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Hot enough for you? 2020, 2016 tie for warmest years on record –



It’s official: 2020 was tied with 2016 as the warmest year on record, the European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) is reporting.

Last year, 2020, matches the 2016 record despite the cooling effects of a La Niña event whereas 2016 began with a strong warming El Niño.

The six years beginning in 2015 are the hottest six years and 2011 to 2020 was the warmest decade recorded. 2020 was 0.6°C warmer than the baseline 1981-2010 reference period and 1.25°C above pre-industrial temperatures.

Some of the largest annual temperature rises occurred in the Arctic and northern Siberia regions, with temperatures reaching over 6°C higher than the baseline in some areas.

There was an unusually active wildfire season in Northern Ontario, with that released a record 244 megatonnes of carbon dioxide in 2020, more than a third higher than the 2019 record. Arctic sea ice was significantly lower than average during the second half of the year with the lowest extent of sea ice on record for the months of July and October. 

“2020 stands out for its exceptional warmth in the Arctic and a number of tropical storms in the North Atlantic,” commented Carlo Buontemp, director of C3S. “It is no surprise that the last decade was the warmest on record, and is yet another reminder of the urgency of ambitious emissions reductions to prevent adverse climate impacts in the future.”

Concentrations of atmospheric carbon dioxide continued to rise despite the approximately seven percent reduction of fossil fuel carbon dioxide emissions due to COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns around the world.

An initial pandemic-related 17 per cent reduction in emissions was followed by record high carbon dioxide levels in May. While the overall rise was slightly less than in 2019, scientists warn this should not be cause for complacency.  Until net global emissions are reduced to zero, carbon dioxide will continue to accumulate and drive further climate change, said Vincent-Henri Peach, director of the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service.

Countries that signed onto the 2015 Paris climate agreement committed to limiting warming by no more than 1.5°C with a goal of less than 2°C. Scientists say this will require countries to commit to a more rapid transition away from fossil fuel dependency by investing in renewable energy. 

“The extraordinary climate events of 2020 and the data from the C3S show us that we have no time to lose,” said Matthias Petschke of the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Defence Industry and Space. “We must come together as a global community, to ensure a just transition to a net zero future. It will be difficult, but the cost of inaction is too great.”

– Lori Thompson, Local Journalism Initiative, Manitoulin Expositor

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Check Out This Amazing HD Panorama Of Mars From NASA’s Perseverance Rover – Forbes



The verdict is in – and NASA’s Perseverance rover is a hit.

Having touched down on Mars in the Jezero Crater last week on Thursday, February 18, this plucky robotic explorer has captured the hearts and minds of the world.

Following its dramatic descent to the surface, complete with stunning first-of-its-kind footage, we also learned about a mysterious message in its parachute.

Now that the rover is on the surface, however, it is already busy getting to work, using its camera to take images of its surroundings.

And yesterday, Wednesday, February 24, NASA released the first 360-degree panorama from the rover’s Mastcam-Z instrument, situated at the top of the rover’s neck, called its mast.

You can view the image right here.

It was made using 142 images from the camera, revealed details on the crater rim and the nearby ancient river delta that Perseverance will study for signs of past life on Mars.

The image is zoomable, allowing you to take a detailed look at Perseverance’s immediate location on Mars, where it will spend another week or so.

The camera is able to see objects as small as 0.1 to 0.2 inches (3 to 5 millimeters) near the rover, and 6.5 to 10 feet (2 to 3 meters) in the distance.

This was the rover’s second panorama, after a previous one captured by its Navigation Cameras – or Navcams, also located on the Mast, said NASA.

But it was the first high-definition panorama from the rover, with Mastcam-Z having a higher resolution than the Navcams.

This allowed the rover to spot some intriguing features, such as a “wind-carved rock” located nearby that looked particularly interesting.

“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,” Jim Bell from Arizona State University’s School of Earth and Space Exploration, the lead on the Mastcam-Z instrument, said in a statement.

