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NASA’s Mars Perseverance Rover provides front-row seat to landing, first audio recording of Red Planet

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New Delhi [India], February 23 (ANI): New video from NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance rover chronicles major milestones during the final minutes of its entry, descent, and landing (EDL) on the Red Planet on Feb. 18 as the spacecraft plummeted, parachuted and rocketed toward the surface of Mars. A microphone on the rover also has provided the first audio recording of sounds from Mars.
From the moment of parachute inflation, the camera system covers the entirety of the descent process, showing some of the rover’s intense ride to Mars’ Jezero Crater. The footage from high-definition cameras aboard the spacecraft starts 7 miles (11 kilometers) above the surface, showing the supersonic deployment of the most massive parachute ever sent to another world, and ends with the rover’s touchdown in the crater.
A microphone attached to the rover did not collect usable data during the descent, but the commercial off-the-shelf device survived the highly dynamic descent to the surface and obtained sounds from Jezero Crater on Feb. 20. About 10 seconds into the 60-second recording, a Martian breeze is audible for a few seconds, as are mechanical sounds of the rover operating on the surface.
“For those who wonder how you land on Mars or why it is so difficult or how cool it would be to do so, you need look no further,” said acting NASA Administrator Steve Jurczyk. “Perseverance is just getting started, and already has provided some of the most iconic visuals in space exploration history. It reinforces the remarkable level of engineering and precision that is required to build and fly a vehicle to the Red Planet.”
Also released Monday was the mission’s first panorama of the rover’s landing location, taken by the two Navigation Cameras located on its mast. The six-wheeled robotic astrobiologist, the fifth rover the agency has landed on Mars, currently is undergoing an extensive checkout of all its systems and instruments.
“This video of Perseverance’s descent is the closest you can get to landing on Mars without putting on a pressure suit,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA associate administrator for science. “It should become mandatory viewing for young women and men who not only want to explore other worlds and build the spacecraft that will take them there, but also want to be part of the diverse teams achieving all the audacious goals in our future.”
The world’s most intimate view of a Mars landing begins about 230 seconds after the spacecraft entered the Red Planet’s upper atmosphere at 12,500 mph (20,100 kph). The video opens in black, with the camera lens still covered within the parachute compartment. Within less than a second, the spacecraft’s parachute deploys and transforms from a compressed 18-by-26 inch (46-by-66 centimeter) cylinder of nylon, Technora, and Kevlar into a fully inflated 70.5-foot-wide (21.5-meter-wide) canopy – the largest ever sent to Mars. The tens of thousands of pounds of force that the parachute generates in such a short period stresses both the parachute and the vehicle.
“Now we finally have a front-row view to what we call ‘the seven minutes of terror’ while landing on Mars,” said Michael Watkins, director of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, which manages the mission for the agency. “From the explosive opening of the parachute to the landing rockets’ plume sending dust and debris flying at touchdown, it’s absolutely awe-inspiring.”
The video also captures the heat shield dropping away after protecting Perseverance from scorching temperatures during its entry into the Martian atmosphere. The downward view from the rover sways gently like a pendulum as the descent stage, with Perseverance attached, hangs from the back shell and parachute. The Martian landscape quickly pitches as the descent stage – the rover’s free-flying “jetpack,” which decelerates using rocket engines and then lowers the rover on cables to the surface – breaks free, its eight thrusters engaging to put distance between it and the now-discarded back shell and the parachute.
Then, 80 seconds and 7,000 feet (2,130 meters) later, the cameras capture the descent stage performing the sky crane maneuver over the landing site – the plume of its rocket engines kicking up dust and small rocks that have likely been in place for billions of years.
“We put the EDL camera system onto the spacecraft not only for the opportunity to gain a better understanding of our spacecraft’s performance during entry, descent, and landing, but also because we wanted to take the public along for the ride of a lifetime – landing on the surface of Mars,” said Dave Gruel, lead engineer for Mars 2020 Perseverance’s EDL camera and microphone subsystem at JPL. “We know the public is fascinated with Mars exploration, so we added the EDL Cam microphone to the vehicle because we hoped it could enhance the experience, especially for visually-impaired space fans, and engage and inspire people around the world.”
The footage ends with Perseverance’s aluminum wheels making contact with the surface at 1.61 mph (2.6 kilometers per second), and then pyrotechnically fired blades sever the cables connecting it to the still-hovering descent stage. The descent stage then climbs and accelerates away in the preplanned flyaway maneuver.
“If this were an old Western movie, I’d say the descent stage was our hero riding slowly into the setting Sun, but the heroes are actually back here on Earth,” said Matt Wallace, Mars 2020 Perseverance deputy project manager at JPL. “I’ve been waiting 25 years for the opportunity to see a spacecraft land on Mars. It was worth the wait. Being able to share this with the world is a great moment for our team.”
Five commercial off-the-shelf cameras located on three different spacecraft components collected the imagery. Two cameras on the back shell, which encapsulated the rover on its journey, took pictures of the parachute inflating. A camera on the descent stage provided a downward view – including the top of the rover – while two on the rover chassis offered both upward and downward perspectives.
The rover team continues its initial inspection of Perseverance’s systems and its immediate surroundings. Monday, the team will check out five of the rover’s seven instruments and take the first weather observations with the Mars Environmental Dynamics Analyzer instrument. In the coming days, a 360-degree panorama of Jezero by the Mastcam-Z should be transmitted down, providing the highest resolution look at the road ahead. (ANI)

