A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket thundered to life and streaked away from Cape Canaveral on Thursday night, boosting a Turkish communications satellite into orbit to kick off another busy year for the California rocket company.
The launching set the stage for the Monday return to Earth of an unpiloted Dragon cargo ship carrying research samples and equipment from the International Space Station and a presumed test flight by a prototype Starship upper stage from SpaceX’s Boca Chica, Texas, launch site.
Last year, SpaceX launched 26 Falcon 9 rockets, including two piloted Crew Dragon missions that ferried six astronauts to the International Space Station, two unpiloted Dragon cargo ships to the lab and 14 Starlink flights that put 833 internet relay satellites into orbit.
The company is expected to attempt 40 or more Falcon 9 flights in 2021, including another NASA Crew Dragon flight to the station and, possibly, a fully commercial flight carrying four non-NASA astronauts.
The company kicked off its 2021 launch campaign at 9:15 p.m. ET Thursday when the nine Merlin engines powering a previously flown Falcon 9 first stage roared to life at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.
Generating 1.7 million pounds of thrust, the 229-foot-tall two-stage rocket blasted off from pad 40 and climbed away to the east, knifing through a mostly clear sky and putting on a spectacular show for area residents and tourists.
The first stage, making its fourth flight, boosted the rocket out of the lower atmosphere before falling away and flying itself down to landing on a SpaceX droneship stationed several hundred miles from Cape Canaveral. It was SpaceX’s 71st successful booster recovery and its 49th on an off-shore droneship.
The second stage, meanwhile, continued the climb to space, carrying out two firings of its single engines before releasing the Turksat 5A communications satellite 33 minutes after liftoff.
The 7,500-pound relay station, built by Airbus Defense and Space for Turksat, was deployed into a highly elliptical “transfer” orbit and will use on-board plasma thrusters over the next four months to reach its operational altitude 22,300 miles above the equator.
Orbiting in lockstep with Earth’s rotation, the satellite’s 42 transponders will provide commercial broadband data relay and direct TV broadcasting services across Europe, Central Asia, the Middle East and Africa. A second satellite, Turksat 5B, is scheduled for launch later this year.
The only preserved dinosaur butthole fossil is ‘one-of-a-kind’ – ZME Science
It’s amazing how much scientists have been able to learn about the secret lives of dinosaurs, creatures that went extinct more than 65 million years ago, just by studying their fossilized remains. Obviously, there are still a lot of loose ends owed to incomplete fossil records and due to the fact that many anatomical features rarely, if not never, fossilize. This is why scientists are excited about the first truly preserved dinosaur cloacal vent, the scientific name for the terminal end of the gastrointestinal tract in birds and amphibians, aka the butthole.
But this isn’t a butthole like any other. Speaking to Live Science, Jakob Vinther, a paleontologist at the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom, said that the dinosaur cloaca he studied isn’t like that of birds. It more closely resembles that of crocodiles, with two small bulges in proximity to the cloaca which might have had musky scent glands with a possible role in courtship. However, in many respects, the dinosaur cloaca was quite unique.
The oldest cloaca in the world was found sitting in a fossil display case in the Senckenberg Natural History Museum in Frankfurt, Germany, and belonged to a beaked, dog-sized dinosaur called Psittacosaurus.
A cloaca isn’t your typical butthole. It serves as an anus, in that it is the orifice through which waste ultimately exits the body after its journey through the intestinal tract. But the orifice, whose name comes from the Latin word for ‘sewer’, also plays a role in copulation and the extrusion of offspring or eggs.
The fossilized orifice was flattened over millions of years until it was unearthed from a basin in China decades ago. While working on a different study, Vinther was shocked to find that Psittacosaurus‘ posterior was intact after all these years and immediately enlisted colleagues to reconstruct it in 3-D. His team includes Robert Nicholls, a paleoartist, and Diane Kelly, a biologist at the University of Massachusetts Amherst who specializes in the evolution of genitalia.
To reconstruct the dinosaur cloaca, the team had to study hundreds of preserved rear ends, from amphibians to chickens. Judging from these references and the fossils at their disposal, the researchers believe that Psittacosaurus‘ cloaca was flanked by a pair of dark-colored flaps of skin, which seems to be different from any living group known to science.
It’s exceedingly rare to find dinosaur soft tissue, so it’s no surprise that the cloaca’s interior couldn’t be analyzed. But if the dinosaur’s posterior was anything like that of crocodiles, its cloaca likely housed a penis or clitoris.
And fitting enough, the cloaca fossil was found next to a fossilized lump of feces, suggesting that the dinosaur was defecating when it suddenly succumbed and its fossils became locked in time. “It’s quite nice to find it, right near where it’s supposed to come out,” Vinther told The New York Times.
The findings were described in the journal Current Biology.
St. Mary's General Hospital announces investigation of possible COVID-19 outbreak – CTV Toronto
St. Mary’s General Hospital is investigating what may be a COVID-19 outbreak on the hospital’s seventh floor.
The investigation began after officials confirmed a case in an inpatient who may have contracted the virus at the hospital. A press release was issued on Tuesday announcing the news.
The seventh floor was closed to new admissions while investigated. All inpatients were scheduled to be swabbed on Tuesday and droplet contact precautions were put in effect.
Contact tracing was also underway on Tuesday. Hospital officials said they would contact anyone needing testing as a result.
The hospital temporarily suspended care partner visits due to the possible outbreak, with two exceptions for end-of-life patients and in situations where there “could be a marked improvement in a patient’s condition with a visit.”
Care partner visits are already limited to one hour every seven days at the hospital, a policy that changed because of Ontario’s provincial lockdown.
If the hospital declares an official outbreak, it will be the second active one at St. Mary’s and the fourth active hospital outbreak in region.
There are currently two active outbreaks at Grand River Hospital and one at St. Mary’s, in the 3 East Unit. As of Tuesday afternoon there were 48 active outbreaks in the region.
St. Mary's investigating potential COVID-19 outbreak – KitchenerToday.com
St. Mary’s General Hospital is investigating a potential COVID-19 outbreak.
It pertains to the seventh floor after a current inpatient tested positive for the virus.
St. Mary’s has taken several precautions including closing the floor to new admissions, and conducting contact tracing as well as thorough testing.
Care Partner visits are temporarily suspended, with exceptions for when a patient is at end of life, or if the care team “finds there could be a marked improvement in a patient’s condition with a visit.”
The hospital says efforts will be made to enhance virtual and phone visits as well.
There is currently a confirmed COVID-19 outbreak in St. Mary’s 3 East Unit.
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