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Canada reports first COVID-19 case in dog in Ontario

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SURREY (NEWS 1130) – As Canada’s first case of COVID-19 among dogs is reported in Ontario, a Surrey-based vet is providing some advice to pet owners who may have concerns.

Dr. Sajjid Ijaz with Lifetime Veterinary Clinic says research on COVID-19 in pets is still evolving, but at this point, there’s little evidence to suggest dogs can transmit the virus to humans.

He notes many owners have flagged their COVID-19 concerns with him and his staff over the past few months.

“Obviously, at this point because we do not have any data to give any concrete answers to them, so, we have just been telling them to be careful about going out of their own bubble, as far as their own personal self, as well as the pets themselves. So what we’ve been telling them is to try and limit the pet access to dog parks and all that stuff, and be careful about it,” he explains.

Ontario dog tests positive for COVID-19

A dog in Ontario’s Niagara area has been identified as the first canine to test positive for COVID-19 in Canada. Experts have said this isn’t cause for panic.

The dog apparently belongs to a household where four people tested positive for COVID-19.

Experts told the Toronto Star the dog “had no symptoms and a low viral load, suggesting that dogs remain at relatively low risk of becoming gravely ill or passing on COVID to others.”

Ijaz says while they’re not pushing that message too hard, he and his staff want pet owners to continue to be smart.

Pets and your social bubble

Because of the uncertainty around how the coronavirus is transmitted among pets, Ijaz says it’s wise to apply the same advice to pets when it comes to humans and their social bubbles.

“So, yes, I’ve been telling my clients to limit access, not just totally isolate them, but just to be smart about it,” he explains.

Ijaz understands that pets are often a big part of any family, which is why he believes it’s best to be safe rather than sorry.

“As much as we can limit the bubble, that will help,” he says, adding your social bubble shouldn’t exclude these animals.

According to the World Organisation for Animal Health, there’s been no report of pets spreading COVID-19 to people. There have been reports of possible transmission from mink at a farm in the Netherlands to humans, however, the federal government says this is still being studied.

-With files from 680 NEWS

Source: – News 1130

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Gut-Wrenching Photos Show Damage at Arecibo Observatory Following Collapse – Gizmodo

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Aerial photo showing a massive gash in the radar dish and the receiving platform resting along the edge of the 1,000-foot-wide (305-meter) structure.
Image: Ricardo Arduengo/AFP via Getty Images (Getty Images)

As feared, the 900-ton instrument platform collapsed yesterday at the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico, falling onto the gigantic radar dish below. Photos of the scene are revealing the extent of the damage at the famous facility, which is known for contributing to the search for extraterrestrial intelligence and numerous astronomical discoveries.

The collapse occurred at around 7:55 a.m. local time, as the receiving platform plunged 450 feet (140 meters) down to the 1,000-foot (305-meter) dish below, which had already been damaged in recent months by fallen cables. No injuries were reported, but the collapse has caused considerable damage to the radar dish and surrounding facilities, including a learning center, according to the U.S. National Science Foundation.

An aerial view of the Arecibo Observatory after the collapse on December 1, 2020.

An aerial view of the Arecibo Observatory after the collapse on December 1, 2020.
Image: Ricardo Arduengo/AFP via Getty Images (Getty Images)

The full extent of the damage is still being assessed. The area continues to be off limits to unauthorized personnel, while engineers are evaluating the stability of the remaining structures, such as the LIDAR facility used to study the upper atmosphere. Recovery teams are also currently working to mitigate potential environmental damage caused by the collapse. Here’s how the facility looked in 2019, before this year’s cable failures:

Arecibo Observatory in spring 2019, before the cable failures and collapse.

Arecibo Observatory in spring 2019, before the cable failures and collapse.
Photo: UCF Today

Aerial view showing extensive damage to the large radar dish, as well as the position of the fallen instrument platform. The collapse also ripped off the tops of the three support towers.

