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La NASA célèbre l’arrivée de 2019 avec un survol historique d’Ultima Thule

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« Go New Horizons! », s’est exclamé le directeur scientifique de la mission Alan Stern, pendant que l’équipe dans le laboratoire de physique appliquée John Hopkins (Maryland) acclamait le moment où, à 05h33 GMT (0 h 33, heure de l’Est), New Horizons braquait ses caméras sur Ultima Thule, vestige glacé de la formation du système solaire.

Jamais auparavant un engin spatial n’avait exploré un objet aussi éloigné.

Alan Stern

La retransmission d’images en direct est impossible à cette distance et un premier signal devrait être reçu sur Terre environ dix heures après le survol, soit 9 h 45 sur la côte est américaine (14 h 45 GMT). C’est seulement à ce moment-là que la NASA saura si la sonde a survécu à cette approche à haut risque.

Les membres de l’équipe s’attendent à savoir vers 10 h (heure de l’est) si la collecte de données a été réussie. La sonde devait prendre 900 images en quelques secondes durant son survol d’Ultima Thule à une distance d’environ 3500 kilomètres.

« À présent, c’est juste une question de temps pour voir les données arriver », a déclaré John Spencer, un scientifique du Southwest Research Institute.

« Voilà une nuit qu’aucun d’entre nous n’oubliera jamais », s’est exclamé le guitariste de Queen, Brian May, également titulaire d’un doctorat en astrophysique, qui a enregistré un morceau en solo pour l’occasion.

Une illustration de la sonde.New Horizons doit passer au-dessus d’Ultima Thule, à quelque 6,4 milliards de kilomètres de la Terre. Photo : NASA

Un premier cliché d’Ultima Thule, pris à 1,9 million de kilomètres « seulement » a déjà livré une première surprise: sur cette image plutôt floue, cet objet de petite taille (20 à 30 km de diamètre) semble avoir une forme allongée plutôt que ronde. D’autres photographies devraient arriver sur Terre durant les trois prochains jours.

L’enjeu de cette mission est de comprendre comment les planètes se sont formées, a expliqué lundi à la presse M. Stern.

« Cet objet est tellement glacé qu’il est conservé dans sa forme originelle », a-t-il souligné. « Tout ce que nous allons apprendre sur Ultima – sa composition, sa géologie, comment il s’est formé, s’il a des satellites ou de l’atmosphère – nous renseignera sur les conditions de formation des objets du système solaire. »

Ultima Thule, découvert en 2014 par le télescope spatial Hubble, se trouve dans la ceinture de Kuiper, un vaste disque cosmique reliquat de l’époque de la formation des planètes que les astronomes appellent parfois le « grenier » du système solaire.

Les scientifiques ont décidé d’envoyer New Horizons l’étudier, après que la sonde eut accompli en 2015 – neuf ans après son lancement – sa principale mission: envoyer des images extrêmement détaillées de Pluton.

Cette fois, « on va essayer d’avoir des images d’Ultima avec une résolution trois fois supérieure à celle utilisée pour Pluton », a expliqué M. Stern. « Si on y arrive, ce sera spectaculaire. »

Mais la mission est dangereuse. New Horizons parcourt l’univers à 51 500 kilomètres par heure. À cette allure, si elle heurtait un débris aussi petit qu’un grain de riz, elle pourrait être détruite instantanément.

Toutes les 20 minutes, les caméras et les capteurs infrarouges de la sonde capturent des images d’Ultima Thule pour « qu’à mesure qu’elle tourne et que nous nous rapprochons, nous ayons de bonnes données de toutes les parties », selon John Spencer.

Ultima Thule a été nommé ainsi d’après une île lointaine de la littérature médiévale. « Cela signifie ”au-delà de Thule” – au-delà des limites connues de notre monde, pour symboliser l’exploration au-delà de la ceinture de Kuiper », a expliqué l’agence spatiale dans un communiqué.

Découverte seulement dans les années 1990, cette ceinture se trouve à quelque 4,8 milliards de kilomètres du Soleil, au-delà de l’orbite de Neptune, la planète qui en est la plus éloignée.

« C’est la frontière de l’astronomie », souligne le scientifique Hal Weaver, de l’université Johns Hopkins.

