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Science & Technology current affairs 2019

Following the current events and news in the area of science and technology is very very important for the general studies paper in the UPSC exam. In recent times questions are set on only those topics that have made news. Regular study of science from NCERT books or otherwise is no longer required. The idea is to follow the current affairs news related to science and technology and understand the science behind those issues. This is true for all levels of teh IAS exam - prelims, mains and also the interview.




Current Affairs Quiz

Current Affairs in Science and Technology - July 2020

DST: It refers to the Department of Science & Technology. DST is a department within the Ministry of Science and Technology in India. It was founded on 3 May 1971. It's responsibility is to promote new areas of science and technology and to play the role of a nodal department for organizing, coordinating and promoting Scientific and Technological activities in the country. It gives funds to various approved scientific projects in India. It also supports various researchers in India to attend conferences abroad and to go for experimental works. Minister of State Dr. Harsh Vardhan is the current head of the department, while Ashutosh Sharma is its present secretary. The DST now operates Open Access Policy.

Recently, the Secretary Prof Ashutosh Sharma of DST launched the official Logo to celebrate Golden Jubilee Commemoration Year of DST.

The newly launched logo will be printed on stationery items of DST, social, digital, and print documents. DST has been directed to use AI to the newly launched 50 Year logo by representing it on banners in conferences held in the institutes.

DST is observing Golden Jubilee Commemoration Year between the period 3rd May 2020 to 2nd May 2021 with activities like lecture series, bringing out publications, documentaries, updating Wikipedia pages of Survey of India, and Autonomous Institutions under DST etc.

Drones: A drone is an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) or uncrewed aerial vehicle. It is an aircraft without a human pilot on board and a type of unmanned vehicle. Essentially, a drone is a flying robot that can be remotely controlled or fly autonomously through software-controlled flight plans in their embedded systems, working in conjunction with onboard sensors and GPS. Abraham Karem who was born in Baghdad to a Jewish couple is regarded as the founding father of UAV (drone) technology. During WWII, Reginald Denny created the first remote-controlled aircraft called the Radioplane OQ-2. This was the first massed produced UAV product in the U.S and was a breakthrough in manufacturing and supply drones for the military.

Recently, India has become the first country to control locusts through drones after finalizing the protocols and getting all statutory approvals. Locust control operations are going on in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Gujarat and Maharashtra. In total 60 ground control teams of Locust Circle Offices and 12 drones are being used for the operations

Under the Make in India initiative, the Department of Agriculture, Cooperation & Farmers’ Welfare (DAC&FW), Agriculture Ministry has indigenously developed a vehicle-mounted Ultra-low volume (ULV) sprayer for locust control. Locust is a crop-threatening migratory pest that has entered the country through the India-Pakistan border.

Aerial spray by drones was used for locust control because the ground control vehicles sprayers have the ability to spray up to a height of 25-30 feet only. The tractor-mounted sprayers too have a limitation in reaching inaccessible areas and tall trees.

Project Platina: Project Platina is the World’s largest Convalescent Plasma Therapy Trial project. Project Platina was recently launched by the Chief Minister of Maharashtra Uddhav Thackeray. It was launched virtually at Nagpur’s government medical college.

The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has given the approval to conduct convalescent plasma therapy trials at 23 centres but as of now it will be done at 17 centres and 4 medical colleges of BMC in Mumbai. 

The project will help Maharashtra as it has been the worst-hit state in India to create a robust data for the use of Convalescent Plasma Therapy and also  help in establishing an infrastructure for plasma treatment in the state.

Convalescent plasma therapy (CPT): Plasma therapy or Convalescent Plasma Therapy (CPT) has been proved to be useful in fighting other coronavirus diseases, such as SARS and MERS. It aims to make use of the antibodies developed in the recovered patient against the infections.

Under this therapy, the whole blood or plasma will be obtained from those patients who have recevered from COVID-19 and then the blood is injected into critically ill patients so that the antibodies are transferred and boost their fight against the virus.

PULSE: It is a 3D printed device invented by NASA. This  new innovation has been named, 'PULSE'. The app works by alerting the wearer of the gadget to stop exposure to the risky activity. When a person, wearing the gadget gets their hand too close to the face (knowingly or unknowingly), PULSE triggers a beeping noise and alerts the wearer of the same.

The gadget is shaped like a pendant and it is to be worn around the neck. It works best when placed 6 inches below the chin. It has a tiny vibration motor in place. The haptic feedback from a vibration motor simulates a nudge, reminding the wearer to avoid touching these entryways in order to reduce potential infection", reads a statement released by the makers.

NASA: It is an acronym for National Aeronautics and Space Administration. NASA is an independent agency of the United States Federal Government responsible for the civilian space program, as well as aeronautics and aerospace research. NASA was established in 1958, succeeding the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). It is headquartered in Washington, D.C., United States. The Administrator of NASA is Jim Bridenstine and the Deputy Administrator of NASA is James Morhard.

MeitY: It refers to the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology. MeitY is an executive agency of the Union Government of the Republic of India. It was carved out of the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology on 19 July 2016 as a standalone ministerial agency responsible for IT policy, strategy and development of the electronics industry. The current Union Minister of Electronics & Information Technology is Ravi Shankar Prasad.

Recently, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) in partnership with Atal Innovation Mission – NITI Aayog launched a Digital India Aatmanirbhar Bharat App Innovation Challenge for Indian tech entrepreneurs and startups. The challenge will aim to help realise the vision of Prime Minister for building a Digital India.

This innovative challenge which will be open for tech entrepreneurs and startups will have two tracks. Track one will be the promotion of existing apps and track two will be the development of new apps.

Track 1: In the first part of the App Innovation Challenge has cash awards and incentives for apps. It is aimed at creating an ecosystem where Indian entrepreneurs and startups are inspired to ideate, incubate, build, nurture and sustain tech solutions that can serve not only the country, but also the world - “Make in India for India and the World”.

Under the challenge, innovators are invited to develop apps in 8 categories. They are Office Productivity & Work from Home, E-learning, Social Networking, Health & Wellness, News, Entertainment, Games and Business including Agritech and Fin-tech. The Innovation Challenge has been made available on innovating .mygov.in/app-challenge from 4th July 2020. Track-1 is likely to be completed in a month.

Track 2: Track 2 which is yet to be launched will begin when Track 1 is completed.  It aims to seek to identify Indian startups,entrepreneurs,companies and encourage them with ideation, incubation, prototyping, and roll out of applications. This track will run for a longer duration of time. The details about the exact duration of this phase will be issued soon by the Ministry.

 

Current Affairs in Science and Technology - June 2020

ANITA: It refers to Antarctic Impulsive Transient Antenna. ANITA is the first NASA observatory for neutrinos of any kind. It is a radio telescope to detect ultra-high energy cosmic-ray neutrinos from a scientific balloon flying over the continent of Antarctica. ANITA detects neutrinos pinging in from space and colliding with matter in the Antarctic ice sheet through the Askaryan effect.

Recently, NASA’s Antarctic Impulsive Transient Antenna(ANITA) have detected high energy particles from ice in Antarctica. The researchers believe that these particles are proof to parallel universe.

The high-energy particles usually move from space to earth (i.e. from top to bottom) but ANITA has detected an anomaly i.e. particles have been detected travelling bottom to top.

The ANTIA has so far made 4 major cosmic ray detections. The cosmic rays that are coming from the sky are reflected off the ice. However, two of these detections have proofs that they are generated from the ice below.

Askaryan effect: It is the phenomenon where a particle travelling at a velocity faster than light in a dense electric medium, produces shower of secondary charged particles. The dense electric medium can be ice, salt of lunar regolith. It is named after Gurgen Askaryan, a Soviet-Armenian physicist who postulated it in 1962.

Neutrinos: They are subatomic particles with no electric charge and with a very small mass. The mass of the neutrino is much smaller than that of the other known elementary particles.They are considered to be the second most abundant particle in the universe after photons or light particles.The direction from which they arrive points directly back to their original source. They are produced during natural radioactive decays and all sorts of nuclear reactions in nuclear power reactors, particle accelerators or nuclear bombs.

However, the most common sources of neutrinos are celestial phenomena which is natural nuclear reactions like the birth and death of stars, collisions, and explosions happening in space.

NASA: It is an acronym for National Aeronautics and Space Administration. NASA is an independent agency of the United States Federal Government responsible for the civilian space program, as well as aeronautics and aerospace research. NASA was established in 1958, succeeding the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). It is headquartered in Washington, D.C., United States. The Administrator of NASA is Jim Bridenstine and the Deputy Administrator of NASA is James Morhard. 

Recently, NASA renamed its next-generation space telescope- Wide-Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST), after the space agency’s first chief astronomer Nancy Grace Roman. The WFIRST Telescope will now be called Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope (or Roman Space Telescope, for short) which is set for launch in 2025.

Nancy Grace Roman: She is the US space agency’s first chief astronomer. She came to NASA in 1959, just 6 months after the agency had been established. She paved the way for space telescopes focused on the broader universe. She is considered as the mother of Hubble Space Telescope, which had launched 30 years ago. Through Roman's leadership, NASA launched four Orbiting Astronomical Observatories between 1966 and 1972.

TIANWEN-1: It is China's first Mars mission. China’s space program is planning to launch its first Mars mission named ‘Tianwen-1’ which is expected to land on the Red Planet’s surface in the first quarter of 2021.

 The Tianwen-1 mission will lift off on a Long March 5 rocket. It is expected to take off in late July, around the same time when NASA is launching its own Mars mission– the ambitious ‘Perseverance’ which aims to collect Martian samples and bring them back to Earth in a two-part campaign.

The success of the mission will make China the third country to achieve a Mars landing after the USSR and the United States.

Previous Mars missions:

China’s previous ‘Yinghuo-1’ Mars mission, which had piggybacked on a Russian spacecraft, had failed after it could not leave the Earth’s orbit and disintegrated over the Pacific Ocean in 2012.

The USSR in 1971 became the first country to carry out a Mars landing. It’s Mars 3 lander is able to transmit data for 20 seconds from the Martian surface before failing. The country made it’s second and Mars landing two years later in 1973.

The US holds the maximum records on Mars landings missions, the latest mission being the  ‘InSight’ in 2019 (launched in 2018).

The Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM), also called Mangalyaan is a space probe orbiting Mars since 24 September 2014. It was launched on 5 November 2013 by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).

Trojan Asteroid: These are Jupiter trojans, commonly called Trojan asteroids or simply Trojans . They are a large group of asteroids that share the planet Jupiter's orbit around the Sun. Relative to Jupiter, each Trojan librates around one of Jupiter's two stable Lagrange points: L4, lying 60° ahead of the planet in its orbit, and L5, 60° behind.

Recently, astronomers at the University of Hawaii's Institute for Astronomy (UH IfA) have spotted a new asteroid with a comet-like tail moving in the same orbit as Jupiter. It is described as something between an asteroid and a comet. The object has been called an active asteroid.

They are usually known as Trojan asteroids. However, it is the first one of its kind to be seen with a comet-like-tail. The object has been called an active asteroid because these objects appear to be asteroids at first, but later develop activity, such as tails, like that of comets.

The object was first discovered in June 2019 and given the name 2019 LD2. It was discovered using the university's Asteroid Terrestrial-impact Last Alert System (ATLAS), which was funded by NASA and developed to search space for objects that may pose threats to the Earth. It was discovered moving in the same orbit travelled by Jupiter around the sun. These asteroids follow the same orbit like that of a planet. But it remains 60 degrees ahead of or behind along the orbit.

The Jupiter Trojan asteroids orbit the Sun in two huge swarms, one swarm orbiting ahead of the planet (where 2019 LD2 was found) and one swarm orbiting behind it.

As per the researchers, the Trojan asteroids have been captured into these orbits by Jupiter's strong gravity. 2019 LD2 is the first-of-its-kind as because most Jupiter Trojans were captured billions of years ago.

Ultra Swachh: It is a disinfection unit named Ultra Swachh to disinfect a wide range of materials, including Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs), electronics items, fabrics, etc. It has been developed by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).

DRDO's Delhi based Institute of Nuclear Medicine & Allied Sciences (INMAS) developed this product with industry partner M/s Gel Craft Healthcare Private Ltd, Ghaziabad in compliance with International Standards of Industrial, Occupational, Personal and Environmental Safety.

The Ultra Swachh comes in two variants namely Ozonated Space and Trinetra Technology. Trinetra technology is the combination of Ozonated space and radical dispenser. Treatment is optimised with automation for quick disinfection cycle. The system uses an advanced oxidative process comprising of Ozonated Space Technology and uses the advanced oxidative process for disinfection process.

The system is double layered with specialised Ozone sealant technology assuring trapping of ozone for the necessary disinfection cycle. It also has catalytic converter to ensure environment friendly exhaust i.e. only oxygen and water.

SpaceX: Space Exploration Technologies Corp., trading as SpaceX, is an American aerospace manufacturer and space transportation services company. It was founded on 6 May 2002 by Elon Musk with the goal of reducing space transportation costs to enable the colonization of Mars. It is headquartered in Hawthorne, California. The SpaceX founder & CEO is Elon Musk. The current SpaceX president & COO is Gwynne Shotwell.

Recently, marking the beginning of a new era in the United States (US) space programme, NASA astronauts Robrt Behnken and Douglas Hurley docked the SpaceX capsule with the International Space Station (ISS). The two NASA astronauts made history on Saturday as they became the first Americans to launch on a US rocket from American soil to the space station in nearly a decade. 

The SpaceX’s Falcon 9 with Crew Dragon capsule – Endeavour  designed and built by Elon Musk’s SpaceX lifted off on May 30 at 3:22 p.m (1.50 am Sunday in India) from Pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral, Florida. It is the same launch pad, which was used during the Apollo mission to the moon a half-century ago. With this, SpaceX has become the first private company to fly astronauts into orbit.

Coro-bot: It is an ‘Internet-controlled’ robot developed by a 23 year old engineer Pratik Tirodkar from Thane. Coro-bot which is designed and created by him is the first of its kind that addresses the needs of the hospitals treating COVID-19 patients.

This robot can be operated from any part of the world through internet. It can deliver food, water, medicines and interact with the patients through a camera. Through a speaker, it can also advise patients on various precautions like sanitizing their hands before picking up anything from the robotic tray. It eliminates the need of physical presence or contact of nurses or ward boys with the patient.

The Coro-bot has three nozzles. The first nozzle is used to provide disinfectant bath for the robot himself, the second is used to spray sanitizers on both sides of the path and the third is used to disinfect the ground with UV light as the robot moves. It also has dispensers for water, tea and coffee.

The robot becomes the first in world to be operated using Internet of Things (IoT) technology in medical field.

Pratik Tirodkar: He is designer and creator of the first of its kind robot named Coro-bot. He is also the founder of a start up ‘PNT solutions’. He has developed other unique creations when he had barely stepped to college. This includes world’s first ‘Humanoid’ with 47 body (axis) movements, a robotic bird ornithopter for various outdoor applications, a mini packaging robot and several others.

This young genius has even given over a 100 guest lecturers to the brain students of IITs and NITs in the country.

DIAT: It refers to the Defence Institute of Advanced Technology. DIAT is the Premier Deemed University under the Department of Defence Research & Development, Ministry of Defence, Government of India (GoI). It was established in 1952. Earlier it was called the Institute of Armament Studies (1952–1967) and Institute of Armament Technology (1967–2006). Ministry of Human Resource Development, GoI has placed DIAT in Category 'A' Deemed University & accredited by National Assessment and Accreditation Council and National Board of Accreditation. The institute trains officers of Indian Ordnance Factories, Coast Guards, Indian Armed Forces (Air Force, army and Navy). The Defence Minister of India Rajnath Singh is the current Chancellor of the Institute.

Recently, DIAT, Pune developed a Nano-technology based disinfectant spray to combat COVID-19 by disinfecting all types of surfaces. It has been named “ANANYA”.

This can be used by anyone, from a common man to a healthcare worker and individual. It can also be used for large scale use. This spray can be used on masks, PPEs, hospital linens, as well as other likely contaminated surfaces such as medical instruments, door knobs, corridors elevator buttons and rooms.

The spray which has been prepared based on Nano-Technology assisted formulation will not only stop the novel coronavirus from entering human body, but it will also kill the virus when the virus comes in contact with this formulation layer on masks and PPEs.

This is a water based spray and will be effective for more than 24 hours after spray. It adheres very effectively to fabric, plastic and metallic objects and it's toxicity of the spray is negligible to humans. The shelf life of the spray is said to be more than 6 months.

Ananya has been tested by the Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy and Infrared Spectroscopy methods.

Gussies Electric Boat Awards: Gussies Electric Boat Awards were instituted in memory of Gustave Trouvé, a French electrical engineer and pioneer in electric cars and boats. Trouvé was a prolific inventor with over 75 patents. Back in 1881, he developed a 5-m-long prototype electric boat. There are 3 award categories:-

1. Electric boats up to 8m in length,

2. Electric boats more than 8 m long and

3. Electric ferry boats (passenger boats)

Recently, India’s first solar-powered ferry, Aditya has been shortlisted for the Gustave Trouvé Award as the sole entrant from Asia. It has been shortlisted for  Electric ferry boats (passenger boats) category award.

Aditya:  Aditya is a solar-powered ferry operating between Vaikkom and Thavanakkadavu in the Indian state of Kerala. It is not only the first solar-powered ferryand but also the largest solar-powered boat in India. The boat was inaugurated by Kerala Chief Minister Sri. Pinarayi Vijayan and Central Cabinet Minister for Power, Renewable Energy, Sri. Piyush Goyal on 12 January 2017. The vessel was designed and built by NavAlt Solar and Electric Boats in Kochi, India. It is operated by the Kerala State Water Transport Department (KSWTD).

It is powered by a motor that can source energy from solar panels, batteries, and generators so the per km energy cost of Aditya is low and it does not create air and noise pollution. It operates 22 trips a day, covering a total of 66 km, carrying 75 passengers per trip. It covers a total distance of 66 km with just ₹180 per day energy cost. Till now the ferry has transported 11 lakh passengers, covering a distance of 70,000 with a zero carbon footprint.

Health Ministry: The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare is an Indian government ministry charged with health policy in India. It is also responsible for all government programs relating to family planning in India. The Minister of Health and Family Welfare holds cabinet rank as a member of the Council of Ministers. It was founded in 1976.The current Minister of Health and Family welfare is Harsh Vardhan.

Recently, Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare Dr Harsh Vardhan launched India's first mobile I-Lab (Infectious disease diagnostic lab). It is part of government Aatmnirbhar Bharat. It was built in a record time of 8 days from the date of receipt of Automotive Chassis, from Bharat Benz. The laboratory aims to promote and support the idea of becoming self sufficient in difficult times.

The Laboratory is to be deployed in remote, interior and inaccessible parts of the country. It has the capability to perform 25 Covid-19 RT-PCR tests per day, 300 ELISA tests per day and additional tests for TB and HIV.

The Infectious Disease Diagnostic Lab (I-LAB) is supported by the Department of Biotechnology, Ministry of Science and Technology, under the COVID-Command strategy.

The lab is a BSL-2 facility with on site Elisa, real-time reverse tranion polymerase chain reaction (rRT-PCR) test and Bio chemistry analysers.

ELISA refers to Enzyme Linked Immunosorbent Assay. ELISA is designed to detect soluble substances such as antibodies, proteins and hormones.

Antarctica: Antarctica is the southernmost continent and site of the South Pole. it is a virtually uninhabited, ice-covered landmass. It is surrounded by the Southern Ocean. Most cruises to the continent visit the Antarctic Peninsula, which stretches toward South America. It’s known for the Lemaire Channel and Paradise Harbor, striking, iceberg-flanked passageways, and Port Lockroy, a former British research station turned museum. The peninsula’s isolated terrain also shelters rich wildlife, including many penguins. Antarctica is bigger than Europe and almost double the size of Australia. Most of Antarctica is covered in ice over 1.6 kilometres thick (1 mile). It is the coldest continent on Earth with the lowest recorded temperature reaching -89.2 degrees Celsius. Not only is Antarctica the coldest continent, it is also the driest, highest and windiest with winds reaching over 200mp.

