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NASA Mars satellite shifts course to avoid hitting planet’s moon

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A NASA science satellite orbiting Mars was forced to make a rare evasive maneuver to avoid a collision next week with one of the planet’s two small moons, the U.S. space agency said on Thursday.

Flight controllers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, commanded the MAVEN spacecraft, which is studying Mars’ vanishing atmosphere, to fire up its engine on Tuesday to boost its speed by about 1.3 feet per second (0.4 meters per second).

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The acceleration was necessary to slightly shift MAVEN’s orbit and steer the satellite clear of the Martian moon Phobos, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration said in a statement.

Without the tweak, MAVEN and the small, lumpy moon would have reached the same point in space within seven seconds of one another next Monday, March 6. In its new orbit, MAVEN will miss Phobos by about 2-1/2 minutes, NASA said.

MAVEN is in an egg-shaped orbit that regularly crosses the paths of other science satellites and of Phobos, which circles just 6,000 miles (9,656 km) above the Martian surface, closer than any other known moon to a planet in the solar system. At that distance, Phobos whips around Mars three times a day.

Flight controllers regularly monitor MAVEN’s path for potential collisions. Tuesday’s evasive action was the first time MAVEN had to dodge the potato-shaped Phobos, which measures about 10 by 14 miles by 11 miles (16 by 22.5 by 18 km).

MAVEN, short for Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution, reached the red planet in September 2014.

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(Editing by Steve Gorman and Sandra Maler)


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Controversial Contractors for Trump’s highly-criticized $3 billion food aid program hire lobbyist to tout their work

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Companies receiving taxpayer dollars as part of President Donald Trump’s signature food aid program hired a longtime lobbyist to push back on criticism that the government is relying on unqualified contractors, such as an event planner.

“We’re working to take the stories of the impact this is having on farmers, processors, distributors and end users and making sure some positive aspects of the program, from both the economic and social standpoints, are out there too,” said the lobbyist and industry consultant, Dale Apley, who reached out to ProPublica on behalf of the contractors. “It’s not all just certain stories about certain companies that maybe shouldn’t have been awarded contracts.”

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Ivanka Trump ‘urged’ Trump’s Bible photo-op — which could become a ‘defining moment’ of his presidency: NYT

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First daughter and senior White House advisor Ivanka Trump "urged" her father to take part in a controversial photo-op with a Bible according to a new report from The New York Times.

"After a weekend of protests that led all the way to his own front yard and forced him to briefly retreat to a bunker beneath the White House, President Trump arrived in the Oval Office on Monday agitated over the television images, annoyed that anyone would think he was hiding and eager for action," the newspaper reported.

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The psychology of protesters — and the psychology of people who hate them

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It is hard to imagine that anyone who watched the horrific video of George Floyd being asphyxiated by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin would come away feeling empathy for the police force that stood by and let it happen. And yet, amid the biggest coordinated civil rights protests in the United States since 1968, there are many voices out there who find excuses to defend cops like Derek Chauvin, who is now facing charges of third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
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