California: NASA embarked on a months-long, painstaking process of bringing its newly launched James Webb Space Telescope into focus, a task due for completion in time for the revolutionary eye in the sky to begin peering into the cosmos by early summer.
Mission control engineers at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, began by sending their initial commands to tiny motors called actuators that slowly position and fine-tune the telescope's principal mirror.
Consisting of 18 hexagonal segments of gold-plated beryllium metal, the primary mirror measures 21 feet 4 inches (6.5 m) in diameter - a much larger light-collecting surface than Webb's predecessor, the 30-year-old Hubble Space Telescope.
The 18 segments, which had been folded together to fit inside the cargo bay of the rocket that carried the telescope to space, were unfurled with the rest of its structural components during a two-week period following Webb's launch on Dec. 25.
Those segments must now be detached from fasteners that held them in place for the launch and then moved forward half an inch from their original configuration - a 10-day process - before they can be aligned to form a single, unbroken, light-collecting surface.
The alignment will take an additional three months, Lee Feinberg, the Webb optical telescope element manager at Goddard, told Reuters by telephone.
Aligning the primary mirror segments to form one large mirror means each segment "is aligned to one-five-thousandth the thickness of a human hair", Feinberg said.
"All of this required us to invent things that had never been done before," such as the actuators, which were built to move incrementally at -400 Fahrenheit (-240 Celsius) in the vacuum of space, he added.
The telescope's smaller, secondary mirror, designed to direct light collected from the primary lens into Webb's camera and other instruments, must also be aligned to operate as part of a cohesive optical system.
If all goes as planned, the telescope should be ready to capture its first science images in May, which would be processed over about another month before they can be released to the public, Feinberg said.
The $9-billion telescope, described by NASA as the premier space-science observatory of the next decade, will mainly view the cosmos in the infrared spectrum, allowing it to gaze through clouds of gas and dust where stars are being born. Hubble has operated primarily at optical and ultraviolet wavelengths.
Webb is about 100 times more powerful than Hubble, enabling it to observe objects at greater distances, thus farther back in time, than Hubble or any other telescope.
Astronomers say this will bring into view a glimpse of the cosmos never previously seen - dating to just 100 million years after the Big Bang, the theoretical flashpoint that set in motion the expansion of the observable universe an estimated 13.8 billion years ago.
The telescope is an international collaboration led by NASA in partnership with the European and Canadian space agencies. Northrop Grumman Corp was the primary contractor.
President apologizes to an aged taxpayer over administrative injustice of FBR
Arif Alvi directs FBR chairman to take punitive action against entire chain of decision-makers involved in case
Islamabad: President Dr Arif Alvi has apologized to an aged taxpayer over administrative injustice by the Federal Board of Revenue.
In a press release issued on Sunday, the president expressed dismay over the treatment of an 82 years old tax payer by the FBR and directed FBR chairman to take punitive action against the entire chain of decision-makers involved in the case.
He directed the Chairman of FBR to look into the entire system of irresponsibility and corruption and take punitive action against the entire chain of decision makers involved in the case.
Dr Arif Alvi took exception to the decision of FBR against a senior citizen that refused him to refund a paltry sum of 2,333 rupees on frivolous grounds and dragged him into unnecessary litigation spanning over a year. Apologizing to the senior citizen Abdul Hamid Khan, the President said that our heads should hang in shame for the inconvenience caused by FBR to the senior citizen.
Apologizing to the senior citizen Abdul Hamid Khan, the president said that their heads should hang in shame for the inconvenience caused by the FBR to a senior citizen.
The president took exception to the decision of FBR against the senior citizen in which the bureau had refused to refund a paltry sum of Rs2,333 on frivolous grounds and dragged him into unnecessary litigation spanning over a year.
“Punitive action must be taken along the entire line of decision-makers in this case and Chairman FBR should ensure that those responsible, in particular, and others, in general, go through courses to teach them priorities and courtesies, he directed.
The president while rejecting FBR’s appeal in the instant complaint observed that it appeared that unlawful treatment meted out in the instant case with a view to irritate and humiliate the aging pensioner.
Abdul Hamid Khan (the complainant), a senior citizen of 82 years of age, had claimed a refund of Rs 2,333 on his income tax return for the year 2020 and submitted requisite documents of advance tax deduction of the PTCL and cell phone company bills on 19.10.2020.
The complainant e-filed refund application on 19th October, 2020 followed by representation to FBR Chairman on 24th December, 2020.
The Unit officer of FBR rejected his refund claim, on 29.01.2021, on the grounds that the applicant had failed to furnish the original certificates required for authentication.
The complainant then took up the matter with the Federal Tax Ombudsman (FTO) to seek redressal of his complaint.
The FTO investigated the matter and ordered FBR on 02.06.2021 to revisit the impugned order dated 19.01.2021 and pass a fresh order under section 170(4) of the ordinance, after providing the complainant the opportunity for hearing as per law.
It further ordered to identify and initiate disciplinary proceedings against the official who passed the impugned order in derogation of the law and procedures and dragged the aging taxpayer into unnecessary litigation as well as report compliance within 45 days. Consequently, FBR filed a representation with the president against the original order of FTO on 24.06.2021.
Mali ex-president Keita dies two years after coup ouster
Mali’s interim government issued a statement hailing the memory of the illustrious Keita
Bamako: Mali’s former president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, who led the West African country from 2013 until he was ousted in a coup in 2020, died at the age of 76 in the capital Bamako on Sunday, his family said.