Recently, in a new study published in the journal Nature has revealed that a mysterious fossil discovered in Antarctica in 2011 turned out to be a giant soft-shell egg from 68 million years ago.  It Measures upto 29 cm by 20 cm and it is the first fossil egg found in Antarctica and the largest soft-shell egg that the world has ever seen. 

A group of Chilean researchers from South American Nation Chile, during a scientific expeditiond, discovered a fossil 200 meters away from the spot where the fossil of a 10-meter long Mosasaur (an ancient reptile) was unearthed. This egg shaped fossil was discovered on the Seymour Island of Antarctica off the coast of Antarctica. The fossil, since then was kept in the Chilean National Museum of Natural History and was named ‘The Thing’ for almost a decade before being studied. Though, there was nothing left inside the egg to prove what animal it once carried but some scientists speculate that it was laid by a giant marine reptile.

Fossils: Fossils are the preserved remains, or traces of remains, of ancient organisms. Fossils are not the remains of the organism itself! They are rocks. It can be any preserved remains, impression, or trace of any once-living thing from a past geological age. For e.g., bones, shells, exoskeletons, stone imprints of animals or microbes, objects preserved in amber, hair, petrified wood, oil, coal, Bones, shells, feathers, leaves and DNA remnants. A fossil can preserve an entire organism or just be a part of one.

LUS: It refers to an automated lung ultrasound (LUS) for COVID-19 screening and monitoring through cloud-based image analysis and scoring system. It has recently been developed by Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT), Palakkad.

The app is the first of its kind in India. It is now available for clinicians to perform automated analysis by just uploading the ultrasound video.

A nursing assistant (in the absence of a skilled clinician) by following a simple protocol of LUS, acquires the lung images and transfers the images to the cloud.

The images are analyzed over the cloud and scores are assigned according to certain criteria either for the type of infection or its severity.

The methodology would be extremely useful in time-critical COVID-19 working conditions, where clinicians have time limitations in manually evaluating ultrasound videos of all patients.

The approach is not only restricted to COVID-19 detection but also helps to identify other lung infections.

LUS has the additional advantage because it is easy to use, portable, repeatability, absence of radiation exposure, and it is of low cost.

BDS: It refers to the BeiDou Navigation Satellite System. The BDS is named after the Chinese term for Big Dipper. It is a Chinese satellite navigation system. The BDS has been designed to reach accuracy levels similar to those of GPS and Galileo Open Service by positioning accuracy within 10 meters, timing accuracy within 50 ns and velocity accuracy within 0.2 meters per second. China started developing the Beidou satellite system in the 1990s with the aim of being self-sufficient in navigation technology and having an alternative system to GPS.

Recently, China successfully launched the final member in its Beidou satellite system (BDS) for global coverage constellation. It was launched from the Xichang Satellite Launch center in Sichuan Province on 23 June 2020 by a Long March 3B rocket into the orbit. The satellite launched is a part of the third generation of the BeiDou Navigation Satellite System (BDS-3) and the 55th satellite of the whole Beidou system.

The launch marked the completion of the country's domestically developed BeiDou constellation, one of four global navigation networks alongside with the United States Global Positioning System GPS, Russia's GLONASS and the European Union's Galileo. BDS is being projected by Beijing as a rival to the American Global Positioning System (GPS).

BDS-1 also known as the first generation was a constellation of 3 satellites was launched with 3 working and one backup satellite between 2000 to 2003. The first satellite under this system was launched on 30th October 2000. The BDS started providing independent services over China in 2000.

BeiDou-2 also known as the second generation of the system became operational in China in 2011 with a partial constellation of 10 satellites in orbit. This system provides coverage in the Asia-Pacific Region. The first satellite under this system was launched on 13th April 2007.

BDS-3 also known as the third generation of the system was launched on 30 March 2015. The BDS-3 System satellite has a higher bandwidth, enabling enhanced communication. This system consists of 35 satellites. They are 3 Geosynchronous satellite, 3 Inclined Geosynchronous Satellite and 24 Medium Earth Orbits Satellite. Fifteen BDS-3 satellites were launched till October 2018. BDS-3 started providing global navigation services from December 2018 to countries that had signed the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) of China.

ISRO: It is an abbreviation for the Indian Space Research Organizatin.  ISRO is the space agency of the Government of India (GoI) and was formed in 15 august 1969. It superseded the erstwhile “Indian National Committee For Space Research” (INCOSPAR) which was established in 1962 by the efforts of Independent India's first prime minister‚ Jawaharlal Nehru‚ and his close aide and scientist Vikram Sarabhai. In 1972, the Government of India had set up a Space Commission and the Department of Space (DOS), bringing ISRO under the DOS. ISRO then embarked on its mission to provide the Nation space based services and to develop the technologies to achieve the same independently. Its vision is to “harness space technology for natural development while pursuing space science research & planetary exploration”. ISRO built India’s first Satellite Aryabhata. It is headquartered in Bangalore, India. The current Chairman of ISRO is K sivan.

Recently, ISRO received a patent for its Liquid Cooling and Heating Garment (LCHG) that is suitable for space applications.

LCHG are made of biocompatible fabrics and components to provide a comfortable temperature and removal of sweat for astronauts, for use in space for protection from hot and cold environments. The patent garment has an outer layer that is made of polymeric fabric net and the inner layer of polymeric fabric tricoting that comes in contact with the wearer. The outer and inner layers are separated by tubes configured to circulate heat transfer through inlet and outlet valves. The garment permits the long term use without any impact on the wearer in terms of skin irritation or infection.

LCGH was invented by Srirangam Siripothu, Reshmi Balachandran, Saraswathi Kesava Pillai Manu, and Gurumurthy Chandrasekaran.

LCGH would provide a comfortable temperature to the astronauts wearing it in space. It can also be used in  military applications, fire fighting as well as for personal cooling and heating purposes for protection from extreme hot and cold environments of industrial areas.

ISRO has initiated the Human Space Flight Programme, Gaganyaan, to take humans to space by 2022. Under the programme, three astronauts are to orbit the earth at an altitude of 400 kilometres for 7 days. They are undergoing training in Russia.

Space Sector Reforms: The Union Cabinet recently has approved far reaching reforms in the Space sector. It was approved in the Cabinet meeting held under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Narendra Modi with an aim to boostprivate sector participation in the entire range of space activities.

The Cabinet decision comes weeks after Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced the opening up of the space sector for private entities.

Union Atomic Energy and Space Minister, Dr. Jitendra Singh informed that that government will constitute Indian National Space Promotion and Authorization Centre (IN-SPACE) for effective socio-economic usage of space technology.

The Public Sector Enterprise, New Space India Limited (NSIL) will endeavour to re-orient space activities from a supply driven model to a demand driven model, thereby ensuring optimum utilization of our space assets.

IN-SPACe will not only provide a level playing field for private companies to use Indian space infrastructure but will also guide them through encouraging policies and a friendly regulatory environment.

IN-SPACe will not be a separate institution but work as an extension into ISRO and these reforms will allow ISRO to focus more on research and development activities, new technologies, exploration missions and human spaceflight programme. The Department of Space comes under the PMO.

IISc Bangalore: It is the Indian Institute of Science located in Bangaluru city, in the Indian state of Karnataka. It is a public, deemed, research university for higher education and research in science, engineering, design, and management. The institute was established in 1909 with active support from Jamsetji Tata and Krishna Raja Wadiyar IV and thus is also locally known as the "Tata Institute". It was granted the deemed to be university status in 1958 and the Institute of Eminence status in 2018.

Recently, a research team at IISc Bangaluru developed nanozymes that destroy the cell membrane of bacteria by directly targeting its phospholipids. According to the former PhD students Kapudeep Karmakar and Kritika Khulbe, who conducted the research, the nanozymes developed by them can replace the antibiotics that have become ineffective as several bacteria have developed resistance to them by producing their own enzymes.

The study conducted by the Department of Inorganic and Physical Chemistry and the Department of Microbiology and Cell Biology was published in ACS Applied BioMaterials journal.

Nanozymes are nanomaterials that can behave like human enzymes. It can disintegrate the cell membranes of a range of diseases causing bacteria. This nanomaterial has been tested on several potentially pathogenic bacteria causing typhoid, gastroenteritis, dysentery, cholera and pneumonia. It was found that the nanozyme stopped growth and killed the microbes.

Current Affairs in Science and Technology - May 2020

JNCASR: The abbreviation stands for Jawaharlal Nehru Centre For Advanced Scientific Research. Scientists from JNCASR have recently developed “Berberine” based Alzheimer inhibitor. The scientists from JNCASR selected isoquinoline natural product Berberine to make a natural product based Alzheimer’s inhibitor.

Berberine which is used in traditional medicine as well as other applications is found in India and China. This research work of scientists from JNCASR has been published in the scientific journal iSceince.

ATULYA: It is microwave steriliser called 'ATULYA' to "disintegrate" COVID-19. ATULYA has been developed by Defence Institute of Advanced Technology, Pune. The virus gets disintegrated by differential heating in the range of 56 degree to 60 degree Celsius temperatures.

This system was tested for human and operator safety and has been found to be safe. Depending upon size and shape of various objects, time of sterilisation is from 30 seconds to one minute. The approximate weight of the system is 3 kilogrammes and it can be used for non-metallic objects only. It can be operated in portable or fixed installations.

NASA: It is an acronym for National Aeronautics and Space Administration. NASA is an independent agency of the United States Federal Government responsible for the civilian space program, as well as aeronautics and aerospace research. NASA was established in 1958, succeeding the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). It is headquartered in Washington, D.C., United States. The Administrator of NASA is Jim Bridenstine and the Deputy Administrator of NASA is James Morhard.

Recently, NASA has honoured a 17 year old Indian-origin Girl Vaneeza by naming it's First Mars helicopter as ‘Ingenuity’. Vaneeza Rupani, a high school junior from Northport, Alabama had submitted her essay into NASA’s “Name the Rover” contest. She has suggested the name ‘INGENUITY’ for the helicopter, which was chosen among 28,000 essays.

Earlier in March 2020 NASA had announced the name for its next rover to Mars as Perseverance. Perseverance and Ingenuity are scheduled to be launched in July 2020 and land at Mars in February 2021. Ingenuity will be the first aircraft to attempt powered flight on another planet.

 

JNCASR: It refers to Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research. JNCASR is a multidisciplinary research institute located at Jakkur, Bangalore, India. It is an autonomous institute which was established by the Department of Science and Technology (DST) of the Government of India, to mark the birth centenary of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru was the first prime minister of independent India.

Recently, Scientists at JNCASR headed by Prof.T.Govindaraju have developed an injectable Silk fibroin-based hydrogel for sustained insulin delivery in diabetic patients. They have developed the silk fibroin (SF) formulation using biocompatible additives and prepared an injectable SF hydrogel (iSFH) that can ease insulin delivery in diabetic patients. The gel was first tested in rats and was successful. The results have been published in the journal ACS Applied Bio Materials. 

ARCI: It refers to International Advanced Research Centre for Powder Metallurgy and New Materials. ARCI is an Autonomous Research and Development Centre of Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India. Its main campus is based at Hyderabad with operations in Chennai and Gurgaon. It was established in 1997. The main function of ARCI is the development of High Performance Materials and Processes for Niche Markets, demonstration of Technologies at Prototype / pilot scale and transfer of Technology to Indian Industry.

 Recently, the scientists at ARCI and Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute of Medical Sciences (SCTIMST), Thiruvananthapuram, under the Department of Science & Technology (DST) have jointly developed new generation Iron-Manganese based alloys for biodegradable metal implants for use in humans.

The newly developed alloys are suitable for biodegradable stent and orthopedic implant applications.

Biodegradable materials like Fe, Mg, Zn, and polymer can participate in the healing process and then degrade gradually by maintaining the mechanical integrity without leaving any implant residues in the human body. According to the scientists, the newly developed alloys are alternatives to currently used metallic implants which remain permanently in the human body and can cause long-term side effects like systemic toxicity, chronic inflammation, and thrombosis.

 

TROGLOMYCES TWITTERI: It is a new species that has just been recently discovered using a Twitter image and thus has been named as Troglomyces twitteri. This new parasitic fungus was discovered by the biologist Sofia Reboleira of University of Copenhagen, Denmark while scrolling though Twitter where she stumbled upon a photo of a North American millipede shared by her US colleague Derek Hennen of Virginia Tech. There, she spotted a few tiny dots that struck her well-trained eyes.

Troglomyces twitteri: It is a type of parasitic fungus. It belongs to an order called Laboulbeniales. These tiny fungal parasites which look like tine larvae attack insects and millipedes. These fungi live on the outside of host organisms. In this case it was found living on the reproductive organs of millipedes. Laboulbeniales were first discovered in the middle of the 19th century. 

Textiles Committee: It is a statutory body established in 1963 through an Act of Parliament and is under the administrative control of the Ministry of Textiles, Government of India. It has been formed to ensure the quality of textiles and textile machinery both for internal consumption and export purpose. The Committee is tasked with the functions of establishing laboratories for the testing of textiles and textile machinery and providing for their inspection and examination, besides other functions which flow from the main objective of ensuring quality of textiles products and textiles machinery.

Recently, the Textiles Committee Mumbai, (Maharashtra) operating under Ministry of Textiles has launched testing equipment for Personal Protection Equipment (PPE). The Committee will now on test the PPEs produced in the country. The Equipment is called Synthetic Blood Penetration Testing Equipment. This equipment tests the resistance of the PPE (masks, covers, etc) to penetration of synthetic blood under different levels of pressure.

The laboratory set up to test the PPEs was accredited by the National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL). A Unique Certification Code has been passed to test the samples submitted by the manufacturers of PPEs. The UCC has been uploaded in all official websites such as Ordnance Factory Board, DRDO (Defence Research Development Organization).

The Textiles Committee is a statutory body established in 1963 through an Act of Parliament. It functions under the administrative control of the Ministry of Textiles, Government of India. The current Textile Committee Secretary is Ajit Chavan and the current Union Textile Minister is Smriti Zubin Irani

Agappe Chitra Magna (ACM) Kit: It is a magnetic nanoparticle-based RNA extraction kit for use during testing for detection of COVID-19. The ACM kit is developed by the Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology (SCTIMST) and manufactured by Kochi-based Agappe Diagnostics Ltd. It was validated by the National Institute of Virology and the approval of the kit was provided by the Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO).

 

The ACM Kit uses an innovative technology for isolating RNA using magnetic nanoparticles to capture the RNA from the patient sample. The magnetic nanoparticle beads bind to the viral RNA and, when exposed to a magnetic field, give a highly purified and concentrated RNA. As the sensitivity of the detection method is dependent on getting an adequate quantity of viral RNA, this innovation enhances the chances of identifying positive cases.

Recently, the Government of India (GoI) announced the commercial launch of Agappe Chitra Magna. The commercial launch of the Made-In-India Medical kit seeks in helping to increase the rate of testing and bringing down its costs which is a crucial step for combating the pandemic. It will also reduce the dependence on imported kits and make COVID testing more cost-effective.

Current Affairs in Science and Technology - April 2020

ARI: It refers to Agharkar Research Institute. ARI is an autonomous institute of Government of India (GoI). It functions under the department of Science & Technology, GoI.

Recently, Scientists from Agharkar Research Institute (ARI) have developed biofortified high quality wheat MACS 4028. It has high protein content. It not only has a better nutritional quality having zinc 40.3 ppm, and iron content of 40.3ppm and 46.1ppm but also it has a good milling quality and overall acceptability. This semi-dwarf variety which matures in 102 days has shown the superior and stable yielding ability of 19.3 quintals per hectare. It is resistant to stem rust, leaf rust, foliar aphids, root aphids, and brown wheat mite.  The  development of MACS 4028 was published in the Indian Journal of Genetics and Plant Breeding.

The MACS 4028 variety is also included by the Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK) programme for United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to reduce malnutrition in a sustainable way. This new variety of wheat can boost the Vision 2022 “Kuposhan Mukt Bharat”, the National Nutrition Strategy. Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) has also tagged this variety under the Biofortified category during the year 2019.

Kuposhan Mukt Bharat: It is an initiative of the GoI to tackle the hidden hunger in the rural areas of India.  

USSF: It refers to United States Space Force. The USSF is the space warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces, and is one of the eight U.S. uniformed services. It was founded on 20 December 2019. It is headquartered at The Pentagon, Arlington, Virginia, United States. It was established by the Trump administration to identify and develop new space defence technologies. The Space Force is established also to prove US dominance in the Space among other force that is quietly establishing their powers in Space. The current and the first Chief of Space Operations is Gen John W. Raymond

Recently, The USSF launched an Advanced Extremely High-Frequency satellite (AEHF-6) for its military communications. With the launch of the satellite, US have begun its first National Security Mission.

The launching of The Lock Heed Martin AEHF-6 (Advanced Extremely High Frequency) satellite took place from the Atlas V551 rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida. The satellite is to provide global protected communications. This will enhance tactical operating warfare skills of the US on ground, aerial and maritime platform.

SCTIMST: It refers to Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology. SCTIMST is an autonomous institute which was founded in 1976 by the Government of India. It functions under the Department of Science and Technology (DST), Ministry of Science & Technology. It is one of the premier research Institutes and centers in India and is located in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, India.

Recently, SCTIMST has tied up with Wipro 3D, Bengaluru to jointly build upon a prototype of an emergency ventilator system based on Artificial Manual Breathing Unit (AMBU) which was developed by SCTIMST followed by its clinical trial and manufacture. The ventilators are expected to meet urgent requirements arising out of the Covid-19 outbreak in the country.

AMBU Bag: AMBU bag or a bag-valve-mask (BVM) is a hand-held device which is used to provide positive pressure ventilation to a patient who is either not breathing or who is breathing inadequately.

NASA: It is an acronym for National Aeronautics and Space Administration. NASA is an independent agency of the United States Federal Government responsible for the civilian space program, as well as aeronautics and aerospace research. NASA was established in 1958, succeeding the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). It is headquartered in Washington, D.C., United States. The Administrator of NASA is Jim Bridenstine and the Deputy Administrator of NASA is James Morhard. 

Recently, the US space agency, NASA selected a new mission-SunRISE (Sun Radio Interferometer Space Experiment) to study Giant Solar Particle Storms. This mission will not only help scientists to understand how the Solar System works but will also help protect future astronauts from Solar Storms while going to the Moon or Mars. The mission is led by Justin Kasper at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. It is also managed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). The mission is expected to be launched on July 1, 2023.

NASA: It is an acronym for National Aeronautics and Space Administration. NASA is an independent agency of the United States Federal Government responsible for the civilian space program, as well as aeronautics and aerospace research. NASA was established in 1958, succeeding the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). It is headquartered in Washington, D.C., United States. The Administrator of NASA is Jim Bridenstine and the Deputy Administrator of NASA is James Morhard. 

Recently, the US space agency, NASA selected a new mission-SunRISE (Sun Radio Interferometer Space Experiment) to study Giant Solar Particle Storms. This mission will not only help scientists to understand how the Solar System works but will also help protect future astronauts from Solar Storms while going to the Moon or Mars. The mission is led by Justin Kasper at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. It is also managed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). The mission is expected to be launched on July 1, 2023.

DRDO: It is an acronym for the Defence Research and Development Organisation. DRDO is India's largest research organisation. It was founded in 1958. It is headquartered in New Delhi, India. It is an agency under the Ministry of Defence, Government of India.

