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New Year blessings from Mars as China releases footage from space probe – Cape Breton Post

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BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s space agency released two videos providing a close-up glimpse of Mars on Friday, captured as its Tianwen-1 probe entered the red planet’s orbit, saying the spacecraft was sending a Lunar New Year greeting to Earth.

After a 6-1/2 month journey through space, the Tianwen-1 on Wednesday slowed to a speed at which it could be captured by the pull of Mars’ gravity and became the second spacecraft to reach the planet this month, with a U.S. probe set to arrive and immediately attempt a landing next week.

The two clips, lasting just under a minute, were the first released by the China National Space Administration of the probe entering orbit.

“The Tianwen-1’s New Year blessings came through from far-away Mars,” the CNSA said on Friday, the first day of the Lunar New Year.

The footage, shot from cameras attached to the uncrewed craft, shows it vibrating as its solar-powered thrusters are switched on to slow it down, with the spherical outline of Mars and even craters on the planet’s surface seen in the background as the probe hurtles past.

“The solar panels, directional antenna, Martian atmosphere and surface topography are clearly visible,” the CNSA said.

(Reporting by Ryan Woo and Muyu Xu; Writing by Tom Daly; Editing by Alison Williams)

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Let 'er buck: Study suggests horses learn from rodeo experience, grow calmer – Nanaimo News NOW

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Horses have all kinds of ways of showing they’re unhappy, Pajor said. They might move back and forth, chew their lips, swish their tail, defecate, roll their eyes, paw the ground, toss their head, or rear up in protest.

The researchers found that the more people were around them, the more likely the horses were to show unease. That’s probably because they spend most of their time in fields and pastures and aren’t used to the bustle, Pajor said.

The other factor that affected behaviour was experience. If it wasn’t their first rodeo, the horses were much less likely to act up.

“We didn’t see a lot of attempts to escape. We didn’t see a lot of fear-related behaviours at all,” Pajor said. “The animals were pretty calm.

“The animals that had little experience were much more reactive than the animals that had lots of experience.”

There could be different reasons for that, he suggested.

“We don’t know if that’s because they’re used to the situation or whether that’s because of learned helplessness — they realize there’s nothing they can do and just give up.”

Pajor suspects the former.

“When the cowboys came near the horses, they would certainly react and you wouldn’t really see that if it was learned helplessness.”

The researchers also noted that the horses’ bucking performance, as revealed in the score from the rodeo judges, didn’t seem to be reduced by repeated appearances as it might be if the animals had become apathetic.

That doesn’t necessarily mean the horses are having a good time, said Pajor, who’s also on the Stampede’s animal welfare advisory board. There are a couple of ways of interpreting active behaviour in the chute, he said.

“An animal might be getting excited to perform. Or an animal might be having a fear response.”

“Understanding if animals like to do something is a tricky thing to do.”

Pajor knows there are different camps when it comes to rodeos and animals.

“People have very strong opinions on the use of animals for all kinds of reasons. I think no matter what we’re going to use animals for, we really need to make sure that we treat them humanely.

“My job is to do the research to understand the animals’ perspective.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 28, 2021.

— By Bob Weber in Edmonton. Follow @row1960 on Twitter

The Canadian Press

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Perseverance Seen From Space by ESA’s ExoMars Orbiter – Universe Today

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A little over a week ago (February 18th, 2021), NASA’s Perseverance rover landed in the Jezero crater on the surface of Mars. In what was truly a media circus, people from all over the world tuned to watch the live coverage of the rover landing. When Perseverance touched down, it wasn’t just the mission controllers at NASA who triumphantly jumped to their feet to cheer and applaud.

In the days that followed, the world was treated to all kinds of media that showed the surface of Mars and the descent. The most recent comes from the Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO), which is part of the ESA-Roscosmos ExoMars program. From its vantage point, high above the Martian skies, the TGO caught sight of Perseverance in the Jezero crater and acquired images that show the rover and other elements of its landing vehicle.

Since 2016, the TGO has orbited Mars and gathered vital data on the composition of its atmosphere. Specifically, TGO has been looking for traces of atmospheric methane and other gases that could be the result of geological or biological activity. These efforts are part of a larger effort to determine if life existed on Mars billions of years ago (and whether or not it still does).

Image of Perseverance and mission elements, as captured by the orbiter’s CaSSIS camera on Feb. 23rd, 2021. Credit: ESA

In addition, the orbiter has conducted other important scientific operations, like relaying data from robotic missions on the surface and acquiring images of space. On February 23rd, the TGO took advantage of its orbit to snap pictures with its Colour and Stereo Surface Imaging System (CaSSIS) that showed the Perseverance rover – as well as its parachute, heat shield, and descent stage elements – within the Jezero crater.

In the first image (above), the elements are discernible as a series of dark and bright pixels, which are indicated in the second image (below). As you can see, the descent stage and heatshield are dark spots spaced around two smaller craters while the parachute and backshell are visibly bright spots in close proximity to each other. The Perseverance rover, near the bottom center, is a relatively faint spot by a small ridge leading from one crater.