« Nous avons finalement atteint les limites du système solaire », s’enthousiasme-t-il. « Ces choses sont là depuis le début et on pense qu’elles n’ont pas changé. On va vérifier. »

Malgré la paralysie partielle des administrations fédérales, à cause d’un bras de fer entre le président Donald Trump et l’opposition démocrate sur le financement d’un mur à la frontière avec le Mexique, la NASA – qui dépend des budgets fédéraux – a promis que son site serait alimenté.

Une autre sonde de la NASA, OSIRIS-REx, a établi lundi un autre record en se plaçant en orbite autour de l’astéroïde Bennu, à quelque 110 millions de kilomètres. Avec ses 500 mètres environ de diamètre, c’est le plus petit objet cosmique autour duquel un engin spatial se soit jamais placé en orbite aussi proche, « un bond pour l’humanité », selon la NASA.

Dans un éditorial publié dans le New York Times, Alan Stern a souligné qu’il y a 50 ans, des hommes s’étaient pour la première fois mis en orbite autour de la lune, à bord d’Apollo 8.
Notant qu’Ultima Thule est à 17 000 fois cette distance, il a ajouté: « Quand vous célébrerez le Nouvel An, jetez un oeil vers le ciel et réfléchissez un moment aux choses formidables que notre pays et notre espèce peuvent réaliser quand ils le décident. »

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Future of Ottawa: Chefs with Kathryn Ferries

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This week in the Future of Ottawa series, we’re taking a deep dive into the bar and restaurant industry—what it’s like now and where it’s headed. Read on for a guest post from Kat Ferries on the future of chefs, or read posts from Quinn Taylor on bars or Justin Champagne on fine dining.

Kat Ferries is Sous-Chef at Stofa Restaurant and a 2020 San Pellegrino North American Young Chef Social Responsibility Award Winner.

Apt613: What is the current landscape for chefs in Ottawa?

Kat Ferries: There is such great talent in Ottawa with so many chefs either being from here originally or have returned after traveling and have since opened some incredible restaurants. Many chefs have focused menus that really highlight their strengths, their heritage, and their passion for food. Dominique Dufour of Gray Jay, Marc Doiron of Town/Citizen, Steve Wall of Supply & Demand, Daniela Manrique Lucca of The Soca Kitchen, and so many more are all cooking up beautiful and delicious food in this city.

If you care to make a prediction… Where is the food industry in Ottawa going for chefs in 2021?

The industry right now is, unfortunately, in a really tough spot. The pandemic has been so devastating on mental, physical and emotional levels for so many and I know that many of my friends in this industry are burning out. There are many discussions happening on work/life balance and what is healthy for everyone. Some may never return to the long, hard hours we are expected to put in day after day and instead opt for a more flexible schedule or hire more staff to lighten the load on everyone, with some even leaving the industry indefinitely. Some may throw themselves back into this industry 10x as hard and create some of the best restaurants and concepts we’ve yet to see. I think all that will happen after the pandemic though.

For this year, it’s mostly about survival and finding happiness in creating what we can in the spaces we have while following all the laws and guidelines from public health officials. I think we will see more chefs creating experiences for guests that we otherwise wouldn’t have: think pop-ups, virtual dinner clubs, cocktail seminars, collabs, etc.

Where in your wildest dreams could the Ottawa culinary community grow in your lifetime?

I would love to see the Ottawa community support more small, local restaurants so our streets are bustling late into the nights like they are in Montreal, New York, or Europe. Having a local restaurant to frequent should be so much more commonplace, where you can enjoy a night out more often than just Friday or Saturday night. I would also love to see many more of our local chefs highlighted for the amazing food they create!

What is the best innovation to take place in your industry since the pandemic started affecting Ottawa?

Turning all our restaurants into mini-markets for customers to enjoy the food and wine of their favourite places at home. We have bottle shops for all your wine, beer and cocktail needs as well as menus that reflect what each restaurant does best. Some have even pivoted to a point where they are 100% a store and have paused any type of “service-style” dining.

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Future of Ottawa: Fine Dining with Justin Champagne

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This week in the Future of Ottawa series, we’re taking a deep dive into the bar and restaurant industry—what it’s like now and where it’s headed. Read on for a guest post from Justin Champagne on the future of fine dining, or read posts from Kathryn Ferries on chefs or Quinn Taylor on bars.

