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Europe, US 'climate guardian' satellite to monitor oceans – CTV News

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BERLIN —
A “climate guardian” satellite set for launching this weekend will greatly help scientists keep track of the rise in sea levels, one of the most daunting effects of global warming, a senior official at the European Space Agency said Friday.

The satellite, known as Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich and jointly developed by Europe and the United States, contains cutting-edge instruments able to capture sea surface height with unprecedented accuracy, adding to space-based measurements going back almost 30 years.

“This is an extremely important parameter for climate monitoring,” said Josef Aschbacher, the European Space Agency’s director of Earth observation.

Billions of people living in coastal areas around the planet are at risk in the coming decades as melting polar ice and ocean expansion caused by warming push waters ever higher up the shore.

“We know that sea level is rising,” Aschbacher saud. The big question is, by how much, how quickly.

Some studies estimate the world’s oceans will rise by at least 2 feet (61 centimetres) by the end of the century, hitting low-lying regions from Bangladesh to Florida.

Aschbacher said measurements dating back to the 1990s show average sea levels rising first by about 3 millimeters (0.12 inches) per year, but in the past couple of years the annual rate was almost 5 millimeters (0.2 inches).

While measurements are also taken at ground level, in harbours and other coastal areas, they don’t provide the same precise uniform standard as a single satellite sweeping the entire globe every 10 days, he said.

“If you measure it at sea level, you have one measurement device in Amsterdam and you have a different one in Bangkok and yet another one in Miami,” Aschbacher told The Associated Press by video from ESA offices in Frascati, Italy. “But with a satellite, you can compare these measurements globally because it’s the same instrument that flies over all these areas.”

The probe’s most powerful weapon is the Poseidon-4 radar altimeter, named after the trident-wielding Greek god of the sea. The instrument measures how long it takes for radar signals to bounce off the sea surface and back to the satellite.

The new satellite will also collect measurements at higher resolution than its predecessors, allowing researchers to peer more closely at small ocean features, especially along the coastlines.

Other instruments on board will measure how radio signals pass through the atmosphere, providing data on atmospheric temperature and humidity that can help improve global weather forecasts.

The satellite is due to be carried into orbit Saturday from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. The European Space Agency this week lamented the loss of two satellites when a European-built carrier rocket veered off course shortly after launch.

“This failure on Monday reminded us how risky the space business is,? Aschbacher said. “We are always at the edge.”

Sentinel-6 is named after the late director of NASA’s Earth Science Division, Michael Freilich, an oceanographer who was key to getting the U.S. space agency to join the mission.

“We owe him a lot and he more than deserves to have this satellite named after him,” said Aschbacher. “I’m very sorry personally that he cannot push the button tomorrow.”

Europe and the United States are sharing the 900-million-euro ($1.1-billion) cost of the 10-year mission, which includes the launch of an identical twin, currently called Sentinel-6B, in 2025.

It’s the first time that another space agency has been involved in ESA’s flagship Copernicus program, which already has seven satellites in orbit measuring the seas, atmosphere and land. Some data collected by the ESA and other agencies recently showed the impact of the coronavirus pandemic as seen from space.

Aschbacher said he hopes NASA and ESA will team up on future missions, too.

“NASA is our strongest partner internationally,” he said. “We are discussing right now other options of co-operation based on the model of Sentinel 6-Michael Freilich.”

The two space agencies recently agreed to co-operate on a planned NASA outpost around the moon.

But Aschbacher said lunar missions and others looking to Mars and beyond, shouldn’t divert attention from the need to keep an eye on our own planet.

“We all know that (Earth) is undergoing enormous changes, extremely fast changes and changes we never had before on this planet with a speed and intensity caused, obviously, by humans,” he said. “And we need to understand how this planet functions for our own survival, for our own future.”

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COVID-19: Alberta researcher recognized with innovation award for salt mask – Global News

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Salt that crystallizes with sharp edges is the killer ingredient in the development of a reusable mask because any COVID-19 droplets that land on it would be quickly destroyed, says a researcher who is being recognized for her innovation.

Ilaria Rubino, a recent PhD graduate from the department of chemical and materials engineering at the University of Alberta, said a mostly salt and water solution that coats the first or middle layer of the mask would dissolve droplets before they can penetrate the face covering.

Read more:
CDC now says face masks can protect wearer from coronavirus

As the liquid from the droplets evaporates, the salt crystals grow back as spiky weapons, damaging the bacteria or virus within five minutes, Rubino said.

“We know that after the pathogens are collected in the mask, they can survive. Our goal was to develop a technology that is able to inactivate the pathogens upon contact so that we can make the mask as effective as possible.”

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Rubino, who collaborated with a researcher at Georgia State University in Atlanta to advance the project she started five years ago, was recognized Tuesday with an innovation award from Mitacs. The Canadian not-for-profit organization receives funding from the federal government, most provinces and Yukon to honour researchers from academic institutions.






3:49
Edmonton Health Matters: salt solution and quilt delivery


Edmonton Health Matters: salt solution and quilt delivery – Dec 21, 2017

The reusable, non-washable mask is made of a type of polypropylene, a plastic used in surgical masks, and could be safely worn and handled multiple times without being decontaminated, Rubino said.

[ Sign up for our Health IQ newsletter for the latest coronavirus updates ]

The idea is to replace surgical masks often worn by health-care workers who must dispose of them in a few hours, she said, adding the technology could potentially be used for N-95 respirators.


Click to play video 'This is what makes a good face mask, according to experts'



0:49
This is what makes a good face mask, according to experts


This is what makes a good face mask, according to experts – May 21, 2020

The salt-coated mask is expected to be available commercially next year after regulatory approval. It could also be used to stop the spread of other infectious illnesses, such as influenza, Rubino said.

