Younger generations in Tasmania are delving into the glory days of footy when players were local heroes sporting mullets and moustaches.
Source: ABC News
Duration: 2min 35sec
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“She has hours left as first lady, but she is not the type to wander around the rooms of the White House in deep reflection of what happened, of what could have been,” said one person in touch with her. “She is Melania – she keeps the focus on what’s next.”
Another said that unlike her furious husband, “Melania is good.”
Since January 6, every day has dumped more bad news onto the President, including his historic second impeachment. But one person close to the President said it can be hard to predict what will bother him most and that even with all that was going on, he was particularly upset that Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez, Tom Hanks and other stars agreed to perform as part of Biden’s inaugural celebrations.
Donald Trump, in his days as the star of The Apprentice reality-TV show, often attended star-studded events. A believer in the power of being associated with marquee names, he hired Elton John and Billy Joel to sing at his and Melania’s wedding in 2005. But his rhetoric, hard-line immigration policy and other stances during the 2016 campaign led Hollywood to largely boycott his inauguration. Now, as Trump rages about what he describes as unfair treatment from all sides – from people he hired, from businesses he helped with his policies, from members of his own party and from celebrities – his wife shrugs and moves on.
In her seven-minute “farewell message” video, Melania Trump said she was “humbled” to serve as first lady and called it “the greatest honour of my life.” She noted “all of the people I have taken home in my heart,” including soldiers, law enforcement officials, children, mothers, caregivers and all the nurses, doctors and other healthcare professionals who have responded to the coronavirus pandemic.
She read from prepared remarks at a White House lectern and did not specifically address the Capitol riot or her husband’s role in stoking it, but she stressed her concern about violence. “Be passionate in everything you do,” she said. “But always remember that violence is never the answer and will never be justified.”
She urged Americans to “focus on what unites us,” and “to raise above what divides us, to always choose love over hatred, peace over violence and others before yourself”.
“Together, as one national family, we can continue to be the light of hope for future generations and carry on America’s legacy of rising our nation to greater heights through our spirit of courage, goodness and fate,” she said.
The video was designed in part to separate herself from the President’s pugilistic tone, according to a White House aide. Some had hoped that she would at least mention, if not welcome, incoming first lady Jill Biden, but she did not.
After she departs the White House with her husband on Wednesday, local time, she plans to duck out of the spotlight for a while, friends said. But she plans on resurrecting her Be Best campaign that focused on children’s well-being, including raising awareness of the dangers of cyberbullying and opioids and other drugs.
“She plans to continue and expand it,” said Kellyanne Conway, a former White House adviser who has stayed in touch with her. “She knows her input and influence on her legacy issues can be greater outside the White House.”
Melania Trump has been told that she will have fewer restrictions and a freer hand to do what she wants once she is no longer first lady. Paolo Zampolli, a businessman and former modelling agent who introduced Melania Knauss to Trump in the 1990s, said she is determined to grow Be Best and “continue all the work she did for children”.
The soon-to-be-former first lady also is expected to be involved in the site selection, planning and design of the Trump presidential library, which probably will be located in Florida.
Her stepdaughter Ivanka Trump also has expressed interest in the library and has bought a home in Florida. From the start of the Trump administration, Melania and Ivanka Trump clashed. Before Melania officially moved into the White House, Ivanka Trump told people that she would like the first lady’s office to be renamed the “first family’s office”. Both women also wanted to decorate the Oval Office – in very different styles – until the President stepped in and cancelled both plans.
“The library location has not even been scouted yet, but Ivanka has made her interest clear,” said one person aware of the discussions. “As usual, Melania will have to contend with the other family members.”
In addition to Barron, President Trump has three children from his first marriage – Ivanka, Don jnr and Eric – and one daughter, Tiffany, from his second marriage.
Melania Trump had hoped her husband would win in November: She campaigned for him, flying in the final days before the election to key states, including Wisconsin, where she called Trump’s first impeachment a “sham” and described Biden as a “socialist”. But while President Trump spent two months disputing the election results, his wife accepted that Biden had won.
Conway said the first lady has urged the President to end his “stop the steal” campaign that alleged voter fraud, and that Melania Trump did not support holding the January 6 rally.
