by Ryder Beeler
Touchdown! On February 18, 2021, the Perseverance Rover landed on Mars as millions of people watched the event all around the world. As I watched the landing, I was reminded of the time when I was seven years old. A friend of my parents, Ms. Jules Lee, worked for Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) as a navigational engineer and she invited us to JPL for a visit and private tour. We saw the premises and even visited Mission Control, as well as what is known as the Clean Room. Engineers dressed in full body protective suits, caps, shoe coverings, gloves, and face masks that prevent even the smallest piece of dust or hair ruining sensitive instruments were working on a $2 billion spacecraft named Perseverance, which was set to launch some time in the next decade. And here we are: Perseverance got launched, successfully landed, and is already exploring Mars!
The Perseverance expedition has been widely covered in the news, but there are some aspects about Perseverance and Ingenuity that the public may not know about. I was honored to reconnect with our family’s friend, Jules Lee, who is one of the navigational engineers at JPL in Pasadena. I interviewed her and am very happy to be able to share some information with regards to the mission.
The main purpose of the mission is to see if there have been living organisms on the planet in the past or if they still exist in the present. Perseverance was stationed at Jezero Crater since it used to be a lake filled with water, which is required for life. It will take samples of the rocks in the ground, which will be stored in the rover until brought back to Earth. Once back, the samples will be tested for any water or remains of previously living organisms. Ingenuity will then be flying around the area surrounding the rover doing weather reports. Ingenuity is in its operations demo phase and is the first helicopter on Mars. Here is some further information from NASA on Ingenuity: https://www.nasa.gov/feature/jpl/6-things-to-know-about-nasas-ingenuity-mars-helicopter
As you now know, Perseverance and Ingenuity are the two main components of a rover program that were sent to Mars. However, did you know how Perseverance is linked to the next major mission or that the whole mission itself is much older than you think? Mrs. Lee stated that the Perseverance will play a major role in NASA’s next mission. The mission, which is not yet named, will be responsible for bringing the samples that Perseverance is currently collecting back to Earth. These samples will be used to determine if there was, or better yet now is, life on Mars. Perseverance didn’t just start in 2015 when it began to be built. The simple idea for the Perseverance was developed around the late 1990’s – early 2000’s. Approximately 15 years later, it had gained full attention from NASA and the build commenced. A little after that, the route for Perseverance was plotted, the spot of landing was chosen, and after the physical completion, multiple checks took place to ensure that the rover was in perfect condition.
In addition to some of the better known details, there are also some that do not receive as much coverage in the news: for instance, the fact that the United States wasn’t the only country involved in Perseverance. The mission was not just funded by and constructed solely here. Other space programs have contributed financial and material resources to the program where NASA / JPL would trade items and materials with space programs abroad, like Centro de Astrobiologia Instituto Nacional de Tecnica Aeroespacial in Spain and Forsvarets Forskningsinstitutt in Norway. Secondly, communication between Earth and the rover sometimes faces serious challenges. Signals can be intercepted by a piece of space debris or a space rock. And this is particularly stressful for all the engineers at Mission Control during what is called “the seven minutes of terror,” which refers to the entry, descent and landing (EDL) phase of the rover. This is such an anxious time because events take place much quicker than the radio signals can reach Earth from Mars for communication. Rovers communicate with Earth directly, but with Perseverance, communication did not get turned on for a month or so, until all of its diagnostics and checkouts were done. The Mars orbiters, Odyssey, MRO and MAVEN, helped out relaying telemetry engineering data in near real time during Perseverance’s EDL on February 18th. For further information on NASA’s Mars Program, check out their website: https://mars.nasa.gov/#mars_exploration_program/1
When I think back to the day that I visited JPL Mission Control and witnessed the engineers’ work on NASA’s next project, I had no idea that this would be the Perseverance as we know it now. Perseverance is currently exploring a planet 190.09 million miles from Earth. We can expect the next mission to launch within a decade. How exciting it will be to witness another interplanetary touchdown!Read More
By Ava-Ray P.
The Science Academy hosted guest speaker Kenny D. from Tree People to talk about composting at home for our February 19th STEM Talk. There was great interest in the subject amongst the student body because of the ways composting can not only help create rich soil, but can be used to recycle food scraps and yard waste, thereby reducing landfill usage and the creation of greenhouse gases. Below is a summary on the topics covered during the STEM Talk as well as where you can get materials to start composting yourself.
First of all, what is composting? Composting is a mixture of various decaying organic substances, such as dead leaves or food waste, used for enriching soil. We can use composting to recycle food waste, which lessens its impact in landfills, and use it to fertilize plants to help them grow. With the right supplies and methods, you can create compost at home.
