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CNN10 2021-02-19

CNN 10

New NASA Mission Arrives at Mars and Attempts a Difficult Landing; Explanation of Cold-Weather Terms Like Ice Jams and Ice Pancakes; Italy's Mt. Etna Erupts

Aired February 19, 2021 - 04:00:00 ET


CARL AZUZ, CNN 10 ANCHOR: I'm Carl Azuz announcing a major scientific discovery today on CNN 10. Friday's are awesome. OK. That's a bit of fake news but NASA's newest voyage of discovery isn't. A rover that launched last July 30th was scheduled to arrive on Mars yesterday and scientists were hoping that the Perseverance mission would help them figure out if life was ever present on the red planet.

The mission's cost is $2.7 billion. It was scheduled to last two years. If all goes as planned during that time, the Perseverance rover is set to travel 15 miles studying Mars' climate and geology and collecting samples of Martian soil that could one day be brought back to Earth.

If another mission succeeds in sending a spacecraft to pick them up. But we're getting ahead of ourselves. The rover first had to undergo an extensive check out period, a kind of booting up on Mars. It had to unfold and download software. It's got to deploy a $23 million drone helicopter who's purpose is to find out if powered chopper flight is possible on Mars. And before any of that can happen, Perseverance had to make a safe landing on the red planet.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A preview of a perilous descent on the red planet after months traveling through space. It's what NASA describes as seven minutes of terror. The U.S. space agency's Perseverance mission plunges into the Martian atmosphere at over 19,000 kilometers an hour. It breaks with tremendous force lurching downwards as it endures temperatures of more than 1,000 degrees Celsius. Then it deploys a parachute and at just the right moment, it releases a rover retro rocketing towards a treacherous terrain.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It all has to happen in about seven minutes and it all has to happen autonomously.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is one of the most difficult maneuvers that we do in the space business. You know, almost 50 percent of the spacecraft that have been sent to the surface of Mars have failed and so we know we have our -- our work cut out for us.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If the daring landing succeeds, NASA's Perseverance rover will touch down at Jezero Crater. The sight of a Martian lake more than 3.5 billion years ago. There Perseverance will help prepare for human life in the future and search for ancient life from the past. It will also collect rock samples that will hopefully return to Earth for the very first time. The two year mission is unlike any other made possible by discoveries from NASA's four other rovers on Mars.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our journey has been from following the water to seeing whether this habitable to finding complex chemicals. And now we're at the advent of an entirely new phase returning samples an aspirational goal that has been with the science community for decades.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Perseverance also promises new perspectives of the red planet. The rover has microphones and 23 cameras can share sights and sounds never seen or heard before. Also along for the ride, a drone sized helicopter named Ingenuity. It will be the first to try flying on another planet. The new technology may help direct the Perseverance rover or even be a scout for future probes as NASA's latest mission to Mars charts new realms of exploration.


AZUZ: But as you heard a moment ago, getting the rover down safely is the tricky part. Mars is about 127 million miles away from Earth right now. It takes 11 minutes for radio signals to travel from Earth to Mars and the Perseverance rover landing process was set to happen over seven minutes.

That's why it had to happen autonomously without scientists manually making adjustments on its way down. Yesterday evening, NASA said that Perseverance appeared to land safely on the red planet. Various spacecraft at NASA and the European Space Agency had in orbit over Mars were set to fly over the rover and check up on its health. CNN.com will have the latest info on the mission's status.

10 Second Trivia. What is America's coldest city outside of Alaska? Grand Forks, North Dakota, Fargo, North Dakota, International Falls, Minnesota or Marquette, Michigan. Once you get outside Fairbanks, Alaska, the coldest city in the U.S. is Grand Forks, North Dakota.

A historic blast of Arctic air is finally moving out of the United States after unleashing a series of ice and snow storms across the country. For those who are ready for winter to end, the good news is that forecasters expect the jet stream to lift to the north and what that means is that millions of Americans could feel warmer temperatures by the weekend.

But the hard hit state of Texas is still reeling with many people still without electricity and/or running water following a series of deadly winter storms there and more cold, snowy weather could still be ahead for the northern Plain states, the Upper Midwest and northeast which is typical this time of year. There are some fascinating and frozen side effects to all this. Here's CNN Contributor Tyler Mauldin.


TYLER MAULDIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I'm sure you've heard all about blizzards and the polar vortex Carl but what about ice pancakes, bytes or jams.

(Inaudible) and I'm suddenly hungry too. But these are unappetizing and can cause some real serious issues during the winter. An ice jam occurs when pieces of floating ice build up and block the flow of water in rivers and streams.

In turn causing the water to back up potentially leading to flooding. For example, earlier this month the National Weather Service in Detroit had to issue a flood warning because an ice jam was causing water to flood homes and businesses which could only be broken up by the Canadian and U.S. Coast Guards.

Ice pancakes tend to only be seen in the Arctic but when the temperature drops below zero in the lower 48 for a few days, like what we're dealing with this week. Well we can see it too. It occurs when a body of water starts to form ice. Chunks of ice will bump against each other creating elliptical shaped discs with round edges giving each one a flat, round appearance hence the name, ice pancakes. Ice balls are more common than pancakes. You can actually see these every winter near shorelines of colder climates.

These form by getting caught in the crashing waves near the edge of a beach forcing them to continually spin over and over and over leading to a more spherical look. Lastly and this one is probably my favorite, ice volcanoes. Ice volcanoes form over lakes by waves forcing water or slush to erupt high in the sky through mounds of ice. It made for quite the scene last year off of Lake Michigan.


AZUZ: While we're on the subject of volcanoes, but talking about the hot kind now. Once probably the world's oldest continuously active volcano erupted this week. Mt. Etna once again put on a fireworks show in the Italian island of Sicily.

Lava fountain sprayed, magma flowed. Ash rained down on the surrounding region. There were no reports of serious injuries or damage but imagine waking up at 1 o'clock in the morning and thinking it's raining outside when what you hear is actually ash falling on your roof. That's how our friend Sean McCarthy (ph) described it. He teaches with the Department of Defense Education activity in Sicily and he sent us these pictures yesterday. Close up views of the magnificent Mt. Etna.

Super swim brothers. Kind of sounds like an underwater version of Super Mario Brothers but on the Bismarck High School boys swim team in North Dakota, 12 of the 26 athletes are brothers as in brothers. Specifically we're talking about Braxton (ph), Issac (ph), Austin (ph), Garrett (ph),

Bennett (ph), Bryce (ph), Jackson (ph), Connor (ph), Josiah (ph), Micah (ph), Blake (ph), and Max (ph). It's like cheaper by the dozen in the pool and the competitive spirits high because none of these guys wants to lose to his brother.

Does that threaten their "brotherly" love? They're still their "brother's" keeper and while the goggles might have them wondering "O, Brother Where Art Thou". They're still there to help each "Brother Bear" the "brothersome" burden of competition saying "Brother Let Me Be Your Shelter" with the "Bond of Brothers" flowing strongly through this "Band of Brothers". Oh brother. Today's shout out goes out to QSI International School of Chisinau Moldova. Thank you so much for watching and for subscribing to your You Tube channel. Have a great weekend everyone. I'm Carl Azuz for CNN.