It is charged with the military's research and development. It has a network of laboratories engaged in developing defence technologies covering various fields, like aeronautics, armaments, electronics, land combat engineering, life sciences, materials, missiles, and naval systems. The Minister currently responsible for DRDO is Rajnath Singh, Minister of Defence. The present Chairman of DRDO is Dr. G. Satheesh Reddy.

Recently, DRDO has developed a Bio-suit named as “Personal Protective Equipment”(PPE). The Bio-suit is capable of keeping medical, paramedical, staff nurse, and other personnels  who are engaged in combating with Coronavirus disease safe from the deadly virus.

This Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) has been prepared and tested rigorously for textile parameters as well as protection against synthetic blood as per the criteria defined for body suits by Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW).

JNCASR: It refers to Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research. JNCASR is a multidisciplinary research institute located at Jakkur, Bangalore, India. It is an autonomous institute which was established by the Department of Science and Technology (DST) of the Government of India, to mark the birth centenary of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru was the first prime minister of independent India.

Recently, in yet another breakthrough by Indian Scientists, a protective chemical coating likely to be effective against COVID-19 has been approved by the Department of Science & Technology (DST). The antimicrobial coating to tackle the spread of deadly influenza virus, the main cause behind severe respiratory infections has been developed by JNCASR (Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research). The technology has been developed by Professor Jayanta Haldar's group at JNCASR including Sreyan Ghosh, Dr. Riya Mukherjee, and Dr. Debajyoti Basak.

The coating is likely to be used on PPEs, masks, gowns, gloves, face shields, used by doctors for enhanced protection. The Science and Engineering Research Board, a unit of the DST also supports the further development of the coating for India's combat against COVID-19.

 During the research, the coating has proven efficient in 100% destruction of the influenza virus. The coated surfaces completely killed different drug-resistant bacteria and fungi as well within 30 to 45 minutes. The leading scientists believe that the coating may also be effective in destroying the novel Coronavirus. The coating is likely to be used on PPEs, masks, gowns, gloves, face shields, used by doctors for enhanced protection.

NASA: It is an acronym for National Aeronautics and Space Administration. NASA is an independent agency of the United States Federal Government responsible for the civilian space program, as well as aeronautics and aerospace research. NASA was established in 1958, succeeding the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). It is headquartered in Washington, D.C., United States. The Administrator of NASA is Jim Bridenstine and the Deputy Administrator of NASA is James Morhard. 

Recently, NASA unveiled plan to setup Artemis, the first human base camp on Moon’s South Pole by 2024. NASA also released a 13-page report titled “NASA’s Plan for Sustained Lunar Exploration and Development”. The 13 page report submitted by NASA to the National Space Council offered a summary of how the space agency will accomplish the 2024 moon landing mission. As per the report, Artemis base Camp will demonstrate the US’s continued leadership in space and will help them prepare to undertake humanity’s first mission to Mars.

The Artemis program aims to land first woman and next man on the moon by 2024. NASA's initial plan is to make a one to two-month stay at the South Pole of the moon to learn more about it and the universe. It also gives information on what the US would achieve from a long-term presence on the moon and lunar orbit. 

The Artemis program is carried out by NASA along with European Space Agency (ESA), the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), Canadian Space Agency (CSA) and the Australian Space Agency (ASA).

Madhubangajar: It is a bio fortified Carrots that has been developed by farmer scientist Shri Vallabhai Vastambhai Marvaniya. The Madhuban gajar is very nutritious has high ß-carotene and iron content. The highly nutritious Madhuvangajar  variety is developed through the selection method with higher ß-carotene content of 277.75 mg/kg and an iron content of 276.7 mg/kg dry basis.

The variety is being cultivated in more than 1000 hectares of land in Gujarat, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh during the last three years. Madhuban Gajar is benefitting more than 150 local farmers in Junagadh. It is planted in an area of over 200 hectares by the local farmers and it has become the main source of income for the local farmers. The Madhubangajar is not only used for various value-added products like carrot chips, juices, and pickles but also as a fodder to improve the quality of milk.

The validation trials of the carrot were conducted by National Innovation Foundation (NIF) India, at Rajasthan Agricultural Research Institute (RARI), Jaipur, between 2016 and 2017. NIF operates under Department of Science and Technology (DST).

Vallabhai Vastambhai Marvaniya: He is a by farmer scientist from Junagadh district, Gujarat. He was conferred with a National Award by the President of India at Rashtrapati Bhavan, New Delhi during Festival of Innovation (FOIN)–2017. He was also conferred with Padma Shri in the year 2019 for his extraordinary work.

International Day of Human Space Flight: The day was observed on 12 April 2020 to commemorate the anniversary of the first historic human space flight which was carried out by a Soviet citizen Yuri Gagarin On 12th of April 1961.  April 12 was also the date of the first Space Shuttle launch, STS-1 of Columbia in 1981, which is also commemorated on this date.

The United Nations General Assembly, at its 65th session, in its resolution of 7 April 2011, declared 12 April as the International Day of Human Space Flight  to celebrate the beginning of the space era for mankind, the contribution of space science and technology in achieving sustainable development goals and increasing the well-being of States and peoples. The day also aims to promote aspirations to explore and maintain outer space for peaceful purposes.

Yuri Gagarin crewed the Vostok 1 space flight in 1961, making one orbit around the Earth over 108 minutes in the Vostok 3KA spacecraft launched by Vostok-K launch vehicle. This historic event opened the way for space exploration for the benefit of all humanity.

In the Soviet Union, April 12 was commemorated as Cosmonautics Day since 1963. It is still observed in Russia and some former Soviet states. Yuri's Night, also known as "World Space Party" is an international observance initiated in the United States in 2001, on the 40th anniversary of Gagarin's flight.

NIF: It refers to the National Innovation Foundation India. NIF was founded in 2000. It is located in Gandhinagar,Gujarat. It functions under the Department of Science and Technology (DST), Ministry of Science & Technology, Government of India (GoI). The responsibility of NIF is to provide institutional support for spawning, sustaining, scouting, and scaling up grassroots innovations across the country.

Recently, NIF have developed an indigenous herbal medication (dewormer) called Wormivet. This herbal medication is an alternative to chemical methods that are currently being used to treat worms among livestock. It is developed in the form of commercial products for livestock owners. It is a medication to treat endoparasite (worm) infestation among livestock sent by Harshadbhai Patel, Gujarat. The medication was assessed by NIF and found that the medication in treatment of endoparasite (worm) infestation among livestock worked and was found to be unique.

MoEFCC: It refers to the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change. MoEFCC is a nodal agency at the central government level. The main functions of MoEFCC are planning, coordination and implementation body of India's environment and forest policies and programmes in the country. It is headquartered in New Delhi. The current Minister responsible for MoEFCC is Cabinet Minister Prakash Javedkar.

Recently, MoEFCC has recategorized all the bulk drugs manufacturers under category ‘A’ to category ‘B2’. For this purpose an amendment was made on 27 March 2020 to the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) Notification 2006.

The projects that fall under Category 'A' require mandatory EIA  whereas the projects that fall under the  ‘B2’ category are exempted of the Environment Impact Assessment(EIA).

The amendment aims to address the unprecedented situation arising due to the COVID-19 pandemic and increase the availability of various drugs.

EIA: It refers to Environment Impact Assessment. EIA is a process of evaluating environmental impacts either positive or negative caused due to a plan, policy, program, or actual projects prior to the decision to move forward with the proposed action  The EIA is backed by the Environment Protection Act, 1986. The purpose of the assessment is to ensure that decision makers consider the environmental impacts when deciding whether or not to proceed with a project. The EIA follows 4 stages that are screening, scoping, public hearing and appraisal.

ICMR: It is an abbreviation for the Indian Council of Medical Research. The ICMR is the apex body in India for the formulation, coordination and promotion of biomedical research. It was founded in 1911 by the Government of India Indian Research Fund Association (IRFA) but was redesignated as the  Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) in 1949. It is funded by the Government of India through the Department of Health Research, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. The governing body of the council is presided over by the Union Health Minister. It is also one of the oldest and largest medical research bodies in the world. It is headquartered in New Delhi. the current Secretary & Director General of ICMR is Dr. Balram Bhargava.

Recently, ICMR researchers have found coronaviruses in 2 species of bats that are Pteropus and Rousettus in India. According to the study published in the Indian Journal of Medical Research. 25 bats of Rousettus and Pteropus species from Kerala, Himachal Pradesh, Puducherry and Tamil Nadu were found positive for BtCoV in Kerala, Himachal Pradesh, Puducherry and Tamil Nadu. The study was carried out from samples collected between 2018 and 2019.

Dr Pragya D Yadav, Scientist at the National Institute of Virology (NIV), Pune and also the first author of study stated that there was no evidence or research to claim that these bat coronaviruses can cause disease in humans.

However, ICMR stated that active surveillance of bats is also essential to find the emerging strains of the virus.

Bats are recognised as the natural reservoir for many viruses, of which some can infect humans. Many viruses have their origin in bat species. Bats are known to harbour coronaviruses and serves as reservoirs.

GBRC: It refers to Gujarat Biotechnology Research Centre. GBRC was established in 2017 by the Department of Science and Technology, Government of Gujarat. It was established to undertake Biotechnology research in the state priority areas. The major strength of GBRC is Biobanking, Bioprospecting, Genomics, and Bioinformatics.The focus of GBRC is to conduct cutting-edge research leading to Product/ Prototype/ Process development with application in Healthcare, Agriculture, Environment, and Marine.

Recently, the scientists at GRBC have succeeded in decoding the entire genome sequence of the novel coronavirus. They have also identified three new mutations of COVID-19 virus. With this, GBRC has become the first state government laboratory in India to achieve this. The breakthrough will help the country in an ongoing fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

Now, at present there are 9 mutations including the newly found mutations of the virus that have been found. According to Dr Chaitanya Joshi, Director of GBRC the virus could mutate for various reasons, adding that a virus can mutate two times in a month’s time.

The first genome sequence of the COVID-19 virus was found by Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention in Bejing.

Genome Sequencing: The Genome Sequencing is a method that is used to determine the DNA sequence of genome of an organism. Under this method samples are obtained from the positive tested patients and then these samples are sent to the sequencing centers.

NIF: It refers to the National Innovation Foundation India. NIF is an autonomous body of the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India. It was set up in February 2000 at Ahmedabad, Gujarat. Its mission is to provide institutional support for scouting, spawning, sustaining and scaling up the grassroots innovations across the country.

Recently, NIF has developed an indigenous herbal medication (dewormer) in the form of commercial products for livestock owners. The dewormer has been named wormivet.

NIF worked on a medication in treatment of endoparasite (worm) infestation among livestock sent by Harshadbhai Patel, Gujarat.

The product is to be an alternative to the chemical method of treatment of worms.

TIFAC: It refers to Technology Information, Forecasting and Assessment Council. It is an autonomous technology think tank that was established in 1988. It operates under Department of Science and Technology. The main objective of TIFAC is to foresee the technological innovation in select technology areas which are of national importance. The Technology Vision 2035 released by PM Modi at the 103rd Science Congress was prepared by TIFAC.

Recently, TIFAC has planned to come up with a white paper to strategize revival of post-COVID 19 Indian economy. The main objective of the document is to strengthen Make in India initiatives and also to commercialize Indigenous technology. 

It aims to focus on developing a technology-driven transparent Public Distribution System (PDS),  efficient rural health care delivery, adoption of emerging technology domains such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning, Data Analytics and many more.

TIFAC’s team of scientists from a range of disciplines is exploring the best methods to revive the Indian economy and reduce the impact on it post COVD 19.

Feluda: It is a low cost COVID-19 test strip developed by the Scientists at the Council of Scientific & Industrial Research's Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (CSIR-IGIB) in New Delhi. This low cost Coronavirus testing kit gets results in less than one hour. It was developed by two scientists Dr Debojyoti Chakraborty and Dr Souvik Maiti. The affordable test has been named after Feluda, after the detective character 'Feluda' in legendary filmmaker Satyajit Ray's stories.

The test is expected to cost around Rs 500 against the usual RT-PCR test that costs Rs 4,500 in private labs.

CSIR-IGIB: It refers to Council of Scientific & Industrial Research's Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology. The Director General of Council of Scientific and Industrial Research is Shekhar C. Mande while the Director of Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology is Anurag Agrawal.

CSIR is a department under the Union Ministry of Science and Technology. CSIR was established by the Government of India in September 1942. It operates as an autonomous body through the Societies Registration Act, 1860.

IIA: It refers to the Indian Institute of Astrophysics. IIA is a premier institute devoted to research in astrophysics. It is based in Bengaluru, Karnataka.

Recently, researchers at IIA, Bengaluru discovered hundreds of Li-rich giant stars. The discovery proves that Li is being produced in the stars and accounts for its abundance in the interstellar medium.

They have also established the connection between Lithium rich Helium (He) burning stars with red giant stars also known as red clump giants.

This association could open up new vistas in the evolution of the red giant stars.

The team cracked the long-standing problem in stellar astrophysics.

This association could open up new vistas in the evolution of the red giant stars.

NIF: It refers to the National Innovation Foundation of India. NIF is an autonomous body of the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India. It was set up in February 2000 at Ahmedabad, Gujarat. Its mission is to provide institutional support for scouting, spawning, sustaining and scaling up the grassroots innovations across the country.

Recently, NIF has developed ten varieties of Anthurium, a flower with high market value, by cross-pollination. It was developed by D Vasini Bai, a women innovator from Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala. She has not only developed large and medium-size flowers with uncommon color combinations of spathe and spadix but also developed a new method for raising the seedlings in limited space using corrugated asbestos sheets. Anthurium is a vast group of beautiful blooming plants available in a wide range of colors. The plants of the varieties are having high demands due to its use as indoor decorative plants.

Anthurium: Anthurium is a genus of about 1000 species of flowering plants, the largest genus of the arum family, Araceae. General common names include anthurium, tailflower, flamingo flower, and laceleaf. It is a vast group of beautiful blooming plants available in a wide range of colors. It is one of the best domestic flowering plants in the world. They are not only beautiful but also purify the surrounding air and remove harmful airborne chemicals like formaldehyde, ammonia, toluene, xylene, and allergens.

NASA has placed it in the list of air purifier plants because of its importance of removing toxic substances from the air. Anthurium has larger economic importance because of its eye-catching and beautiful inflorescence and fetches a good market price.

Current Affairs in Science and Technology - March 2020

INCOIS: It is an acronym for Indian National Centre for Ocean Information. INCOIS is an autonomous organization that functions under the Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES). It was established in 1999. It is headquartered in Pragathi Nagar, Hyderabad. The organizations have provided a number of free services to users in the marine realm.

Recently, INCOIS launched 3 ocean-based advanced warning systems- Swell Surge Forecast System (SSFS), Algal Bloom Information Service (ABIS) and the Small Vessel Advisory and Forecast Services System (SVAS). The main objective of this technology is to significantly reduce damage and losses to fishermen, offshore oil exploration industries and coastal population during extreme weather and oceanic events.

Swell Surges: Swell Surges often referred to as surface gravity waves as they are caused due to surface gravity. They are not the normal wind waves as Wind Waves are generated by the by the local winds. The swell waves originating from the Southern Indian Ocean frequently cause damage to the coastal region. They are like flash floods which take place without any noticeable changes in local winds or coastal environment. They cause damage to the boats and nets of the fishermen and are often mistaken for tsunamis.

National Science Day: The day is celebrated by India on 28 February since 1987 every year. It is celebrated to honour the discovery of 'Raman Effect'. The Raman Effect was discovered by the Professor Sir C V Raman on February 28, 1928. He was later awarded the Nobel Prize for this discovery in 1930.

On 28 February 2020, India celebrated National Science Day 2020. The theme this year was "Women in Science". It was celebrated at Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi. The theme aims to appreciate the contribution of women in the field of science.

C V Raman: Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman was born on 7th November 1888 in the then Madras Presidency (Tamil Nadu) in British India. He was exceptional in studies. He passed the matriculation at only 11 years of age. Two years later, he passed the Intermediate-level of exam and joined the Presidency College in 1902. He was fascinated with the scattering of light since his early years. It was in Indian Association for the Cultivation of Science (IACS) Calcuta that Raman was carrying out experiments on scattering of light that he ended up discovering the Raman Effect in 1928. He discovered the change in wavelength of light that is seen when a beam of light is deflected by molecules. This scattering phenomenon was later termed as ‘Raman scattering’ or the ‘Raman effect’.Raman was appointed to be the first Indian director of Indian Institute of Science (IIS) in 1933. He became the first National Professor of the India after India gained independence in 1947. He received the highest civilian award from his home country, the Bharat Ratna, in 1954.

CRISPR (CaS9): It stands for Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats. It is a Gene Editing Tool used to treat blindness.

A person with a genetic condition that causes blindness has become the first to receive a CRISPR–Cas9 gene therapy administered directly into their body. The patient underwent the procedure at the Casey Eye Institute at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland. However, the doctors said that it may take up to a month to see whether the procedure worked to restore vision.

Genome India Project: It is a gene-mapping project.  The Department of Biotechnology (DBT) has initiated this project. This initiative involves twenty leading institutions including the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) in Bengaluru and a few Indian Institute of Technology (IITs).

 Recently, the Department of Biotechnology under the Ministry of Science and Technology cleared the Genome India Project. India will begin its first human genome mapping project by October 2020. In the first phase, the project will take samples of 10,000 persons to develop a reference Genome.

The Centre for Brain Research, which is an autonomous institute in the IISc, Bengaluru, will act as a nodal point of the project. The Government of India (GoI) was inspired by the Human Genome Project.

The Human Genome Project started in 1990 and ended in 2003. It was an international project funded by the US government. The objective of this project was to map the human genome and gather them together to obtain a complete sequence of chromosomes. This led to mapping of nucleotides in the genome.

ICONSAT: It refers to the International Conference on Nano Science and Technology. ICONSAT is a series of biennial international conferences held under the aegis of the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India (GoI). India's nano technology journey began with the launch of "Nano Science and Technology Initiative" (NSTI) for 5 years in 2001. Then in 2007 it was renamed as "Nano Mission". The aim of the Nano Mission of India is to provide a global platform for interaction between eminent scientists.

Recently, the Department of Science of Technology operating under Ministry of Science and Technology organized an International Conference on Nano-Science and and Nano Technology (ICONSAT) at Kolkata. The Conference was held from 5th March 2020 to 7th March 2020.The main aim of the conference is to provide a platform for the young researchers & students from within the country and abroad, with the latest development in the emerging areas of Nano Science and Technology.

The conference focused on the recent advances in this frontier research field. The current need of India in the field of Nano-Science was also highlighted during the event. It included 5Ms namely Material, Machines, Mechanical, Manufacturing and Manpower. The Conference was attended by more than 450 scientists from all over the world.

NASA: It is an abbreviation for National Aeronautics and Space Administration. It is headquartered in Washington D.C., United States. The current Administrator of NASA is Jim Bridenstine.

Recently, NASA named the 5th Mars (red planet) rover as Perseverance. Earlier, the project has been known only by its code name - Mars 2020.  The name was announced by the director of science, Thomas Zurbuchen at an event in Lake Braddock Secondary School in Burke, Virginia. The name "Perseverance" was suggested by a 7th standard Student Alexander Mather from Virginia. His name was chosen out of 28,000 entries that participated in NASA's naming competition.  

Perseverance: Perseverance is a Mars rover manufactured by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory for use in NASA's Mars 2020 mission. The Perseverance rover has a new, more capable wheel design, among other improvements. It is used to collect the samples from the Martian rocks which help the scientists to determine about the ancient microbial life that existed in red planet. It is the fifth exploratory vehicle which will begin the process of trying to bring rocks back to Earth for study. The other four Mars rover are Sojourner, Spirit, Opportunity and Curiosity.