Looming over most of Keita’s presidency was the militant insurgency that has rocked the poor Sahel country since 2012, while his toppling marked the rise of the military junta which is now under regional sanctions for failing to restore civilian rule.
Mali’s interim government issued a statement hailing “the memory of the illustrious” Keita, adding that the former president died “after a long illness”.
Keita was forced out of office on August 18, 2020, by young military officers who staged an uprising at a base near Bamako before heading into the city, where they seized Keita and other leaders.
Foreign Minister Abdoulaye Diop said he was “saddened to learn of the death of former President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita”, adding that “it is with great emotion that I bow before his memory”.
Macky Sall, president of neighbouring Senegal, said in a Tweet he was “saddened” by the news, while Niger’s ex-president Mahamadou Issoufou, a former comrade of Keita’s in the Socialist International, hailed him as “a cultured man, a great patriot and a pan-Africanist”.
Politicians and other public figures went to Keita’s home southwest of Bamako to offer their condolences, with police guarding the entrances, according to AFP journalists at the scene.
The government statement said funeral plans would be announced at a later date.
– Protests, coups –
In the weeks before the 2020 coup, Keita had been struggling with protests fuelled by his handling of the jihadist insurgency and failure to turn around Mali’s floundering economy.
Snail-paced political reforms, decrepit public services and schools, and a widely shared perception of government corruption also fed anti-Keita sentiment, driving tens of thousands of protesters into the streets.
Seized by the putschists, the junta that emerged from the rebellion — under pressure from the West African bloc ECOWAS — released Keita weeks later and returned him to his residence in Bamako, under surveillance.
He suffered a mini-stroke the following month and was sent to the United Arab Emirates for treatment. He had been based at his Bamako home since staying out of public life.
The ruling junta would stage another coup in May 2021, toppling a civilian transitional government.
The junta had vowed to hold elections next month to transition the country back to civilian rule. But at the end of the last year, the junta revised its timetable, saying it could stay in power for up to five years.
In response, ECOWAS agreed to sanction Mali earlier this month, imposing a trade embargo and shutting borders, in a decision backed by the United States, the European Union and former colonial power France.
Landlocked Mali, one of the world’s poorest countries, is already feeling the effects of the sanctions, prompting thousands to protest in Bamako on Friday.
– Political veteran –
The son of a civil servant, Keita was born in the southern industrial city of Koutiala, the declining heartland of cotton production.
After studying literature in Mali, Senegal and France, Keita became an adviser for the EU’s overseas development fund before heading a development project in northern Mali.
He then rose through the ranks under Alpha Oumar Konare, the country’s first democratically elected president.
As a socialist prime minister between 1994 and 2000, he quelled a series of crippling strikes, earning a reputation as a firm leader and helping to set up his landslide election in 2013.
Keita was then re-elected in the 2018 elections, beating opposition leader Soumaila Cisse, who died in December 2020 of Covid.
Cisse’s kidnapping by jihadists in March 2020 further illustrated Keita’s inability to stop the violence, with rising public outrage culminating in the coup months later.
Murree Tragedy: Inquiry committee suggests grand operation against illegal constructions
PMD did not issues any official notice or alert regarding storms before Murree incident
Lahore: While completing its Murree tragedy investigation report, an inquiry committee has suggested a grand operation against illegal constructions, buildings, plazas and hotels in the hilly resort.
According to the privacy sources, a five-member inquiry committee, formed by the Punjab government to find reasons for the happening of the Murree tragedy in which at least 22 tourists died, has completed its preliminary report on Sunday.
The committee has given a shape of draft to its findings. The inquiry committee will present its report to Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar tomorrow.
As per sources, the committee finds many reasons of Murree tragedy. “The roads leading to Murree should have been closed after three days of snowfall. But they were shut after five days,” the report said.
The report also pointed that the snow removing machinery sat there but the operators were nowhere to be seen, adding that the PMD had not issued any official notice or alert regarding storms. It also noticed that the Metrological Office warning was also ignored.
The committee suggested that a grand operation against illegal constructions, hotels and plazas be launched and the administration seal the hotels which do not provide car park facilities.
Soon after the Murree tragedy, the Punjab government constituted an inquiry committee to determine causes and lapses in Murree.
According to the notification issued by the Punjab government, the high-level inquiry committee will be headed by Additional Chief Secretary to Punjab Government Zafar Nasarullah while Ali Sarfraz, Asad Gillani and Farooq Mazhar will be members of the probe body.
The notification also stated that the committee had been directed to submit its report within seven days and identify the elements involved in negligence.
“The committee would determine those responsible for the Murree tragedy and investigate whether the government agencies had taken any joint action despite the stern warning of the Meteorological Department or not.”
It further said that the committee will also investigate why vehicles were not stopped in Islamabad to prevent entry into Murree and Galyat.
Earlier, Prime Minister Imran Khan expressed grief at the tragic deaths of stranded tourists in Murree, ordering an inquiry and regulations to avert such tragedies in the future.
On his official twitter handle, the Premier wrote that heavy snowfall and a huge rush of tourists caught the district administration unprepared.
“Shocked & upset at tragic deaths of tourists on road to Murree. Unprecedented snowfall & rush of ppl (people) proceeding without checking weather conditions caught district admin unprepared. Have ordered inquiry & putting in place strong regulation to ensure prevention of such tragedies,” he posted.
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