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US Space Research Agency NASA Completes 60 Years

The agency remembered the sacrifices laid down by astronauts during space research.

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NASA's Mars InSight flexes robotic arm, captures new views. Flickr
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US space agency NASA has completed 60 years of human space exploration, discovering the world beyond Earth and developing new technologies.

“For six decades, NASA has led peaceful exploration of space, making discoveries about our planet, our solar system, and our universe,” the agency posted on its website late on Monday.

NASA has not just launched spacecrafts to unlock mysteries of the universe, dispatched probes to make close-up observations of every planet in the solar system, but has also, in August, sent a probe named Parker Solar Probe to the Sun.

The historic small car-sized probe will journey steadily closer to the Sun until it makes its closest approach at 3.8 million miles.

NASA
NASA Administrator James Bridenstine delivers remarks as he tours the NASA Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans. VOA

The agency has also conducted nine manned missions and is planning for a human return to the Moon, followed by missions to Mars and beyond.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) officially opened for business for the first time on October 1, 1958.

It was created by then President Dwight D. Eisenhower to lead America’s civilian space programme in response to the then USSR’s advances in space exploration.

In just 10 days after opening its doors, NASA launched its first spacecraft — Pioneer 1. Although it did not achieve its intended mission to orbit the Moon due to a rocket malfunction, Pioneer 1 did reach a record altitude of about 70,000 miles, highest till then.

Parker-Solar-2, NASA
The Parker Solar Probe sits in a clean room at Astrotech Space Operations in Titusville, Fla., after the installation of its heat shield. VOA

The probe returned scientific data confirming the existence of the Van Allen radiation belts until it burned up on re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere 43 hours after launch, the post said.

In the US, NASA’s research made great advances in aviation, helped to develop a commercial space industry, enriched the economy, created jobs, and strengthened national security.

The agency also remembered the sacrifices laid down by astronauts during space research. “The tragic loss of lives including aviation pilots and the crewmembers of Apollo 1, Challenger, and Columbia (which included Indian-born astronaut Kalpana Chawla)…,” the post said.

Chawla was one of the seven crew members who died in the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster when the craft disintegrated during its re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere on February 1, 2003.

Also Read: NASA’s Parker Solar Probe Launches Successfully

“Sacrifice has also come in the countless hours dedicated by the NASA personnel — on the ground and in space — (that they) have spent away from families to plan and execute missions.”

“We will go back to the Moon to learn more about what it will take to support human exploration to Mars and beyond… We will continue to try to answer the question: “Are we alone?” NASA said. (IANS)

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World’s Anti-Corruption Day

The U.S. Statement Department said in its Friday statement that it pledges "to continue working with our partners to prevent and combat corruption worldwide."

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Anti-Corruption
Bulgarian anti-corruption protesters march during a demonstration in downtown Sofia, VOA

Corruption costs the world economy $2.6 trillion each year, according to the United Nations, which is marking International Anti-Corruption Day on Sunday.

“Corruption is a serious crime that can undermine social and economic development in all societies. No country, region or community is immune,” the United Nations said.

The cost of $2.6 trillion represents more than 5 percent of global GDP.

The world body said that $1 trillion of the money stolen annually through corruption is in the form of bribes.

Patricia Moreira, the managing director of Transparency International, told VOA that about a quarter of the world’s population has paid a bribe when trying to access a public service over the past year, according to data from the Global Corruption Barometer.

Moreira said it is important to have such a day as International Anti-Corruption Day because it provides “a really tremendous opportunity to focus attention precisely on the challenge that is posed by corruption around the world.”

Journalist, Anti-Corruption
An activist places candles and flowers on the Great Siege monument, after rebuilding a makeshift memorial to assassinated anti-corruption journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, in Valletta, Malta. VOA

Anti-corruption commitments

To mark the day, the United States called on all countries to implement their international anti-corruption commitments including through the U.N. Convention against Corruption.

In a statement Friday, the U.S. State Department said that corruption facilitates crime and terrorism, as well as undermines economic growth, the rule of law and democracy.

“Ultimately, it endangers our national security. That is why, as we look ahead to International Anticorruption Day on Dec. 9, we pledge to continue working with our partners to prevent and combat corruption worldwide,” the statement said.

Moreira said that data about worldwide corruption can make the phenomena understandable but still not necessarily “close to our lives.” For that, we need to hear everyday stories about people impacted by corruption and understand that it “is about our daily lives,” she added.

She said those most impacted by corruption are “the most vulnerable people — so it’s usually women, it’s usually poor people, the most marginalized people in the world.”

Anti-Corruption
Anna Hazare raised his voice against corruption and went ahead with his hunger strike at the Jantar Mantar in New Delhi. Wikimedia Commons

The United Nations Development Program notes that in developing countries, funds lost to corruption are estimated at 10 times the amount of official development assistance.

What can be done to fight corruption?

The United Nations designated Dec. 9 as International Anti-Corruption Day in 2003, coinciding with the adoption of the United Nations Convention against Corruption by the U.N. General Assembly.

The purpose of the day is to raise awareness about corruption and put pressure on governments to take action against it.

Tackling the issue

Moreira said to fight corruption effectively it must be tackled from different angles. For example, she said that while it is important to have the right legislation in place to curb corruption, governments must also have mechanisms to enforce that legislation. She said those who engage in corruption must be held accountable.

“Fighting corruption is about providing people with a more sustainable world, with a world where social justice is something more of our reality than what it has been until today,” she said.

Anti-Corruption
It is important to have the right legislation in place to curb corruption

Moreira said change must come from a joint effort from governments, public institutions, the private sector and civil society.

The U.S. Statement Department said in its Friday statement that it pledges “to continue working with our partners to prevent and combat corruption worldwide.”

It noted that the United States, through the U.S. Department of State and U.S. Agency for International Development, helps partner nations “build transparent, accountable institutions and strengthen criminal justice systems that hold the corrupt accountable.”

Also Read: British Parliament Access Internal Facebook Data Scandal Papers: Report

Moreira said that it is important for the world to see that there are results to the fight against corruption.

“Then we are showing the world with specific examples that we can fight against corruption, [that] yes there are results. And if we work together, then it is something not just that we would wish for, but actually something that can be translated into specific results and changes to the world,” she said. (VOA)