Photo taken on Aug 27, 2019 shows China’s Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Radio Telescope (FAST) in Southwest China’s Guizhou province. (Photo/Xinhua)
Astronomers using sensitive Chinese telescope achieve breakthrough
Astronomers using China’s Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope have made major progress in solving the mysteries of extremely short but powerful flashes in the sky known as fast radio bursts, according to studies published in the journal Nature.
Data collected by the world’s largest single-dish radio telescope suggests fast radio bursts originate from activity in the magnetosphere of neutron stars－the super-dense remnants of massive stars. The finding concludes a decadelong scientific debate on the origin of the phenomenon, which was first discovered in 2007.
Scientists have also hypothesized that most fast radio bursts may be emitted by a special class of neutron stars called magnetars that have extremely strong magnetic fields. The most magnetic stars in the universe, they have a field strength up to a thousand trillion times stronger than that of Earth.
However, there may also be other origins, they added.
“Fast radio bursts are one of the frontiers in astronomy because they are full of interesting questions to be answered,” said Han Jinlin, a chief researcher at the National Astronomical Observatories of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
“Unlike other celestial objects that can be tracked and monitored, FRBs blink and disappear within thousandths of a second, making them a notoriously elusive and difficult phenomenon to study.”
He said some fast radio bursts can even recur after some time, which is a further puzzle for scientists.
“Only in the past few years have scientists known how to locate FRBs, but it remains a challenge to decipher their signals and understand the physics behind them because many telescopes simply aren’t sensitive enough,” Han said.
That is where FAST－the world’s most sensitive single-dish radio telescope－can shine, said Lee Kejia, an astronomy professor at Peking University, as it is 2.5 times more sensitive than the 305-meter-diameter Arecibo telescope in Puerto Rico, which is in second place.
Lee and his team used the telescope in Guizhou province to observe a repeating fast radio burst called FRB180301 and discovered that the radiation of the source has “very diverse polarization angle swings”, meaning that the radiation is affected by the magnetosphere.
This supports the hypothesis that fast radio bursts originate from complex processes in a neutron star’s magnetosphere, rather than from the collision of accelerated particles, according to a study published in Nature last month.
Another study published in Nature on Thursday said that Chinese astronomers used FAST to observe a magnetar called SGR 1935 2154, and concluded that the hyper-magnetic objects could be a major source of fast radio bursts.
Jiang Peng, FAST’s chief engineer, said the two discoveries are in keeping with public expectations that the telescope will deliver influential and original breakthroughs.
FAST has discovered more than 240 pulsars－super dense stars that emit electromagnetic beams at precise intervals, Jiang said. Pulsars are a popular research subject as the “cosmic lighthouses” allow scientists to study extreme states of matter, measure cosmic distances and track time in an ultra-precise way.
Scientists have published over 40 high-quality papers using data collected by FAST, and Chinese astronomers are lining up to apply to use it for their research, he said.
“Not only does it play a significant role in our nation’s effort to create major original breakthroughs in astronomy, but the engineering techniques and materials used to create this monumental infrastructure can also serve other industries, such as high-precision surveying,” he said.
Calgary-based EVANS ‘proud’ to be part of NASA’s Perseverance rover project – Global News
EVANS’ chief technology officer Matko Papic said the company, which was founded in Calgary in 1980, has been a global player in aviation, public safety and space operations and has focused on designing and equipping control rooms for decades.
He said the company gets involved with the early planning and detailed designs of the space and then designs the consoles specific to customer requirements, they do all the manufacturing and support their customers globally.
Their latest collaboration was on Perseverance, NASA’s rover that landed on Mars earlier this month.
The rover specializes in travelling the planet Mars to look for signs of ancient life and pick up a wide range of core rock and soil samples and store them safely, so they can be returned to earth and studied.
EVANS supplied control room consoles to the company in Texas, and Papic said the employees we thrilled with being a part of the project.
“You know, we as a … Calgary-based company are very fortunate and very proud to … be able to be a part of this program.” Papic said
“It’s both a sense of pride and a little bit of a sense of relief. But I think it’s mainly … pride that’s just, you know, being involved even in such a small piece.”
Papic told Global News that there are lots of future opportunities and EVANS is excited to continue to be a part of projects like this.
NASA releases 1st video of Perseverance rover landing on Mars
He said that navigating a mission from northeast Calgary when all the equipment is in Houston is not an easy task, but it is very doable.
“I think a big part of that is we’ve been able to develop a very unique and value-added product offering, and I think the fact that we support our customers and every aspect of their operational needs and the fact that we can support our customers globally, Papic said.
“With these specific solutions its really made a difference and its helped evolve EVANS into a global player.”
EVANS involvement in Perseverance was primarily in the control room and all elements were designed and manufactured in Calgary.
“That’s usually where Evans does most of our work is within the control room environment, and it varies by the type of mission. But they’re all control rooms that require continuous monitoring.” Papic said
Papic mentioned that due to high-level requirements, these projects can take quite some time to complete.
