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NASA rover attempting most difficult Martian touchdown yet – StCatharinesStandard.ca

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CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – Spacecraft aiming to land on Mars have skipped past the planet, burned up on entry, smashed into the surface, and made it down amid a fierce dust storm only to spit out a single fuzzy gray picture before dying.

Almost 50 years after the first casualty at Mars, NASA is attempting its hardest Martian touchdown yet.

The rover named Perseverance is headed Thursday for a compact 5-mile-by-4-mile (8-kilometre-by-6.4-kilometre) patch on the edge of an ancient river delta. It’s filled with cliffs, pits, sand dunes and fields of rocks, any of which could doom the $3 billion mission. The once submerged terrain also could hold evidence of past life, all the more reason to gather samples at this spot for return to Earth 10 years from now.

While NASA has done everything possible to ensure success, “there’s always this fear that it won’t work well, it won’t go well,” Erisa Stilley, a landing team engineer, said Tuesday. “We’ve had a pretty good run of successful missions recently and you never want to be the next one that isn’t. It’s heartbreaking when it happens.”

A look at NASA’s latest mission:

MARS MASTER

NASA has nailed eight of nine landing attempts, making the U.S. the only country to achieve a successful touchdown. China hopes to become the second nation in late spring with its own life-seeking rover; its vessel entered orbit around Mars last week along with a United Arab Emirates spacecraft. The red planet’s extremely thin atmosphere makes it hard to get down safely. Russia has piled up the most lander losses at Mars and moon Phobos, beginning in the early 1970s. The European Space Agency also has tried and failed. Two NASA landers are still humming along: 2012’s Curiosity rover and 2018’s InSight. Launched last July, Perseverance will set down some 2,000 miles (3,200 kilometres) away at Jezero Crater, descending by parachute, rocket engines and sky crane.

TOUGHEST LANDING YET

NASA has equipped the 1-ton Perseverance — a beefier version of Curiosity — with the latest landing tech to ace this touchdown. A new autopilot tool will calculate the descending rover’s distance to the targeted location and release the massive parachute at the precise moment. Then another system will scan the surface, comparing observations with on-board maps. The rover could detour up to 2,000 feet (600 metres) while seeking somewhere safe, Neil Armstrong style. Without these gizmos, Jezero Crater would be too risky to attempt. Once down, the six-wheeled Perseverance should be the best driver Mars has ever seen, with more autonomy and range than Curiosity. “Percy’s got a new set of kicks,“ explained chief engineer Adam Steltzner, ”and she is ready for trouble on this Martian surface with her new wheels.”

LOOKING FOR SIGNS OF LIFE

Where there was water, there may have been life. That’s why NASA wants Perseverance snooping around Jezero Crater, once home to a lake fed by a river. It’s now bone dry, but 3.5 billion years ago, this Martian lake was as big and wet as Nevada and California’s Lake Tahoe. Perseverance will shoot lasers at rocks judged most likely to contain evidence of past microscopic life, analyzing the emitted vapour, and drill into the best candidates. A few dozen core samples — about a pound’s worth (one-half kilogram) of rock and dust — will be set aside in sealed titanium tubes for future pickup.

ROUND-TRIP TICKET

Scientists have wanted to get hold of Mars rocks ever since NASA’s Mariners provided the first close pictures a half-century ago. NASA is teaming up with the European Space Agency to do just that. The bold plan calls for a rover and return rocket to launch to Mars in 2026, to retrieve Perseverance’s stash of samples. NASA expects to bring back the rocks as early as 2031, several years before the first astronauts might arrive on the scene. The rover’s super sterilized sample tubes are the cleanest components ever sent into space, according to NASA, to avoid any contaminating traces of Earth.

COVID-19 PRECAUTIONS

Speaking of clean, NASA’s Mars Mission Control has never been so spotless. Instead of passing around jars of peanuts right before Perseverance’s landing — a good luck tradition going back decades — masked flight controllers will get their own individual bags. It’s one of many COVID-19 precautions at California’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The landing team will be spread over multiple rooms, with NASA bigwigs and journalists watching remotely. Launched last July, the aptly named Perseverance bears a plaque honouring health care workers battling the virus over the past year.

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The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

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COVID-19 outbreak that infected 133, killed 31 at New West care home has ended, Fraser Health says – CTV News Vancouver

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VANCOUVER —
One of B.C.’s largest care home outbreaks of COVID-19 is now officially over.

The outbreak at Royal City Manor, a long-term care home in New Westminster, began on Jan. 3 and quickly grew to include dozens of residents and staff members.

As of March 3, the outbreak was responsible for 133 cases of the coronavirus. A total of 102 residents were infected, and 31 died, according to data from the B.C. Centre for Disease Control.

On Sunday night, Fraser Health announced in a news release that the outbreak had been declared over.

“With the implementation of comprehensive strategies to prevent and respond to COVID-19 in care facilities, there are no longer any COVID-19 cases at this location,” the health authority said in its release.

The end of the Royal City Manor outbreak means there are no longer any active outbreaks involving more than 100 cases of COVID-19 in long-term care facilities in B.C.

The largest ongoing outbreak in a long-term care home in the province is now the one at Acropolis Manor in Prince Rupert, where 57 people had tested positive and 14 residents had died, as of the latest BCCDC update.

