Feb. 20—Congratulations to NASA on the successful landing of Perseverance, its most advanced rover yet, on the surface of Mars just before 3 p.m. Thursday.
We and more than 2.2 million other viewers of NASA's livestream cheered when we heard confirmation that Perseverance was safely on the surface, and again when the first images of the dusty, cratered ground, taken by the rover just seconds after touchdown, were transmitted back to mission control.
Now that the "seven minutes of terror," as the autonomous descent had been called, are over, the fun will begin. Percy, as it is nicknamed, will drill down with a 7-foot arm and collect rock samples that will be studied upon their return to Earth for signs of past microscopic life.
Scientists believe that if life ever flourished on Mars, it would have happened 3 billion to 4 billion years ago when water still flowed on the planet — and knowing whether life existed on the red planet could help us determine whether we're alone in this universe or whether life can emerge elsewhere if conditions are right.
Kudos also are in order for Joplin's EaglePicher Technologies, whose batteries have been powering nearly every aspect of the robotic mission through each key stage of flight. Members of the EaglePicher team, you can be proud of your involvement in this exciting project; we certainly are.
We're grateful that the Southeast Kansas chapter of the National Organization for Women is continuing its annual February menstrual product drive.
For the fourth consecutive year, SEK NOW members will collect pads, tampons and other feminine hygiene products for distribution to Wesley House, Safehouse Crisis Center and USD 250 P3, a support organization for students in the Pittsburg School District.
The ongoing pandemic has canceled some aspects of this fundraiser — an end-of-the-month celebration at TJ Leland's, for example — but the organization's mission remains strong.
And for good reason: 1 in 4 women in the U.S. struggles to purchase period products because of a lack of income, and 1 in 4 teens has missed class due to a lack of period products, according to the Alliance for Period Supplies, a program of the National Diaper Bank Network. Those products are taxed in a majority of states, including Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma.
People shouldn't suffer because they can't afford supplies for their period. Many thanks to our Pittsburg-area advocates for keeping this issue at the forefront this February.