TIH: It refers to Technology Innovation Hub. As a part of the National Mission on Interdisciplinary Cyber-Physical Systems (NM-ICPS), the Department of Science and Technology (DST) sanctioned a sum of Rs 7.25 crore to IIT Mandi, to establish a Technology Innovation Hub (TIH). TIH will be established at the institute in Himachal Pradesh.

The main focus of TIH will be on human-computer interaction (HCI) research. The projects will highlight designing and developing computer technology (interfaces), and study the interaction between humans (users) and entrepreneurship. It will also collaborate with other leading institutes. The function of TIH is to develop tools, education material, hands-on experiments with specialized tool kits, connecting with existing innovation ecosystems.

It will not only inter-link with different stakeholders but also connect with other initiatives of the Government of India. It seeks to provide an innovation platform for schools, colleges and advanced technical training institutes in the targeted areas.

TIFAC: It refers to Technology Information Forecasting and Assessment Council. The TIFAC is an autonomous body under ministry and it functions under the Department of Science & Technology, Ministry of Science & Technology. It was founded in 1988. Its function is to foresee the technological innovation in select technology areas that are of national importance.

Recently, TIFAC launched the Vigyan Jyoti scheme. The scheme was launched on International Women's Day. The main aim of the scheme is to encourage women to pursue science.

Vigyan Jyoti: It was launched by the President of India Ram Nath kovind. It is an initiative to promote Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Education among girls.

Under the scheme, selected women from more than 500 districts will be given opportunities to attend science camps at Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), NITs, and other leading institutions of science and technology education where women are not adequately represented.

Huntington disease (HD): It is a progressive genetic disorder that affects the brain. It causes uncontrolled movements, impaired coordination of balance and movement, a decline in cognitive abilities, difficulty in concentrating and memory lapses, mood swings and personality changes. The cause of this disease is due to mutation in a gene called HTT. The main function of HTT genes is the production of a protein called Huntingtin. They provide the instruction for making the protein. The mutation of HTT gene gives faulty instructions and as a result the normal functioning of the brain is disrupted resulting in Huntington disease.

Recently, a team of scientists from National Centre for Cell Science (NCCS) in Pune led by Dr. Amitabha Majumdar unravelled that the pathogenic protein called the Huntingtin Protein causes decrease in overall protein production. They found that Huntingtin protein in a diseased person interfered with the protein production of the cells and how faulty information was sent to the brain. They are also the cause of the reduced level of protein production of a normal cell.

INST: It refers to Institute of Nano Science and Technology. It is an autonomous institute of Department of Science & Technology, Government of India under the Society Registration Act, 1960. It was established in January 2013 under the National Mission of Nano Science and Technology or NANO mission. The main aim of the  mission is to promote growth of nano science and technology. The Chairperson of INST is C. N. Ramachandra Rao.

Recently, INST developed a starch-based ‘hemostat’ material named calcium-modified carboxymethyl-starch which absorbs excess fluid by concentrating the natural clotting factors in the blood that stops the rapid blood loss.

Starch Based Hemostat possesses increased absorption capacity and improved absorption. It is inexpensive, biocompatible and biodegradable. This product was developed by Dr Ghosh’s team developed as a realistic solution for lower-income economies worldwide.

Current Affairs in Science and Technology - Feburary 2020

ISRO: It is the acronym for Indian Space Research Organisation. It is the space agency of the Government of India and has its headquarters in the city of Bengaluru. Its vision is to "harness space technology for national development while pursuing space science research & planetary exploration". It was founded on 15 August 1969 by Vikram Sarabhai. The Director of ISRO is Kailasavadivoo Sivan.

Recently, ISRO announced that it is preparing low-cost satellite launch vehicles costing around RS. 30-35 crores. These vehicles are capable of carrying satellites weighing 500 kg. The first launch from the country is expected to take place in the next four months.

An amount of 1,600 million USD has been allocated by ISRO to manufacture these satellite vehicles. 870 million USD from the allocated amount is to be used to produce PSLV (Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle) while the remaining is to be used for Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle. This capability will help ISRO give a big commercial boost as it will be able to cater to micro, mini and medium segments of the market.

India also aims for opportunities to join hands France Space agencies to set up a model for the Moon Programme that is currently under operation in India.

NASA: It stands for National Aeronautics and Space Administration. NASA is an independent agency of the United States Federal Government responsible for the civilian space program, as well as aeronautics and aerospace research. NASA was established in 1958, succeeding the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics. The founder of NASA is Dwight D. Eisenhower It is headquartered in Washington, D.C., United States.

Recently, NASA's Parker Solar Probe took one step closer to the sun when it executed its 4th flyby of our star. The Parker Solar Probe's trajectory carried the warhead within about 11.6 million miles (18.6 million kilometers) of the sun, more than 3 million miles (5 million km) closer than previous flybys. By doing so it broke its own record for the closest a spacecraft has come to the sun. The probe will continue to do repeatedly over the course of its seven-year mission.

This is the 1st such maneuver, called a perihelion, that the spacecraft has completed since swinging past Venus in December, a move that shrank the probe's orbit. The main objective of Parker Solar Probe is making a series of 24 close flybys on the sun through 2025 in order to help scientists understand how the sun works.

Innovation Festival: It is one of its kind festival that is being organized by the Arunachal Pradesh State Council for Science & Technology in collaboration with the National Innovation Foundation.

The ‘Innovation Festival’ kic------------------------------------------------------------------------------ked off at the Science Centre in Itanagar, Arunachal Pradesh. The main aim of the Innovation Festival is to foster the culture of innovation among all people of the state, especially in all the educational institutions. The two-day programme will witness interaction sessions, technical session and discussion among the innovators and motivation by several eminent personalities, scholars and persons from educational institutions.

DST: It refers to Department of Science and Technology. The DSF works under the Ministry of Science and Technology. It was founded in May 1971. It is headquartered in New Delhi.

Recently, DST launched a special scheme called “Sophisticated Analytical & Technical Help Institutes (SATHI)”. The scheme aims to create shared, professionally managed and strong Science and Technology infrastructure in India. The SATHI scheme will enable academia, start-ups, manufacturing, industry and R&D labs to offer high-end analytical testing. This will not only help to avoid duplication, reduce the dependency on foreign sources but also foster a strong culture of collaboration between institutions.
Christina Koch: She is a 41 year old astronaut from USA. She broke the world record for the most time spent by a woman in space. She has spent 328 days on International Space Station (ISS), surpassing the previous record of 289 days was held by fellow American Peggy Whitson.

She returned home safely after an 11 month mission.

OneWeb company: It is a UK based company. The company is headquartered in London, England. The CEO of OneWeb company is Adrian Steckel.

The UK-based OneWeb company start-up is building a mega-constellation in the sky to deliver broadband internet to all corners of the globe. It has sent 34 satellites into orbit on a single Soyuz rocket, from Baikonur port, Kazakhstan. The company seeks to have the full network in operation by the end of 2021.

The company seeks to have the full network in operation by the end of 2021. Its intended goal is to provide internet services to "everyone, everywhere" delivering much-needed connectivity to rural and remote places as well as to a range of markets including aero, maritime, land mobility, cellular backhaul.

This is the 50th Soyuz mission conducted by Arianespace and the company plans to perform 19 more medium-lift Soyuz from three spaceports by 2021.

Baby Giant Planet: The scientists from Rochester Institute of Technology has discovered the nearest-known ‘baby giant planet’ which is named as “2MASS 1155-7919 b”. The data from Gaia space observatory was used by the scientists to find the baby giant planet.

This massive newborn planet is closer to Earth and is located in the Epsilon Chamaeleontis Association. It lies only about 330 light-years from our solar system.

This planet which has only ten times the mass of Jupiter orbits a star that is about 5 million years old.

The discovery offers an exciting new way to study how gas giants form.

The findings were published in Research Notes of the American Astronomical Society.

Apiary on Wheels: Apiary on Wheels is a holistic approach to address the challenges faced by the beekeepers. It is a platform to carry 20 Bee Boxes from one place to another without any difficulty. The vehicle has 2 large wheels on either side of a 4 separate compartments to place the boxes. It is designed in such a way that it can easily be connected with tractors or trolleys. It is connected with a solar panel system that automatically triggers a fan inside the compartment as soon as the temperature reaches 35-degree centigrade or above. Cooling with the help of solar panels and sugar drips with zero risks to the lives of bees.

Recently, Union Minister of Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) Nitin Gadkari flagged off 'Apiary on Wheels' on 13 February. The concept designed by the Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) was launched as a part of National Honey Mission launched in 2017. It aims to addresses the challenges faced by the beekeepers. The mission since its launch has been training beekeepers, educating unemployed youths, distributing bee boxes in order for them to earn extra income through beekeeping activities at their doorstep. Under the mission, KVIC provides training and awareness to Bee farmers.

Current Affairs in Science and Technology - January 2020

DRDO: It refers to the Defense Research Development Organization. The DRDO is an agency of the Government of India, charged with the military's research and development, headquartered in New Delhi, India. It was founded in 1958.

The Defense Research Development Organization (DRDO) test fired the Quick Reaction Surface to Air Missile (QRSAM) successfully. The test fire was conducted on 23 December 2019 at the Integrated Test Range, Chandipur, off the Odisha coast.  The QRSAM was flight-tested with full configuration in deployment mode intercepting the target mid-air, meeting the mission objectives. The entire event was monitored by Ground Telemetry Systems, Range Radar Systems and Electro Optical Tracking System.

QRSAM: Quick Reaction Surface to Air Missile System (QRSAM) is a Short Range Surface to Air Missile system designed to protect moving armored columns from aerial attacks. The entire weapon system is configured on highly mobile platforms and is capable of providing air defense on the move. It was developed by DRDO along with Bharat Electronics Limited for the Indian Army.

New Laser Technology: scientists in China have developed a new laser technology that is the 'space junk identification system' that can measure the space junk accurately. The researchers found a new way of using lasers to find space junk in a way similar to how bats use echolocation to track their prey. A unique set of algorithms for the laser ranging telescopes has improved the success rate of space debris detection. Laser ranging technique uses laser reflection from the objects to measure their distance. However, it has proved tricky to exactly pinpoint the swift, small specks of space Junk.

Space Junk: Earth is surrounded by space junk. This junk is formed from fragments of old satellites to exploded spacecraft. The clutter is a potential hazard for current and future spaceflight. Even small pieces of space junk can damage satellites and spacecraft as they whiz around Earth at up to about 17,500 mph. According to NASA uncountable debris is as small as a marble while millions are too small to be traced and some are just paint flecks from spacecraft. Even these very tiny particles have caused damage to the windows of the International Space Station.   

Annular eclipse: An annular solar eclipse happens when the Moon covers the Sun's center, leaving the Sun's visible outer edges to form a “ring of fire” or annulus around the Moon. The ring of fire marks the maximum stage of an annular solar eclipse.

The annular solar eclipse occured in 26 December 2019. The eclipse was witnessed by thousands of people, including children and the aged, especially in northern districts of Kerala, while in some places, due to the clouds, it was not visible. The rare spectacle was first visible at Cheruvathur in Kasaragod, in the state followed by places in Kozhikode and Kannur.

Hundreds of devotees also reached the Ganga Ghat in Uttar Pradesh's Varanasi for a holy dip in the river and offered special prayers on the occasion of solar eclipse.

Russia: Russia, officially the Russian Federation, is a transcontinental country in Eastern Europe and North Asia. Its Capital is Moscow. The currency used there is Russian ruble. The President of Russia is Vladimir Putin.

Russia has deployed its ‘world’s first’ unstoppable hypersonic nuclear weapon. Russia’s defense ministry stated that a new hypersonic weapon with latest strategic missiles of intercontinental range has become operational.

Avangard Hypersonic missile system: It is Russia’s first missile unit equipped with Avangard Hypersonic glide vehicle. It can carry a nuclear weapon of up to 2 megatons. It is designed using new composite materials to withstand temperatures of up to 2,000 Celsius resulting from a flight through the atmosphere at hypersonic speeds. The Avangard is ‘invulnerable to interception’ and can travel at 27 times the speed of sound, before unleashing a two megaton blast more than 100 times as powerful as the bomb which wiped out Hiroshima.

China: China, officially the People's Republic of China, is a country in East Asia and is the world's most populous country. Its capital is Beijing. The currency used there is Renminbi. The President of China is Xi Jinping.

China has successfully launched its largest carrier rocket “Long March-5“carrying the Shijian-20 satellite. The rocket was launched from Wenchang Space Launch Center (WSLC) in south China’s Hainan Province. The rocket is also known as CZ-5. It was China’s third attempt to launch the rocket.

The Shijian-20 satellite is a communication satellite and it was placed into its designated orbit. The satellite will lay the foundation for the development of highly sensitive space probes. It is China’s heaviest and most advanced communications satellite in geosynchronous orbit.

Christina Hammock Koch: She is an American engineer from Livingston, Montana and a NASA astronaut who is onboard the International Space Station (ISS) since 14 March 2019.

Christina Koch creates a record for the longest single spaceflight by a woman, surpassing the earlier record of 288 days in space. By the time she arrives back on Earth in February 2020, she will have spent more than 300 days in space. She has surpassed the earlier record of 288 days in space which was previously established by NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson in 2017. Koch also has set another milestone as part of first all-female spacewalking team in October 2019 which was her 4th spacewalk.

The world record for the single longest mission by any space explorer whether man or woman, is held by cosmonaut Valery Polyakov, who spent 438 consecutive days on board Russia’s former space station Mir from January 1994 to March 1995.

IIT Guwahati: Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Guwahati researchers has developed materials that can produce energy from water, on a small scale in household environments to support the decentralization of energy sources.

IIT-G researchers used the nanoscale phenomenon called ‘Electrokinetic streaming potential’ to harvest energy from flowing water on a small length scale including water flowing through household water taps.

To extract power from stagnant water, devices by employing doped graphene flakes fabricated by them.The complementary charge transfer activities of doped graphene flakes based devices generate power just upon dipping in any kind of water source including lake, river or seawater.

A research team led by Dr. Kalyan Raidongia, Department of Chemistry, IIT Guwahati, along with his research team Jumi Deka, Suresh Kumar, Kundan Saha and Hemant Kumar Srivastava worked on this novel research. Their findings were recently published in ACS Applied Nanomaterials.

The generation of energy from water in various forms – river flow, ocean tides, stagnant water, and even raindrops, is now known as “blue energy”. While hydroelectric power from rivers is the traditional form of blue energy, there have been efforts to harness the power of water in other ways in recent years.

Thoothukdi: It is a place in Tamil Nadu where India’s second spaceport for launching small satellites would be located. Thoothukudi is about 600 km southeast of Chennai. ISRO (Indian Space Research Organization) chief K Sivan announced it on 1 January 2020. The space center will be established in 2300 acres of land. According to the ISRO chief the new location is ideal for launching smaller satellites of less than 500 kg in the sun-synchronous orbit. The ISRO Chairman also announced that the Government has approved the Chandrayaan–3 mission to the moon, comprising of a lander and a rover. Gaganyaan is to be launched by 2022.

The country's first spaceport is at Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh, about 90 km northeast of Chennai.

Swarna Jayanti Fellowships: Swaran Jayanti Fellowships are awarded to young and brilliant scientists to pursue research with financial freedom and flexibility.

The Union Ministry of Science and Technology Dr Harsh Vardhan have awarded Swarna Jayanti Fellowships to 14 scientists. The award is conferred to them to pursue basic research in frontier areas of science and technology. The fellowship covers all the requirements for performing the research and includes a fellowship of 25 thousand rupees per month. A research grant of 5 lakh rupees for 5 years is also being provided in addition to their salary.

DRDO: It refers to Defence Research Development Organization. Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday dedicated the five Young Scientists Laboratories of Defense Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) to the nation at a function held at Aeronautical Development Establishment. It is here that Former President Abdul Kalam had joined DRDO. The labs will give wings to thoughts and action to young scientists.

US Space Force: The United States Space Force is the space operations service branch of the U.S. Armed Forces. It is one of the eight U.S. uniformed services. It is the sixth branch of the U.S. military, and the youngest as well as the first new armed service since the establishment of the independent U.S. Air Force in 1947. It was founded on 20 December 2019 and its Commander-in Chief is President Donald Trump. It is headquartered in the Pentagon, Arlington County, Virginia, United States.

The President of United States Donald Trump has signed the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act which authorizes the establishment of US Space Force. The Space Force would be part of the Department of the Air Force. The launch of the Space Force which will be led by Air Force General Jay Raymond will be funded initially an amount of $40m for its first year.

HSFC: It is an acronym for Human Space Flight Centre. HSFC is a body under ISRO to coordinate Indian Human Spaceflight Programme. The HSFC was formally announced in January 2019. Currently it works from a temporary place at the ISRO headquarters in Bengaluru, Karnataka.

Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) has proposed 2,700-crore master plan to create top infrastructure that will house its young Human Space Flight Centre (HSFC) which will become the single-stop consolidating infrastructure and activities related to space travelers. This was announced by ISRO Chairman and Secretary, Department of Space K Sivan on 6 January 2020. This astronaut hub will be established Challakere, Chitradurga district of Karnataka. The expensive facility for training astronauts will be established on 400 acres of land. After establishing the centre, everything connected with events and planning of the Human Spaceflight Programme (HSP) will be moved to the Challakere campus. The facility is expected to become operational in 3 years. Challakere is also known as Science City and houses ISRO facilities and those of the Defence Research and Development Organisation’s Advanced Aeronautical Test Range, the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre and the Indian Institute of Science.

The main aim of ISRO is to establish a self-contained training facility here and bring all the features that are provided by Russia and begin training astronauts within the country as India is all set to send its first manned mission Gaganyaan into space. ISRO In July 2019 had signed a deal with Russia’s Glavkosmos, a subsidiary of the state-run Roscosmos State Corporation to help with training and provide support in conducting medical examinations of the astronauts. At present, India is paying a huge sum to Russia for the training of the first set of four astronaut candidates for the first Gaganyaan mission of 2022. Currently, HSP work is split across various centres like Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre in Thiruvananthapuram and the U.R. Rao Satellite Centre in Bengaluru.

Goldilocks Zone: It is a Zone that refers to the habitable zone around a star where the temperature is just right which is not too hot and not too cold for liquid water to exist on an planet. Scientists are always looking for planets in the Goldilocks Zone to hone in their search for Earth-like planets that could contain life.

For the first time, American space agency NASA's planet-hunter satellite Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) has discovered an Earth-sized world within the habitable range of stars, which could allow the presence of liquid water. The newfound exoplanet named "TOI 700 d", is relatively close to Earth- only 100 light-years away. This new found exoplanet has become a good place for the scientists for their follow-up observations by other instruments.

TESS: It refers to Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite. It is NASA's planet hunter satellite. It was designed and launched specifically to find Earth-sized planets orbiting nearby stars. It was launched in April 2018. The satellite hunts for planets using the "transit method," looking for telltale dips in stellar brightness caused by orbiting worlds crossing stars' faces from the satellite's perspective.

As per the reports of astronomers, based on Kepler space mission data in November 2013, there could be as many as 40 billion Earth-sized planets orbiting in the habitable zones of Sun-like stars and red dwarfs in the Milky Way, 11 billion of which may be orbiting Sun-like stars. Kelper is NASA's space telescope.

Dwarf galaxies: A dwarf galaxy is a small galaxy composed of about 100 million up to several billion stars, a small number compared to the Milky Way's 200–400 billion stars.

Recently, astronomers have found massive blackholes near the Dwarf galaxies. These black holes are more than 100 times smaller than our own Milky Way and are apparently 400,000 times the mass of our Sun. The scientists by studying these black holes and the differences of the black holes in the larger and smaller galaxies are hoping to know about the evolution of Black holes from the earlier times.

