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'Like déjà vu': New COVID-19 self-study on superspreader curling event highlights concerns over indoor gatherings, new variants – CTV Edmonton

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EDMONTON —
An Alberta doctor who was one of dozens of healthcare workers to contract COVID-19 at a curling bonspiel in Edmonton last March has co-authored an observational study about the experience.

Dr. Kelly Burak, a professor of medicine at the University of Calgary, says the study published Tuesday shows how infectious the disease is and how transmittable it can be in indoor settings. 

“We had 73 curlers and overall we had an attack rate of 74 per cent, which included confirmed cases by swab and probable cases that tested negative or didn’t have access to testing,” Burak told CTV News Edmonton. 

In total, 40 of the curlers tested positive for the disease while an additional 16 developed symptoms.

All 73 curlers who participated in the bonspiel – 55 of whom were active healthcare workers – were interviewed for the study.

The standardized interviews took place between April 17 and May 5 of last year.

“We realized that there was something to be learned from the experience,” said Burak. “This was a long time ago, but the takeaways are COVID is very infectious.” 

Burak points out that at the time of last year’s superspreader event there were very few known cases in the community.

“Now we’re in a situation where we have the variants, which are more infectious, that are starting to transmit in our community. So it does feel a lot to me like déjà vu.”

The U of C professor also notes that some of the confirmed case subjects never developed antibodies, while others lost antibodies.

“That’s telling you that it’s still important to get the vaccine, if you’ve had COVID,” said Burak.

He says another takeaway from the study is how risky it can be for people to gather indoors while not wearing masks.

“Talking loudly, speaking to other people, sharing food and drink,” said Burak. “This is risky behaviour for catching COVID-19 and so I think there is a word of caution as we start to open restaurants and bars right now.”

Looking back to that March bonspiel, Burak says in some ways it was fortunate that his group was made up of so many healthcare professionals.

“When I got my first test back and it was negative I was like, ‘I don’t believe that, that’s gotta be a false negative test,’ and pushed for repeat testing,” he said. “Six out of our confirmed 40 cases were negative on their first swab.” 

This year’s bonspiel has been cancelled. Burak says the group is looking forward to curling again in Regina in 2023.

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NASA’s Perseverance Rover successfully lands on Mars – TASS

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NEW YORK, February 19. /TASS/. The US Perseverance Rover has successfully touched down on Mars and sent two pictures back to Earth almost immediately, NASA reported Thursday.

“Touchdown confirmed,” the broadcast commentator said. The space agency clarified that it had already received two images from the planet.

The landing took almost “seven minutes of terror” as NASA calls it in an automatic regime due to a delay in command transmission.

“I’m safe on Mars. Perseverance will get you anywhere,” the rover ‘tweeted’ after the touchdown.

The landing was planned to take place near the Jezero Crater. A full check of Perseverance’s systems and equipment is expected shortly after.

NASA specialists seek to use the rover to detect traces of life on Mars from long ago. Perseverance will also gather rock and ground samples in 40 special containers, while most of them will be collected by another rover in 2026. NASA expects that the samples will be eventually delivered to Earth in the 2030s.

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'A small part, but it was an important part': Manitoba company helped ensure Perseverance Rover landed safely on Mars – CTV News Winnipeg

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WINNIPEG —
A Manitoba company helped ensure that a recent mission to Mars landed successfully.

Canadian Photonic Labs, based in Minnedosa, supplied their Mega Speed high-speed cameras to help NASA as it was preparing to launch and land the Perseverance Rover, which successfully touched down on the Red Planet last week.

The company, which launched in 1995, creates high-speed cameras that are used to capture clear images from objects travelling at high rates of speed.

“We played a small part, but it was an important part, because you have to get the data,” said Mark Wahoski, president and founder of Canadian Photonic Labs. “It’s happening so fast that the human eye can’t see it. So, you need to slow time down.”

More than 20 of the cameras are in use at SuperSonic Navel Ordinance Research Track in China Lake, California. The track, which includes a sled that can launch items at speeds past the sound barrier, is used to test advanced products from organizations such as NASA and Lockheed Martin.

(Image submitted by Mark Wahoski)

“When you’re testing these items that are so expensive, and are so complicated to do, people pay attention on what equipment is actually working,” Wahoski said.

Wahoski said the cameras were used to help NASA test its decelerator and parachute, which were used to land Perseverance safely on Mars, in the years prior to the launch.

SuperSonic Navel Ordinance Research Track

(Image submitted by Mark Wahoski)

“When you’re going to Mars, there’s a lot of complex things that need to work out besides even just getting there,” he said, noting that approximately half of all missions to Mars fail because of an incorrect landing or missing the planet altogether.