Health officials have attributed the decline in the number and severity of outbreaks in care homes in the province in recent months to the proliferation of COVID-19 vaccines in the system. As of mid-February, some 91 per cent of residents in long-term care had received at least one dose of a vaccine.  

Outbreaks in hospitals, meanwhile, have not noticeably declined in frequency in 2021.

On Saturday, an outbreak was declared at Kelowna General Hospital, where a separate, unrelated outbreak was already ongoing in a different unit. 

On Sunday, Interior Health announced that the earlier outbreak, in unit 4B, had ended. A total of seven people – six patients and one staff member – tested positive for COVID-19 in association with that outbreak. Two of the patients died.

“I would like to thank the team at KGH for their efforts in containing this outbreak and preventing further spread throughout the hospital,” said Interior Health president and CEO Susan Brown in a news release Sunday.

“We send our condolences to the families of the two patients who passed away and will work equally as hard to contain the second outbreak declared on March 6,” Brown added. 

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Ontario universities eye opening up campuses this fall – ThePeterboroughExaminer.com

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Ontario universities are eyeing on-campus classes and activities this fall — or possibly even sooner — as the province’s vaccination rollout ramps up.

“We expect to return to face-to-face instruction, and more of the on-campus experiences we all love, this coming September,” Western University President Alan Shepard said in a written release. “We know this question has been top of mind for our current students and for new students considering Western.”

And, he added, “as vaccines become more readily available over the spring and summer and as the Western community continues to remain vigilant both on and off campus, we’re increasingly confident of these plans.”

The province-wide lockdown last March sent post-secondary students home from campus, with almost all — except for those requiring hands-on labs for things like health studies — learning remotely this school year. While residences opened to first-year students last September, they did so at a much lower capacity than normal.

Schools now say they hope to have a clearer picture to give their students before the end of the winter term, at the end of April.

The University of Guelph is planning for a “safe gradual return to face-to-face learning for the fall 2021 semester” — or even earlier.

“We anticipate that this spring we will begin welcoming increased numbers of faculty and staff back to our campuses and facilities, following strict health and safety protocols and public health guidelines,” said Interim President Charlotte Yates in a written release to faculty and staff.

“This gradual return will help us ensure we can provide a safe environment for everyone.”

At Waterloo University, Media Relations Manager Rebecca Elming said it is looking to get back to normal as soon as it is safe, though specifics are still in the works.

“We have been and will continue to work with health officials and all levels of government to make the transition back to in-person campus operations safe for students, staff and faculty,” she said.

Queen’s University is “cautiously optimistic” that by the winter term — which starts in January 2022 — campus life will be back to what it was pre-pandemic.

However, for September, it is considering a hybrid model.

“We will still be living with COVID-19 in the fall, so flexible options may still be required as appropriate,” but “as part of society’s hope to be back to some degree of normalcy by fall, we are planning that many small classes, labs, and tutorials will be offered in-person, with appropriate safety protocols in place,” said Mark Green, provost and academic vice-principal, in a written release, acknowledging “this past year has been challenging.”

However, “if restrictions remain in place throughout the fall, such as physical distancing measures and class size limitations, we expect most large classes may need to be delivered remotely.”

Ryerson University says it is “actively planning for a number of scenarios in advance of the 2021-22 academic year, but no final decision has been made” as yet.

“We will not ask anyone to come to campus until government and public health agencies have told us that it’s safe to open and that the safety and well-being of our community can be assured,” the school said in a statement.

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“This will likely mean a gradual return — prioritizing areas that would most benefit from in-person interaction. Our goal is to inform our community 90 days prior to the beginning of the fall semester to give time for students to plan to attend campus and for faculty to plan course delivery.”

The University of Toronto said it is “looking forward, with optimism, to fall 2021 when people can once more gather on our campuses, as permitted by public health guidelines … By September, we aim to support students, faculty, staff and librarians to return to campus, while also preserving some of the best innovations of the past year in terms of technology and flexible work arrangements.”

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COVID-19 Outbreak at Nanabijou Childcare Centre – Net Newsledger

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Thunder Bay – The Thunder Bay District Health Unit (TBDHU) and Nanabijou Childcare Centre confirm that an outbreak of COVID-19 has been declared at the facility in Thunder Bay.

Consistent with provincial guidelines, an outbreak is declared in a child care centre when there are two or more COVID-19 cases that can be linked within the setting. At this time, one additional individual associated with the child care centre has tested positive for COVID-19. This individual is deemed to have acquired the infection in the facility.

The announcement of the outbreak at Nanabijou Childcare Centre does not mean the child care centre is closing. Only those identified as having had close contact with the case will be excluded from attending. In collaboration with the Nanabijou Childcare Centre TBDHU will continue to monitor and assess the situation until the full risk period has passed.

Previous articleMarch 7, 2021 – Thunder Bay District COVID-19 Update – 111 New Cases

NetNewsledger.com or NNL offers news, information, opinions and positive ideas for Thunder Bay, Ontario, Northwestern Ontario and the world. NNL covers a large region of Ontario, but are also widely read around the country and the world.

To reach us by email: newsroom@netnewsledger.com Reach the Newsroom: (807) 355-1862

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