Justin Champagne went to culinary school at Northwest Culinary Academy of Vancouver. He got his start in fine dining restaurants at C Restaurant under Chef Robert Clark, then at Hawksworth Restaurant under Chef Eligh. He staged at three-Michelin-starred Atelier Crenn under Chef Dominque Crenn before moving to Ottawa and spending five years at Atelier, working his way up to Sous-Chef. He’s now the Head Chef of Bar Lupulus.

Apt613: What is the current landscape of fine dining restaurants in Ottawa?

Justin Champagne: Ottawa punches well above its weight class when it comes to quality restaurants in general. Fine dining is no exception to that—we have some amazing chefs here that are doing really great things. We also have some phenomenal sommeliers in town that are a huge factor when it comes to a guest’s experience in a fine dining restaurant. While there are some fantastic fine dining restaurants in town I do believe there’s room for more, and definitely room for more creativity and unique styles of cooking! I think we’ll see more small fine dining restaurants opening up, “micro-restaurants” where there’s maybe 20 seats. This will be over the next few weeks as the industry did take a big hit financially with COVID-19, but we still have a lot of great young chefs who have the fire inside of them to open their own location!

If you care to make a prediction… Where is fine dining going in Ottawa in 2021?

I’m not sure it’ll be 2021 or 2022 with the way the vaccine rollout and stay-at-home order is going, but I do expect there to be a wave of people looking to go out to fine dining restaurants. We’ve been cooped up cooking for ourselves or ordering takeout for over a year now. People are getting antsy and ready to go out and have fantastic meals again with exceptional wine and not have to worry about doing all the dishes afterwards!

Where in your wildest dreams could fine dining go in Ottawa in your lifetime?

That’s the fun part about “fine dining,” it can go anywhere and it can mean many things. Fine dining is about amazing service and well thought out, unique food that the kitchen spent hours fussing over, being meticulous in execution. Outside of that, you can have a lot of fun and be creative in different ways. My wildest dream I guess is that fine dinning restaurants begin to thrive and are able to charge without backlash the kind of prices that they need to charge in order to keep the lights on and pay their staff a proper living wage!!

What is the best innovation to take place in your industry since the pandemic started affecting Ottawa?

I’m not sure if I would really say there’s been a best “innovation” in my industry during the pandemic, but I will say that seeing the “adaptability” by all the restaurants in Ottawa has been incredibly inspiring. Ottawa’s food scene has always been a tight-knit community, “everyone helping everyone” kind of mentality. And this pandemic has really helped show that—restaurants helping restaurants through all of this!

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Ottawa’s Giant Tiger chain celebrating 60 years in business

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OTTAWA — An Ottawa staple, along with what might be the most famous cat in Canada, are celebrating a milestone Monday.

Giant Tiger is 60 years old.

“It all started with a very simple idea,” says Alison Scarlett, associate VP of communications at Giant Tiger. “Help Canadians save money every single day. Bring them products that they want and need. When you focus on those core principals, it really is quite simple to succeed.”

In 1961, Gordon Reid opened the first Giant Tiger in Ottawa’s ByWard Market. The company now has more than 260 locations across Canada and employs roughly 10,000 people.

“If you were at our store on opening day 60 years ago, the in store experience would be a little bit different from your local Giant Tiger store today. So that’s changed. A lot of our products and offerings have changed or expanded as Canadian consumers wants and needs have changed or expanded,” says Scarlett.

The homegrown department store continues to be a favourite for many shoppers looking to for the best deals on everyday products.

Helen Binda has been shopping here for decades.

“Many years. I can’t remember when. I’ve always loved Giant Tiger. It’s always been a good store for me.”

“I think its amazing and I think that we need more department stores,” says shopper Fay Ball. “And if it’s Canadian, all the better.”

The Canadian-owned family discount store carries everything from clothing to groceries, as well as everyday household needs. They’ve also expanded their online store and like most retailers provide curbside pickup during the pandemic.

“Doing what is right for our customers, associates, and communities. That has enabled us to be so successful for all of these years,” says Scarlett.

To celebrate, Giant Tiger is hosting a virtual birthday party at 7 p.m. Monday with live musical performances from some iconic Canadian artists.

You can visit their Facebook page to tune in. 

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