World’s oceans continue to warm, despite reduced carbon emissions

Agencies
January 16, 2021

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Despite reductions in global carbon emissions due to the COVID-19 lockdown, the world's oceans in 2020 were the warmest in recorded history, according to a new study.

Published in the journal Advances in Atmospheric Sciences earlier this week, the study was conducted by 20 scientists from 13 institutes in China, the US and Italy, Xinhua news agency reported on Saturday.

Compared with 2019, the upper 2,000 metres of the Earth's oceans have absorbed a greater amount of heat, enough to boil 1.3 billion kettles, each containing 1.5 liters of water.

The increase in heat within the oceans is responsible for the increasing trend of record-breaking global ocean temperatures, said the study.

Cheng Lijing, lead author of the study and researcher at the Institute of Atmospheric Physics (IAP) under the Chinese Academy of Sciences, said ocean heating is a key indicator for quantifying climate change, since more than 90 per cent of global heat ends up in the oceans.

"However, due to the ocean's delayed response to global warming, the trend of ocean warming will persist for decades at least," said Cheng, explaining that the world's ocean temperatures kept rising last year, despite reports that global carbon emissions fell as people stayed indoors to prevent the virus from spreading.

The study also found that over the past eight decades, the world's oceans have been warmer in each decade than in the previous one.

The effects of ocean warming manifest in the form of more typhoons, hurricanes and extreme rainfall.

In addition to ocean temperatures, researchers involved in the study calculated the salinity of ocean water.

They found that areas of high salinity had increased in salinity, whereas the opposite was true for areas of lower salinity.

Researchers also shared data recorded by China's IAP and the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in the study.

Cheng called for more global research efforts on the subject of ocean warming.

"Any activities or agreements to address global warming must be coupled with the understanding that the oceans have already absorbed an immense amount of heat and will continue to absorb excess energy in the Earth's system."

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Agencies
February 20,2021

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California, Feb 20: Less than a day after NASA's Mars 2020 Perseverance rover successfully landed on the surface of Mars, engineers and scientists at the agency's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California were working hard, awaiting the next transmissions from Perseverance.

As data gradually came in, relayed by several spacecraft orbiting the Red Planet, the Perseverance team were relieved to see the rover's health reports, which showed everything appeared to be working as expected.

Adding to the excitement was a high-resolution image taken during the rover's landing. While NASA's Mars Curiosity rover sent back a stop-motion movie of its descent, Perseverance's cameras are intended to capture video of its touchdown and this new still image was taken from that footage, which is still being relayed to Earth and processed.

A primary objective for Perseverance's mission on Mars is astrobiology research, including the search for signs of ancient microbial life. The rover will characterize the planet's geology and past climate and be the first mission to collect and cache Martian rock and regolith, paving the way for human exploration of the Red Planet.

Moreover, in subsequent NASA missions, in cooperation with ESA (European Space Agency), will send spacecraft to Mars to collect these cached samples from the surface and return them to Earth for in-depth analysis.

Unlike with past rovers, the majority of Perseverance's cameras capture images in colour. After landing, two of the Hazard Cameras (Hazcams) captured views from the front and rear of the rover, showing one of its wheels in the Martian dirt.

Perseverance got a close-up from NASA's eye in the sky, as well: NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, which used a special high-resolution camera to capture the spacecraft sailing into Jezero Crater, with its parachute trailing behind.

The High-Resolution Camera Experiment (HiRISE) camera did the same for Curiosity in 2012. JPL leads the orbiter's mission, while the HiRISE instrument is led by the University of Arizona.

Several pyrotechnic charges are expected to fire later on Friday, releasing Perseverance's mast (the "head" of the rover) from where it is fixed on the rover's deck.

The Navigation Cameras (Navcams), which are used for driving, share space on the mast with two science cameras: the zoomable Mastcam-Z and a laser instrument called SuperCam.

The mast is scheduled to be raised Saturday, February 20, after which the Navcams are expected to take panoramas of the rover's deck and its surroundings.
In the days to come, engineers will pore over the rover's system data, updating its software and beginning to test its various instruments.

In the coming weeks, Perseverance will test its robotic arm and take its first, short drive. It will be at least one or two months until Perseverance will find a flat location to drop off Ingenuity, the mini-helicopter attached to the rover's belly, and even longer before it finally hits the road, beginning its science mission and searching for its first sample of Martian rock and sediment.

The Mars 2020 Perseverance mission is part of NASA's Moon to Mars exploration approach, which includes Artemis missions to the Moon that will help prepare for human exploration of the Red Planet.

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Agencies
February 20,2021

Image result for Perseverance rover 'doing great' on surface of Mars after landing: NASA engineer

Washington, Feb 20: The Perseverance Rover is "doing great" and successfully transmitting data back to Earth after a soft landing on the surface of Mars, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) engineers told a press conference at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California on Friday.

"The Rover is doing great on the surface of Mars and continues to be highly functional and awesome and I'm exhilarated," mission operations system manager Pauline Hwang said. "Power system is nominal. Yesterday we had three highly successful ULF relay passes. We got more Rover engineering data and imagery. We processed more camera images."