“She was against the protracted challenge to the election results, especially after the results were certified,” Conway said. “I know she was against the [January 6] rally and saying things to him. I think she thought it was futile and possibly chaotic. She was the only family member who was not there.”
According to Conway, the first lady was complying with requests for record-keeping regarding items at the White House and not watching television when a mob first breached the Capitol. When she saw what was happening, she urged her husband to intervene and end the riot.
Melania Trump wants to be seen as independent from her husband, but how successful she will be at that task is unclear. Although she did not support the President’s false claims that the election was stolen from him, she has over the years backed up other highly controversial claims by her husband, including his “birther” conspiracy theory that Barack Obama was not born in the United States and therefore not a legitimate president.
The first lady also remained silent for several days after the deadly riot, then sounded absorbed with her own image at a time of national crisis in a statement she released January 11. “I find it shameful that surrounding these tragic events there has been salacious gossip, unwarranted personal attacks, and false misleading accusations on me,” she wrote, while calling for a national “healing”.
MaryAnne Borrelli, a professor of government at Connecticut College, said it is going to be difficult for the first lady to separate herself from a President impeached for inciting violence at the Capitol. “We don’t know all she has done behind the scenes,” Borelli said, but people know she did not invite Jill Biden to the White House and joined her husband in abandoning other “powerful political symbols of the transfer of power”.
Someone who has known Melania Trump for many years said people forget that she became a US citizen when she was 26. She is the first spouse of a president who did not grow up speaking English and was raised modestly in a socialist country. As an old friend said, no matter how bad some days in the White House were, it was still “a dream come true”.
“Over the last four years, my family has had the immense honour of being able to call the ‘People’s House’ our home,” Melania Trump said in a separate statement released on Monday that was aimed at raising awareness of the renovations she oversaw in the White House.
Widely criticised for focusing her efforts on the White House tennis court while people were dying in the coronavirus pandemic, this time she addressed the “devastating and unexpected loss of life” and hardship, and said that “as a result, it was with a great sensitivity to the wider national backdrop that I unveiled two long-planned projects on the White House grounds”.
Her parents, who have been a constant presence with her in the White House, also are moving to Palm Beach, Florida. While the President’s team waged legal battles alleging widespread fraud, the first lady, who has a considerable wardrobe and shoe collection, began packing shortly after the November election.
It may come as no surprise then that, according to several people who know the couple, Melania Trump is far more mentally ready for the post-presidency than her husband.
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More than 80 foreign military personnel and their family members staying at a Darwin CBD hotel are being released from quarantine over the next two days, despite concerns from an Aboriginal health group that genomic sequencing on two positive coronavirus cases detected at the hotel last week is yet to be made public.
Foreign military personnel have been in quarantine at the CBD hotel
Two cases of coronavirus were last week recorded at the hotel
Aboriginal health groups say the arrangement is exposing vulnerable Territorians
Last Wednesday, a foreign military official and the partner of another official tested positive to COVID-19 at the Darwin Travelodge, where up to 300 foreign military staff and their families were given approval by the NT’s Chief Health Officer to quarantine for 14 days.
The decision to allow the cohort to stay at the inner-city hotel, rather than at the government-managed Howard Springs quarantine facility, which is considered Australia’s ‘gold-standard’ for infection control, has previously been labelled as inexplicable by the Darwin-based Danila Dilba Aboriginal Health Service.
NT health authorities previously said the two positive cases — who were part of a batch of personnel that arrived one week ago — had been relocated to Royal Darwin Hospital, while 19 close contacts were taken to the Howard Springs facility to isolate as a precaution.
The Defence Department today said 83 people, including 28 foreign military officials and their families who all arrived in Darwin two weeks ago, would be heading interstate for training programs over the next two days after completing their mandatory 14 days of quarantine.
Another 181 people, including 67 officials and their families, remain in quarantine, and will exit the hotel between January 25 and February 1.
Defence has previously stated that all personnel and family members at the Travelodge are subject to strict conditions, including the need to have a negative COVID-19 result before being released.
But on Monday, Associate Professor John Boffa, a spokesperson for the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance Northern Territory (AMSANT), said it would be a serious mistake to release any of the foreign military personnel before health authorities know which variant of the virus had been recorded within the Travelodge.