The rover will continue running through some checks in the forthcoming days, perhaps taking its first drive relatively soon.

Then, in March, it will drive to a nearby location to deploy a helicopter on the surface, called Ingenuity, to perform the first attempt at flight on another world.

After that, the main science mission can begin, with the rover beginning its studies of the surface to look for evidence of fossilised Martian microbial life.

It’s a two-Earth-year mission that will also see the rover monitor the Martian weather, attempt to turn carbon dioxide into oxygen, and look for water-ice under the surface.

So, for the time being, you can maybe forgive it for taking a moment to relax at its landing site and bask in its Martian surroundings.

Thankfully, we get to do the same thanks to its cameras. If you want to pore through more images from the rover, you can do so right here.

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NASA confirms Perseverance rover has landed on Mars – Arab News



WASHINGTON DC: NASA said Thursday that the Perseverance rover has touched down on the surface of Mars after successfully overcoming a risky landing phase known as the “seven minutes of terror.”
“Touchdown confirmed,” said operations lead Swati Mohan at around 3:55 p.m. Eastern Time (2055 GMT) as mission control at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory headquarters erupted in cheers.
The autonomously-guided procedure was completed more than 11 minutes earlier, which is how long it takes for radio signals to return to Earth.

READ MORE: How the UAE’s Mars mission can be the Arab world’s springboard to the future

“WOW!!” tweeted NASA Associate Administrator Thomas Zurburchen as he posted the Perseverance’s first black and white image from the Jezero Crater in Mars’ northern hemisphere.
The rover is only the fifth ever to set its wheels down on Mars. The feat was first accomplished in 1997 and all so far have been American.
About the size of an SUV, it weighs a ton, is equipped with a seven foot (two meter) long robotic arm, has 19 cameras, two microphones, and a suite of cutting-edge instruments to assist in its scientific goals.

READ MORE: UAE’s ‘Hope’ probe sends home first image of Mars

Perseverance now embarks on a multi-year mission to search for the biosignatures of microbes that might have existed there billions of years ago, when conditions were warmer and wetter than they are today.
Starting from summer, it will attempt to collect 30 rock and soil samples in sealed tubes, to be eventually sent back to Earth sometime in the 2030s for lab analysis.
“The question of whether there’s life beyond Earth is one of the most fundamental and essential questions we can ask,” said NASA geologist Katie Stack Morgan.

READ MORE: Arab world basks in the glory of UAE Mars mission triumph

“Our ability to ask this question and develop the scientific investigations and technology to answer it is one of the things that make us as a species so unique.”
NASA also wants to run several eye-catching experiments — including attempting the first powered flight on another planet, with a helicopter drone called Ingenuity that will have to achieve lift in an atmosphere that’s one percent the density of Earth’s.

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Mars Messages: Why NASA’s ‘Secret Code’ In The Perseverance Rover’s Supersonic Parachute Is Just The Start – Forbes



NASA’s Perseverance rover landed safely on Mars on on February 18, 2021—and as it did so it displayed a special message.

In one of the most visually impactful parts of the incredible video of its dramatic landing on Mars was the unfurling of the rover’s red and orange parachute, which NASA has just revealed displays binary code that reads:

“Dare Mighty Things.”

What does that mean, where does it come from (clue: it was said by a politician in 1899)and why did NASA go to the trouble of sending a message to Mars?

The parachute’s code actually says more than just that three-word phrase—and on the rover is also a motto, 7 iconic images, 155 essays and 10.9 million names.

This is not the first time NASA has sent “secret” messages to Mars.

Here’s everything you need to know:

Why did Perseverance need a supersonic parachute?

NASA’s Perseverance rover got into the Martian atmosphere in a protective back shell that was equipped with a 70.5 feet/21.5 meters diameter parachute.

