NASA’s Perseverance rover, its most sophisticated one yet, successfully landed on the surface of Mars on Thursday after leaving Earth at the end of July. This is the space agency’s fifth rover to land on the Red Planet, where it will participate in a nearly $3 billion, two-year mission.
The rover, roughly the size of a car, will comb the Martian surface for evidence of ancient life and collect rock, microfossil, and soil samples from Jezero Crater to be sent back to Earth by the early 2030s. The crater is the site of an ancient lake that existed 3.9 billion years ago.
Perseverance’s descent to Mars’ surface, according to NBC News, was dubbed the “seven minutes of terror” due to the complex sequence of programmed events that had to occur at specific times in order to successfully land the robotic explorer. When the rover’s touchdown was confirmed at 3:55 p.m. (EST), NASA officials in the control room at its Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California shot up from their seats with an elated uproar of cheers and clapping.
Perseverance, through its special Twitter account, posted the minute it touched down: “I’m safe on Mars. Perseverance will get you anywhere.”
Shortly after that, its account tweeted an image of the planet’s surface, saying, “Hello, world. My first look at my forever home.”
Notably, Perseverance is not the only recent visitor to Mars. Two other spacecraft launched by the China and the United Arab Emirates arrived earlier this month and entered the planet’s orbit.
On top of searching for ancient life and collecting geological samples, Perseverance will snap pictures to send back to Earth and produce the first-ever recording of sound from Mars.
But that’s not the only groundbreaking—or rather groundless—thing set to happen.
Attached to Perseverance’s belly is a revolutionary, four-pound helicopter named Ingenuity, which is set to take part in the first controlled flight on another planet. Ingenuity, Wired reported, will be test-flown later this spring.
You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.
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REPORT: China has vast network of covert police stations around the world
China has a vast network of covert police stations abroad, according to a recent report by Safeguard Defenders, an NGO that focuses on human rights violations in China and other Asian countries. These police stations serve consular functions, but are also used by China to crack down on what the CCP deems “illegal” activity of Chinese nationals abroad. The police stations include at least 38 run by the Fuzhou City police, and 22 run by the Qingtian City police. Cities housing these police stations include New York, Toronto (which has three stations), London (two), Paris (three), Buenos Aires, Rio De Janeiro, and Tokyo.
Key findings of the report are below.
“Persuaded to return”
According to China, China has “persuaded to return [to China]” 230,000 Chinese nationals living aboard from April 2021 to July 2022 alone to face charges of fraud and telecommunications fraud. A Yangxia police station set up in Mozambique, for example, persuaded a Chinese national to return to China after being accused of stealing money from his employer. Chinese authorities also put pressure on the accused family to convince the accused to surrender.
Roughly 54,000 Chinese nationals were persuaded to return from northern Myanmar alone, in the first nine months of 2021. In July 2022, the government of Wenchang City warned that its citizens living in northern Myanmar must check in with their local police stations or face multiple penalties including blocking their children from attending urban schools back in China. Similarly, in February 2022, the government of Liayang City stated that Chinese “illegally staying” in northern Myanmar must return or the bank accounts of their immediate family members could be frozen.
The Nine Forbidden Countries
China has claimed that nine countries contain serious levels of fraud and telecom fraud perpetrated by Chinese nationals. Since November 2021, China has declared that Chinese citizens living in these nine countries must return to China immediately unless they have an “emergency reason” or a “strict necessity” to travel or stay in those countries. Those countries are: Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, the UAE, and Turkey. However, the report questions whether these countries are truly awash in such fraud, as most of China’s oversees police stations are in the West, and only one of the nine countries (Cambodia) has such a police station. Chinese staying in the nine forbidden countries, as well as threats to family members as stated above, creates a “guilt-by-association” atmosphere intended to repatriate the Chinese nationals.
According to the report, Chinese police stations abroad serve to bypass “bilateral extradition treaties or other mechanisms of judicial cooperation” to cooperate with CCP-linked NGOs which effectively “[sets] up an alternative policing and judicial system within third countries.” Instead of using international judicial cooperation, which establishes due process, the presumption of innocence, and the right to a fair trial, China uses the above “persuade-to-return” methods and transnational police stations to circumvent international law and coerce Chinese nationals to return to China for trials. These policies show the power of China’s long-arm oppression over its own subjects.
You can follow Steve Postal on Twitter @HebraicMosaic
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