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Parliament adjourned till 2 pm after uproar by Opposition over fuel prices

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New Delhi [India], March 9 (ANI): Both Houses of Parliament were adjourned till 2 pm on Tuesday following continued ruckus by the Opposition over the rise of fuel prices.
Earlier today, both Houses of Parliament were adjourned till 12 noon following constant disturbance by the Opposition over the rising fuel prices in the country.
While commencing the Rajya Sabha session, Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman Harivansh said: “During the remaining part of the Budget session, members will be seated in Rajya Sabha chambers and its gallery only, with some physical distancing. 142 seats have been made available in Rajya Sabha chamber and remaining members to sit in the gallery.”
The decision to revise the timing of both Houses was announced on Monday. Both Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha were operating under curtailed hours of timing and social distancing norms amid COVID-19 induced norms.
Earlier, the Rajya Sabha was scheduled to function from 9 am to 2 pm while Lok Sabha was scheduled to function between 4 pm to 10 pm.
The second part of the Budget session of Parliament commenced from Monday with all COVID-19 precautionary measures in place. (ANI)

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Budget session: Giriraj Singh takes dig at Rahul Gandhi over fisheries ministry remark

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New Delhi [India], March 9 (ANI): Union Minister Giriraj Singh on Tuesday said that he doesn’t know if Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s memory failed when he made a remark on the country having no separate fisheries ministry.
“I am hurt. Rahul Gandhi had asked a question on February 2. But in Puducherry and Kochi, he said that there is no fisheries department, I don’t know if his memory failed him. ‘I will form a separate ministry when we come to power’, Gandhi had said. Whose question was this?” said Giriraj — Minister of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying of India — while speaking in the Lok Sabha.
After Gandhi’s gaffe in Puducherry on February 17 calling for the setting up of a separate ministry for fisheries, Giriraj had taken to Twitter to take a swipe at the Congress leader’s “ignorance” and attempt to “spread misinformation”.
“Caro Raul (@RahulGandhi), Non esiste un Ministero della pesca separato in Italia. Viene sotto Ministero delle Politiche Agricole e Forestali. politicheagricole.it” (There is no separate Ministry of Fisheries in Italy. It comes under the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry),” Giriraj had tweeted.
Gandhi, who was in Puducherry that day to kickstart the Congress’ election campaign, had addressed the fishing community and spoke about the ongoing farmers’ protest.
“The government passed three bills against farmers, the backbone of a nation. You must be wondering why am I talking about farmers at the meeting of fishermen. I consider you to be farmers of the sea. If farmers of the land can have a ministry in Delhi, then why is that farmers of the sea don’t have the same?” Gandhi had asked.
“The current government is attacking small and medium businesses because they want all businesses to be controlled by big corporations. Our view is different. We want to strengthen small and medium businesses because we believe that’s the strength of this country,” the Congress leader had said.
After this remark from Gandhi, Giriraj — in a tweet in Hindi — had also said, “Rahul ji! You should know that on May 31, 2019, Modi ji created a new ministry. And started the Rs 20050 cr Master Plan (PMMSY) which is several times more than the central government’s expenditure from independence to 2014 (3682 cr).”
“Rahul Ji! I request you to come to the new fisheries ministry or call me where I come. Let me tell you about the schemes being run by the new Fisheries Ministry all over the country and Puducherry,” he had said in another tweet. (ANI)

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Brief breather for Uttarakhand CM, crisis in state BJP still not over

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Dehradun (Uttarakhand) [India], March 9 (ANI): Uttarakhand Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat left Delhi for Dehradun on Tuesday but sources in the Bharatiya Janata Party indicated that the crisis in the state unit is still not over.
However, the party officially maintained that there was no crisis in the state unit.
“There is no crisis in the BJP and Chief Minister Rawat is working well in the state. There are no corruption charges against him, so what is the need to change the Chief Minister?” BJP General Secretary, incharge of the state, Dushyant Gautam told ANI.
Sources in the party’s Central leadership, however, are yet to confirm that Rawat will continue to lead the government.
Currently, the BJP is trying to calm the rebellion within the state unit. The Cabinet is also likely to be reshuffled soon.
While speaking to ANI, Gautam did accept that there is some discomfort within the party, but he called this normal as it “happens during an election year”. He added that meetings had been held and a conclusion would be reached soon.
“Process as far as the change of guard is concerned, is being hyped by media. We have completed four years in government and due to the welfare policies of this government, we continue to enjoy the trust of the people,” he added.
Though Gautam says there is no problem in the government, sources strongly indicated that the crisis is not yet over. If rebels don’t calm down after the Cabinet reshuffle, the BJP is not likely to project Rawat as the Chief Ministerial face for the upcoming state Assembly polls scheduled for 2022.
When asked about this, Gautam said, “We fight the election on collective leadership. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is the only face of the party.”
Earlier, amid speculations about a leadership change, Rawat met BJP President JP Nadda at the latter’s residence in the national capital on Monday night. (ANI)