DFI: It refers to the Drone Federation of India. The DFI is an association of UAV industry players that acts as a central agency for drone powered businesses and operations across the country. It is a non-profit industry-led body that promotes and strives towards building a safer and scalable Drone industry in India.

The DFI on Monday signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Amazon Web Services (AWS) with an aim to boost India's drone ecosystem. As per the MoU, AWS will become the preferred partner for providing cloud service to drone companies. DFI will also establish a drone innovation and operations hub in the country to support drone-based innovation using AWS cloud services. The hub will work towards helping drone companies to develop their applications and stay up to date in evolving technologies.

Drosophilia: Drosophilia is a genus of flies, belonging to the family Drosophilidae, whose members are often called "small fruit flies" or pomace flies, vinegar flies, or wine flies, a reference to the characteristic of many species to linger around overripe or rotting fruit. This fruit-fly Drosophila melanogaster is widely used in scientific and medical research. As these flies genetically bear a strong resemblance with human genes as per the studies of experts it has been extensively studied for over a century as a model organism for genetic investigations. It also has many characteristics which make it an ideal organism for the study of animal development and behavior, neurobiology, and human genetic diseases and conditions. Its importance for human health was recognised more recently by the award of the Nobel prize for medicine in 1995, for work on the genetic control of early embryonic development

Recently, Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER) organized the 5th Asia Pacific Drosophila Research Conference in Pune, Maharashtra. The conference is held twice a year. Two Nobel laureates, Eric Wieschaus and Michael Rosbash, renowned for their work in development biology and chronobiology respectively, will be among the 100 international and 330 Indian participants in this five-day conference. The event is the largest meet of Drosophila researchers in the whole world. The main objective if this event is to promote interaction between the Drosophila researchers in the region of Asia-Pacific and also act as a common platform to link the Asia-Pacific researchers with other parts of the world.

China: China has launched the world's largest and most sensitive single-dish radio telescope.

The Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical radio Telescope (FAST) is a single-dish telescope with a diameter of half a kilometer and a receiving area equivalent to about 30 football fields and has double the collecting power of the Arecibo. It is located in a naturally deep and round karst depression in southwest China's Guizhou Province. It is also known by the name “Sky Eye” in China.

The telescope will gradually open to astronomers around the globe, providing them with a powerful tool to uncover the mysteries surrounding the genesis and evolutions of the universe.

After its commissioning, FAST can now be used for observation at full capacity, and is expected to make a number of major scientific discoveries in the coming two or three years.

NASA: It is an acronym for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. NASA is an independent agency of the executive branch of the United States federal government responsible for the civilian space program, as well as aeronautics and aerospace research.

NASA’s Artemis mission: Under the Artemis program, NASA wants to land the first woman and next man on the Moon by 2024, using innovative technologies to explore more of the lunar surface than ever before.

ARTEMIS: It is an acronym for Acceleration, Reconnection, Turbulence and Electrodynamics of the Moon’s Interaction with the Sun. The mission is named Artemis after the Greek goddess of the Moon Artiemis. With this mission NASA aims to establish a lunar outpost, investigate the Moon’s resources and how they might be exploited, inspire a new generation and encourage careers in STEM and broaden commercial and international partnerships

GSAT-30 satellite: GSAT-30 is a communication satellite of India which is configured on ISRO’s enhanced I-3K Bus structure to provide communication services from Geostationary orbit in C and Ku bands. The satellite derives its heritage from ISRO’s earlier INSAT/GSAT satellite series and is equipped with 12 C and 12 Ku band transponders. GSAT-30 is to serve as replacement to the “aging” INSAT-4A spacecraft services with enhanced coverage. It was recently launched onboard Arianne 5 rocket from French Guiana successfully. The satellite aims to provide high- quality television, telecommunications and broadcasting services. The satellite provides Indian mainland and islands coverage in Ku-band and extended coverage in C-band covering Gulf countries, a large number of Asian countries and Australia.

Seismic Hazard Microzonation: In most general terms, seismic microzonation is the process of estimating the response of soil layers under earthquake excitations and thus the variation of earthquake characteristics on the ground surface. This necessitates the development of microzonation maps for big cities for detailed seismic hazard analysis.

The Ministry of Earth Science under the Government of India (GoI) has launched “Seismic Hazard Microzonation” to minimize the hazards of seismic activities by putting in adequate measures.

So far, microzonation has been done in the state of Sikkim and in the cities of Delhi, Kolkata, Bengaluru, Guwahati, Jabalpur, Dehradun, Ahmedabad and Gandhidham.

Japan is the best example where microzonation techniques are well implemented.

Vigyan Samagam: It is India's first global Mega Science Exhibition. is being hosted in Mumbai, Bengaluru, Kolkata, and Delhi from May 2019 to March 2020.

The Union Minister of State (I/C) Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region, Dr. Jitendra Singh inaugurated multi-venue mega-science exhibition being held at National Science Centre, New Delhi on 21 January 2020. It is being jointly organized by the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), Department of Science and Technology (DST) and the National Council of Science Museums (NCSM). The exhibition brings several collaborative mega-science projects under one roof.

The main aim of the exhibition is to showcase India’s contribution to some of the biggest international collaborations on fundamental science and research undertaken by Units and Institutions of DAE and DST. It also provides a common interactive platform for mega-science activities, industry, academia and institutions.

(HCFC)-141b: Hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC)-141b is one of the most powerful ozone-depleting chemicals after Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). It is mainly used as a blowing agent in the foam manufacturing industries to produce rigid polyurethane (PU) foams.

India has successfully completed the phasing out of Hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC)-141b, used by foam manufacturing companies and one of the most potent ozone-depleting chemicals. HCFC-141b is not produced in India and all the domestic requirements are met through imports.

The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) issued a notification for the prohibition of HCFC-141b from Jan 1st, 2020 under the Ozone Depleting Substances (Regulation and Control) Amendment Rules, 2019 issued under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986. This was achieved through the ministry’s HCFC Phase out Management Plan (HPMP).

Under the Ozone Depleting Substances (Regulation and Control) Amendment Rules, 2014, the use of the chemical by foam manufacturing industry was also closed as on 1st January, 2020.

India is one of the few countries globally and a pioneer in some cases that use technologies, which are non-Ozone Depleting and have a low Global Warming Potential (GWP). India has now fully prohibited the import of HCFC-141 b.

Ozone: The ozone layer or ozone shield is a region of Earth's stratosphere. It occurs naturally in small amounts in the upper atmosphere of the earth. It protects life on earth from the sun’s ultraviolet radiation by absorbing most of the Sun's ultraviolet radiation. It contains high concentration of ozone in relation to other parts of the atmosphere, although still small in relation to other gases in the stratosphere.

ISRO: It refers to Indian Space Research Organization. ISRO is the space agency of the Government of India. It is headquartered in the city of Bengaluru. It was founded by Vikram Sarabhai in 15 August 1969. Its vision is to "harness space technology for national development while pursuing space science research & planetary exploration. The current Director of ISRO is Kailasavadivoo Sivan.

ISRO (Indian Space Research Organization) is to send a half-humanoid robot called the “Vyom Mitra” as an experimental mission to Gaganyaan. The robot Vyom Mitra was introduced by ISRO at the “Human Space Flight and Exploration-Present Challenges and Future Trends” seminar that was held in Bengaluru. Robot Vyom Mitra with the capablility of conversing with astronauts, recognizing them, and responding to their queries will be placed in the first unmanned mission under ‘Gaganyaan’ that are planned in December 2020 and in June 2021.

Vyom Mitra: She is half-humanoid robot and her body stops at the torso and has no legs. The Sanskrit name Vyom Mitra means a friend in sky. It is designed at Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC), Thiruvanantha-puram. The robot can communicate in two languages - Hindi and English. It can mimic human activities such as recognizing other humans and responding to their queries. The robot not only can handle switch panel operations but it is also capable of providing air pressure change warnings.

Gaganyaan Mission: Gaganyaan is India's manned space mission which the ISRO aims to launch by December 2021. The project aims at sending the astronauts to a lower orbit of the earth and the spacecraft will have a capsule with adequate supply of oxygen and other essential material and facilities for the astronauts.

Indian flight surgeons for the ambitious human space mission Gaganyaan will be trained by France as per the announcement made on 21st January 2020. France is to train Indian flight surgeons to enable them to monitor the health of astronauts selected for the human space mission Gaganyaan. The training will be given for two-week. It is a critical aspect of the Gaganyaan project that is aimed at sending three Indians to space by 2022. The flight surgeons are the Indian Air Force (IAF) doctors specializing in aviation medicines who will be responsible for the health of astronauts before, during and after the flight.

France not only has a well-established mechanism for space medicine but also has the MEDES space clinic, a subsidiary of CNES, where space surgeons undergo training. The 4 shortlisted astronauts all test pilots from the IAF are currently in Russia for an 11-month training programme.

Current Affairs in Science & Tech - September 2019

  • Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Prizes 2019 :It is the highest multidisciplinary science awards in India which is presented for outstanding Indian work in science and technology. It is presented annually by Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) for notable and outstanding research, applied/fundamental, in environmental science, biology, mathematics, Physics, chemistry, engineering, and medicine. This prestigious science award is named after the founder Director of CSIR, Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar. It was 1st awarded in 1958. President of India Ram Nath Kovind presented awards for outstanding contributions in science and technology. The awards were presented on the occasion of Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) Foundation Day.
    Prize Recipients of the prestigious awards are :-
    Biological Sciences winners: Dr. Kayarat Sai Krishnan (Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Pune); Dr. Soumen Basak (National Institute of Immunology, New Delhi)
    Chemical Sciences: • Dr. Raghavan B Sunoj (IIT, Bombay); Dr. Tapas Kumar Maji (Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research, Bengaluru).
    Earth, Atmosphere, Ocean and Planetary Sciences: Dr. Subimal Ghosh (IIT, Bombay)
    Engineering Sciences: Manik Varma (Microsoft Research India, Bengaluru) Mathematical Sciences: Dr. Dishant Mayur Bhai Pancholi (Institute of Mathematical Sciences, Chennai), Dr. Nina Gupta (Indian Statistical Institute, Kolkata)
    Medical Sciences: Dr. Dheeraj Kumar (International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology, New Delhi), Dr. Mohammad Javed Ali (LV Prasad Eye Institute, Hyderabad)
    Physical Sciences: Dr. Aninda Sinha (IISc, Bengaluru), Dr. Shankar Ghosh (TIFR, Mumbai)
  • Hazzaa Al Mansoori :He is a 35 year old former pilot in the The United Arab Emirates (UAE) armed forces. He will be the first Emirati astronaut and first Arab on orbiting laboratory of ISS. Before him Prince Sultan Bin Salman Abdulaziz Al Saud from Saudi Arabia and Muhammed Faris from Syria - have been to space. Both of their missions took place in the 1980s. On 25 September 2019 he launched aboard the Soyuz MS-15 spacecraft to the International Space Station accompanied by Oleg Skripochka of Russia and NASA astronaut Jessica Meir onboard. He will stay for eight days at International Space Station (ISS) doing scientific experiments with other international astronauts. The Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Center provided Al Mansoori with a 10kg bag, which includes important elements of Emirati heritage, culture and history, which will be placed in museums upon his return. As part of UAE’s space plans, the Arab nation has announced its aim to also become the first Arab country to send an unmanned probe to orbit Mars by 2021. The country has named its Mars mission as “Hope”. In the long-term, UAE also plans to build a “Science City” to replicate life on Mars. It also aims to create the first human settlement on red planet by 2117.
  • SoI:The Survey of India (SoI), which is country’s oldest department of central engineering agency for mapping and surveying the entire country, for the first time will deploy 300 drones for repairing unprecedented high resolution map of the country. It is affiliated to the Department of Science and Technology (DST). The aim is to map 75% of India’s geography— about 2.4 million sq km of the 3.2 million sq. km — within the next two years. Other than unprecedented detail, High-resolution maps will facilitate digitisation of land titles in villages. Currently the best SoI maps have a resolution of 1:250000, meaning a 1 cm on the map represent 2500 cm on the ground. The new maps being prepared will be of 1:500 resolution, meaning 1 cm will represent 500 cm. The drone mapping will not only help the SoI in getting unprecedented detail of country’s landscape but will also help in creating high resolution maps of land in villages facilitating digitisation of land titles there.
  • NCCCR&D:Water has been found by scientists in the atmosphere of an exoplanet called K2-18b. The exoplanet is twice the size and eight times the mass of Earth and hence, known as a super-Earth. Super-Earths are exoplanets that are larger than Earth but smaller than Neptune. The exoplanet orbits a red dwarf star, K2-18 and is 110 light-years away from Earth in the Leo constellation. It is the first planet outside the solar system in the habitable zone of its star.The K2-18b exoplanet completes one orbit around its star every 33 days.The super-Earth is much closer to its star than the Earth is to the sun. However, the red dwarf star is much cooler than the Sun. The discovery was published in a paper in a scientific journal, Nature Astronomy on September 11, 2019 by researchers from University College London (UCL). The paper revealed that scientists studied the atmosphere of K2-18b, a distant super-Earth and for the first time discovered water vapor in its atmosphere and temperature that could potentially support life. Though scientists have tagged exoplanet K2-18b as potentially habitable, it doesn’t mean that humans could live there. The research team used archived data collected by the Hubble Space Telescope between 2016 and 2017 that had captured starlight as it passed through the exoplanet’s atmosphere. When the researchers put the data through algorithms, they saw signs of water vapour in the atmosphere. The researchers also saw traces of hydrogen and helium in the atmosphere, two of the most abundant elements in the universe. The planet was first discovered by NASA's Kepler spacecraft in 2015.
  • Gaganyaan Mission :ISRO aims to launch its maiden Human Space Mission, Gaganyaan before the 75th anniversary of India’s independence in 2022. The Human Spaceflight Programme aims to carry three people to space to orbit the Earth for roughly about 7 days and bring them safely back to the ground. The crewed space mission is planned to be launched aboard ISRO’s GSLV Mk III in December 2021. So The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MoU) for development of human-centric systems for the Human Space Mission to demonstrate its human space flight capabilities. The MoU was signed by a delegation of ISRO scientists, led by Human Space Flight Centre's Director, S Unnikrishnan Nair, with various DRDO labs in this regard, to provide technologies for human-centric systems and technologies specific to the Human Space Mission. Under the agreement, the technological capabilities existing in DRDO labs for defence applications will not only be customised to meet the requirements of ISRO’s human space mission but DRDO will also be providing critical technologies to ISRO such as space crew health monitoring and emergency survival kit, space food, parachutes for the crew module’s safe recovery and radiation measurement and protection.
  • CHC Farm Machinery:It is Multilingual Mobile App launched for farmers:The Union Minister of State for Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Purushottam Rupala recently launched a multilingual mobile app 'CHC Farm Machinery' during the National Conference on crop residue Management for farmers in Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi. CHC Farm Machinery Mobile App will allow farmers to avail custom hiring services of CHCs located in a radius of 50 km. It will connect the farmers with Custom Hiring Service Centers in their area. Farmers can download this mobile app on any android phone from Google Play Store. Farmers can get affordable access to cutting-edge technology at their doorsteps with the help of this mobile app. The issue of crop residue burning has become a major environmental problem causing health issues as well as contributing to global warming. There are some sustainable techniques like Composting, biochar production and mechanization that can help to curtail the issue while retaining the nutrients present in the crop residue in the soil. However, some steps by the government of India have taken to curtail this problem. Several measures and campaigns designed to promote sustainable management methods such as converting crop residue into energy have also started. In recent years, the alarming rise of air pollution levels caused by crop residue burning in the city of Delhi and other northern areas in India observed.
  • Exoplanet - K2-18b:Water has been found by scientists in the atmosphere of an exoplanet called K2-18b. The exoplanet is twice the size and eight times the mass of Earth and hence, known as a super-Earth. Super-Earths are exoplanets that are larger than Earth but smaller than Neptune. The exoplanet orbits a red dwarf star, K2-18 and is 110 light-years away from Earth in the Leo constellation. It is the first planet outside the solar system in the habitable zone of its star.The K2-18b exoplanet completes one orbit around its star every 33 days.The super-Earth is much closer to its star than the Earth is to the sun. However, the red dwarf star is much cooler than the Sun. The discovery was published in a paper in a scientific journal, Nature Astronomy on September 11, 2019 by researchers from University College London (UCL). The paper revealed that scientists studied the atmosphere of K2-18b, a distant super-Earth and for the first time discovered water vapor in its atmosphere and temperature that could potentially support life. Though scientists have tagged exoplanet K2-18b as potentially habitable, it doesn’t mean that humans could live there. The research team used archived data collected by the Hubble Space Telescope between 2016 and 2017 that had captured starlight as it passed through the exoplanet’s atmosphere. When the researchers put the data through algorithms, they saw signs of water vapour in the atmosphere. The researchers also saw traces of hydrogen and helium in the atmosphere, two of the most abundant elements in the universe. The planet was first discovered by NASA's Kepler spacecraft in 2015.
  • 1st ever Mobile Science Exhibition flagged off in Leh:Leh, Sep 5 (IANS) Leh's first Mobile Science Exhibition (MSE) van was flagged off on Thursday by Union Tourism and Culture Minister Prahlad Singh Patel from the iconic Leh Palace here. The vehicle will hold lectures and sky observation sessions for school students, among other programmes. According to the officials in the Ministry of Culture, the vehicle will travel across the Ladakh region to promote science and technology among the youth. The Ministry will also flag-off 24 more such vans from different parts of the country on Thursday. Originally launched in 1965 as Mobile Science Museum (MSM), these vans have science exhibits and hold exhibitions throughout the year at schools in rural areas, except during vacations. The programmes aim to popularise science and technology among students as well as the people. Over next 5 years, 25 new vans will be added every year. Twenty-five vans are being added in September 2019, which is also part of 100-day achievement of this government.
  • Samudrayaan Project:India, after Chandrayaan project is planning to explore the deep sea region with the 'Samudrayaan' project to undertake deep ocean mining .The 'Samudrayaan' is a pilot project of the Ministry of Earth Sciences for deep ocean mining for rare minerals. The 'Samudrayaan' project proposes to send men into the deep sea in a submersible vehicle for ocean studies. The project is expected to become a reality by 2021-22. The project has been undertaken by the National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT). NIOT Director MA Atmanand said that NIOT has similarly undertaken Samudrayaan as ISRO has envisioned carrying an astronaut to space under its 2022 'Gaganyaan' mission. Under the proposed 'Samudrayaan' project, three men will be sent into deep sea in a submersible vehicle to a depth of about 6000 metres to carry out various deep underwater studies. The submersible vehicle, which will be indigenously developed, would be capable of crawling on the sea bed at a depth of six-kilometer for 72 hours.The project will go deeper in phases with more trials and the ocean mining is expected to commence in 2022.The submarines deployed currently go only about 200 metres deep into the sea. The expenditure of the ambitious project is expected to be around Rs 200 crore. The significance of Samudrayaan project that if it id successful then India will join the league of developed nations in the exploration of minerals from oceans Developed countries have already carried out such missions. India could be the first developing country to undertake such a project. The 'Samudrayaan' will be a part of the Rs 6000 crore 'Deep Ocean’ mission that though has received in-principle approval but it is still awaiting final approval from the Union Finance Ministry. The final approvals are expected to come through in October 2019.
  • Chandrayaan-2: Chandrayaan-2 is an Indian lunar mission to explore the unchartered south pole of the celestial body by landing a rover. It is developed by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO),after Chandrayaan-1.It consists of a lunar orbiter, the Vikram lander, and the Pragyan lunar rover, all of which were developed in India.The main scientific objective is to map the location and abundance of lunar water via Pragyan, and ongoing analysis from the orbiter circling at a lunar polar orbit of 100 × 100 km. The mission was launched to the Moon from the second launch pad at Satish Dhawan Space Centre on 22 July 2019 at 2.43 PM IST (09:13 UTC) by a Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark III (GSLV Mk III). The craft reached the Moon's orbit on 20 August 2019 and began orbital positioning manoeuvres for the landing of the Vikram lander. Vikram and the rover were scheduled to land on the near side of the Moon, in the south polar region at a latitude of about 70° south at approximately 1:50 am on 7 September 2019 and conduct scientific experiments for one lunar day, lasting two Earth weeks. However, at about 1:52 am IST, the lander deviated from its intended trajectory at around 2.1 kilometres (1.3 mi) from landing, and lost communication. Initial reports suggesting a crash have been confirmed by ISRO chairman K. Sivan, stating that the lander location had been found, and "it must had been a hard landing". The orbiter, part of the mission with eight scientific instruments, remains operational and will continue its seven-year mission to study the Moon. The Moon is the closest cosmic body at which space discovery can be attempted and documented. It is also a promising test bed to demonstrate technologies required for deep-space missions. Chandrayaan 2 attempts to foster a new age of discovery, increase our understanding of space, stimulate the advancement of technology, promote global alliances, and inspire a future generation of explorers and scientists. Moon provides the best linkage to Earth’s early history. It offers an undisturbed historical record of the inner Solar system environment. Though there are a few mature models, the origin of Moon still needs further explanations. Extensive mapping of lunar surface to study variations in lunar surface composition is essential to trace back the origin and evolution of the Moon. Evidence for water molecules discovered by Chandrayaan-1, requires further studies on the extent of water molecule distribution on the surface, below the surface and in the tenuous lunar exosphere to address the origin of water on Moon. The lunar South Pole is especially interesting because of the lunar surface area here that remains in shadow is much larger than that at the North Pole. There is a possibility of the presence of water in permanently shadowed areas around it. In addition, South Pole region has craters that are cold traps and contain a fossil record of the early Solar System.

