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Perseverance gets its robotic hand on a sample that’s out of this world



Earth receives its first piece of mars after NASA’s rover successfully drills a hole into brief-case-sized rock “Rochette”.

This sample tube contains a piece of rock from planet Mars

NASA’s Perseverance Rover gets its first taste of mars, after collecting a sample of Martian rock from the core of Jezero Crater yesterday.

The sample which is slightly thicker than a pencil was detected after controllers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Southern California received data from the space-age device.

Now enclosed in a titanium sample tube, NASA is working with the European Space Agency to return the sample back to earth for further studies in what will be a world first.

Bill Nelson, NASA Administrator says the discovery comes as a win for the agency.

“NASA has a history of setting ambitious goals and then accomplishing them, reflecting our nation’s commitment to discovery and innovation,” Nelson says.

“This is a momentous achievement and I can’t wait to see the incredible discoveries produced by Perseverance and our team.”

Breaking down the process

The process to obtain the sample is nothing short of out of this world.

The Martian rock was obtained after Perseverance’s robotic arm drilled into “brief-case-sized rock” coined “Rochette”, with mission controllers watching the process through a camera.

A series of photos were also taken before the sample was safely tucked away in the rover’s cargo.

Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for science at NASA Headquarters in Washington, says this moment is truly historic for NASA.

“Just as the Apollo Moon missions demonstrated the enduring scientific value of returning samples…we will be doing the same with the samples Perseverance collects as part of our Mars Sample Return program,” Zurbuchen says.

“Using the most sophisticated science instruments on Earth, we expect jaw-dropping discoveries across a broad set of science areas, including exploration into the question of whether life once existed on Mars.”

Perseverance’s key mission is to study astrobiology on mars, particularly looking for signs of life.

The planet’s climate, geology and past climate will also be assessed as NASA paves the way for human exploration on the Red Planet.

For further updates

NASA will hold a virtual meeting addressing the media on Friday to provide an update on the rover’s process and sampling procedures.

The event will be livestreamed on NASA Television, the NASA app, the agency’s website, and multiple agency social media platforms.

Written by Rebecca Borg

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Spotify’s 2023 Rewind: tunes, trends, triumphs



In a musical culmination of the year, Spotify has released its ‘2023 Wrapped,’ encapsulating the year’s sonic journey in a playlist.

The streaming giant showcases the UK’s top tunes, unveiling the artists who dominated playlists and the tracks that defined the year. From rising stars to established icons, the playlist mirrors the eclectic tastes of the nation.

Listeners can now relive the highs and lows of the past year through a curated collection of songs that became the soundtrack to their lives. The data-driven insights reveal not just the most-played songs but also the emergence of new genres and the impact of cultural phenomena on music preferences.

As the ‘2023 Wrapped’ takes the spotlight, users are engaging in a nostalgic exploration of their music habits, sharing their personal playlists on social media. The annual tradition sparks conversations about the year’s defining moments, creating a sense of community around shared musical experiences.

In a musical showdown of epic proportions, Taylor Swift and Miley Cyrus have emerged as the undisputed queens of the Spotify realm in 2023. As users eagerly unwrap their personalised Spotify Wrapped summaries, it’s evident that Swift’s enchanting melodies and Cyrus’s dynamic tunes have dominated the streaming landscape throughout the year.

Swift, known for her poetic lyrics and genre-spanning talent, continues to capture the hearts of listeners globally, securing her spot as the most-streamed artist of 2023. Meanwhile, Miley Cyrus, with her bold and eclectic style, has claimed a formidable position as the second most-streamed artist, proving her enduring popularity.

The rivalry between these two powerhouse performers has added an extra layer of excitement to this year’s Spotify Wrapped experience. Fans, avidly comparing their Wrapped summaries, have ignited debates over the merits of Swift’s timeless ballads versus Cyrus’s energetic anthems.

As the year draws to a close, it’s clear that Taylor Swift and Miley Cyrus have not only defined the musical landscape but have also solidified their places in the hearts of millions of Spotify users worldwide.

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Tech titans to face US Senate grilling on child safety



Top executives from Meta, X, TikTok, Snap, and Discord are set to appear before the United States Senate to address concerns regarding child safety on their platforms.


The CEOs, including Mark Zuckerberg of Meta, will face rigorous questioning about the efficacy of current safety measures and the steps being taken to protect young users from harmful content and online predators.

The Senate hearing comes amid growing apprehension over the impact of social media on the well-being of children and teenagers. Lawmakers are expected to scrutinise the platforms’ policies on content moderation, data privacy, and the use of algorithms that may expose minors to inappropriate or harmful material.

This high-profile event marks a significant moment for the technology industry, as legislators seek to hold these companies accountable for their role in shaping the digital experiences of young users. The outcome of the hearing could potentially influence future regulations aimed at safeguarding the online environment for children.

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Holiday season brings uptick of online scams



Staying safe online is crucial, especially during the festive season when online shopping activity tends to increase. Here are some simple steps to help users stay safe online:




  1. Use Strong Passwords:
    • Create unique and strong passwords for each online account.
    • Include a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols.
    • Avoid using easily guessable information, such as birthdays or names.
  2. Enable Two-Factor Authentication (2FA):
    • Enable 2FA whenever possible to add an extra layer of security to your accounts.
    • This usually involves receiving a code on your mobile device in addition to entering your password.
  3. Keep Software and Devices Updated:
    • Regularly update your operating system, browsers, antivirus software, and any other applications to patch vulnerabilities.
    • Enable automatic updates when available.
  4. Shop from Secure Websites:
    • Look for “https://” in the website URL and a padlock icon in the address bar, indicating a secure connection.
    • Avoid making purchases on websites that don’t have these security indicators.
  5. Be Wary of Phishing Attempts:
    • Avoid clicking on suspicious links in emails, messages, or pop-ups.
    • Verify the legitimacy of the website by directly typing the URL into the address bar.
  6. Check for Website Reviews:
    • Before making a purchase, check online reviews and ratings for the website and the specific product.
    • Be cautious if a website has a high number of negative reviews or seems untrustworthy.
  7. Monitor Bank Statements:
    • Regularly check your bank and credit card statements for any unauthorized transactions.
    • Report any suspicious activity to your bank immediately.
  8. Use Credit Cards for Online Purchases:
    • Credit cards often provide better fraud protection than debit cards.
    • Consider using virtual credit card numbers or third-party payment services for added security.
  9. Limit Personal Information Sharing:
    • Be cautious about sharing personal information online, especially on social media.
    • Adjust privacy settings to control who can see your personal details.
  10. Log Out of Accounts:
    • Always log out of your accounts, especially on shared or public computers.
    • Use password-protected devices to prevent unauthorized access.
  11. Educate Yourself about Scams:
    • Stay informed about common online scams and tactics used by cybercriminals.
    • Be skeptical of unsolicited emails or messages requesting personal information.
  12. Use a VPN for Added Privacy:
    • Consider using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) when connecting to public Wi-Fi networks to encrypt your internet connection.
  13. Regularly Back Up Your Data:
    • Back up important data regularly to prevent loss in case of a security breach or device failure.
  14. Teach Safe Online Practices to Children:
    • If you have children using the internet, educate them about online safety and the risks associated with sharing personal information.

By following these simple steps, users can enhance their online safety and enjoy a secure shopping experience during the festive season and beyond.

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