By Colin Perkel, The Canadian Press
TORONTO — Emergency services will have to soon ensure they can pinpoint the location of people calling 911 for help on their cellphones.
The technically complex shift mandated by Canada’s telecommunications regulator to what’s called Next-generation 9-1-1 — or NG9-1-1 — should allow for a faster, more accurate system in which eventually data, photos, videos and text messages can flow.
“People mistakenly assume that when using a cellphone they’ll automatically know where you are because of GPS capabilities inherent in that type of device,” says Alex Brossault, a data program manager with the city of Guelph, Ont. “The truth of the matter is that it’s not exactly pinpoint.”
Currently, 911 dispatchers ask callers where they are. Landlines are tied to a physical address, while for cellphones, a process known as triangulation of cell towers can approximate a caller’s location to the nearest known road intersection.
Problems can arise if cellphone callers don’t know where they are, or are unable to speak or hear. Dispatchers might only know a caller’s location within a couple of hundred metres, which can hinder response times.
NG9-1-1 aims to get around the problems by shifting to a new internet-based system. The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission has ordered the new system in place for voice calls by June 2020 and for texts by December 2020.
Essentially, every connected phone will have an internet protocol address, which will be cross-referenced with key data sets mostly supplied by municipalities. The database will comprise every street address in an area and the entry location of buildings. Emergency service boundaries will also be accessible to ensure the right responders are dispatched.
The result should allow the 911 system to pinpoint the location of callers to within centimetres.
“We’re getting down to the metre, sub-metre accuracy,” Brossault said.
Currently, people who are deaf or have a speech impediment can text 911 services from a cellphone, but they have to register in advance, connect with 911 by voice call, then text. The general public cannot use texts for emergency services. That, too, will be changing in the coming year, with text becoming available to everyone with a smart phone.
Once fully implemented, NG9-1-1 will go well beyond talking or texting.
“Canadians could eventually stream video from an emergency incident, send photos of accident damage or a fleeing suspect, and send personal medical information, including accessibility needs, which could greatly aid emergency responders,” the CRTC says.
New Brunswick, among provincial leaders when it comes to implementing the new 911 technology, has come up with a civic address system that has improved support for current 911 operations and paved the way for Next-generation 9-1-1 services.
Diane Pelletier, director of New Brunswick’s NB 911 Bureau, said the goal in any emergency is to get the right assets to the right location fast. New processes and tools were improving road data exchange with the province’s three most populous cities, and more municipalities were expected to get on board within months, she said.
“We can give our emergency service partners like police, firefighters and paramedics even more up-to-date information about the road network to help them get to the caller as quickly as possible,” Pelletier said.
Overall, the regulator says, the move from analog systems to IP-based systems should improve the ability of emergency responders to deal with call overload situations, natural disasters and improve responses.
In addition, the technology could eventually allow people to make 911 calls from instant messaging apps or even Facebook. The system could also manipulate GPS data say from a car’s navigation system to allow dispatchers to find someone who has crashed.
The CRTC wants the current 911 system to be fully retired by 2023.
Mats Zuccarello with a Goal vs. Colorado Avalanche – Yahoo Canada Sports
(Athletes Unlimited – image credit) Brie King enjoys three main passions: volleyball, church and music. “Everything I do for the church is because I want to. It’s giving back for me. Volleyball is my total passion. I love volleyball so much. And music has just been this incredible gift that has really just naturally come easy,” King said. King, 23, of Langley, B.C., is the lone Canadian set to compete in the Athletes Unlimited volleyball season that begins on Saturday. CBCSports.ca has live coverage of select games beginning Saturday at 8 p.m. ET. A member of the senior national indoor volleyball team, King played collegiately at Trinity Western in her hometown before skipping her senior season to turn pro in Germany. Now, she’ll compete in the inaugural AU volleyball campaign. The pro women’s sports league launched last summer with softball and will introduce a lacrosse league in July. At the same time, King is continuing to lead Zoom services for the church she and husband Jeremy began during the pandemic. If that wasn’t enough, as a musician and singer she has an album set to be released early in the summer. “I feel like I have to be so wild into volleyball, especially with the format. It’s like a really heavy game and not a lot of off-time. … I thought about buying a guitar or a small little keyboard while I’m here just to have some fun, but who knows?,” King said. Athletes Unlimited employs a different format than the typical North American pro league: players switch teams every week for the six-week duration, with individual points earned and subtracted for things like aces and errors. Points are also earned for winning individual sets and overall matches. Those matches are played