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Perseverance Mars rover wind sensor damaged by pebbles, but still operational – Space.com

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Mars can be an awfully windy place, it turns out.

The Perseverance rover touched down on the Red Planet in February 2021 carrying, among other instruments, a weather station dubbed Mars Environmental Dynamics Analyzer (MEDA). That instrument includes two wind sensors that measure speed and direction, among several other sensors that provide weather metrics such as humidity, radiation and air temperature.

Pebbles carried aloft by strong Red Planet gusts recently damaged one of the wind sensors, but MEDA can still keep track of wind at its landing area in Jezero Crater, albeit with decreased sensitivity, José Antonio Rodriguez Manfredi, principal investigator of MEDA, told Space.com.

Related: 1 year later, Ingenuity helicopter still going strong on Mars

“Right now, the sensor is diminished in its capabilities, but it still provides speed and direction magnitudes,” Rodriguez Manfredi, a scientist at the Spanish Astrobiology Center in Madrid, wrote in an e-mail. “The whole team is now re-tuning the retrieval procedure to get more accuracy from the undamaged detector readings.”

The two approximately ruler-sized wind sensors on Perseverance are encircled by six individual detectors that aim to give accurate readings from any direction, according to materials (opens in new tab) from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, which manages the rover.

Each of the two main wind sensors is attached to a boom that can unfold to move the sensors away from the rover as it drives, because the car-sized Perseverance does affect wind currents by its own movements through the thin Martian atmosphere, JPL officials stated.

The Perseverance rover deploys one of its wind sensors on the Mars Environmental Dynamics Analyzer (MEDA) during practice activities on Earth in 2019. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Like all instruments on Perseverance, the wind sensor was designed with redundancy and protection in mind, Rodriguez Manfredi noted. “But of course, there is a limit to everything.”

And for an instrument like MEDA, the limit is more challenging, since the sensors must be exposed to environmental conditions in order to record wind parameters. But when stronger-than-anticipated winds lifted larger pebbles than expected, the combination resulted in damage to some of the detector elements.

“Neither the predictions nor the experience we had from previous missions foresaw such strong winds, nor so much loose material of that nature,” Rodriguez Manfredi said. (He is also principal investigator of another temperature and wind sensor on the NASA InSight lander, on the Red Planet since November 2018 and expected to end its mission this year.)

He added it was was ironic that the sensors were damaged by wind, or “precisely by what we went looking for.”

Related stories:

Perseverance landed on Mars on Feb. 18, 2021, and, along with a helicopter called Ingenuity, is exploring an ancient river delta that may have been rich in microbes billions of years ago.

Besides measuring wind, weather and rock composition, the rover is picking up the most promising material to cache for a future sample return-mission aiming to send samples to Earth in the 2030s.

Follow Elizabeth Howell on Twitter @howellspace (opens in new tab). Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom (opens in new tab) or Facebook. 

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Red Deer-area boy discovers ancient shark's tooth in his yard – Red Deer Advocate

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A dinosaur-loving Red Deer-area boy found a 60 million-year-old fossilized shark tooth — right in his own front yard.

Max Maurizio, 7, was exploring gravel near his house on an acreage southeast of Red Deer on Monday, when he spotted something that didn’t look like other rocks. It was sharp at one end and about an inch and a half long.

“He came running into the house saying, ‘I found a tooth! I found a tooth!” recalled his mom, Carly Maurizio.

At first, Max’s parents assumed it came from one of their cats. But Carly carefully examined it and decided, “‘it looks pretty old…”

Intrigued by Max’s discovery, his dad, Claudio Maurizio, emailed a photo of the tooth to the world-renowned Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology in Drumheller.

On Tuesday, an emailed response arrived from the museum. The photo had been passed on to Dr. Don Brinkman, an expert on fossil fish and turtles.

Brinkman believes the fossilized tooth very likely belonged to the genus Scapanorhynchus — a type of extinct ancient shark with an elongated snout, whose closest living relative is the goblin shark.

“That is an interesting find,” stated Brinkman in the email.