Creating compost is fairly simple. To start, you will need both “browns” and “greens”. Browns are materials like dried leaves, twigs, paper bags, torn newspaper, etc. They are the non- perishables. Greens are perishables like fruit and vegetable scraps, garden waste, etc. With a 50/50 combination of these materials, you can start composting!
You should also have the tools to start composting. The LADWP offers composting bins for you to start composting, (link) and you can get other supplies at most nurseries (link to local nursery). When you start to compost, you should layer the materials on top of each other. Starting with a first layer of twigs, and alternating layers of brown and green layers.
Composting can be surprisingly beneficial. It diverts waste away from landfills, and it adds microbes and nutrients to soil. Organic matter in landfills breaks into methane, a greenhouse gas. Sadly, 40% of the food we buy is wasted, with most of that going into landfills. If we use composting more and more, we can start to move our economy to a circular system, where we can make products, use them, and recycle/compost them to be used again.
In 1970, 51 years ago, a new tradition was formed. It was derived from a similar history week created in 1926, and is now called Black History Month. In February, African American history is celebrated during this tradition by the United States and Canada (October for the Netherlands and United Kingdom). During Black History Month, we learn about and celebrate influential individuals and events of African American history. There are many sources and lots of information you can learn; the below Google Slide presentation, created by the Book Endz library club, has interesting facts and videos on famous African Americans, highlighting Black authors, for every day of February!
Google Slide: (click on link) Black History Month Day by Day Presentation
By Desmond Devine
Although some students might be a bit sad that Winter Break is ending, the Associated Student Body of the Science Academy STEM Magnet will make sure that coming back to school is a fun experience! Each day, ASB will post an update on their Schoology Group, S.A. Student Body Outreach, containing the day’s question and a Google Form to submit an answer. Correct answers will be entered in a lottery and the winner will receive extra English credit (plus bragging rights)! The Bonus Game will continue each day until Friday, January 22nd.
The question for Tuesday, January 12th was, “What is the powerhouse of the cell?”. The answer was “The Mitochondria” and the lottery winner was Alma S. of Grade 8!
The question for Wednesday, January 13th was, “Which brain structure regulates circadian rhythms in humans?”. The answer was “Suprachiasmatic nucleus” and the winner was Ryan P. of Grade 8!
The question for Thursday, January 14th was, “What is the band of axons that connect the left and right hemispheres of the brain?”. The answer was “Corpus callosum” and the winner was Ava-Ray P. of Grade 6!
The question for Friday, January 15th was, “What are the SI units of the measure of the compactness of a substance? (Hint: “compactness”)”. The answer was “Kg/m^3” and the winner was Nikita A. of Grade 11!
The question for Tuesday, January 19th was, “Where are inverses of exponentiation not found?”. The answer was “The patterns found on a dog’s paw” and the winner was Justin K. of Grade 6!
The question for Wednesday, January 20th was, “What is the theory of psychology that argues that the emotional response of a person evokes the physiological experience?”. The winner was Alex R. of Grade 7!
The question for Thursday, January 21st was, “(v^3+4v^2-54v-85) / (v+9)”. The winner was Peter H. of Grade 11!
The question for Friday, January 22nd is, “What is the empirical formula of Fructose 2, 6 bisphosphate?”.Read More
by Hayley Yoon
Every year, on the 10th of December, we celebrate the rights of all humans, no matter their race, religion, color, gender, language, or political opinion. On this day, back in 1948, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), after the end of World War II. This document proclaimed the permanent rights that every human on the Earth was entitled to. The UDHR is the most translated document in the world, and it is available in over 500 languages. It is composed of a preamble and 30 articles, which cover the 30 universal rights and freedoms of all humans. An illustrated version of the UDHR is available here.
Unfortunately, many people in different countries of the world are suffering from their rights being neglected. Article 04 of the UDHR states that “No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.” However, it is estimated that about 40 million people are imprisoned in modern slavery, a quarter of which are children. The most common forms of modern slavery include human trafficking, debt bondage labor, forced labor, and child labor. Several organizations are currently working together to free people suffering from their stolen rights.
Human Rights Day is a perfect day to celebrate and take part in protecting our rights. There are several ways to celebrate this day, even at school or at home!
- One way is simply to spread awareness. Many people don’t know about some of their rights, or that their rights are being neglected. By writing an article in the school newspaper, posting a short message on social media, or educating your friends about their rights, you can spread awareness about this basic, yet essential topic.
- Pass a resolution, whether it be for school, a club, or just your household. You can also use this opportunity to educate your fellow students on Human Rights Day.
- Donate to a Human Rights charity! These organizations work together to protect and fight for the rights of humans. Some well known ones are Human Rights First (HRF), Human Rights Watch (HRW), or Amnesty International.
Sources UsedRead More