“[The genomic testing] was going to take six days to come back. I don’t think it is back yet. It has not been made public if it is.
“If it is one of the more infectious variants of the virus … it can spread beyond what you think to be the primary contacts in a quarantine facility, particularly if part of the facility that is being used is the indoor high-rise section of the facility rather than the open-air rooms.”
The ABC has asked NT Health whether genomic sequencing from the two positive cases has been completed.
Last week, the Queensland Government announced guests quarantining at the Hotel Grand Chancellor, where six cases of the mutant UK strain of the virus were recorded, would have their quarantine stays extended despite some guests already completing 14 days of quarantine.
“That’s what we should potentially be doing here,” Dr Boffa said.
“You can’t assume with one of the more infectious variants that the traditional method of just going with primary contacts is sufficient.”
CBD quarantine ‘ludicrous’: AMSANT
Dr Boffa added his voice to the growing chorus of criticism from organisations like Danila Dilba and the NT Branch of the Australian Medical Association regarding military personnel quarantining in a CBD hotel rather than Howard Springs.
“It’s ludicrous, it makes no sense that this exemption is given. It’s the position of AMSANT and other leading Aboriginal organisations in the Northern Territory that this is not good enough,” he said.
“We’ve got Howard Springs, it is the state-of-the-art national quarantine facility. The staff there have had immense training.
“It’s a risk that we shouldn’t have taken in the first place exempting these people to be in the facility.”
The Department of Defence has previously stated that the Howard Springs facility was not being used to accommodate military personnel to free up space in the facility in case of an emergency.
However Dr Boffa said that logic made little sense when one weighed up the risk of infection spread.
“Of course, there has to be planning for major disasters and there has been a lot of planning around that scenario, but remember Howard Springs has the capacity of 3,000 people and it is not operating at anywhere near full capacity,” he said.
“In the event there is such a disaster by all means you have to move people, and in that situation you might move significant people en masse to somewhere like the Travelodge. But you don’t pre-empt that, you actually start with the best facility.”
NT the ‘greatest risk-taking jurisdiction’
Pointing to the quarantine arrangements for foreign military and what he described as a trigger-happy attitude towards revoking domestic hotspots, Dr Boffa said the NT had become Australia’s most exposed jurisdiction to coronavirus.
Last week AMSANT released a statement labelling the NT Government’s revocation of the majority of its Greater Sydney hotspot, despite most other jurisdictions maintaining tighter restrictions on Greater Sydney, as “not consistent with reasonable public health practice”.
“We think a systemic pattern has emerged where the NT now is the greatest risk-taking jurisdiction in the country, even though we have the most vulnerable population, and we are the least ready to deal with an outbreak,” Dr Boffa said on Monday.
At the time of last week’s revocation, the NT’s Chief Health Officer, Dr Hugh Heggie, said he would continue to review and assess the health situation across NSW and a hotspot could be declared “at any time if required”.
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The festivities surrounding Joe Biden’s inauguration are set to officially begin Saturday, with a concert celebrating “diversity,” followed by another four days packed with anti-Trump Hollywood celebrities, including Eva Longoria, Kerry Washington, John Legend, Kal Penn, and Debra Messing.
Biden’s chosen theme for his inauguration is “America United,” though the roster of artistic talent, which includes Lady Gaga singing the national anthem, represents some of Hollywood’s most left-wing voices. Many of the events will be virtual in keeping with COVID-19 safety protocols.
On Saturday, the celebration will officially kick off with “America United: An Inauguration Welcome Event Celebrating America’s Changemakers.” The inauguration committee said the concert will “celebrate America, reflect and honor our history, and highlight the incredible diversity of the nation.” It will feature appearances by anti-Trump celebrities Whoopi Goldberg, Netflix’s Atypical actor Nik Dodani, actress Cristela Alonzo, and actor Darren Criss.
Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY) and Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms (D) will also participate.
The Resistance Revival Choir is set to perform during the concert. As its name suggests, the ensemble, which consists of female and gender “non-binary” singers, was founded in opposition to President Trump. Also set to perform is the Grammy-nominated band Black Pumas.
Other concerts leading up to inauguration day include “United We Serve,” which will honor the National Day of Service, on January 18, and feature appearances by Diane Warren, Lynn Whitfield and Bebe Winans; and a nationwide COVID-19-themed memorial event on January 19.