The Rover has already transmitted its first photographs to Earth, exciting scientists with its view of rocks that appear to have large numbers of small holes caused by sedimentary or volcanic processes, Hwang said. But it would be at least 60 "solar" or Martian days which are slightly longer than Earth ones before its helicopter Ingenuity would fly, she said.

"Once we get into surface flight software, we will get into the next upgrades. [The] earliest we can do helicopter flights may be till Sol 60 (60 Martian days) if we're super fast. There is still work to go to find a 'helicopter pad,' a good site for the helicopter to fly from," she said.

On Saturday, NASA engineers will check out more of the Rover's instruments and raise its communications mast, Hwang said. A primary objective for the mission is to search for signs of ancient microbial life. The Rover will also study Mars' geology and past climate and be the first mission to collect and cache the planet's rocks, NASA said.

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Agencies
February 23,2021

Nasa releases video of Perseverance rover landing on Mars | Mars | The  Guardian

Washington, Feb 23: NASA scientists on Monday unveiled first-of-a-kind home movies of last week's daredevil Mars rover landing, vividly showing its supersonic parachute inflation over the red planet and a rocket-powered hovercraft lowering the science lab on wheels to the surface.

The footage was recorded on Thursday by a series of cameras mounted at different angles of the multi-stage spacecraft as it carried the rover, named Perseverance, through the thin Martian atmosphere to a gentle touchdown inside a vast basin called Jezero Crater.

Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA associate administrator for science, called seeing the footage "the closest you can get to landing on Mars without putting on a pressure suit."

NASA also released the first audio from Mars, a faint wind sound captured by the rover.

The video montage was played for reporters tuning in to a news briefing webcast from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) near Los Angeles four days after the historic landing of the most advanced astrobiology probe ever sent to another world.

You might have seen photos from Mars, but have you seen high-speed video?

🤩 We captured our @NASAPersevere rover’s final minutes of descent and landing in a way never seen before. Take a look: https://t.co/CQQtlWAzNF pic.twitter.com/uR3dtocwLF

— NASA (@NASA) February 23, 2021

NASA also presented a brief audio clip captured by microphones on the rover after its arrival that included the murmur of a light wind gust - the first ever recorded on the fourth planet from the sun.

JPL imaging scientist Justin Maki said NASA's stationary landing craft InSight, which arrived on Mars in 2018 to study its deep interior, previously measured seismic signals on the planet that were "acoustically driven" and then "rendered as audio."

But mission deputy project manager Matt Wallace said he believed the Martian breeze represented the first ambient sound directly recorded on the surface of Mars and played back for humans.

The spacecraft's mics failed to collect useable audio during descent to the crater floor. But they did pick up a mechanical whirring from the rover after its arrival. Wallace said he hoped to record other sounds, such as the rover's wheels crunching over the surface and its robotic arm drilling for samples of Martian rock.

'The stuff of our dreams'

But it was film footage from the spacecraft's perilous, self-guided ride through Martian skies to touchdown - an interval NASA has dubbed "the seven minutes of terror" - that JPL's team found particularly striking.

"These videos, and these images are the stuff of our dreams," Al Chen, head of the descent and landing team, told reporters. JPL Director Mike Watkins said engineers spent much of the weekend "binge-watching" the footage.

The video, filmed in color at 75 frames a second, shows action in fluid, vivid motion from several angles, the first such imagery ever recorded of a spacecraft landing on another planet, Wallace said.

One of the most dramatic moments is of the red-and-white parachute being shot from a canon-like launch device into the sky above the rover as the spacecraft is hurtling toward the ground at nearly two times the speed of sound.

The chute springs upward, unfurls and fully inflates in less than two seconds, with no evidence of tangling within its 2 miles (3.2 km) of tether lines, Chen said.

A downward-pointing camera shows the heat shield falling away and a sweeping vista of the butterscotch-colored Martian terrain, appearing to shift back and forth as the spacecraft sways under the parachute.

Seconds later, an upward-pointed camera captures the rocket-powered "sky-crane" vehicle, newly jettisoned from the parachute, its thrusters firing but the propellant plumes invisible to the human eye while lowering the rover to a safe landing spot on a harness of tethers.

A separate camera shows the lowering of the six-wheeled rover from the vantage point of the sky crane, looking downward as Perseverance dangles from its cable harness just over the surface with streams of dust billowing around it at touchdown. The sky crane is then seen flying up and away from the landing site after the harness cables are cut.

A single still photo of the rover suspended from the sky crane moments before landing was released by NASA on Friday amid much fanfare as a precursor to the video shown on Monday.

The only previous moving footage produced of a spacecraft during a Mars landing was a comparatively crude video shot from beneath the previous rover, Curiosity, during its descent to the planet's surface in 2012. That stop-motion-like sequence was shot at 3.5 frames per second from a single angle that showed the ground gradually getting closer but included no images of the parachute or sky-crane maneuvers.

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