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The United Arab Emirates' Hope mission to Mars in photos –



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The UAE’s first interplanetary mission

The United Arab Emirates’ Hope mission, scheduled to launch to the Red Planet July 16, 2020 will conduct a detailed examination of the Martian atmosphere. 

Also known as the Emirates Mars Mission, Hope is an orbiter designed to spend one Martian year (two Earth years) looking at the Red Planet’s atmosphere, studying how it eroded over time until Mars no longer was able to host liquid water on the surface.

Click through this gallery to learn about why the Arab country embarked on such a bold mission, and what this will mean for the country’s science, engineering and education communities.


Mars ‘Hope’: UAE’s 1st interplanetary probe will make history
The boldest Mars missions of all time

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Engineering pride

Technicians are shown here working on the Hope mission at the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre in Dubai. 

Going to Mars was meant to spur the nation’s technology industry to great heights, and also to create a planetary science community in a region where there was practically none before the mission

This is the first time any Arab nation has attempted a Red Planet mission, and the development happened quickly as UAE leaders first considered a Mars orbiter in 2014.

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Looking at the spacecraft bus

The UAE has decided to ramp up its own spacecraft-building technologies — such as building Hope’s “bus,” or main structural component seen in this picture — to diversify the nation’s industries. 

The nation is largely built on oil revenue and is looking to create other streams of income on top of this one, and it hopes that the Mars mission would help spur technological development in other sectors, such as electronics.

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Finishing touches

The nearly complete Hope Mars orbiter undergoes checks during the final launch preparations on June 6, 2020. 

The team brought on international partners to help get the spacecraft ready efficiently, including the University of Colorado at Boulder’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics. 

The partnership benefitted from the university’s expertise on the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) mission, which is also studying the Martian atmosphere with different science questions.

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Hope is ready!

Some spacecraft engineers pose before the Hope orbiter on Feb. 18, 2020. The UAE built the spacecraft domestically, while asking for international expertise to meet their goal of performing new science at Mars with their very first mission. 

Personnel quickly embedded themselves in the international community of Mars scientists to get up to speed on the latest science and to pick what aspects of the planet were best worth studying.

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The rocket

Hope will ride a Japanese H-2A rocket to orbit, lifting off from the Tanegashima Space Center in Japan. 

This booster has already sent aloft at least one interplanetary mission — Japan’s Akatsuki spacecraft, which studied the planet Venus. Other prominent missions launched on this rocket type include Selene (aka Kaguya) that studied the moon, the Ikaros solar-sailing spacecraft, and the Hayabusa 2 mission that plans to return a sample from the asteroid Ryugu in late 2020.

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Cruising to Mars

This artist’s illustration shows the Hope orbiter making its way into space on top of the H-2A rocket. It will spend between seven and nine months traveling to Mars before arriving in orbit in May 2021 — just in time for the 50th anniversary of the founding of the United Arab Emirates. 

The satellite has a total mass, with fuel, of 3,300 lbs. (1,500 kilograms), according to NASA, and is about the size and weight of a small car. 

The spacecraft is expected to last for at least two Earth years in Mars’ orbit, but its mission can be extended to 2025 if the spacecraft remains in good health and funding is available for the mission extension.

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Complicated maneuvers in space

This illustration shows in detail all the mission steps required to get Hope into orbit around Mars. 

Shortly after launch, it will unfold its solar panels to recharge its batteries for the trip to Mars. As Hope approaches the Red Planet, it will use its star trackers to navigate and to enter the correct orbit. 

The final orbit will be a 55-hour-long, slightly elliptical path around Mars that measures roughly 12,500 by 26,700 miles (20,000 by 43,000 kilometers). At its widest, the orbit of Hope is 10 times the diameter of Mars.

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Martian instruments

There are three main instruments on the Hope orbiter:

The Emirates Mars Infrared Spectrometer (EMIRS) looks at the Martian atmosphere’s dust, ice clouds, water vapor and temperature profile. 