Aerial view showing extensive damage to the large radar dish, as well as the position of the fallen instrument platform. The collapse also ripped off the tops of the three support towers.
Image: Ricardo Arduengo/AFP via Getty Images (Getty Images)

“We knew this was a possibility, but it is still heartbreaking to see,” Elizabeth Klonoff, vice president for research at the University of Central Florida, which manages the facility for the NSF, told UCF Today.

The 900-ton instrument platform fell onto the dish below and can be seen lying on the side of the structure. It appears that the platform did not fall straight down but swung at an angle, which makes sense, given that a failed wire from one of the three support towers triggered the collapse.

A wide aerial view of the facility on December 1, 2020.

A wide aerial view of the facility on December 1, 2020.
Image: Ricardo Arduengo/AFP via Getty Images (Getty Images)

A preliminary assessment of the scene shows that the tops of all three platforms were sheared off as a result of the structural breakdown and that falling debris, including the support wires, landed outside the area of the dish. The learning center located near Tower 12 appears to have sustained “significant damage,” according to the NSF. That all three support towers are still standing is fortunate, as it was feared a collapse of the towers would damage buildings nearby.

Aerial view showing the fallen platform, Gregorian Dome, and support cables.

Aerial view showing the fallen platform, Gregorian Dome, and support cables.
Image: Ricardo Arduengo/AFP via Getty Images (Getty Images)

This is a particularly painful view of the damage, showing the mangled instrument platform, the busted Gregorian Dome (a multi-beam receiver capable of scanning multiple points in the sky at once), and the fallen support cables, which sliced through the dish like knives. The cause of the collapse is still under investigation, but as NSF officials pointed out during a press conference held on November 19, the cables did not perform as expected, possibly on account of exposure to excessive moisture. A forensic investigation of the cables is still ongoing, and we eagerly await the results.

Damage as seen on the ground.

Damage as seen on the ground.
Image: UCF Today

The view from the ground is not much better, showing the destruction in detail.

Aerial view of the Arecibo Observatory on December 1, 2020.

Aerial view of the Arecibo Observatory on December 1, 2020.
Image: Ricardo Arduengo/AFP via Getty Images (Getty Images)

The collapse of the instrument platform on December 1 was not a surprise. The famous radar dish was recently slated for controlled demolition following a series of cable failures. An auxiliary cable slipped from its socket in August, and a main cable snapped in early November due to the added strain. Engineers said the structure was at risk of imminent collapse and that it would be too dangerous for workers to attempt repairs. Monday’s unplanned collapse was not ideal, as officials were hoping to preserve scientific and educational infrastructure at the facility. Arecibo hosts 90,000 visitors each year.

Arecibo as it appeared on November 19, 2020. Previous cable failures caused the visible gashes in the dish.

Arecibo as it appeared on November 19, 2020. Previous cable failures caused the visible gashes in the dish.
Image: Ricardo Arduengo/AFP via Getty Images (Getty Images)

For context, here’s what the radar dish looked like on November 19, 2020, following two cable failures.

A motorcyclist drives by a road sign toward the Arecibo Observatory on December 1, 2020.

A motorcyclist drives by a road sign toward the Arecibo Observatory on December 1, 2020.
Image: Ricardo Arduengo/AFP via Getty Images (Getty Images)

Completed in 1963, the Arecibo Observatory contributed to a host of astronomical discoveries. The dish was used to detect the very first exoplanets and the first binary pulsar (which resulted in a Nobel Prize in physics), and it famously transmitted a message to aliens. The radio telescope was also used to study planets and nearby asteroids and to assist in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI). The loss of the dish is a major blow to the scientific community (particularly those working in Puerto Rico), as it was the second largest radio dish in the world. No word yet on whether the dish will ever be replaced, but it’s a conversation that’s already starting.

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'The blob': Scientists confirm discovery of a completely new undersea species – Timmins Press

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Thanks to its love for extreme depths and remote oceanic corners, no one had ever seen the blob, or even knew it existed

Meet Duobrachium sparksae – a strange, gelatinous species of ctenophore, encountered during a dive off the coast of Puerto Rico.

