By Claire Ward and Nathan Honest

Perseverance Brings Astronomical Success

On the 18th February 2021, NASA’s Perseverance rover touched down on the surface of Mars, becoming only the tenth spacecraft to do so successfully. The rover will help scientists understand the history of the planet’s geology and the possibility that Mars could have once supported primitive microbial life. Perseverance will also help NASA develop a system of returning samples from the planet, which is essential for the development of a manned mission. With this spectacular scientific achievement, the prospects of humans landing on Mars are looking brighter and brighter. Whilst this would likely only take place on a very limited scale at first, it is hoped that expanding the human presence on Mars will create thousands of jobs for STEM graduates across the world and lead to unprecedented global collaboration.

In the early 2000s, a British attempt at landing a spacecraft on Mars was launched. Named the Beagle 2, it was backed by prominent British public figures and artists. Unfortunately, once it touched down on the Martian surface all contact was lost. NASA later confirmed that Beagle 2 landed successfully, but the essential solar panels failed to fully deploy. Hopefully, the success of Perseverance will mean British scientists still have a role to play in the future of Martian exploration.


Gravely Good Deeds in Australia

A 12-year-old Australian girl has regularly volunteered her time to clean old gravestones for over eight years. Tj Kleeman, who was presented with Tweed Shire’s 2020 ‘Young Achiever in Community Service’ Award, originally started cleaning graves when she was just four years old to overcome her fear of ghosts. Tj claims volunteering gives her “a great feeling” and has encouraged her peers to join her. When interviewed, she said: “You can do this too. It doesn’t have to be at a cemetery, just to help people out and help others. I want everyone to feel how great it is.”

Tj’s mum has noted that she pays particular attention to those that don’t see regular visitors or have been neglected for a long time. When asked by Daily Mail Australia, Mrs Kleeman sought to reassure readers that she was not in any danger. “We don’t leave her alone in there or anything,” she said. “We’re always nearby while she spends about an hour cleaning. It makes her heart feel good.” For the future, she hopes to start a business looking after the burial sites of people who live abroad or are otherwise unable to visit.


Turtle Rescue

In Southern Texas, temperatures have been dropping drastically over the past month, with reported lows of around 4 degrees celsius. This has been causing many problems for the turtles populating nearby waters. As a cold-blooded reptile lacking in feathers of fur, turtles struggle to maintain their core body temperature without moving to a more suitable area with a warmer climate. However, if unable to move in time, the cold will cause the turtles’ movements to slow considerably, making it much more difficult for them to travel or eat.

Thankfully, a large number of Texas inhabitants have come together to help rescue the ‘stunned’ turtles who have become stuck in cold waters at severe risk of pneumonia or even death. In a bid to save these sea turtles, trailers full of the little guys have been transported to the South Padre Island convention centre where they can take refuge until the temperatures rise and they can be re-released. The executive director of the centre, Ed Caum, reported that over 3,500 sea turtles have been collected thus far.


Emotional Reunion Amidst Pandemic

Stanley and Mavis Harbour have been married for 60 years, being inseparable since their meeting in the 1950s. However, due to Covid-19 visiting restrictions at Stanley’s Care Home. Since then, Mavis has suffered a deterioration of her health causing her to need to join her husband at Lever Edge care home in Bolton. After completing a 14 day isolation period, staff filmed Mavis and Stanley’s reunion which left not a single dry eye in the room.

Stanley presented Mavis with a beautiful bouquet of flowers before treating her to a candle-lit dinner in the care home’s bar, stating that it was “like a dream” to be able to see her again. Mavis added that she “never want[s] to be away from him again. I feel lost without him”. They enjoyed a three-course meal with sparkling wine and a box of chocolates, as they embraced each other and took delight in being together again at last. Aged 83 and 81, Mavis puts the success of their long and loving marriage down to plenty of compromises and the pair certainly serve as an inspiration during this time of strains upon relationships and friendships worldwide.