in three sets up to 25 points, with the winner of the match the team who scored the most. “They’ve really made it clear [that] a team wins and the games, matches, those all account for a lot more than the individual points. And I think it’s a really accurate reflection, honestly, of what the sport is,” King said. King, No. 26, goes up for a block during a practice. King arrived in Dallas, where the entire season will be played, in early February. After a three-day hotel-room quarantine, she began practice along the 43 other athletes in attendance, including six Olympians. Canada’s women’s indoor volleyball team failed to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics, but King says all eyes are on Paris 2024. She’ll begin her season on a team with Brazilian Olympian Sheilla Castro and Dominican counterpart Bethania De La Cruz. “The experience to play with these players that I’ve grown up watching and learning from, it feels like once in a lifetime. I really can’t believe it. And in a lot of ways, we’re peers in the sense that we’re teammates and we’re working together to achieve the same goal. But I feel like I’m getting so much better as a player and a human by being around such high-level experience,” she said. Proximity to home is key King, a second-round pick in the AU draft, said there’s already been interest from teammates and competitors in joining her Sunday services. She’s already seen the difference even an online congregation can make in our socially distanced lives. “I think that’s been the most beautiful part is just seeing people not have their circumstances change, but be able to change where their heart and mind is at,” she said. Proximity to family became increasingly important to King during the pandemic. She had an offer to play professionally in Turkey, but when a Canadian coach called her with the Athletes Unlimited opportunity, its location was the biggest draw. “It kind of feels like the U.S. and Canada together on the same team in terms of international volleyball. And it’s kind of a dream of every young girl in the U.S. and Canada to get to play closer to home,” King said. Players are paid relative to their final place in the standings. AU matches 50 per cent of that salary to be donated to charities of that individual’s choice. They also receive behind-the-scenes training from a league advisory board that includes NBA MVP Kevin Durant, softball great Jessica Mendoza, Hockey Hall of Famer Angela Ruggiero, World Cup champion Abby Wambach and tennis star Caroline Wozniacki. Those workshops include brand development, financial management and more, all in an effort to make the athletes the focus of the fledgling league. Despite an active church and a budding music career, for the next six weeks King’s main focus will return to her profession. “When I think about when this is done, I’m so excited to feel like I just gained a ton of knowledge and got a lot better at volleyball.”
Explained: Why is Mars so interesting to scientists, and the adventurer that lives in us all? – The Indian Express
Perseverance is not just another Rover Mission. Perseverance is the most advanced, most expensive and most sophisticated mobile laboratory sent to Mars. The results of the experiments on Perseverance will likely define the next couple of decades of Mars exploration – it will determine the course of search for life and a future manned mission to Mars.
Mars Science in the past 30 years
We have come a very long way in understanding Mars from the time of the first generation missions in the 1960s. The Viking missions in the mid-seventies carried out the first chemical analysis of Martian soil, as well as four biology experiments to detect biological activity. The experiments did not yield any conclusive evidence of life.
In the early 1980s, scientists hypothesised, based on mineralogic composition and rock texture, that certain meteorites might have a source region in Mars, in contrast to the asteroid belt. In 1984, a study showed that the isotopic composition of rare gases (Xenon, Krypton, Neon and Argon) matched the isotopic ratios of the Martian atmosphere measured by the Viking spacecraft. This discovery provided a way for geochemists to study Martian samples – and provided a huge boost to our understanding of the geochemical evolution of Mars.
Mars was considered to be a dry planet in the 20th century. This changed in 2001, when the Gamma Ray Spectrometer on board the Mars Odyssey spacecraft detected a fascinating hydrogen signature that seemed to indicate the presence of water ice. But there was ambiguity – this was because hydrogen can be part of many other compounds as well, including organic compounds.
To test for the presence of water, NASA sent a spacecraft to land near the Martian South Pole in 2007. The spacecraft studied the soil around the lander with its robotic arm and was able to establish, without any ambiguity, the presence of water on Mars for the first time.
The Curiosity rover carries an instrument called SAM (or Sample Analysis at Mars), which contains a suite of spectrometers with the goal of detecting organic compounds on Mars. SAM has a mass spectrometer that can measure not just the elements, but the isotopes as well. This instrument has made the fascinating discovery of large chain organic compounds on Mars. It is not known how these organics form on Mars: the process would likely be inanimate, but there is a fascinating possibility that such complex molecules were formed by processes associated with life.
Mars Insight is creating history right now, by monitoring seismic activity and heat flow on Mars – this will help understand the composition of the Martian interior.
