
Other parts of Columbia were found in Nacogdoches immediately after the disaster. Sgt. Greg Sowell of the Nacogdoches Police Dept. said the piece is in a remote part of the lake and full of mud.
"We want to remind everyone that the rules are the same as they were back in 2003," Sowell said. "If this object is indeed a part of the shuttle, it is government property, and it is a criminal offense to tamper with it."