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SpaceX launches U.S. spy satellite; Falcon 9 first stage returns – UPI.com

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ORLANDO, Fla., Dec. 19 (UPI) — SpaceX launched the company’s second spy satellite mission for the U.S. government Saturday morning.

The Falcon 9 rocket lifted off at 9 a.m. EST from Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The payload fairing separated about 2 1/2 minutes after liftoff.

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The reusable Falcon 9 rocket landed at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station about 8 1/2 minutes after liftoff — the fifth time for this particular booster and the 70th time for a Falcon 9 to date.

SpaceX aborted a previous launch attempt Thursday due to a slightly high pressure reading in an upper stage liquid oxygen tank on the rocket. The countdown stopped at 1 minute, 53 seconds before launch.

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Andy Tran, a SpaceX avionics production supervisor, said during a live broadcast Thursday that the rocket and the payload were in good condition despite the abort.

The company’s first launch of a U.S. spy satellite, NROL-76, was in May 2017 for the National Reconnaissance Office, which is part of the Department of Defense. Most such missions have been conducted in recent years by United Launch Alliance.

The government says very little about classified missions such as the launch on Sunday, except that the rocket is carrying a “national security payload designed, built and operated by the agency … to provide intelligence data to the United States’ senior policymakers, intelligence agencies and the defense department.”

SpaceX’s live stream of Sunday’s launch didn’t include footage of the satellite’s deployment due to its classified nature.

The National Reconnaissance Office’s mission is to provide information for intelligence requirements, research and development, and to assist in emergency and disaster relief.

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The only preserved dinosaur butthole fossil is ‘one-of-a-kind’ – ZME Science

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Psittacosaurus may have used its ‘unique’ butthole for signaling during courtship, besides its primary obvious purpose. Credit: Bob Nicholls/Paleocreations.com 2020.

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.

The fossilized vent, top, and the authors’ reconstruction of it. Credit…J. Vinther, R. Nicholls and D. Kelly, Current Biology 2021

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.

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St. Mary's General Hospital announces investigation of possible COVID-19 outbreak – CTV Toronto

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KITCHENER —
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.

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St. Mary's investigating potential COVID-19 outbreak – KitchenerToday.com

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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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