NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory new mission to Mars took center stage at the La Cañada Flintridge City Council meeting this week ahead of its scheduled Mars 2020 Perseverance rover landing on the red planet on Thursday.
JPL Director Michael Watkins and Mars Helicopter Project Manager Mimi Aung gave a thrilling presentation before the council as to how Perseverance and the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter will touch down, with the help from two robotic devices from orbit.
“This is one of those times we’re super proud to work at JPL and also live in La Cañada Flintridge; the eyes of the world are upon us here,” Watkins told council members.
The much-anticipated landing is expected at about 12:55 p.m. on Thursday, with a signal of confirmation expected to be received 11 minutes and 22 seconds later, the time of the distance the signal has to travel from Mars to earth.
A key objective of Perseverance’s mission on Mars is astrobiology, including the search for signs of ancient microbial life. The rover will characterize the planet’s geology and past climate, pave the way for human exploration of the planet and be the first mission to collect and cache Martian rock and regolith.
Meanwhile, LCF resident Aung gave a detailed presentation of the Ingenuity helicopter, the first extraterrestrial aircraft, explaining how they designed a machine capable of lifting and flying in the thin Martian atmosphere.
Council members asked questions and noted they will be staying tuned to the exciting mission.
SPIKE SEEN IN LARCENY THEFT
During his public safety report on the first month of the year, Crescenta Valley Sheriff’s Station Capt. Todd Deeds noted that there were only two residential burglaries and two other burglaries reported. There were zero reported incidents of homicide, rape, robbery or aggravated assault.
There was, however, a sharp increase in larceny thefts during January, with 19 reported incidents compared to four incidents for the same month in 2020. The spike was due largely to vehicle larcenies, Deeds said, adding that officials took one male and a female into custody separately, suspecting they are part of a “crew that hit the area very hard and committed a lot of these crimes.”
There was one grand theft auto incident reported in January, but that vehicle was later recovered by Los Angeles Police Department. As for other crimes, there were three incidents reported of vandalism, one of narcotics and five of identity theft or fraud, Deeds said.
The CV Sheriff’s station has increased its patrols on the Angeles Crest Highway on the weekends, he noted, which has resulted in an increase of citations and warnings. In January, officers issued 53 warnings and 177 citations for traffic violations.
As to the vandalism that occurred outside a residence on the ACH at the beginning of February, Deeds said the matter is still under investigation, however “we think it was more of a random incident; we don’t think a gang was infiltrating the city.”
Council members expressed gratitude for the increased patrols, especially after residents raised the alarm on the increase in reckless driving they have observed since the pandemic has taken hold.
“We’re very happy there’s been some increased observation on the Crest,” Mayor Mike Davitt said.