It is here that Perseverance will spend the next two years (which will likely be extended) searching for signs of past microbial life. Based on its features, which include a preserved river delta and clay-rich sedimentary deposits, the Jezero crater is known to have hosted a standing body of water billions of years ago. For this reason, it was selected as the landing site for the mission, since it is believed to be a good place to find evidence of past life.

Perseverance will also conduct an ambitious and unprecedented operation, where it will collect samples of Martian rocks and soil and set them aside in a cache. These will be returned to Earth by a separate ESA-NASA Mars Sample Return mission that will consist of a lander, a rover (to retrieve the samples), and small launcher (for launching them to orbit). Once there, an orbiter will pick them up and bring them home for analysis.

Close-up of the images taken by the TGO of Perseverance and mission elements in the Jezero crater. Credit: ESA

The ExoMars TGO also provided a significant amount of assistance for the Perseverance rover during its landing, such as data relay services. Videos of the landing, as well as imagery and sound recordings, were captured by instruments aboard the rover’s Entry, Descent, and Landing (EDL) vehicle. These were sent back to Earth with the assistance of the TGO, as well as NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO).

The orbiter will continue to provide data relay support between Earth and Mars for future missions to the surface, particularly the the next ExoMars mission. Known as ExoMars 2022, this mission will launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome on Sept. 20th, 2022, and arrive at the Red Planet by June 10th, 2023. It will consist of the Russian Kazachok surface platform and the Rosalind Franklin rover.

Meanwhile, the Trace Gas Orbiter will continue to orbit Mars and conduct its own science operations, focusing on the analysis of Mars’ atmosphere and the search for gases that point the way towards past (or present) life. Recently, the orbiter detected traces of hydrogen chloride gas leaving the planet’s atmosphere, indicating that this salt exists on the surface which made it to orbit.

On Earth, this process has been observed with sodium chloride salts, where salt water evaporates from our oceans and is pushed into the upper atmosphere by strong winds. The TGO has also monitored water vapor leaving the Martian atmosphere and escaping to space. Together, these findings have provided new clues as to where the abundant surface water Mars had billions of years ago escaped to.

Orbital picture of the Jezero crater, showing its fossil river delta. Credit: NASA/JPL/JHUAPL/MSSS/BROWN UNIVERSITY

Further Reading: ESA

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Let 'er buck: Study suggests horses learn from rodeo experience, grow calmer – CTV Toronto

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CALGARY —
Rodeo fans love the thrill of a bronc exploding into the ring, cowboy temporarily aboard. How the horse feels about it hasn’t been so clear.

Newly published research out of the University of Calgary looks at three years of roughstock events from that city’s Stampede in an attempt to peer inside the mind of an animal about to let ‘er buck.

“I try to understand the animal’s perspective,” said Ed Pajor, a professor of veterinary medicine. “We asked the question whether or not horses find participating in the rodeo to be an adversive experience or not.”

Pajor and his co-authors – Christy Goldhawk from the University of Calgary and well-known animal behaviourist Temple Grandin – studied 116 horses in bareback, novice bareback, saddle bronc and novice saddle bronc events. They looked at animals about to be loaded into a trailer and taken to the ring. They also observed how the horses behaved while in the chute waiting to be unleashed.

Horses have all kinds of ways of showing they’re unhappy, Pajor said. They might move back and forth, chew their lips, swish their tail, defecate, roll their eyes, paw the ground, toss their head, or rear up in protest.

The researchers found that the more people were around them, the more likely the horses were to show unease. That’s probably because they spend most of their time in fields and pastures and aren’t used to the bustle, Pajor said.

The other factor that affected behaviour was experience. If it wasn’t their first rodeo, the horses were much less likely to act up.

“We didn’t see a lot of attempts to escape. We didn’t see a lot of fear-related behaviours at all,” Pajor said. “The animals were pretty calm.

“The animals that had little experience were much more reactive than the animals that had lots of experience.”

There could be different reasons for that, he suggested.

“We don’t know if that’s because they’re used to the situation or whether that’s because of learned helplessness – they realize there’s nothing they can do and just give up.”

Pajor suspects the former.

“When the cowboys came near the horses, they would certainly react and you wouldn’t really see that if it was learned helplessness.”

The researchers also noted that the horses’ bucking performance, as revealed in the score from the rodeo judges, didn’t seem to be reduced by repeated appearances as it might be if the animals had become apathetic.

That doesn’t necessarily mean the horses are having a good time, said Pajor, who’s also on the Stampede’s animal welfare advisory board. There are a couple of ways of interpreting active behaviour in the chute, he said.

“An animal might be getting excited to perform. Or an animal might be having a fear response.”

“Understanding if animals like to do something is a tricky thing to do.”

Pajor knows there are different camps when it comes to rodeos and animals.

“People have very strong opinions on the use of animals for all kinds of reasons. I think no matter what we’re going to use animals for, we really need to make sure that we treat them humanely.

“My job is to do the research to understand the animals’ perspective.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 28, 2021.

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