The Emirates Exploration Imager (EXI) will image the Martian atmosphere to look for dust, water ice and ozone abundance. 

The Emirates Mars Ultraviolet Spectrometer (EMUS) is a spectrometer that will examine changes in the atmosphere and emissions of hydrogen, oxygen and carbon monoxide, among other things.

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EMIRS closeup

This is a closeup of the Emirates Mars Infrared Spectrometer (EMIRS). 

In collaboration with Arizona State University, the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre in Dubai designed EMIRS to measure the dust, ice clouds, water vapor and temperature profile of the Martian atmosphere. These observations will add on to other missions’ work at the Red Planet and lead to a greater understanding of planetary atmospheres more generally.

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COVID-19: Alberta researcher recognized with innovation award for salt mask – Global News



Salt that crystallizes with sharp edges is the killer ingredient in the development of a reusable mask because any COVID-19 droplets that land on it would be quickly destroyed, says a researcher who is being recognized for her innovation.

Ilaria Rubino, a recent PhD graduate from the department of chemical and materials engineering at the University of Alberta, said a mostly salt and water solution that coats the first or middle layer of the mask would dissolve droplets before they can penetrate the face covering.

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As the liquid from the droplets evaporates, the salt crystals grow back as spiky weapons, damaging the bacteria or virus within five minutes, Rubino said.

“We know that after the pathogens are collected in the mask, they can survive. Our goal was to develop a technology that is able to inactivate the pathogens upon contact so that we can make the mask as effective as possible.”

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Rubino, who collaborated with a researcher at Georgia State University in Atlanta to advance the project she started five years ago, was recognized Tuesday with an innovation award from Mitacs. The Canadian not-for-profit organization receives funding from the federal government, most provinces and Yukon to honour researchers from academic institutions.

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The reusable, non-washable mask is made of a type of polypropylene, a plastic used in surgical masks, and could be safely worn and handled multiple times without being decontaminated, Rubino said.

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The idea is to replace surgical masks often worn by health-care workers who must dispose of them in a few hours, she said, adding the technology could potentially be used for N-95 respirators.

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The salt-coated mask is expected to be available commercially next year after regulatory approval. It could also be used to stop the spread of other infectious illnesses, such as influenza, Rubino said.

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Dr. Catherine Clase, an epidemiologist and associate professor of medicine at McMaster University in Hamilton, said the “exciting” technology would have multiple benefits.

Clase, who is a member of the Centre of Excellence in Protective Equipment and Materials in the engineering department at McMaster, said there wasn’t much research in personal protective equipment when Rubino began her work.

“It’s going to decrease the footprint for making and distributing and then disposing of every mask,” she said, adding that the mask could also address any supply issues.

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The Public Health Agency of Canada recently recommended homemade masks consist of at least three layers, with a middle, removable layer constructed from a non-woven, washable polypropylene fabric to improve filtration.

Conor Ruzycki, an aerosol scientist in the University of Alberta’s mechanical engineering department, said Rubino’s innovation adds to more recent research on masks as COVID-19 cases rise and shortages of face coverings in the health-care system could again become a problem.

Ruzycki, who works in a lab to evaluate infiltration efficiencies of different materials for masks and respirators, is also a member of a physician-led Alberta group Masks4Canada, which is calling for stricter pandemic measures, including a provincewide policy on mandatory masks.


© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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China Kickstarts A New Era In The Space Race –



China Kickstarts A New Era In The Space Race |


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China Space Race

In what could mark the beginning of another era of the “space race“, China has officially launched an unmanned spacecraft to the moon with plans of bringing back lunar rocks. It marks the first attempt by any nation to retrieve rocks from the moon since the 1970s. On Monday, Reuters confirmed the launch:

China’s probe, the Chang’e-5, sets off with the goal of China learning more about the moon’s origin and formation. If China succeeds, it will be only the third country to have retrieved samples from the moon – behind the U.S. and Soviet Union, according to CNN.