NOAA fisheries

Deep in the dark, murky waters of our oceans, a gelatinous blob, shaped like a dislodged human molar, floats along the seabed.

Thanks to its love for extreme depths and remote oceanic corners, no one had ever seen the blob, or even knew it existed, until a team of scientists accidentally discovered it during a deep-sea dive off the coast of Puerto Rico in 2015, with help from an underwater, remotely-operated vehicle called ‘Deep Discover.’

Five years on, in a paper published this month, scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have confirmed that the blob is an entirely new species of undersea creature, Duobrachium sparksae – a never-before-seen species of jelly-like ctenophore. It’s also the first time that researchers have discovered a species using high-definition video footage only.

“It’s unique because we were able to describe a new species based entirely on high-definition video,” explained NOAA marine biologist Allen Collins in a release.

“We don’t have the same microscopes as we would in a lab, but the video can give us enough information to understand the morphology in detail, such as the location of their reproductive parts and other aspects.”

Ctenophores, also known as comb jellies, have bulbous, balloon-like bodies, from which protrude two tentacle-like strings, known as cilia. There are between 100 and 150 species of comb jellies, according to the NOAA, and despite their name, they are not at all related to jellyfish. Ctenophores, the group explains, are carnivorous, and many are highly efficient predators that eat small arthropods and many kinds of larvae.

[embedded content]

Three different specimens were filmed by the vehicle at depths around 3,900 metres, in an underwater area called the Arecibo Amphitheater, which lies within a trench known as the Guajataca Canyon, off Puerto Rico. One of the animals appeared to use its tentacles to touch the seabed, scientists said. 

“It was a beautiful and unique organism,” oceanographer Mike Ford was quoted as saying in a release.

“It moved like a hot air balloon attached to the seafloor on two lines, maintaining a specific altitude above the seafloor. Whether it’s attached to the seabed, we’re not sure. We did not observe direct attachment during the dive, but it seems like the organism touches the seafloor.”

Identifying a new species solely via photographic and video evidence has often yielded contentious results, the scientists explained in their paper, as natural classification “relies heavily” on the physical specimen samples preserved in museums “to serve as references to which other material can be compared.”

“Indeed, the idea of using photographic evidence to establish new species has been highly contentious in recent decades.”

In this case, however, the team was able to avoid any pushback due to the high-definition quality of the footage they recorded of the three observed specimens. The team hopes to collect real-life specimens on future dives, but fears it may be decades before they run into the species again.

“Even if we had the equipment, there would have been very little time to process the animal because gelatinous animals don’t preserve very well,” Collins said.

“Ctenophores are even worse than jellyfish in this regard.”

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After Arecibo, NASA isn't sure what comes next for planetary radar – Space.com

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Arecibo Observatory’s massive radio telescope has collapsed; with it has gone a crucial tool in understanding asteroid risks to Earth — and it would take a serious government initiative to replace.

Before the facility sustained irreversible damage in a series of cable failures this year, Arecibo Observatory was Earth’s most powerful planetary radar system. Astronomers can’t use radar to discover new asteroids, but the data that these systems provide can give scientists the details about an object’s size, shape and location they need to better and more quickly evaluate the threat that individual asteroids might pose to Earth. 

“This is a hard thing to have to take [down] an iconic facility like this that’s provided so much for the radio astronomy and planetary radar community over so many decades; it’s really sad to see,” Lindley Johnson, who leads NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office, said during a virtual meeting of NASA’s Planetary Advisory Committee held on Nov. 30, the day before the structure collapsed. “It’s certainly not an ideal situation, but I think it really comes down to, it’s time to really get moving on investing in a new planetary radar capability.”

Related: Losing Arecibo’s giant dish leaves humans more vulnerable to space rocks, scientists say

But that’s easier said than done. There are two key complications at play when it comes to investing in planetary radar capability.