Current Affairs in Science & Tech - July 2019

  • March 2020:It is the month by which the highways of Delhi-Jaipur and Delhi-Agra will become India’s first highway corridors to get charging stations for electric vehicles. The total distance of the corridors on Yamuna Expressway (between Delhi and Agra) and National Highway 48 (between Delhi and Jaipur) will be 500 km and 18 charging stations will be set up near toll plazas on both these highways routes to charge & change batteries.The e-corridor was first proposed under the Ease of Doing Business Programme of the Advance Services for Social and Administrative Reforms (ASSAR), a private firm backed by the central government. The government expects 25 % of the total vehicles on roads will be e-vehicles by 2030.
  • NSIL:It stands for New Space India Limited is a Public Sector Enterprise incorporated as a new commercial arm of Department of Space to tap the benefits of the Research & Development carried out by ISRO. The Company will spearhead commercialization of various space products including production of launch vehicles, transfer to technologies and marketing of space products.
  • IBM India Private Limited: It is the company with which Union Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare has signed a Statement of Intent (SoI) for undertaking a pilot study to utilise Artificial Intelligence (AI) and weather technology solutions in agriculture in selected pilot districts. The pilot study will be undertaken in 3 districts of Bhopal, Rajkot and Nanded in Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Maharashtra respectively.
  • Generic medicines:They are unbranded medicines which are equally safe and having the same efficacy as that of branded medicines in terms of their therapeutic value. The prices of generic medicines are much cheaper than their branded equivalent. Since the manufacture of these generic drugs do not involve a repeat of the extensive clinical trials to prove their safety and efficacy, it costs less to develop them. Generic drugs are, therefore, cheaper. However, because the compounds in the generic versions have the same molecular structure as the brand-name version, their quality is essentially the same. Since they are cheap, people who can afford branded drugs don’t buy them believing them to be of inferior quality. Chemists have to hand out exactly what’s written on the prescription and most doctors except in government hospitals don’t hand out generic drugs.
  • Sahiwal:This cattle is considered to be one of the best milch cattle breed of India. The breed derives its name from Sahiwal area in Montgomery district of Punjab in Pakistan. These animals are also known as “Lambi Bar”, “Lola”, “Montgomery”, “Multani” and “Teli”.
  • SPL: It stands for Spent pot lining from the aluminium industries is produced by the smelting plants. It contains high level of cyanide and fluoride and is carcinogenic in nature and must be scientifically utilised or detoxified. It has also been classified as hazardous waste under the Schedule to the Hazardous Waste Management Rules, 2016.
  • September 2008: In this month the Chandrayaan-2 mission was approved by the government for a cost of Rs 425 crore. The Chandramana 2 launch has been cancelled due to a technical snag. New dates will be announced in a few days. It was India’s second mission to the moon and aimed to explore the Moon’s south polar region. It was to be launched onboard India’s most powerful launcher – GSLV MK-III. The mission is an important step in India’s plans for planetary exploration, a program known as Planetary Science and Exploration (PLANEX).
  • SATAT: It which stands for Sustainable Alternative Towards Affordable Transportation is a developmental effort that would benefit both vehicle-users as well as farmers and entrepreneurs. Compressed Bio-Gas plants are proposed to be set up mainly through independent entrepreneurs. CBG produced at these plants will be transported through cascades of cylinders to the fuel station networks of OMCs for marketing as a green transport fuel alternative. The entrepreneurs would be able to separately market the other by-products from these plants, including bio-manure, carbon-dioxide, etc., to enhance returns on investment. This initiative is expected to generate direct employment for 75,000 people and produce 50 million tonnes of bio-manure for crops. There are multiple benefits from converting agricultural residue, cattle dung and municipal solid waste into CBG on a commercial scale.
  • Blockchains:They are a new data structure that is secure, cryptography-based, and distributed across a network. The technology supports cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, and the transfer of any data or digital asset. Spearheaded by Bitcoin, blockchains achieve consensus among distributed nodes, allowing the transfer of digital goods without the need for centralized authorisation of transactions.
  • AFRS:It stands Automated Facial Recognition System use by police officers across the country was recommended on June 28,2019 by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB). AFRS works by maintaining a large database with photos and videos of peoples’ faces. Then, a new image of an unidentified person — often taken from CCTV footage — is compared to the existing database to find a match and identify the person. The artificial intelligence technology used for pattern-finding and matching is called “neural networks”. NCRB has proposed integrating this facial recognition system with multiple existing databases. The most prominent is the NCRB-managed Crime and Criminal Tracking Network & Systems (CCTNS). Facial recognition has been proposed in the CCTNS program since its origin.
  • Bhabha Kavach: It is the name of India’s first Lightest and indigenous Bullet Proof Jacket ‘from Ordnance Factory Board which recently received the nod of MHA. Developed by OFB and MIDHANI this state-of-the-art jacket can withstand 7.62mm hard steel core or bullets fired from an AK-47 rifle, 5.56mm INSAS bullet and even the recently decommissioned 7.65mm bullet of self-loading rifle (SLR). It is half KG lesser than the prescribed weight of MHA along with the 360 Degree Protection and has achieved the protection level of NIJ III+. Bhabha Kavach only weighs 9.2kg and is a major breakthrough for the Indian armed forces.
  • ETPBS: It stands for Electronically transmitted Postal Ballot System is developed by Election Commission of India with the help of Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC), for the use of the Service Voters. It is a fully secured system, having two layers of security. Secrecy is maintained through the use of OTP and PIN and no duplication of casted Electronically Transmitted Postal Ballot (ETPB) is possible due to the unique QR Code. Persons working in paramilitary forces and the military and government officials deployed in diplomatic missions outside India are classified as Service Voters. In the seven phases Lok Sabha polls, a record 18,02,646 eligible personnel were enrolled and 10,84,266 voted through the Electronically Transmitted Postal Ballot System (ETPBS) or e-postal ballots.
  • NavIC: It stands for Navigation with Indian Constellation is an independent regional navigation satellite system designed to provide position information in the Indian region and 1500 km around the Indian mainland. IRNSS would provide two types of services, namely Standard Positioning Services available to all users and Restricted Services provided to authorised users. ISRO is in talks with processing chip manufacturers such as Qualcomm to substitute the existing Global Positioning System (GPS) with the Indian version of satellite navigation. It is a regional system and so its constellation will consist of seven satellites. Three of these will be geostationary over the Indian Ocean, i.e., they will appear to be stationary in the sky over the region, and four will be geosynchronous – appearing at the same point in the sky at the same time every day. This configuration ensures each satellite is being tracked by at least one of fourteen ground stations at any given point of time, with a high chance of most of them being visible from any point in India.
  • JATAN:It is software for Digitization of Archaeological Museum. Human Centres Design and Computing Group has developed JATAN which is a virtual Museum software which is used for creating the digital collections in various museums and digital archival tools that are used in background for managing the National Portal and Digital Repository for Indian Museums.
  • Microdot technology:It involves spraying the body and parts of the vehicle or any other machine with microscopic dots, which give a unique identification. These microdot can be read physically with a microscope and identified with ultra violet light source. The microdots and adhesive will become permanent fixtures/affixation which cannot be removed without damaging the asset, which is the vehicle itself. The Ministry of Road Transport & Highways has issued a draft notification amending Central Motor Vehicle Rules, allowing motor vehicles and their parts, components, assemblies, sub-assemblies to be affixed with permanent and nearly invisible microdots.
  • Colistin: It is a a valuable, last-resort antibiotic whose manufacture, sale and distribution for food-producing animals, poultry, aqua farming and animal feed supplements have been prohibited in an order issued by Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. Colistin is a valuable, last-resort antibiotic that saves human lives in critical care units.Indiscriminate use of colistin has led to rise of anti-microbial resistance in the country.If the use of colistin as a growth factor in animals is cut down and it is limited to therapeutic usage only, the chances of developing resistance to it goes down.
  • Regulatory Sandbox:It is a safe harbour, where businesses can test innovative products under relaxed regulatory conditions. It was in the news as the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) will soon allow the use of regulatory sandbox (RS) to promote new, innovative products and processes in the industry. Typically, participating companies release new products in a controlled environment to a limited number of customers for a limited period of time.For the IRDAI sandbox, an applicant should have a net worth of Rs 10 lakh and a proven financial record of at least one year. Companies will be allowed to test products for up to 12 months in five categories. The “regulatory sandbox” will help fintech companies launch innovative products at a lower cost and in less time.
  • Infosys: It has announced the launch of its state-of-the-art Cyber Defence Centre in Bucharest, Romania. The Defence Center will provide end-to-end, real-time, 24/7 cyber security monitoring and protection services to support European and global businesses on their digital transformation journey. These services, including security monitoring, management and remediation, threat hunting, security analytics, incident discovery, and response will be delivered by certified and highly skilled cyber security professionals.

Current Affairs in Science & Tech - June 2019

  • SKA:Which stands for Square Kilometre Array is the name of the world’s largest radio telescope which the scientists at Cambridge recently finished brain designing. It consists of a supercomputer that will process the enormous amounts of data produced by the SKA’s telescopes. The total compute power will be around 250 PFlops — that’s 25 per cent faster than IBM’s Summit, the current fastest supercomputer in the world. When complete, the SKA will enable astronomers to monitor the sky in unprecedented detail and survey the entire sky much faster than any system currently in existence. The Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project is an international effort to build the world’s largest radio telescope, with eventually over a square kilometre (one million square metres) of collecting area. Whilst 10 member countries are the cornerstone of the SKA, around 100 organisations across about 20 countries are participating in the design and development of the SKA. Location of SKA antenna dishes will be built in South Africa (in the Karoo), with outstations in other parts of South Africa, as well as in eight African partner countries, namely Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia and Zambia. Another part of the telescope, the low-frequency array, will be built in Western Australia.
  • Athena and LISA: These are the two future missions of ESA which the researchers have proposed to combine the observing power to study the effects when two supermassive black holes collide. Currently in the study phase, both missions are scheduled for launch in the early 2030s. Athena will be the largest X-ray observatory ever built, investigating some of the hottest and most energetic phenomena in the cosmos with unprecedented accuracy and depth. LISA will be the first space-borne observatory of gravitational waves—fluctuations in the fabric of spacetime produced by the acceleration of cosmic objects with very strong gravity fields, like pairs of merging black holes.
  • Akash-MK-1S: It is the name of missile which was successfully test fired by India from the integrated test range at Chandipur in Odisha. The surface-to-air anti-aircraft missile with a strike range of 25 km and capability to carry warhead of 60 kg. Akash weapon system has combination of both command guidance and active terminal seeker guidance.
  • RISAT-2B :It is the name of country’s newest microwave Earth observation satellite which rode to its orbit 557 km above the ground recently. With the successful pre-dawn launch of RISAT-2B satellite, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has added another feather to its cap. Data that will come from the all-weather day-and-night satellite are considered to be vital for the Armed Forces as also agriculture forecasters and disaster relief agencies. Dubbed as a ‘spy’ satellite, RISAT-2B (Radar Imaging Satellite-2B) will replace its predecessor RISAT-2 which has been actively used by India to monitor activities in terror camps across the border in Pakistan to thwart infiltration bids by terrorists.
  • DRDO :It recently conducted maiden test of an indigenously developed Hypersonic Technology Demonstrator Vehicle (HSTDV). HSTDV is an unmanned scramjet demonstration aircraft. HSTDV is dual-use technology and can have multiple civilian applications. It can be used for launching satellites at low cost and can also be available for long-range cruise missiles of future.
  • Data localization :It is the act of storing data on any device that is physically present within the borders of a specific country where the data was generated. Data localization is necessary for India for securing citizen’s data, data privacy, data sovereignty, national security, and economic development of the country. Recommendations by the RBI, the committee of experts led by Justice BN Srikrishna, the draft ecommerce policy and the draft report of the cloud policy panel show signs of data localisation. The extensive data collection by technology companies, has allowed them to process and monetize Indian users’ data outside the country. Therefore, to curtail the perils of unregulated and arbitrary use of personal data, data localization is necessary. Digital technologies like machine learning (ML), artificial intelligence (AI) and Internet of Things (IoT) can generate tremendous value out of various data. It can turn disastrous if not contained within certain boundaries. The Srikrishna Committee wants to localise data for law enforcement to have easy access to data, to prevent foreign surveillance, to build an artificial intelligence ecosystem in India, and because undersea cables through which data transfers take place are vulnerable to attacks.
  • Anthrax :It is a disease caused by Bacillus anthracis, a germ that lives in soil. It affects animals such as cattle, sheep, and goats more often than people. People can get anthrax from contact with infected animals, wool, meat, or hides. It can cause three forms of disease in people. Anthrax does not spread directly from one infected animal or person to another; it is spread by spores. These spores can be transported by clothing or shoes. Anthrax can be contracted in laboratory accidents or by handling infected animals or their wool or hides.
  • AWaRe :It is an online tool aimed at guiding policy-makers and health workers to use antibiotics safely and more effectively. The tool, known as ‘AWaRe’, classifies antibiotics into three groups: Access — antibiotics used to treat the most common and serious infections. Watch — antibiotics available at all times in the healthcare system. Reserve — antibiotics to be used sparingly or preserved and used only as a last resort. Antibiotic resistance is already one of the biggest health risks and is estimated to kill 50 million by 2050 worldwide. The threat continues to escalate globally because more than 50 per cent of antibiotics in many countries are used inappropriately such as for treatment of viruses when they only treat bacterial infections or use of the wrong (broader spectrum) antibiotic.
  • ICANN & NASSCOM :Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) and NASSCOM (National Association of Software and Services Companies) have announced collaboration for working in developing standards and identifier technology that will feed into the global consultation for managing Internet-of-Things (IoT) devices and infrastructure using internet. The Internet Corporation of Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is a non-profit organization that was set up in 1998 to oversee the administration of domain names. ICANN coordinates and ensures the smooth and secure functioning of the cybernetic framework. The global nature of the Web today means that there are constantly increasing numbers of Domain Names, Host Names, IP addresses and web sites that are emerging on a daily basis. ICANN oversees this interconnected network and ensures that computers across the internet can find one another through defined unique pathways and identifiers.

Current Affairs in Science & Tech - May 2019

  • Chandrayaan 2: It is India's second lunar exploration mission after Chandrayaan-1. Developed by the Indian Space Research Organisation, the mission is planned to be launched to the Moon by a Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark III. The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) announced the launching of Chandrayaan-2,’ India’s second lunar mission’ which is scheduled to be launched between July 9th and 16th 2019. Chandrayaan-2 is India’s second lunar mission. It will be launched using India’s most powerful rocket GSLVMK-III RIN Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh. It’s objective is to collect scientific information on lunar (moon) topography, mineralogy, elemental abundance, lunar exosphere and and signatures of hydroxyl and water-ice. It has three modules (a detachable self-contained unit of a spacecraft) namely Orbiter, Lander named Vikram and Rover named Pragyan.All these three modules have been made in India. The Chandrayaan-2’s lander will touch down near Moon’s south pole on 6th September 2019. Chandrayan-2 mission would make a soft landing on southern pole of the moon, which is still unexplored by any of the countries. This will not only be important but also historically significant as it would give ISRO the opportunity to name the site on the moon.
  • Yeti:
    It is a folkloric ape-like creature taller than an average human, that is said to inhabit the Himalayan mountains. Indian Army Mountaineering Expedition to Mt Makalu claims to have discovered the footprints of snowman ‘Yeti’ the abominable snowman as it is known in legends, near the Makalu Base Camp by posting photographs of ‘ mysterious footprints’ that measure about 32×15 inches, on Twitter. But several scientists that are based at Dehradun-based Wildlife Institute of India (WII), who have worked in Nepal , also said the footprints could be those of a bear. Besides the Joint secretary of Nepal’s forest department Maheshwar Dakal said the Makalu-Barun National Park has a healthy population of the brown bear but they have no evidence that the Yeti exists in the area. ‘We cannot ascertain the presence of the Yeti unless we have the picture of yeti as a proof. The footprint does not explain all and could be of bear or snow leopard,’ Dakal said.
  • IIT Madras: It is a public engineering institute that was set up in the year 1959 in Madras through an Act of Parliament. In a significant development, a research team from IIT Madras has developed a common unified script for nine Indian Languages. According to different sources, the script was developed taking cue from European languages, were several of them had the same (Roman letter–based) script. The team led by Srinivasa Chakravathy’s team at IIT Madras developed developed a unified script for nine Indian languages, named the Bharati script. The team has now gone a step further since developing the script: it has developed a method for reading documents in Bharati script using a multi-lingual optical character recognition (OCR) scheme. The team has also created a finger-spelling method that can be used to generate a sign language for hearing-impaired persons. In collaboration with TCS Mumbai, the researchers have found a way for persons with hearing disability to generate signatures using this finger-spelling technique.