The goal of the mission to collect 4.5 pounds of samples in a previously untouched area called Oceanus Procellarum, or “Ocean of Storms”. The U.S. Apollo missions had previously landed 12 astronauts and brought back a total of 842 pounds of rocks and soil. The Soviet Union’s Luna missions had brought 6 ounces of samples in the 70s.

Both countries visited different areas of the moon than the Chinese aspire to visit.  

Source: CNN

James Head, a planetary scientist at Brown University, said: “The Apollo-Luna sample zone of the moon, while critical to our understanding, was undertaken in an area that comprises far less than half the lunar surface.”

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Once it’s on the moon, the probe will deploy two vehicles and a lander will drill into the ground. Samples of the moon’s surface will then lift off to another module in orbit. Eventually, they will make their way back to Earth in a return capsule. 

China has visited the moon with probes in 2013 and 2019. The country says it has plans to establish a “robotic base station” on the moon within the next decade. It plans on doing so using its Chang’e 6, Chang’e 7 and Chang’e 8 missions. 

The country has also publicly said it has aspirations of getting samples from Mars before 2030. 


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Many Canadians gaining weight during COVID-19: poll – BarrieToday



OTTAWA — A new poll suggests many Canadians are gaining weight because they’re eating more and exercising less during COVID-19 pandemic. 

Nearly one-third of respondents in the survey conducted by Leger and the Association for Canadian Studies said they have put on weight since March, compared to 15 per cent who said they lost weight over that time.

As well, about one-third of respondents said they’re exercising less, while 16 per cent said they’re working out more since the first wave of the pandemic landed in Canada in the spring.

Jack Jedwab, president of the Association for Canadian Studies, suggested that one reason may be a rush for comfort food to deal with pandemic-related anxieties.

Respondents in the survey who said they were “very afraid” of COVID-19 were more likely to report gaining weight, eating more and exercising less. 

“The more anxiety you have, the more likely it is that you know you’re eating more,” Jedwab said.

“People who are least anxious about COVID (are) the ones that are not eating more than usual and are not gaining weight.”

The online survey of 1,516 Canadians was conducted Oct. 29-31 and cannot be assigned a margin of error because internet-based polls are not considered random samples.

Dr. Yoni Freedhoff, an associate professor of family medicine at the University of Ottawa, said there are plausible reasons to connect weight gain or loss with the pandemic, but he hadn’t seen any studies to convince him that’s the case. 

Some people are “not reliant on restaurants constantly” and “cooking more frequently in their homes,” which Freedhoff said may be leading to weight loss or better dietary choices. Others are eating more, he said, relying on comfort food “because they’re anxious as a consequence of the pandemic, or the tragedies that have gone on in their lives.”

Jedwab said the country needs to also be mindful of mental health issues that can affect the physical health of Canadians. 

“With the winter coming, it’ll be even more challenging, in some parts of the country, to maintain a healthy lifestyle in terms of walking, in terms of doing basic things that will help us address our anxieties,” he said, pointing to lack of access for some to gyms subject to local lockdowns.

Some of those exercise classes have gone online. Gabriel Shaw, a kinesiologist from Victoria, B.C. said he has offered virtual classes to give his clients an chance to be physically active.

Shaw said the classes don’t provide people with a sense of community like in-person classes, which he said is important for some people to exercise consistently. 

“The best bet for people is to find a way they can enjoy it. That might be going out for a social distance walk or hike or run or bike with a friend,” Shaw said. “That might be finding a Zoom thing that you can get on like dancing or even other activities where you have friends.”

Shaw said people should also try learn a new skill like dancing, yoga, rock climbing, or take up running to keep things fresh and enjoyable, which is key to exercising long and well. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 24, 2020

This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

Maan Alhmidi, The Canadian Press

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