Perseverance was launched on July 30, 2020, and safely landed on Mars on Feb. 18. According to NASA, the rover is the most sophisticated rover to land on Mars, and is looking for signs of ancient life on the planet.

Wahoski said seeing Perseverance landing successfully was incredible to watch, and he is proud of his staff and the NASA engineers.

“We tend to forget about it, but when you think back on it, it’s just super, super cool,” he said. “You get super stoked.

“Where it really hits you is (that) we’ve had a lot of friends comment on it. When they wish you well, that’s when your heart goes out.”

Canadian Photonic Labs already has a new mission with NASA lined up. Wahoski said the company is providing equipment for a project involving a large vacuum chamber.

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The inspiring hidden message in the Mars Perseverance rover's parachute – CNN International

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In the video, the colorful orange-and-white parachute can be seen above the rover as it helped to slow the descent of the spacecraft.
This annotated image was taken by a parachute-up-look camera on the protective back shell of the Perseverance rover during its landing on Mars.
“You might notice the pattern that’s on the parachute here,” said Allen Chen, the entry, descent and landing lead for the rover, on Monday. “Distinct patterns are useful in helping us determine the clocking orientation of the parachute. Also, the contrasting sections can be useful in tracking different portions of the parachute as it inflates.
“In addition to enabling incredible science, we hope our efforts and our engineering can inspire others. Sometimes we leave messages in our work for others to find for that purpose. So we invite you all to give it a shot and show your work.”
Eagle-eyed space fans took up Chen’s challenge and made short work of unraveling the code.
“It looks like the internet has cracked the code in something like 6 hours! Oh internet is there anything you can’t do?” tweeted Adam Steltzner, the rover’s chief engineer.
The parachute’s hidden message includes the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory motto, “Dare mighty things,” as well as GPS coordinates for JPL in Pasadena, California.
The messages were included in the parachute using binary code within the white and orange gores, or triangles of fabric. The inner part of the parachute includes “Dare mighty things,” with each word in an expanding ring of gores. The band around the parachute is where the GPS coordinates for JPL can be found.
The motto borrows from a Theodore Roosevelt quote: “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 rover was built by the team at JPL, where the mission is managed.
Ian Clark, the rover’s systems engineer, was the mastermind behind the binary code pattern on the parachute.
“The brain child of Ian Clark- who has done anything the project asked him to do, whether it was lead, develop, and execute a supersonic parachute test program, prove the cleanliness of the sampling system, or support EDL operations. All around sharp and selfless dude,” Chen tweeted.
It’s not the first Easter egg to be included with the Perseverance rover, and the mission team has suggested that more will be revealed in images returned by the rover in the future.
The rover carries silicon chips containing the names of nearly 11 million people who participated in the “Send Your Name to Mars” campaign, as well as 155 essays submitted by students who entered a contest to name the rover. Perseverance also has a metal plate as a tribute to health care workers during the pandemic.
A placard commemorating NASA's "Send Your Name to Mars" campaign is on the rover.A placard commemorating NASA's "Send Your Name to Mars" campaign is on the rover.
On the rover’s deck is a symbol-laden calibration target for Mastcam-Z, or the rover’s pair of zoomable cameras. The calibration target includes color swatches to adjust the cameras’ settings, but also symbols of a man and a woman, a fern, a dinosaur, a rocket traveling from Earth to Mars, a model of the inner solar system, DNA and cyanobacteria, which is one of the earliest forms of life on Earth.
The target also includes the motto, “Two worlds, one beginning,” which alludes to the idea that Earth and Mars were created from the same dust swirling around the sun billions of years ago.
The Mastcam-Z's calibration target includes different symbols.The Mastcam-Z's calibration target includes different symbols.
The calibration target for the SHERLOC instrument, or Scanning Habitable Environments with Raman & Luminescence for Organics & Chemicals, also carries some hidden gems.
The bottom row includes spacesuit materials to see how they react over time to the radiation in the Martian atmosphere. One is a piece of polycarbonate that could be used for a helmet visor. It doubles as a geocaching target and is etched with 221B Baker Street, the address of the beloved fictional detective Sherlock Holmes.
SHERLOC's calibration target carries some Easter eggs as well.SHERLOC's calibration target carries some Easter eggs as well.
The top row, which will be used to fine-tune settings on the instrument, includes a slice of Martian meteorite.
Perseverance’s fellow rover Curiosity also carries its share of Easter eggs. When the rover began to explore the Martian surface in August 2012, it left zigzagging patterns in the red dust based on the tread of its aluminum wheels.
Embedded in those treads are tiny dots, which create a repeating pattern the rover uses to drive more accurately. The dot pattern is actually Morse code for JPL. So with every roll of the wheel across Mars, Curiosity is stamping “JPL” into the surface of the red planet.

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