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Dr. Catherine Clase, an epidemiologist and associate professor of medicine at McMaster University in Hamilton, said the “exciting” technology would have multiple benefits.

Clase, who is a member of the Centre of Excellence in Protective Equipment and Materials in the engineering department at McMaster, said there wasn’t much research in personal protective equipment when Rubino began her work.

“It’s going to decrease the footprint for making and distributing and then disposing of every mask,” she said, adding that the mask could also address any supply issues.

Read more:
Mask myths, debunked: No, wearing a mask won’t ‘shut down’ your immune system

The Public Health Agency of Canada recently recommended homemade masks consist of at least three layers, with a middle, removable layer constructed from a non-woven, washable polypropylene fabric to improve filtration.

Conor Ruzycki, an aerosol scientist in the University of Alberta’s mechanical engineering department, said Rubino’s innovation adds to more recent research on masks as COVID-19 cases rise and shortages of face coverings in the health-care system could again become a problem.

Ruzycki, who works in a lab to evaluate infiltration efficiencies of different materials for masks and respirators, is also a member of a physician-led Alberta group Masks4Canada, which is calling for stricter pandemic measures, including a provincewide policy on mandatory masks.

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China Kickstarts A New Era In The Space Race – OilPrice.com

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China Kickstarts A New Era In The Space Race | OilPrice.com

ZeroHedge

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China Space Race

In what could mark the beginning of another era of the “space race“, China has officially launched an unmanned spacecraft to the moon with plans of bringing back lunar rocks. It marks the first attempt by any nation to retrieve rocks from the moon since the 1970s. On Monday, Reuters confirmed the launch:

China’s probe, the Chang’e-5, sets off with the goal of China learning more about the moon’s origin and formation. If China succeeds, it will be only the third country to have retrieved samples from the moon – behind the U.S. and Soviet Union, according to CNN.

The goal of the mission to collect 4.5 pounds of samples in a previously untouched area called Oceanus Procellarum, or “Ocean of Storms”. The U.S. Apollo missions had previously landed 12 astronauts and brought back a total of 842 pounds of rocks and soil. The Soviet Union’s Luna missions had brought 6 ounces of samples in the 70s.

Both countries visited different areas of the moon than the Chinese aspire to visit.  

Source: CNN

James Head, a planetary scientist at Brown University, said: “The Apollo-Luna sample zone of the moon, while critical to our understanding, was undertaken in an area that comprises far less than half the lunar surface.”

Related: Growing Crude Inventories Put A Cap On Oil Prices

Once it’s on the moon, the probe will deploy two vehicles and a lander will drill into the ground. Samples of the moon’s surface will then lift off to another module in orbit. Eventually, they will make their way back to Earth in a return capsule. 

China has visited the moon with probes in 2013 and 2019. The country says it has plans to establish a “robotic base station” on the moon within the next decade. It plans on doing so using its Chang’e 6, Chang’e 7 and Chang’e 8 missions. 

The country has also publicly said it has aspirations of getting samples from Mars before 2030. 

By Zerohedge.com

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Many Canadians gaining weight during COVID-19: poll – BarrieToday

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OTTAWA — A new poll suggests many Canadians are gaining weight because they’re eating more and exercising less during COVID-19 pandemic. 

Nearly one-third of respondents in the survey conducted by Leger and the Association for Canadian Studies said they have put on weight since March, compared to 15 per cent who said they lost weight over that time.

As well, about one-third of respondents said they’re exercising less, while 16 per cent said they’re working out more since the first wave of the pandemic landed in Canada in the spring.

Jack Jedwab, president of the Association for Canadian Studies, suggested that one reason may be a rush for comfort food to deal with pandemic-related anxieties.

Respondents in the survey who said they were “very afraid” of COVID-19 were more likely to report gaining weight, eating more and exercising less. 

“The more anxiety you have, the more likely it is that you know you’re eating more,” Jedwab said.

“People who are least anxious about COVID (are) the ones that are not eating more than usual and are not gaining weight.”

The online survey of 1,516 Canadians was conducted Oct. 29-31 and cannot be assigned a margin of error because internet-based polls are not considered random samples.

Dr. Yoni Freedhoff, an associate professor of family medicine at the University of Ottawa, said there are plausible reasons to connect weight gain or loss with the pandemic, but he hadn’t seen any studies to convince him that’s the case. 

Some people are “not reliant on restaurants constantly” and “cooking more frequently in their homes,” which Freedhoff said may be leading to weight loss or better dietary choices. Others are eating more, he said, relying on comfort food “because they’re anxious as a consequence of the pandemic, or the tragedies that have gone on in their lives.”

Jedwab said the country needs to also be mindful of mental health issues that can affect the physical health of Canadians. 

“With the winter coming, it’ll be even more challenging, in some parts of the country, to maintain a healthy lifestyle in terms of walking, in terms of doing basic things that will help us address our anxieties,” he said, pointing to lack of access for some to gyms subject to local lockdowns.

Some of those exercise classes have gone online. Gabriel Shaw, a kinesiologist from Victoria, B.C. said he has offered virtual classes to give his clients an chance to be physically active.

Shaw said the classes don’t provide people with a sense of community like in-person classes, which he said is important for some people to exercise consistently. 

“The best bet for people is to find a way they can enjoy it. That might be going out for a social distance walk or hike or run or bike with a friend,” Shaw said. “That might be finding a Zoom thing that you can get on like dancing or even other activities where you have friends.”

Shaw said people should also try learn a new skill like dancing, yoga, rock climbing, or take up running to keep things fresh and enjoyable, which is key to exercising long and well. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 24, 2020

——
This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

Maan Alhmidi, The Canadian Press

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