“We want to make sure that we’re focusing on capturing all the requirements and making sure that the design is absolutely perfect because the last thing we want is, you know, something that Evans provided to be a hindrance in the overall mission and so we’re very, very diligent to making sure that everything is functioning perfectly before it actually gets commissioned and goes live.” Papic said
The company’s relationship with NASA began decades ago as they began supporting them on some of the space shuttle missions both from a mission and launch control standpoint. EVANS has been involved with some other well-known projects.
“We’ve done projects for the Jet Propulsion Laboratory; we’ve done projects for the Hubble Space Telescope, so different programs within NASA,” Papic said.
“And we’ve been very fortunate as an organization that NASA continued to see us as a partner in helping them develop some of these solutions.”
Saskatchewan scientist helps lead team in Mars mission
© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
New Mars image from rover landing site shows the red planet in high definition – CTV News
The Perseverance rover has had a chance to settle in on Mars since landing last Thursday, so it’s doing what every new resident does these days — sending back photos of its new home.
In this case, it’s a steady stream of amazing imagery from another planet.
The rover’s Mastcam-Z instrument, a pair of zoomable color cameras, returned 142 images of its landing site on February 21. The teams at NASA stitched them together to create the instrument’s first 360-degree panorama.
This is the first high-definition look at Jezero Crater, the site of a 3.9 billion-year-old dry lake bed where the rover will search for signs of ancient life over the next two years.
In the image, the crater rim and the cliff face of an ancient river delta can be seen in the distance. It’s not unlike images shared previously by NASA’s Curiosity rover of its exploration site in Gale Crater.
“We’re nestled right in a sweet spot, where you can see different features similar in many ways to features found by Spirit, Opportunity, and Curiosity at their landing sites,” said Jim Bell, principal investigator of the Mastcam-Z instrument at Arizona State University’s School of Earth and Space Exploration, in a statement.
Perseverance also sent back a panorama using its Navcams, or navigation cameras, over the weekend.
Mastcam-Z is a new feature on Perseverance that builds off of lessons learned from the Curiosity rover’s Mastcam instrument. Curiosity’s Mastcam has two cameras with a fixed focal length, while Mastcam-Z has zooming capability.
These two cameras are like high-definition eyes on Perseverance as she shares her view with a team of scientists and engineers at home.
They sit on the rover’s mast, reaching eye level for a person who stands just over 6 and a half feet tall. The cameras are 9.5 inches apart to allow for stereo vision.
The color imagery produced by Mastcam-Z is a lot like the quality you would expect from your own digital HD camera, NASA officials said. These cameras can not only zoom but also can focus to capture video, panoramas and 3D images.
This will allow scientists on the mission’s team to examine objects that are both close and far away from the rover.
In the panorama, details as small as 0.1 to 0.2 inches across can be seen if an object is near the rover, while those between 6.5 to 10 feet across in the distance are also visible.
These capabilities will aid the overall goals of the mission in both understanding the geologic history of the crater and identifying the types of rock that the rover’s other instruments should study. The views afforded by Mastcam-Z will also help scientists determine which rocks they should collect samples from that will eventually be returned to Earth by future missions.
The team working on the Mastcam-Z instrument will share more details about the panorama Thursday, February 25 at 4 p.m. ET on NASA’s website and social media accounts.
The best images from NASA's Perseverance rover so far – CTV News
Almost as soon as NASA’s Perseverance rover landed on Mars it was beaming back images of its surroundings.
The first pictures were black and white and a little grainy. They were soon followed by video and high definition images of the rocks, ridges and the rover itself.
Here’s a collection of some of the best images to come from Perseverance’ so far.
This is the first image NASA’s Perseverance rover sent back after touching down on Mars on Feb. 18, 2021. The view, from one of Perseverance’s Hazard Cameras, is partially obscured by a dust cover. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)
Perseverance’s shadow can be seen in this image, the first one in colour sent by the rover. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)
As a teaser to some of the ground-breaking video to come, NASA released this image of Perseverance being gently lowered onto Mars’s surface during its descent on Feb. 18. (NASA via AP)
In video sent back by Perseverance, we can see the spacecraft’s parachute open, revealing a mix of white and orange markings on the inside. These were later revealed to be part of secret message left by NASA systems engineer Ian Clark. Clark used binary code to spell out “Dare Mighty Things” on the stripes of the 21-metre parachute. Also included were the GPS coordinates of the mission’s headquarters in Pasadena, Calif. (NASA/JPL-Caltech via AP)
While we’ve seen panorama images from previous rover missions, Perseverance’s high definition cameras are revealing details from Mars like we’ve never seen before. (NASA/JPL-Caltech via AP)
This oddly-shaped rock carved by the elements on Mars’ surface was spotted near Perseverance’s landing zone and is an example of the high-quality images that we can expect from the rover’s cameras. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU/MSSS)
ROVER ‘FAMILY HISTORY’
Along with loads of science instruments Perseverance is also boasting a decal showing the history of NASA’s rovers on Mars. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU/MSSS)
TRIBUTE TO DESCENT STAGE
“A moment of respect for the descent stage,” NASA tweeted from the Perseverance’s twitter account after about a week after the landing. The image above shows a smoke plume from where the descent stage (the part of the spacecraft that lowered Perseverance gently to Mars’ surface) made its “intentional surface impact.” (@NASAPersevere/Twitter)
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