Eva Longoria and Kerry Washington will serve as hosts for the Inauguration Day telecast, while Bruce Springsteen, the Foo Fighters, and John Legend are also set to appear. Later in the day, Tom Hanks will host a primetime telecast titled “Celebrating America” that will air on the three major broadcast networks and cable channels including CNN and MSNBC.
As Breitbart News reported, Debra Messing will co-host a pre-inauguration fundraising event on Sunday with actor Keegan-Michael Key. It will feature performances by Carole King, Will.I.AM, James Taylor, Fall Out Boy, Michael Bivins, Ben Harper and AJR.
Messing has promoted physical violence against President Donald Trump, saying in a tweet that she hopes the president gets raped in prison. Twitter hasn’t penalized the Hollywood actress, who comment appears to violate the platform’s terms of service.
Another inauguration fundraiser set for Friday will feature cast members from the TV series The West Wing, Scandal, and Designated Survivor. Actor and former Obama staffer Kal Penn will host the event.
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If you measure a coach’s success by the achievement of their players, then Chris Layland is a winner.
Like all top sporting officials, Layland, 57, operates as though the game is in his DNA – and perhaps it is.
What is certain is the man known as the “coach’s coach,” who was named 2020 Northern NSW Coach of the Year, has been signed by the Lismore Thistles to lead their Premier League team for the 2021 season.
Layland said he’s both saddened and elated with the move, which was in part caused by the pandemic.
“After nearly four years at Byron Bay, the realities of COVID-19 made me decide to move out to my mango farm at Kyogle and I did so with a really heavy heart,” he said,
“But my next thought, after sorting my health, was to a football fix.
“Years ago, probably 15, I coached at Thistles and they were my first choice to coach a club near to home.”
Layland said knowing some of the players and club officials was also a deciding factor.
“I’m excited and proud to join Lismore Thistles,” said Layland.
“Thistles used to be a really great club many years ago and I’d like to be part of the team which helps them return to the days of glory.”
Layland’s pedigree includes coaching in Northern NSW for nearly two decades, including leading Byron Bay Football Club to many victories as both their Summer Youth League head coach and their Technical Director, plus collecting 16 trophies through his implementation of the club’s High Performance Program.
He also was a Brisbane Roar Academy coach.
Layland holds an FFA B Licence, and he is an FFA Coaching Course Presenter.
He was instrumental in securing many players a trial with clubs, including Western Sydney Wanderers and Sydney Olympic.
Layland helped FFNC Golden Boot winner Sam Shepherd sign with Wanderers, a decision vindicated when the latter won an U20 championship with the A-League club.
“I urge all players who would like to join us at Thistles to give me a call on 0403 926 132,” Layland said.
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House Dems are briefed about THREE more plots to attack the Capitol in the next few days – including the ‘largest armed protest to take place on American soil’ – as FBI warns of armed protests in ALL 50 states
Capitol police have briefed House Democrats on three more plots to attack the US Capitol over the coming days, as the as FBI warns of armed protests in ALL 50 states if Trump is removed before Inauguration Day.
The chilling new threats to the seat of US democracy not a week after the deadly attack by a MAGA mob killed five, was delivered during a private call and described potentially ‘the largest armed protest ever to take place on American soil’.
The second attack is billed as beginning as a protest in honor of Ashlie Babbitt, the Air Force veteran shot dead inside the Capitol on Wednesday while trying to sneak inside the Speaker’s Lobby.
With Joe Biden’s inauguration fast approaching in nine days, Washington, DC, and cities around the US are bracing for violent protests similar to that which left five people dead at the Capitol last week. Pictured: Members of the New York National Guard line up on the East Front of the Capitol on Monday morning
The third and most terrifying plot involves a MAGA crowd forming a permineter around the Capitol, the White House and Supreme Court and blocking or killing any Democrats trying to enter.
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India legend Sunil Gavaskar has stepped up his attack on Tim Paine, declaring the wicketkeeper’s behaviour on the final day of the Sydney Test was unbefitting of a leader and that his “days as captain are numbered”.