Dr Amitabha Ghosh is a NASA Planetary Scientist based in Washington DC. He has worked for multiple NASA Mars Missions starting with the Mars Pathfinder Mission in 1997. He served as Chair of the Science Operations Working Group for the Mars Exploration Rover Mission, and was tasked with leading tactical Rover Operations on Mars for more than 10 years. He helped analyse the first rock on Mars, which incidentally happened to be the first rock analysed from another planet.
The enduring fascination with Mars
Why is Mars so interesting to scientists? And to the explorer-adventurer in all of us? There are two primary reasons.
First, Mars is a planet where life may have evolved in the past. Life evolved on Earth 3.8 billion years ago. Conditions on early Mars roughly around 4 billion years ago were very similar to that of Earth. It had a thick atmosphere, which enabled the stability of water on the surface of Mars. If indeed conditions on Mars were similar to those on Earth, there is a real possibility that microscopic life evolved on Mars.
Second, Mars is the only planet that humans can visit or inhabit in the long term. Venus and Mercury have extreme temperatures – the average temperature is greater than 400 degree C, or hotter than a cooking oven. All planets in the outer solar system starting with Jupiter are made of gas – not silicates or rocks – and are very cold. Mars is comparatively hospitable in terms of temperature, with an approximate range between 20 degrees C at the Equator to minus 125 degrees C at the poles.
The mission of Perseverance on Mars
Perseverance addresses both the critical themes around Mars – the search for life, and a human mission to that planet.
Sample Return Mission: Is there life on Mars?
Perseverance is the first step in a multi-step project to bring samples back from Mars. The study of the returned rock samples in sophisticated laboratories all over the world will hopefully provide a decisive answer on whether life existed on Mars in the past.
Here are the steps in the Sample Return:
As the first step, Perseverance will collect rock and soil samples in 43 cigar-sized tubes. The samples will be collected, the canisters will be sealed, and left on the ground.
The second step is for a Mars Fetch Rover (provided by the European Space Agency) to land, drive, and collect all samples from the different locations, and return to the lander.
The Fetch Rover will then transfer the canisters to the Ascent Vehicle. The Mars Ascent Vehicle will meet with an Orbiter after which the Orbiter will carry the samples back to Earth.
This long-term project is called MSR or Mars Sample Return. MSR will revolutionise our understanding of the evolutionary history of Mars. If MSR is successfully executed, we will have a reasonable answer of whether there was microscopic life on Mars.
But MSR does have its risks. If one of the components fails, like the Fetch Rover or the Mars Ascent Vehicle, MSR is doomed. A hidden risk is strategic. At the cost of MSR, there could be 5-10 spacecraft missions to different parts of the solar system: so hence, by choosing MSR, NASA forecloses the option to undertake those other missions.
Producing oxygen on Mars: A critical requirement
For a human mission to Mars to materialise, the cost needs to be reasonable. For costs to be reasonable, there needs to be a technology and infrastructure in place to manufacture oxygen on Mars using raw materials available on Mars.
Without a robust way to manufacture oxygen on Mars, human missions to Mars will be very expensive, and unrealistic. Without a reliable oxygen production plan on Mars, Elon Musk’s plan to provide commercial transportation to Mars will be at risk of failure.
Perseverance will have an instrument – MOXIE, or Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilisation Experiment – that will use 300 watts of power to produce about 10 grams of oxygen using atmospheric carbon dioxide.
Should this experiment be successful, MOXIE can be scaled up by a factor of 100 to provide the two very critical needs of humans: oxygen for breathing, and rocket fuel for the trip back to Earth.
Looking for underground water on Mars
Perseverance will carry the Radar Imager for Mars’ Subsurface Experiment (RIMFAX). RIMFAX will provide high resolution mapping of the subsurface structure at the landing site. The instrument will also look for subsurface water on Mars – which, if found, will greatly help the case for a human mission or the cause of a human settlement on Mars.
Testing a helicopter to fly on Mars
The Mars Helicopter is really a small drone. It is a technology demonstration experiment: to test whether the helicopter can fly in the sparse atmosphere on Mars.
The low density of the Martian atmosphere makes the odds of actually flying a helicopter or an aircraft on Mars very low. Long-distance transportation on Mars has to rely on vehicles that rely on rocket engines for powered ascent and powered descent.
We are perhaps a decade from two milestones in the exploration of Mars: a human mission to Mars, and a decisive answer to the question of whether Mars harboured – or still harbours – microscopic life. Perseverance is expected to provide significant insight on both questions.
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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