As it unfurled 7 miles/11 kilometers above Jezero Crater, to slowdown the spacecraft from 940 mph/1,512 kph, a parachute-up-look camera snapped some images.

What was written on Perseverance’s parachute?

Two messages were encoded in binary in an orange-and-white pattern on the parachute’s gores, one on the outer ring and one in a spiral on the inner ring:

Inner ring: “Dare Mighty Things,” with each word on its own ring of gores.

Outer ring: The GPS coordinates (34°11’58” N 118°10’31” W) for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), where the rover was built and the project is managed.

Here’s the decoded version from NASA:

And here’s what the parachute was expected to look like. This image also gives you a better sense of scale of Perseverance’s supersonic parachute:

What ‘Dare Mighty Things’ means and why NASA encoded it on the parachute

“Dare Mighty Things” is the motto of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in La Cañada Flintridge, California, the center for the robotic exploration of the Solar System.

The phrase comes from a famous speech by Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt, New York Governor, in Chicago on April 10, 1899 in which he argued that strenuous effort and overcoming hardship were what Americans must embrace:

“Thrice happy is the nation that has a glorious history. Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure … than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.”

The binary code pattern on the supersonic parachute was designed by Ian Clark, Mars 2020 Perseverance Systems Engineer at JPL.

More messages on Perseverance

It doesn’t stop there. To take accurate color on Mars, the rover’s wide-angle Mastcam-Z cameras need to calibrate, so on the rover’s deck is a pair of small color-reference targets. Called “cal targets” (pictured above) they help Perseverance’s camera system get the colors of Mars exactly right in photographs.

However, in between the color and grayscale patches are seven small icons:

  1. Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars orbiting the Sun.
  2. A DNA strand.
  3. Cyanobacteria (early microorganisms on Earth).
  4. A fern (symbolizing green plants).
  5. A dinosaur.
  6. Two waving humans (which recalls the plaques on NASA’s Pioneer and encoded on NASA’s Voyager Golden Records).
  7. A space rocket.

The cal target also has a motto, “Two Worlds, One Beginning.” NASA’s previous rover, Curiosity, has one that reads “To Mars To Explore” while its older Spirit and Opportunity rovers both had “Two Worlds, One Sun.”

So this is not the first time that NASA has baked-in coded messages to its Martian hardware.

Yet NASA’s most recent rover, Curiosity, has been leaving messages literally on the Martian surface for almost a decade …

The ‘secret message’ on NASA’s Curiosity rover

When NASA’s Curiosity rover landed in Gale Crater on August 6, 2012, it too took a message to Mars. In its track marks, visible above as straight bands across the zigzag track marks, is a repeating pattern that reads “JPL.”

The Morse code is: .—- (J), .—. (P), and .-.. (L), which is imprinted on all six wheels.

It’s not just there for fun. The Curiosity rover uses images of the repeating pattern to determine exactly how far it has traveled and allows it to check that there’s been no wheel slippage.

Perseverance is also carrying 10.9 million names

Both of NASA’s most recent rovers also carry millions of names on microchips—from “Send Your Name To Mars” PR campaigns—with Curiosity storing 1.2 million names and Perseverance carrying 10.9 million.

Also on its tiny microchip are 155 essays from the finalists in NASA’s “Name the Rover” essay contest.

The latest from the Perseverance rover

Since the landing the rover has sent back hundreds of images from a zoomable pair of cameras called Mastcam-Z, 142 of which were used to stick together a 360º panorama. It’s so highly detailed that it’s possible to get close-ups of rock features seen in the distance.

Expect many more photos from Perseverance to be posted by NASA in the coming weeks, months and years as the rover searches the ancient lake-bed for signs of ancient life. It will also collect samples of rock and soil for possible return to Earth in the 2030s.

Perseverance is also carrying a small Mars Helicopter, also known as Ingenuity, which expected to take its first powered flight shortly.

Wishing you clear skies and wide eyes.

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