Tim Paine’s on-field banter with India’s Ravichandran Ashwin turned personal during the dying overs of the third Test
Gavaskar said the verbals were “uneccessary” and “ridiculous”
Paine and stand-in Indian skipper Ajinkya Rahane said there was “no harm done” by the interchange, as long as it stayed on the field
Paine’s antics on day five of the third Test, and those of some teammates, made headlines around the world, after an epic draw at the SCG.
Stump microphones picked up some barbs that Australia’s skipper, who has helped turn around the team’s image after the Cape Town cheating scandal, directed at India veteran Ravichandran Ashwin during the 122nd over of the stonewall.
The conversation started as friendly banter, with Paine telling Ashwin, “I can’t wait for you to get to the Gabba”, referring to the fourth Test in Brisbane, where Australia has not lost since 1988.
The Indian veteran responded: “Just like we want to get you to India. It’ll be your last series.”
Paine then replied, “at least my teammates like me, dickhead”, and boasted of having “more Indian friends than you do”.
“Even your teammates think you’re a goose. Don’t they? Every one of them,” he told Ashwin.
He also mocked Ashwin by asking: “How many IPL teams wanted you, when you asked every single one of them to have you?”
Paine dropped a catch during the following over, while Ashwin dragged his side to a draw despite having a sore back.
The comments came after Paine had dropped three catches and been fined 15 per cent of his match fee after being found guilty of dissent, having appealed to standing umpire Paul Wilson for some “f***ing consistency” during the game.
The Australian skipper fronted an unscheduled media conference on Tuesday morning to apologise, saying he was bitterly disappointed with the way he had behaved during the Test.
“I felt I had a really poor game in terms of my leadership and I think that affected our team,” he said.
“If you behave like I did during this Test match and then perform like that, you open yourself up to criticism, so I was fully expecting it and I’m happy to cop that on the chin.”
But the 36-year-old insisted he had given no thought of giving up the captaincy in order to focus on his wicketkeeping.
“No not at all — I think once you can sit down and understand what went wrong and how it went wrong things are pretty easy to fix,” he said.
“I think if you pretend that yesterday was OK and that my behaviour and wicketkeeping was OK then you’ve probably got a problem but I’ve said a few times in the last six months, I feel like I’m actually getting better as a cricketer.”
Cricket world reacts to sledging
Gavaskar slammed Paine for his “unnecessary” verbals.
“He certainly is no captain in my view,” he told ABC Sport.
“He has been unimpressive, and the frustration boiled over in trying to talk to Ashwin and say things to him, which was completely unnecessary.
“In trying to upset Ashwin’s concentration, his own concentration was upset when he went for a catch.”
The former opener, whose name adorns the trophy on the line during the fourth Test that starts on Friday, was even more critical while analysing Paine’s poor finish to the tense Test for India Today.
“I am not an Australian selector but his days as captain are numbered,” he said.
Former England captain Michael Vaughan also hit out at Paine’s language behind the stumps, saying the sledging was “back to the old days”.
Vaughan’s former England teammate Darren Gough said the Australians’ behaviour was “embarrassing”.
“Australia was supposed to have got everything in order with Tim Paine. They’ve given him a knighthood, basically, because what he’s done to this Australian team is made them grow up,” Gough told UK radio station TalkSport.
“Well, they’re just dropping back into that zone. They’ve got to keep an eye on this.”
After the game, Paine had defended his byplay with Ashwin, saying it was a case of “no harm done”.
Stand-in India captain Ajinkya Rahane was also not concerned, saying “as long as it stays on the field”.
Steve Smith also draws criticism
Matthew Wade’s sledging and Steve Smith marking Rishabh Pant’s batting guard during a drinks break went down poorly in India and England.
Former India batsman Virender Sehwag shared a video to Twitter showing Smith’s actions, saying he had “tried all the tricks”.
“This is very, very poor,” former England captain Michael Vaughan said on Twitter of the Smith incident.
Former England bowler Gough said Smith’s actions were “plain cheating”.
“He [Smith] had showed us these tears and sorrow for using sandpaper on the ball. He was the captain who was responsible for it because he was the leader,” Gough told TalkSport.
“Well now, in the break in play in between overs, he’s going around dancing around scuffing up the pitch and rubbing out with his spikes the batsman’s marker.
“That was totally out of order.”