One is bureaucratic: Planetary radar has to be done from Earth’s surface. And while NASA leads the country’s asteroid-focused work, the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) heads the federal government’s ground-based observations, as it does Arecibo Observatory; NASA merely paid for observation time on the radar system. With the sole exception of NASA’s Infrared Telescope Facility in Hawaii, all of the agency’s observing facilities are in space.

(This is also complicated. Technically, the world’s other planetary radar facility, at Goldstone in California, is run by NASA, but that’s because its primary duty is to communicate with spacecraft traversing the solar system. The radar facility recently completed an upgrade and is back to normal observations, although it has a less flexible schedule than Arecibo did and can’t see objects as far from Earth.)

Related: Losing Arecibo Observatory would create a hole that can’t be filled, scientists say 

“The way our agencies are tasked, ground-based observations are the responsibility of NSF,” Lori Glaze, who leads NASA’s Planetary Science Division, said during the same meeting. “It’s not in NASA’s purview.”

A second complication is the cost. A radar beam as powerful as Arecibo’s requires both a powerful transmitter and a massive radio dish, neither of which is cheap. 

Taken together, the challenges mean that NASA would likely need to work out agreements with one or more government counterparts before a new planetary radar system comes online.

“This kind of thing really takes a partnership of agencies,” Johnson said, adding that Arecibo itself traced its roots to a Department of Defense-led partnership. Something similar could rev up planetary radar, he said. “We do definitely have an opportunity and an interest in partnering with the U.S. Space Force on a more capable radar system.” The military branch is interested in the technology as a way to track satellites between Earth and the moon, he added.

Related: Arecibo isn’t the first radio telescope to unexpectedly fail. Here’s what we can learn from Green Bank’s collapse.

A reduction in planetary radar doesn’t strike at the heart of NASA’s planetary defense system, which focuses on discovering and tracking relatively large asteroids that come relatively close to Earth. Spotting such objects relies on facilities that detect optical and infrared light and scan large swaths of the sky regularly enough to notice when a new, fast-moving dot appears against the background of stars.

Radar can’t do that; it requires that scientists have a good idea of precisely where the object they want to study is, so that they can point the narrow radar beam precisely enough to bounce off the object. Instead, planetary defense experts use radar to more quickly plot an object’s orbit farther into the future and to determine characteristics of the object like its shape and density that might affect attempts to deflect an asteroid if it does appear to be on course to impact Earth.

“As far as planetary defense and NEO [near-Earth object] observations are concerned, it’s only a slight negative impact,” Johnson said of the loss of Arecibo’s radar system. “It doesn’t affect our discovery rate of near-Earth objects at all, it only has some impact on the opportunities we have to characterize these objects.”

Radar data of an asteroid dubbed Phaethon captured by Arecibo Observatory in December 2017. (Image credit: Arecibo Observatory/NASA/NSF)

Nevertheless, radar data is nice to have — and definitely the sort of thing Johnson would want for the planetary defense community.

Green Bank Observatory in West Virginia was already planning to add radar capability to its primary radio dish before the loss of Arecibo, scientists say, although the system, like that at Goldstone, won’t replicate Arecibo’s specific skills. And even that new capability would build on an existing facility, rather than starting from scratch, which comes with both benefits and risks.

“In a perfect world, I would pursue a new planetary radar capability,” Johnson said, even before Arecibo’s final collapse. “Trying to keep these old facilities going — they are high maintenance.”

But new capability wouldn’t mean a copy of Arecibo’s iconic dish, he emphasized. “It’s really time to be looking at the next generation of planetary radar capabilities,” he said, in particular hypothesizing that an array of dishes may be a more appealing approach now than Arecibo’s single massive dish.

“Technology has moved on since the 30, 40 years ago that the radar capability was installed at Arecibo,” Johnson said. “We need to take advantage.”

Email Meghan Bartels at mbartels@space.com or follow her on Twitter @meghanbartels. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook. 

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