Scapanorhynchus reached a length of about three metres and was a fully marine animal, “so it is a little unusual getting it in the Red Deer area. However, I have seen a tooth of this genus from exposures of the Horseshoe Canyon Formation in the Tolman Bridge area,” east of Trochu, wrote Brinkman.

He noted rocks around Red Deer are from the Paskapoo Formation and are about 60 million years old.

From 100 million to 66 million years ago, the Prairies were covered by a warm inland sea. Scientists believe this Western Interior Seaway extended 3,000 km, from the Arctic Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico, was 1,000 km wide and 700 metres deep.

The ancient water body contained a wide array of life, including sharks, bony fish, marine reptiles, birds, snails, ammonites and other mollusks.

The Maurizio family appreciates the information the museum provided on the tooth.

Max is particularly thrilled by his find and wants to become a paleontologist someday, said Carly.

Claudio noted his son is always noticing things that other people don’t. Once, before heading on a nature walk with his grandfather in Ontario, Max predicted he would find a bone — and sure enough, he did discover a small piece of wild animal bone, recalled his father.

Since Max has always been fascinated by dinosaurs, the whole family, including younger brother Meyer, regularly camp at Drumheller and visit the museum at least once a year, said Carly.

“Even when we go on little hikes or regular walks, Max is always looking down at the ground, looking for fossils… It’s quite remarkable that they can be found literally anywhere, even in your own yard,” she added.



lmichelin@reddeeradvocate.com

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Here’s a close up of the ancient shark’s tooth Max Maurizio, age seven, found in his Red Deer County yard. (Contributed photo).

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This solar storm strike on Earth triggered a Mysterious phenomenon called ‘STEVE’ – HT Tech

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On August 7 and 8, an unexpected solar storm event on Earth displayed a mysterious and rare sky phenomenon called STEVE or Strong Thermal Emission Velocity Enhancement. What is it and how can it affect us? Find out.

We have always associated solar storms with aurora displays, damage to man-made satellites, radio blackouts and GPS disruptions, but it turns out that solar storms can trigger more mysterious phenomenons than that. The August 7 and 8 solar storm, which came as a surprise, caused a strange space phenomenon that left even the scientists puzzled. Many reported seeing a bright stream of light across the sky which was not like any aurora even seen. The question that arises now is what was that stunning light and can it affect us somehow?

The event was first reported by SpaceWeather.com which noted on its website, “During yesterday’s surprise geomagnetic storm, hot ribbons of plasma flowed through Earth’s magnetosphere. The name of this phenomenon is ‘STEVE’ — short for Strong Thermal Emission Velocity Enhancement. It was also sighted in Montana and Pennsylvania”.

The mysterious phenomenon to be born out of a solar storm is called STEVE

STEVE was seen in many locations in the higher latitudes of the northern hemisphere and reportedly lasted about 40 minutes to an hour. While not much is known about these purple streams of light, we do know some facts about it.

STEVE is a very recent discovery. It was first observed in 2017 by citizen scientists and aurora hunters in northern Canada, according to Live Science. The purple glow is formed due to excessively hot (more than 3000 degrees Celsius) gas ribbons that move through the magnetosphere of the Earth. These gas ribbons typically move much faster than the air surrounding it and when it comes in contact with the radiation of solar storms, it gives out a band of glowing color. These are different from auroras because they are not caused by solar radiations colliding with atoms of oxygen and nitrogen through a process called refraction.

While this is still a superficial understanding of the chemical and physical activities that are taking place to cause this strange phenomenon, it does make for a stunning view across the sky. As for whether it can affect us, so far no evidence shows that these light displays are in any way harmful for us or the planet.

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Meteor Showers Taking Place Thursday and Friday Night – NorfolkToday.ca

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A meteor shower you won’t want to miss.

Gary Boyle, The Backyard Astronomer, tells us we are currently passing through the dusty debris of Comet 109P/Swift-Tuttle.


It last appeared in 1992, and will return again in 2125.

He said the shower is lasting all night long, but 2 a.m. would be the time to see the most meteor.

The Backyard Astronomer suggested keeping an eye out for other things in the sky, as well.

Boyle added the next large shower will be in mid-December, but this one might be a little warmer to sit outside and watch.

Written by Ashley Taylor

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