But Paine said there was nothing out of order, it was just one of the star batsman’s quirks.
“Steve is actually quite upset about it, the reaction,” said Paine.
“If you’ve watched Steve Smith play Test cricket that’s something that he does every single game, five or six times a day — he’s always standing in the batting crease shadow batting.
“There’s no way in the world that he was trying to change Rishabh Pant’s guard or anything like that — it’s just one of Smithy’s things that he does.”
But given the reaction, Paine concedes Smith may need to think twice about doing it in the future.
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The Trump administration has re-designated Cuba as a “state sponsor of terrorism” – hitting the country with new sanctions just days before Joe Biden takes office.
Barack Obama had removed the communist island from the list in 2015, in what was regarded as one of his biggest foreign policy achievements – helping to restore diplomatic ties between Washington and Havana.
But Donald Trump was a vocal critic of the rapprochement during his 2016 presidential campaign. Over the course of his four years in office, the president has sought to reinstate many of the sanctions that were eased or rolled back by Mr Obama.
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2016: History Of US-Cuba relations
The Trump administration has been highly critical of Cuba for supporting Venezuelan leader Nicolas Maduro – and has also suggested that the country may have been behind alleged attacks that left dozens of American diplomats with brain injuries.
Cuba, whose current president is Miguel Diaz-Canel, has repeatedly refused to turn over US fugitives who have been granted asylum – including an American woman who fled to the country after escaping a New Jersey prison, where she was serving a life sentence for the murder of a state trooper.
Many US allies no longer believe that Cuba remains a sponsor of international terrorism.
The new sanctions reinstated by Mr Trump mean that most travel from the US to Cuba will be banned, and the transfer of money between the two countries will be heavily restricted.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said: “With this action, we will once again hold Cuba’s government accountable and send a clear message – the Castro regime must end its support for international terrorism and subversion of US justice.”
Some experts within Trump’s administration have questioned whether the decision to add Cuba to the terrorism list – which also features Iran, North Korea and Syria – was justified.
This is the latest 11th-hour policy to be announced by the Trump administration. An official representing president-elect Joe Biden said: “We’ve taken note of the last-minute manoeuvres. The transition team is reviewing each one.”
Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy also criticised the move, adding: “Domestic terrorism in the United States poses a far greater threat to Americans.”
During the election campaign, Mr Biden has said he would quickly reverse Mr Trump’s policies on Cuba as they “have inflicted harm on the Cuban people and done nothing to advance democracy and human rights”.
But this may be easier said than done. Emilio Morales, president of the Miami-based Havana Consulting Group, has warned unwinding such measures would take at least a year – and Mr Biden may not be willing to invest this sort of political capital.
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Today, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is expected to move towards impeaching Donald Trump claiming he incited an insurrection on the Capitol last week.
Last Wednesday, a violent mob of Trump supporters rampaged through the most hallowed institution of American democracy, the US Capitol, storming into the debating chamber and sending politicians into hiding and ransacking offices. Just minutes before, Congress was formally confirming President-elect Joe Biden’s win. Today, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is expected to move towards impeaching Donald Trump claiming he incited an insurrection on the Capitol last week.
Clips: ITV News, MSNBC
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The US space agency (Nasa) is about to put its latest rover, Perseverance, on Mars. But we shouldn’t forget that the existing robot, Curiosity, is still there and working well following its landing in equatorial Gale Crater back in 2012. Curiosity celebrates 3,000 Martian days, or Sols, on the surface of the Red Planet on Tuesday. The Mission Science Team has collected together a series of pictures that record some of the rover’s major achievements.
When we got these images down in June 2018 it was a big relief for the team, even though it was a rather dusty time on Mars. That’s because it marked the restart of drilling operations by the rover. “Duluth” was the first rock sample successfully drilled (see centre of the image for the drill hole) since October 2016. A mechanical issue had taken the drill offline. By June 2018, a new technique had been planned and tested by the JPL engineers, letting us get back to the crucial drilling, without which our work had been held back.
Twice every Martian year, near the seasonal equinoxes, the paths of the Martian moons Phobos and Deimos cross in front of the Sun as seen by Curiosity. This animation shows the 22km diameter Phobos in transit across the sun on Sol 2359. The transit lasted about 35 seconds. The precise timing of transits measured in observations like this helps scientists understand the tidal interactions between Phobos and Mars.