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Urdu Bulletin: Parliament ruckus, Batla House verdict extensively reported

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New Delhi [India], March 9 (ANI): Urdu newspapers published from New Delhi on Tuesday prominently reported the ruckus in Parliament over rising fuel prices and the Batla House encounter case update.
Rashtriya Sahara: “Echo in Parliament over rising fuel prices, Opposition creates ruckus” was the top headline of the newspaper.
The newspaper reported extensively about the first day of the second phase of the budget session. Members of the Opposition Party repeated raised slogans against rising fuel prices in the country, due to which the session was delayed by two hours.
Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge on Monday said the Congress would continue its protest demanding discussion on a hike in fuel prices in Parliament.
The newspaper also reported about the verdict in the Batla House Encounter Case, where hours after the conviction of accused Ariz Khan by a Delhi court, his lawyer MS Khan said he will challenge the judgment in a superior court. Khan is allegedly associated with the terror outfit Indian Mujahideen. He was arrested by the Special Cell of Delhi Police after a decade of allegedly being on the run.
Hindustan Express: The second phase of the Budget session made top headlines in this publication as well. “Uproar against increase in prices of petroleum products”, the headline read.
This newspaper also reported the news of the conviction of Ariz Khan in the Batla House encounter case. (ANI)

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In a first, sanitary napkin vending machine installed at Delhi’s RK Puram police station

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New Delhi [India], March 9 (ANI): A sanitary napkin vending machine has been installed at New Delhi’s RK Puram Police Station, making it the first police station in the national capital to have such a provision.
On the occasion of International Women’s Day on Monday, an NGO Sangini Saheli installed the vending machine at the police station.
Priyal Bhardwaj, who heads Sangini Saheli, while elaborating on the NGO’s work, said: “Our NGO works on the menstrual hygiene front. We supplied 12.5 lakhs of sanitary napkins all over India during the COVID-19 crisis. Bureaucrats volunteered to help us reach many villages”.
“This is Delhi’s first police station to have a sanitary napkin vending machine. The machine will be of use to the police officers, mahila karamcharis and to the public,” she added.
The inauguration function was attended by representatives of many NGOs, police officers and social workers. (ANI)

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Telangana BJP MP blames AIMIM for Bhainsa communal clashes

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Hyderabad (Telangana) [India], March 9 (ANI): Bharatiya Janata Party MP Dharmapuri Arvind has alleged that an All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) leader is responsible for the recent communal clashes that took place in the Bhainsa of Nirmal district of Telangana.
“AIMIM leader Mohammad Jabir Ahmed is the cause for communal violence in Bhainsa. They have been involved in land grabbing for a time now and when the local Hindus, whose land have been grabbed by Jabir, have been spreading the news via social media, communal violence has begun,” Arvind told ANI.
He said that there have been a series of communal clashes in Bhainsa for the last few years. “This happened only because of the inefficiency of the police department and the police department had been working under the pressure of Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) and AIMIM parties in the state.”
“Nearly 10 people were injured in the recent communal clash. Two people are seriously injured and are admitted to a private hospital in Hyderabad and are in critical condition. Among those injured, most of them hail are from a journalistic background,” he added.
He further said that the police have registered cases on 100 people, out of which 50 people are Hindus and 50 Muslims.
“A similar incident took place in January 2020 and even then most of the damage occurred to the Hindus as their houses and vehicles were destroyed and damaged,” he said.
Meanwhile, Krishank, the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) official spokesperson, said that Telangana has always been a peaceful state and people who are trying to disturb the communal harmony by hateful speeches will not be spared and strict action will be taken against them.
“Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao has always been very serious against the communal violence in the state. Strict action will be taken against the people resorting to the communal violence in the state and also those who are spreading rumours across social media and are creating disturbances in the society,” Krishank told ANI.
He also appealed to all the political parties not to make the Bhainsa communal violence a political issue.
V Hanumantha Rao, a senior Congress leader, told ANI that some of the political parties for their own political gains have been instigating people over communal issues.
“I hope that the Telangana government, along with the judiciary, takes firm action against those responsible for this violence and make sure that such incidents don’t take place again,” Rao said.
Several people were injured and few vehicles were torched in clashes that broke out between two groups in Bhainsa on Sunday, police said.
Section 144 has been imposed in Bhainsa town and an additional force of 600 police personnel and 40 officers from other districts has also been deployed in the town. (ANI)

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