Current Affairs in Science & Tech - April 2019

  • Mars: It is the fourth planet from the Sun and the second-smallest planet in the Solar System after Mercury. NASA spacecraft has detected what's believed to be a ‘marsquake' on planet Mars. According to report from NASA, the space agency's InSight lander, which touched down on Mars in November after a seven-month journey, sensed the seismic signal on April 6. Mission scientists are still working to confirm the source of the faint trembling, though it appears to have come not from the wind or movement of the lander's robotic arm but from below the Martian surface. If confirmed, it would be the first seismic activity ever detected on Mars. 'We've been collecting background noise up until now, but this first event officially kicks off a new field: Martian seismology!' Bruce Banerdt, a geologist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, and the principal investigator of the InSight mission, said in a statement. The 800-pound lander is parked on the Elysium Planitia, a broad, mostly rock-free plain just north of the Martian equator. The lander is designed to operate on the surface of Mars for two years, learning about the Martian interior as a way to boost our understanding of the formation of Mars and other rocky worlds, including Mercury, Venus, Earth and the moon.
  • Genome Sequencing : It is the process of determining the complete DNA sequence of an organism's genome at a single time. In a bid to educate students about the usefulness of genomics, Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has decided to map the population diversity. According to a report, nearly 1,000 rural youth from the length and breadth of India will have their genomes sequenced by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR). Globally, many countries have undertaken genome sequencing of a sample of their citizens to determine unique genetic traits, susceptibility (and resilience) to disease. This is the first time that such a large sample of Indians will be recruited for a detailed study. The project is an adjunct to a much larger government-led programme, still in the works, to sequence at least 10,000 Indian genomes.
  • Antibotics: They also known as antibacterials, are medications that destroy or slow down the growth of bacteria. With reports of adverse reactions after the usage of commonly-used antibiotics, the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) has now asked manufacturers to ensure that this information be made available to the general public. In a letter to drug manufacturers, CDSCO asked them to mention in leaflets inserted into drug packets or on promotional literature, information about the adverse reactions of these medicines. All of the seven formulations — antibiotics Cefotaxime, Ofloxacin and Cefixime; Tranexamic Acid, used to control bleeding; antipsychotic drug Quetiapine; anti-rheumatoid drug Sulfasalazine and the anti-epileptic medicine Sodium Valproate — have been instructed to warn patients of the new side effects. The letter was sent out by CDSCO on April 9.
  • Homo luzonensis : It is an extinct species of the genus Homo. Researchers in the Philippines have discovered a species of ancient human Homo Luzonensis which was previously unknown to science. The small-bodied hominin, named Homo luzonensis, lived on the island of Luzon at least 50,000 to 67,000 years ago. The hominin—identified from a total of seven teeth and six small bones—hosts a patchwork of ancient and more advanced features. The landmark discovery, announced in Nature on Wednesday, makes Luzon the third Southeast Asian island in the last 15 years to bear signs of unexpectedly ancient human activity. Scientists have for a long, long time, felt that there is nothing Philippine islands. Homo luzonensis flips the script, and it continues to challenge the outdated idea that the human line neatly progressed from less advanced to more advanced species.
  • Mitochondrial donation: It is an experimental IVF treatment involving an egg from the mother, sperm from the father and another egg from a female donor. A baby with DNA from three people has been born in Greece following this fertility treatment. The baby boy, weighing 2.9kg (6lb) was born. Both he and his mother, who is 32, are said to be in good health. The doctors behind the treatment, from Greece and Spain, said that the birth marks a historic advance – it is the first time an IVF technique involving DNA from three people has been used with the aim of addressing fertility problems. But UK experts criticised the decision to proceed with the treatment, which they said was not backed by evidence and involved unjustifiable risks.
  • Stratolaunch aircraft: It is a world’s largest airplane which completed its first test flight. According to officials, the aircraft achieved its maximum speed of 189 miles per hour (302.4 km per hour). The plane developed by aerospace venture Stratolaunch (set up by the late Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen in 2011) flew for 2.5 hours over the Mojave Desert at altitudes up to 17,000 feet. The plane has a dual fuselage design and its wingspan is greater than the length of an American football field. As per the information provided on the Stratolaunch website, the test flight took off from Mojave Air and Space Port in California at 6:58 am Pacific Time (7:28 pm India time). As part of the initial flight, the pilots evaluated aircraft performance and handling qualities before landing successfully back at the Mojave Air and Space Port, Stratolaunch said in a statement. The test team conducted standard aircraft testing exercise including a variety of flight control manoeuvres to calibrate speed and test flight control systems. The Stratolaunch aircraft is designed to act as a flying launch pad for satellites and put payloads in orbit. With 117 meters wingspan and 73 meters nose-to-tail length, the company describes its aircraft as the world’s largest plane. While it does have the largest wingspan, it does not have the longest nose-to-tail length.
  • Self destructive mechanism : It is new mechanism discovered by Chinese scientist. It is also known as death switch mechanism. According to officials, this mechanism will triggers infected cells to self-destruct, thus limiting the spread of the disease and keeping other parts of the plant healthy. This research can lead to a new generation of disease-resistant crops that use significantly less pesticide and are more environmentally friendly. The research was done by scientists from Tsinghua University and the Chinese Academy of Sciences' Institute of Genetics and Development Biology. Their findings were published in the journal Science. About 20 years ago, scientists discovered that plants, like animals, have robust immune systems that can protect them from pathogens including viruses, fungi, bacteria and parasites.
  • Global Cooling Coalition : It is a new coalition launched at the first Global Conference on Synergies between the 2030 Agenda and Paris Agreement held at Copenhagen, Denmark. It is supported by the UN, Climate and Clean Air Coalition, the Kigali Cooling Efficiency Program and Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL). This coalition includes environment ministers from Chile and Rwanda and foreign affairs from Denmark as well as heads of Danish engineering firms ENGIE and Danfoss and leaders from civil society, research and intergovernmental institutions. The Global Cool Coalition is a unified front that links action across the Kigali Amendment, Paris Agreement and Sustainable Development Goals. The Coalition aims to, Inspire ambition, identify solutions and mobilise action to accelerate progress towards clean and efficient cooling. Complement and build upon ongoing successful programmes to advance clean and efficient cooling, including, the Cooling for All Secretariat, the Climate and Clean Air Coalition, the Kigali Cooling Efficiency Programme, private sector action like the Global Cooling Prize, and other initiatives. Provide all with sustainable cooling at a scale that would ensure safe food, safe vaccine and comfort at work.
  • National Institutional Ranking Framework 2019 : It is ranking initiative carried out by Ministry of Human Resources Development. According to the report, The Indian Institute of Technology-Madras (IIT-Madras) beat Indian Institute of Science (IISc) to grab the top spot in the latest edition of National Institute Ranking Framework (NIRF) 2019. IIT-Madras has been ranked as the top institute in the overall category, followed by IISc in the second position. Barring IISc in the second spot, the IITs dominated the top ten slots in the overall category. While IIT Delhi was ranked third, IIT-Bombay, IIT-Kharagpur and IIT Kanpur followed in the fourth, fifth and sixth position. IIT-Roorkee got the eight position while IIT-Guwahati ranked ninth. JNU and BHU also found the place in the list at seventh and tenth positions respectively.
  • Spacex Falcon : It is the most powerful and reusable heavy-lift launch vehicle designed and manufactured by SpaceX launches the world first commercial mission. The launch is considered as a key demonstration for billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk's space company in the race to grasp lucrative military launch contracts. Roughly three minutes after clearing the launch pad, Falcon Heavy's two side boosters separated from the core rocket for a synchronised landing at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, just like it did for the rocket's debut last year. The middle booster, after pushing the payload into space, returned nearly 10 minutes later for a successful landing on SpaceX's seafaring drone ship waiting 645 kilometres off the Florida coast. A successful lift-off with Falcon Heavy's new military-certified Falcon 9 boosters was a crucial element in the race against Boeing-Lockheed venture United Launch Alliance and Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin to secure lucrative military contracts. Musk's SpaceX, working to prove the flight-worthiness of its rocket fleet one mission at a time, aims to clinch one-third of all US National Security Space missions — coveted contracts that are worth billions of llars. The US Air Force tapped SpaceX in 2018 to launch a classified military satellite, which cost it USD 130 million and in February added three more missions in a USD 297 million contract.
  • Cafe Scientifique: It is a new initiative aimed making science relevant, powerful and important to the public. It is promoted by a group of science experts of the Hume Centre for Ecology and Wildlife Biology. It is targeted at younger generations. Various topics such as universe, climate change, evolution, genetics and human-animal relations will be discussed in every monthly gathering.CK Vishnudas an ornithologist and director of the centre said, 'first such initiative in the State, envisages to bring science back into popular culture by demystifying scientific research for the public and empowering non-scientists to comfortably assess science and technology issues, particularly those that impact social policy making. We are planning to organise meetings of science enthusiasts in the district every month at a café or a convenient place, where one or more scientists are invited to talk to the public about new developments in science.
  • 5G : It is the latest generation of cellular mobile communications. It succeeds the 4G (LTE-A, WiMax), 3G (UMTS, LTE) and 2G (GSM) systems. 5G performance targets high data rate, reduced latency, energy saving, cost reduction, higher system capacity, and massive device connectivity. South Korea launched the world’s first nationwide 5G mobile networks. Three top telecom providers of the South Korea namely SK Telecom, KT and LG Uplus have begun their 5G services two days ago. Hyper-wired South Korea has long had a reputation for technical prowess, and Seoul had made the 5G rollout a priority as it seeks to stimulate stuttering economic growth. Along with the United States, China and Japan, South Korea had been racing to claim the title as the first to provide the ultra-fast network nationwide. Experts say 5G will bring smartphones near-instantaneous connectivity -- 20 times faster than 4G -- allowing users to download entire movies in less than a second. The technology is crucial for the future development of devices such as self-driving vehicles and is expected to bring about USD 565 billion in global economic benefits by 2034, according to the London-based Global System for Mobile Communications, an industry alliance.

Current Affairs in Science & Tech - March 2019

  • Young Scientist Programme: It is a special programme for School Children launched by Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). It is also known as Yuva Vigyani Karyakram. The Program is primarily aimed at imparting basic knowledge on Space Technology, Space Science and Space Applications to the younger ones with the intent of arousing their interest in the emerging areas of Space activities. ISRO has chalked out this programme to Catch them young. The residential training programme will be of around two weeks duration during summer holidays and it is proposed to select 3 students each from each State/ Union Territory to participate in this programme covering state, CBSE, and ICSE syllabus. Those who have just finished 9th standard (in the academic year 2018-19) and waiting to join 10th standard (or those who have started 10th Std just now) will be eligible for the programme. The selection will be based on the 8th Std marks. A few seats are left for the programme from various states. The interested students can register online from 25th March 2019 (1800 hrs) to 03rd April 2019 (1800 hrs). The selection is based on the academic performance and extracurricular activities. Students belonging to the rural area have been given special weightage in the selection criteria. The list of the provisionally selected candidates from each state will be announced on 06th April 2019. The provisionally selected candidates will be requested to send the supporting documents through E-mail to ISRO. This Email ID will be intimated to selected candidates. After verifying the relevant certificates the final list will be published on 13th April 2019. The progamme is planned at 4 centres of ISRO during the second half of May 2019. For more information log on to www.isro.gov.in
  • Biomedical Research Career Programme (BRCP) : It is programme developed by India for attracting high quality Indian scientists working abroad to return to India. The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved the continuation of the Biomedical Research Career Programme beyond its initial 10-year term from 2008-09 to 2018-19 to a new five year phase from 2019-20 to 2023-24. The programme is run by the Department of Biotechnology and UK- based biomedical research charity – Wellcome Trust. With the extension, the DBT would be increasing its commitment to the programme by two times, in comparison to that of the Welcome Trust. The total financial implication of the same will be Rs 1092 crore with DBT and WT contributing Rs 728 crore and Rs 364 crore respectively.
  • Drugs and Clinical Trials Rules 2019: It is the new notification announced by Union Health Ministry for promoting clinical research in the country. The new rules will apply to all new drugs, investigational new drugs for human use, clinical trials, bio-equivalence studies and ethics committees. The highlights of the notification includes reduction in time for approving applications, which has now come down to 30 days for drugs manufactured in India and 90 days for those developed outside the country. Also, in case of no communication from Drugs Controller General of India, the application will be deemed to have been approved. As per the new rule the requirement of a local clinical trial may be waived for approval of a new drug if it is approved and marketed in any of the countries (EU, UK, Australia, Japan and US) specified by the Drugs Controller General with the approval of the government. The new rules will ensure patient safety and an ethics committee will monitor the trials and decide on the amount of compensation in cases of adverse events. Meanwhile, the Indian Society for Clinical Research (ISCR) said that the new Clinical Trial Rules are well balanced and will further the conduct of ethical and quality clinical trials in the country which, in turn, will benefit patients.
  • Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO): It is the space agency of the Government of India headquartered in the city of Bengaluru. ISRO will launch 29 satellites including the primary payload EMISAT, on the first of April. Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, PSLV-C45 will take off from Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota tentatively at 9:30 AM carrying the satellites onboard. EMISAT has been developed for monitoring radar network by India. An ISRO release says, EMISAT, weighing 436 kg, is intended for electromagnetic spectrum measurement. It will be placed in an orbit of about 753 km altitude. The customer payloads are from Lithuania, Spain, Switzerland and the US. They will be hurled into space at an altitude of about 505 km. After all the satellites are put into orbits, the fourth stage of the rocket will be propelled to a different elevation and will be used as a platform for different experiments by Indian institutions, including ISRO. Indian Institute of Space Science (IISc) and the Radio Amateur Satellite Corporation are the other two institutions that will have their devices on the experimental platform. Normally the rocket engine is left redundant as space debris once the launch mission is over. But ISRO uses it for such experiments for the second time in a series. During the last PSLV mission also it adopted the same innovative method.
  • Bennu: It is a carbonaceous asteroid in the Apollo group discovered by the LINEAR Project on 11 September 1999. It is a potentially hazardous object that is listed on the Sentry Risk Table with the second-highest cumulative rating on the Palermo Technical Impact Hazard Scale. NASA scientists have found water, particles in Asteroid Bennu. NASA's OSIRIS-Rex mission found plumes erupting from the cosmic body’s surface — among a numerous other findings including evidence of water-bearing minerals. NASA spacecraft which will be returning to earth would be bringing a sample of asteroid in 2023. Bennu also revealed itself to be more rugged than expected, challenging the mission team to alter its flight and sample collection plans, due to the rough terrain. Bennu is the target of NASA’s Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer (Osiris-REx) mission, which began orbiting the asteroid on December 31 last year. Bennu, which is only slightly wider than the height of the Empire State Building, may contain unaltered material from the very beginning of our solar system. Speaking on the development ante Lauretta, Osiris-REx principal investigator at the University of Arizona said, ' The discovery of plumes is one of the biggest surprises of my scientific career. And the rugged terrain went against all of our predictions. Bennu is already surprising us, and our exciting journey there has just getting started.
  • Geological Survey of India (GSI) : It is a government body and the prime provider of basic earth science information to government, industry and general public, as well as the official participant in steel, coal, metals, cement, power industries and international geoscientific forums. GSI has launched 22 permanent global positioning system (GPS) stations across India to identify seismically hazardous zones and encourage mapping activities. The 22 GPS-Geodetic (pertaining to Geodesy, the science of earth measurement) observatories are located in Kolkata, Thiruvananthapuram, Jaipur, Pune, Dehradun, Chennai, Jabalpur, Bhubaneswar, Patna, Raipur, Bhopal, Chandigarh, Gandhinagar Vishakhapatnam, Agartala, Itanagar, Mangan, Jammu, Lucknow, Nagpur, Shillong and Little Andaman. The new 13 stations will be located in Aizawl, Faridabad, Uttarkashi, Pithoragarh, Cooch Behar, Zawar, North Andaman, Middle Andaman, South Andaman, Ranchi, Mangalore, Imphal and Chitradurga. These stations are meant to delineate high strain zones for earthquake probability, determine a seismic motion on faults that may lead to a rupture and produce thematic maps with high positional accuracy. The GSI is also keen on getting youngsters interested in geology and has taken several initiatives for this, the first being introduction of geology at the school level.
  • ISRO: It is an acronym for Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). It is the space agency of the Government of India. It will launch a special programme for School Children called Young Scientist Programme. The Program is primarily aimed at imparting basic knowledge on Space Technology, Space Science and Space Applications to the younger ones with the intent of arousing their interest in the emerging areas of Space activities. The program is thus aimed at creating awareness amongst the youngsters who are the future building blocks of our Nation. This will further help them to appreciate what they are being taught in the school and its real application in Space Science & Technology. ISRO has chalked out this programme to ‘Catch them young’. The programme will be of around two weeks duration during summer holidays and the schedule will include invited talks, experience sharing by the eminent scientists, facility and lab visits, exclusive sessions for discussions with experts, practical and feedback sessions. It is proposed to select 3 students each from each State/ Union Territory to participate in this programme every year covering CBSE, ICSE and State syllabus. Those who have finished 8th standard and currently studying in 9th standard will be eligible for the programme.

Current Affairs in Science & Tech - February 2019

  • Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO): It is the space agency of the Government of India headquartered in the city of Bengaluru.ISRO will be launching an electronic intelligence satellite Emisat for the DRDO. The satellite weighs about 420 kg. The 28 satellites belonging to our customers would cumulatively weigh about 250 kg. The DRDO's Emisat is an electronic intelligence satellite. The ISRO will also be launching two more defence satellites sometime in July/August with its new rocket Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV). After launching Emisat at an altitude of 763 km, the rocket will be brought down to put into orbit the 28 satellites at an altitude of 504 km.
  • Mission to Moon: Israel's non-profit SpaceIL launched its spacecraft from Florida's Cape Canaveral on board a Falcon 9 rocket, in a bid to become the fourth country to make a soft landing on the moon. According to an official release, the unmanned craft, weighing 1,300 pounds and standing approximately five feet tall, began an approximate seven-week journey to the moon, from where it will send back images of the rocky surface and conduct experiments on the lunar magnetic field.
  • Water Generator : It is a water generator, which generate water straight from the humidity present in the atmosphere. It was developed by Bharat Electronics Ltd (BEL) in collaboration with CSIR-IICT and MAITHRI, a start-up company based in Hyderabad. This water Generator employs a novel technology to extract water from the humidity present in the atmosphere and purify it. It uses heat exchange for condensing the atmospheric moisture to produce pure, safe and clean potable water. The AWG comes with a Mineralisation Unit, which is used to add minerals which are required to make the water potable. The AWG is configurable in static and mobile (vehicular) versions and is available in 30 litres/day, 100 litres/day, 500 litres/day and 1,000 litres/day capacities. The Atmospheric Water Generator can be used to provide drinking water in community centres and public places like health care centres, schools, colleges, offices, railway stations, bus stands, airports, sea ports, off-shore oil rigs, military establishments, remote field areas and remote establishments and residential complexes. The Atmospheric Water Generator is being manufactured by BEL in collaboration with CSIR-IICT and MAITHRI, a start-up company based in Hyderabad. It is on display at the BEL stall at Hall-E at Aero India 2019. BEL has, as part of the Government of India's Start-up India Initiative, extending its support to start-up Companies.
  • ISRO: It is an acronym for Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). It is the space agency of the Government of India. India will launch its latest communication satellite onboard European launch services provider Arianespaces launch vehicle on February 6 from French Guiana. Weighing about 2,535 kg, the Indian satellite, GSAT-31, will provide continuity to operational services on some of the in-orbit satellites. The satellite derives its heritage from ISROs earlier INSAT/GSAT satellite series, the space agency said, adding that it provides Indian mainland and island coverage. GSAT-31 is the country's 40th communication satellite which is configured on ISRO's enhanced 'I-2K Bus', utilising the maximum bus capabilities of this type. This satellite will augment the Ku-band transponder capacity in Geostationary Orbit. With a mission life of around 15 years, GSAT-31 will be used for supporting VSAT networks, Television uplinks, Digital Satellite News Gathering, DTH-television services, cellular backhaul connectivity and many such applications. It also provides wide beam coverage to facilitate communication over large oceanic region, comprising large parts of Arabian Sea, Bay of Bengal and Indian Ocean, using a wide band transponder.