The tiny amount of water vapour in the thin atmosphere of Mars can form clouds, especially in the cooler times of year and around high peaks. Curiosity has observed thin clouds overhead many times in its mission. But on Sol 2410, it was able to observe a special kind of cloud that forms at very high altitudes, in this case about 31km above the surface. These clouds are called “noctilucent” because they remain illuminated by the sun even after sunset has occurred at the surface.
This stunning panorama is the highest-resolution panorama (1.8 billion pixels) yet of the Martian surface and was taken in late 2019 at Glen Torridon. Because preparing such panoramas takes numerous photographs (there are over 1,000 telephoto images in this mosaic) over many days’ work, we don’t often have a chance to produce them. We had been studying the clay-rich rocks in Glen Torridon and named it after an important area of ancient sediments in Scotland.
On Sol 2784 Curiosity paused to capture a family portrait of Earth and its planetary neighbours. The foreground shows a cliff on Mars; while in the sky, one can see both Venus and Earth appearing like stars in the dusty evening sky.
In the summer of 2020, Curiosity’s science team began driving the rover toward a new and higher region on Mount Sharp where it will explore rocks rich in sulphate minerals. Because Mount Sharp was formed as layers of sediment were deposited by water and wind, the rocks get younger with height. The sulphate minerals in this region may have formed because Mars went from wetter conditions—good for forming clay minerals—to drier conditions that could leave salts such as sulphates behind.
On Sol 2696, Curiosity completed its steepest drive of the mission as it ascended the sandy slope below the Greenheugh pediment, a broad flat surface capped by a sandstone layer. The rover took these images on Sol 2729 as it looked across the layered sandstones and back over the Glen Torridon region below.
We all know Mars as the Red Planet, we see that in the night sky. However, as our drill tailings gallery shows, once we drill just a small depth in to the interior, Mars can be very different. We have drilled successfully 29 times now and the sediments show a range of hues from ochre-red to blue-grey reflecting the minerals and fluids that passed through the ancient rocks. Drilling allows us to get through the top most, oxidized surface that has been most exposed to cosmic radiation.
Curiosity in isolation at Edinburgh. Here we snapped the Curiosity rover with the HiRISE camera on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. Each of the pixels is about 25cm, so we can pick out the rover quite nicely in the centre of the field of view. We had just completed a drill at a site we named Edinburgh. Because of the lockdown an even greater proportion of rover operations was being done by staff working from home. But after eight Earth years, more than three Martian years and 29 drill holes – all is still working pretty well.
The HiRISE image covers a region called Greenheugh pediment, part of the lower slopes of Mount Sharp which we will be slowly driving up over the next three years of an extended mission. It’s in this next part of the mission that we expect to find a different sort of ancient environment to the earlier parts of the mission, with lots of sulphate minerals.
With no rain in the current climate, dust accumulates on the surface of Mars. Winds energized by the Sun’s heating of the ground can form large and well-formed whirlwinds known as vortices. They mostly are invisible, but when a strong vortex drifts over a dusty surface, dust is lifted into it and reveals its shape. This animation was shot over four minutes on Sol 2847 and captured a “dust devil” vortex at a distance of one-half to one km from the rover. The dust devil is about 5m wide and at least 50m tall.
Curiosity took its latest “selfie” on Sol 2922 to celebrate the successful drilling of three holes on the rock slab in front of it. The first two holes were named after Mary Anning, the 19th Century palaeontologist whose findings in the seaside cliffs of southwest England contributed to the understanding of prehistoric marine life on Earth. Material from these holes was used for two “wet chemistry” experiments, in which it was mixed with liquid chemicals to extract organic molecules that may be preserved in the rock. Rocks at this site formed from sediment carried in ancient streams and lakes. The wet environment and the presence of organic molecules in several rocks studied by Curiosity suggest that ancient Mars was habitable, capable of supporting life, if it ever took hold. The third hole was drilled to study dark nodules visible in the corner of the slab.
A Martian day, or Sol, lasts 24 hours and 39 minutes. The 3,000th Sol of the Curiosity mission is marked on 12 January. The robot landed on the planet on 6 August 2012.
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