Current Affairs in Science & Tech - January 2019

  • Indian Institute of Technology Madras: It is a public engineering institute located in Chennai, Tamil Nadu. As one of the Indian Institutes of Technology, it is recognised as an Institute of National Importance. The Department of Science and Technology (DST) has established three mission centres at the Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IIT-M) at the collective cost of Rs 50 crore. The centres were aimed at research and development in the field of solar and water treatment. Harsh Vardhan, the Union Minister for Science and Technology, inaugurated the three DST mission centres, namely, DST -IITM Solar Energy Harnessing Centre, DST- IITM Centre for Sustainable Treatment, Reuse and Management for Efficient, Affordable and Synergistic Solutions for Water (Water-IC for SUTRAM of EASY WATER), and DST-IITM-KGDS Test-bed on Solar Thermal Desalination Solutions in Narippaiyur, Ramanathapuram District, Tamil Nadu. The DST – IITM Water – IC for SUTRAM of EASY WATER will be available for CSIR-CLRI Chennai, Anna University, VIT Chennai, PRIST University, Indian Institute of Toxicological Research-Lucknow, IIT Tirupati, Kumaon University, IISER Bhopal. This Centre has been supported at a cost of Rs 9 crore.
  • South Asian Nitrogen Hub: It is a new scientific hub created to study nitrogen pollution in South Asia. It was launched by United Kindgom. Eighteen research institutions in India are among a group of 50 institutions — called the South Asian Nitrogen Hub (SANH) — in the United Kingdom and South Asia that have secured £20 million (about Rs 200 crore) from the U.K. government to assess and study the quantum and impact of nitrogen pollution in South Asia. While nitrogen is the dominant gas in the atmosphere, it is inert and doesn’t react. However, when it is released as part of compounds from agriculture, sewage and biological waste, nitrogen is considered reactive, and it may be polluting and even exert a potent greenhouse gas (heat trapping) effect.
  • Human Space Flight Centre (HSFC): It is a newly inaugurated centre in Indian Space Research Centre (ISRO). It will be the hub of ISRO's future manned missions, was inaugurated at ISRO headquarters in Bengaluru. It will be responsible for the implementation of Gaganyaan project — which involves mission planning, development of engineering systems for crew survival in space, crew selection and training and also pursue activities for sustained human space flight missions. HSFC will take the support of ISRO centres to implement the first developmental [crewed] flight'.
  • Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO): It is the space agency of the Government of India headquartered in the city of Bengaluru. Its vision is to "harness space technology for national development while pursuing space science research and planetary exploration. ISRO is planning to launch an exclusive satellite for the home ministry to help it further strengthen its frontiers with Pakistan and Bangladesh among others. According to an official statement issued, the move is part of recommendations made by a task force on the use of space technology in improving border management which have been accepted by home minister Rajnath Singh. To execute the project in a time bound manner, a short, medium and long-term plan has been proposed for implementation in five years in close coordination with the ISRO and the defence ministry. Major recommendations of the report are to build capacity in border guarding forces to use space resources for security, operational planning and border infrastructure development. In short term, immediate needs of border guarding forces will be met by procurement of high resolution imagery and hiring of bandwidth for communications. In mid-term, one satellite is being launched by the ISRO for exclusive use of the MHA. ISRO's Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C44)successfully injected Microsat-R andKalamsat-V2 satellites into their designated orbits. Microsat-R was successfully injected into intended orbit of 274 km. After injection, two solar arrays of the satellite were deployed automatically and ISRO Telemetry Tracking & Command Network (ISTRAC) at Bengaluru assumed control of the satellite. Subsequently , the fourth stage (PS4) of the vehicle was moved to a higher circular orbit of 453 km after two restarts of the stage, to establish an orbital platform for carrying out experiments. Kalamsat-V2, a student payload, first to use PS4 as an orbital platform, was taken to its designated orbit about 1 hour and 40 minutes after lift-off. This flight marked the first mission of PSLV-DL, a new variant of PSLV with two strap-on motors. In the previous PSLV launch on November 29, PSLV-C43 had successfully launched India’s HysIS as well as 30 customer satellites from abroad.
  • Young Scientist Programme: It is a new launched by Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) for the young minds who want to explore themselves in space research. Under Young Scientist programme at ISRO, three students from each state will be selected. They will be given lectures and they will be given access to R&D labs and practical experience of building a small satellite. Three students from each of the 29 States and 7 Union Territories will selected for the Young Scientist program.
  • UNNATI: It is acronym for UNispaceNanosatellite Assembly &Training by Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). ISRO has launched UNNATI programme to provide opportunities to the participating developing countries to strengthen in assembling, integrating and testing of Nanosatellite. The is planned to be conducted for 3 years by U.R. Rao Satellite Centre of ISRO in 3 batches and will target to benefit officials of 45 countries. The first batch started today in which 30 delegates from 17 countries are participating. Each batch will be for 8-week duration and will comprise of theoretical course work on nanosatellite definition, utility, laws governing their impact on space debris, design drivers, reliability & quality assurance and hands-on training on assembly, integration and testing of nanosatellites. The first batch of this programme is starting on January 17, 2019 with 30 participants from 17 countries (Algeria, Argentina, Azerbaijan, Bhutan, Brazil, Chile, Egypt, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Mexico, Mongolia, Morocco, Myanmar, Oman, Panama and Portugal). These participants were selected from 87 applications from 34 countries.
  • NASA: It is an acronym for National Aeronautics and Space Administration is an independent agency of the United States Federal Government responsible for the civilian space program, as well as aeronautics and aerospace research. NASA’s latest planet-hunting probe has discovered a new world outside our solar system, orbiting a dwarf star 53 light years away. This is the third new planet confirmed by the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) since its launch in April last year. The planet, named HD 21749b, orbits a bright, nearby dwarf star about 53 light years away, in the constellation Reticulum, and appears to have the longest orbital period of the three planets so far identified by TESS. HD 21749b journeys around its star in a relatively leisurely 36 days, compared to the two other planets — Pi Mensae b, a super-Earth with a 6.3-day orbit, and LHS 3844b, a rocky world that speeds around its star in just 11 hours.
  • The Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT): These are autonomous public institutes of higher education, located in India. They are governed by the Institutes of Technology Act, 1961 which has declared them as institutions of national importance and lays down their powers, duties, and framework for governance etc. IIT Madras scientists have created what they call 'space fuel' by simulating interstellar conditions in the lab, a method that may be used to convert atmospheric CO2 into a next generation energy source on Earth. The research, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), could help curb greenhouse gases as well as provide a new, sustainable source of energy. IIT Madras researchers formed such hydrates in vacuum, one thousand billion times below the atmospheric pressure called ultra-high vacuum (UHV) and temperature close to minus 263 degree Celsius. These are the conditions present in deep space.
  • Chang’e 4: It is the name of Chinese spacecraft which has become the first space craft to land on the far side of the moon in a historic moment for human space exploration. This move has been hailed as the major technical feat and is seen as a important step towards China’s wider ambitions in space. The robotic probe Chang’e 4 landed in the unexplored South Pole-Aitken basin, the biggest known impact structure in the solar system, at about 2.30am GMT on Thursday. Prior to confirmation of the landing and the release of the first close-up shots of the far lunar surface by the Chinese state broadcaster CCTV, many details of the mission, including the planned timing of the landing, had been kept secret.
  • Gaganyaan: It is an Indian crewed orbital spacecraft intended to be the basis of the Indian Human Spaceflight Programme. The spacecraft is being designed to carry three people, and a planned upgraded version will be equipped with rendezvous and docking capability. Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved the Gaganyaan Programme with demonstration of Indian Human Spaceflight capability to low earth orbit for a mission duration ranging from one orbital period to a maximum of seven days. A human rated GSLV Mk-lll will be used to carry the orbital module which will have necessary provisions for sustaining a 3-member crew for the duration of the mission. The necessary infrastructure for crew training, realization of flight systems and ground infrastructure will be established to support the Gaganyaan Programme. ISRO will collaborate extensively with National agencies, laboratories, academia and industry to accomplish the Gaganyaan Programme objectives.
  • Samwad scheme: It is a new initiative launched by ISRO. The scheme aims to constantly engage youngsters across India to capture their scientific temperament. The new conversation mission will inspire students cutting across schools and colleges. The first SwS event saw 40 wards and 10 teachers from select schools interact with ISRO Chairman Dr K Sivan at the Anthariksh Bhavan. During the three-hour stay at ISRO HQ, the students were first briefed about Indian space programme and their benefits to the common man. In his opening remarks Dr Sivan said the SwS aims at drawing inspiration and motivation from young India. “All of you with your boundless energy and endless curiosity are going to be my biggest source of inspiration and motivation. With so many challenging on hand this year, I thought it is important to seek the well wishes of students who are the future of this country,” Dr Sivan said.
  • IIT Guwahati: It is a public institution established by the Government of India, located in Guwahati, in the state of Assam in India. It is the sixth Indian Institute of Technology established in India.Scientists from Indian Institute of Technology, Guwahati, have developed a simple paper kit that can test freshness of milk. Aided with a smart phone app, the kit can help ensure that milk is consumed before it turns too sour. Milk being widely consumed food; its safety is of prime concern to consumers. More so because it is highly perishable and prone to action of enzymes and microorganisms inherently present in it. Although pasteurization, freezing and preservation using additives are widely used to prevent spoilage, perishability of milk is still a concern.
  • Chandrayaan 2:
    It is India's second lunar exploration mission after Chandrayaan-1. Developed by the Indian Space Research Organisation, the mission is planned to be launched to the Moon by a Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark III. It includes a lunar orbiter, lander and rover, all developed by India. The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is likely to launch Chandrayaan-2, the country’s second mission to the Moon, next month. Chandrayaan-2, a totally indigenous venture, comprises an orbiter, a lander and a rover. After a controlled descent, the lander would soft-land on the lunar surface at a specified site and deploy a rover, according to the ISRO. The six-wheeled rover will move around the landing site on the lunar surface in a semi-autonomous mode as decided by the ground commands.

Current Affairs in Science & Technology - December 2018

  • GSAT-7A : It is new satellite launched by Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). It was meant for the exclusive use of the Indian Air Force. Dubbed as the "Indian Angry Bird", the satellite will connect all IAF assets like planes, air-borne early warning control platforms and drones with each other and ground stations, and work towards a network-centric warfare capability. It will also reduce the possibility of snooping and leakage of information that's possible while using satellites launched by foreign operators. The 2,250-kg satellite is piggybacking on the GSLV MK II (Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle) which is powered by an indigenous cryogenic engine. This is the seventh flight of the rocket with Indian-made cryogenic engine.
  • Exoplanets: These are planets beyond our own solar system. Thousands have been discovered in the past two decades, mostly with NASA's Kepler Space Telescope. Scientists have discovered a cache over 100 new exoplanets using data from NASA’s Kepler Space telescope as well as ground-based observatories. The diverse planets are expected to play a large role in developing the research field of exoplanets and life in the Universe. Exoplanets, which revolve around stars other than the Sun, have been actively researched in recent years.
  • Digital Sky : It is registration process initiated by the government for operations of remotely piloted aircraft, to come into effect from December 1. Under these norms, drone users will be required to do one-time registration of their drones. They will also need to register the pilots of drones as well as their owners. For drones of micro size and above categories, operators are required to register on the Digital Sky portal. This digital platform has begun accepting registrations of users, and payments for Unmanned Aerial Operator’s Permit (UAOP) and Unique Identification Numbers (UIN) will be accepted through the Bharat Kosh portal (bharatkosh.gov.in). According to the ministry, to get the permission to fly, RPAS (remotely piloted aerial system) or drone operators or remote pilots will have to file a flight plan. Flying in the ‘green zones’ will require only intimation of the time and location of the flights via the portal or the app. Permissions will be required for flying in ‘yellow zones’ and flights will not be allowed in the ‘red zones’. The location of these zones will be announced soon. Permission will be made available digitally on the portal.
  • Train 18: It is the first locomotive less train in India. The train has breached the 180 kmph speed limit during a test run recently. According to an official release, train 18 breached the 180 kmph speed limit in the Kota-Sawai Madhopur section. The major trials are now over, with just some more remaining. Based on the reports, fine tuning would be done if needed. As of now no major technical problem has cropped up. Train 18 will be planning to commence its commercial run from January 2019. Normally the trials take three months. But now it is happening faster than expected. If all things go well, Train 18 will replace the current Shatabdi Express - a day train. Train 18 is capable of touching 200 kmph provided the rest of Indian Railways' system such as tracks and signals permit. The ICF will roll out one more Train 18 this fiscal and four by the next fiscal.
  • ISRO: The Indian Space Research Organisation is the space agency of the Government of India headquartered in the city of Bangalore. Its vision is to "harness space technology for national development while pursuing space science research and planetary exploration. ISRO launches its heaviest satellite from French Guyana. GSAT-11, the heaviest satellite built by Isro (Indian Space Research Organization), was launched successfully. The satellite was onboard Ariane-5 VA246, which blasted off from Kourou Launch Zone in French Guiana at 20:37 GMT. The 5,854-kg satellite, almost double the biggest one built or launched by Isro till date, was launched aboard the European launch vehicle Ariane 5 ECA. The heavy-duty Ariane-5 vehicle was also carrying GEO-KOMPSAT-2A for the Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI). GSAT-11 would play a vital role in providing broadband services across the country and provide a platform to demonstrate new generation applications, Isro said.
  • Silent airplane with no propellers: It is a new airplane built by scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). It is was inspired from the movie and television series "Star Trek", have, in a breakthrough, built and flown the first-ever silent airplane with no moving propellers. The aircraft is powered by an "ionic wind" -- a silent but mighty flow of ions that is produced aboard the plane, that generates enough thrust to propel the plane over a sustained, steady flight. And unlike propeller-driven drones, the new design is completely silent. "This is the first-ever sustained flight of a plane with no moving parts in the propulsion system," said Steven Barrett, Associate Professor of aeronautics and astronautics at the MIT.
  • Indian Meterological Department: It is an agency of the Ministry of Earth Sciences of the Government of India. It is the principal agency responsible for meteorological observations, weather forecasting and seismology. It has been developed technology called the 'Impact Based Forecasting Approach' to assess the rise of water level in rivers and reservoirs by rain and can help state governments to minutely monitor the impact of rainfall. It shows "pre-event scenario" can help authorities in taking real-time decisions.
  • Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme (IDSP): It is a segment of Integrated Health Information Platform (IHIP) which was launched by Ministry of Health in seven states. It is a path-breaking initiative will provide near-real-time data to policy makers for detecting outbreaks, reducing the morbidity and mortality and lessening disease burden in the populations and better health systems. The first one-of-its-kind initiative by the Government of India, IHIP uses the latest technologies and digital health initiatives. The success of this platform will depend primarily on the quality of data shared by the states. The effective implementation of the platform, 32,000 people at the block level, 13,000 at the district level and 900 at the state level have been trained.
  • NASA Insight lander: It is a new explorer which made its successful landing in planet Mars. The satellite landed on November 26, 2018, after an almost seven-month journey through deep space. This is the eighth time in human history that NASA has executed a successful landing on the red planet and the first in six years. The landing kicks off a two-year mission for the InSight lander to study Mars' deep interior. Operated by NASA, the explorer is built by scientists in the United States, France and Germany. It is designed to give the Red Planet its first thorough checkup since it formed 4.5 billion years ago. It is the first outer space robotic explorer to study in-depth the "inner space" of Mars: its crust, mantle, and core. InSight was launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on May 5, 2018. It touched down November 26 near Mars' equator on the western side of a flat, smooth expanse of lava called Elysium Planitia. It will carry out mission objectives on the surface of Mars for a period of two years (one Martian year, plus 40 Martian days) till November 24, 2020. The landing signal was relayed to NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, through one of NASA's two small experimental Mars Cube One (MarCO) CubeSats, which launched on the same rocket as InSight and followed the lander to Mars. They are the first CubeSats sent into deep space. After successfully carrying out a number of communications and in-flight navigation experiments, the twin MarCOs were set in position to receive transmissions during InSight's entry, descent and landing.
  • Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro): It is the space agency of the Government of India headquartered in the city of Bangalore. Its vision is to "harness space technology for national development while pursuing space science research and planetary exploration. ISRO has launched hyperspectral imaging satellite (HySIS), an earth observation satellite, from the Sriharikota. Over 30 foreign commercial satellites will be launched along with primary payload HySIS by the PSLV C43 rocket. The satellite, which can see in 55 spectral or colour bands from 630 km above the ground, will be used for a range of applications like agriculture, forestry and assessment of coastal zones, inland waters, soil and other geological environments. Being an earth observation satellite, HySIS will also be used by the military for surveillance purpose. The optical imaging detector array chip in the HySIS satellite has been designed by Isro's Ahmedabad-based Space Applications Centre and manufactured by its electronic arm, Semi-Conductor Laboratory, Chandigarh. The hyspex technology is still an evolving science and has become a new global trend. Hyperspectral imaging combines the power of digital imaging and spectroscopy. It collects and processes information from across the electromagnetic spectrum. Hyspex imaging enables distinct identification of objects, material or processes on the Earth by reading the spectrum for each pixel of a scene from space. Soon after the HySIS launch on November 29, Isro will shift its eye to the European spaceport as its heaviest commercial satellite Gsat-11 weighing 5.7 tonnes will be launched from French Guiana on December 5 (December 4 evening according to Indian standard time). The high-throughput satellite, which carries 40 transponders in the Ku-band and Ka-band frequencies, is capable of "providing high bandwidth connectivity" with up to 14 gigabit per second (GBPS) data transfer speed. Gsat-11, which will help increase internet speed in the country, was earlier this year recalled from French Guiana in order to check for possible glitches. Isro felt the need to take the unusual step of recalling the satellite in April as a precaution especially after the failure of the Gsat-6A satellite mission around the same time.
  • eDrishti: It is a new software launched by Indian Railways. The software has been developed by the Centre for Railway Information System (CRIS). The software was connected with the base kitchens of the Indian Rail Catering and Tourism Corp (IRCTC) following complaints regarding the quality of food served on trains. This software helps Railway Minister Piyush Goyal to keep a track of punctuality of trains as well as freight and passenger earnings – and much more – from anywhere in the country. The minister will reportedly be able to keep a track of all information related to Indian Railways. The Minister can track any information with just a click of the mouse — whether from his office or while on the move. The Minister will also be able to know at any given point of time the day’s freight and passenger earnings, freight loading and unloading, punctuality, progress of major projects, and public grievances. Further, the movement of trains across the country, and details of railway stations and many more informations will be in the reach of Railway minister.
  • Sashastra Seema Bal: It is one of India's Central Armed Police Forces. Dudhwa Tiger Reserve and Sashastra Seema Bal have joined hands to provide security to Dudhwa forests and its rich wildlife. “A consensus was reached among all security agencies including SSB on the border and the Dudhwa field staff to strengthen the patrolling in and around Dudhwa to check forest and wildlife crimes,” DTR Field Director Ramesh Kumar Pandey said.

Current Affairs in Science & Technology - November 2018

  • Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IIT Madras) : It is a public engineering institute located in Chennai, Tamil Nadu. As one of the Indian Institutes of Technology, it is recognised as an Institute of National Importance. has developed a portable solar-powered cold storage device with a 500 kg capacity for storing vegetables, and fruits, among other items. The device will help farmers store their produce for sufficient time so that it does not get spoilt before it is sold, thereby preventing wastage of agricultural produce. The first unit of the device, which provides storage facility with temperature ranging between four and 10 degree celsius, was deployed at a farm in Madurantakam in Kancheepuram district, around 80 km from Chennai.
  • SpiNNaker: It is the world’s largest supercomputer designed to work in the same way as the human brain has been switched on for the first time. The Spiking Neural Network Architecture machine is capable of completing more than 200 million million actions per second, with each of its chips having 100 million transistors. SpiNNaker, built at the University of Manchester in the U.K., can model more biological neurons. Biological neurons are basic brain cells present in the nervous system that communicate by emitting ‘spikes’ of pure electro-chemical energy. It is unique as it mimics the massively parallel communication architecture of the brain, sending billions of small amounts of information simultaneously to thousands of different destinations. SpiNNaker completely re-thinks the way conventional computers work.
  • GSAT 29: It is the newest communication satellite launched Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). It is was launched into orbit on the GSLV-MkIII D2's second developmental flight from Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SHAR), Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh. At exactly 5.08 pm, the GSLV-Mk III rocket began fly from the second launchpad in Sriharikota. The MkIII, in its second developmental test launch before its carries Indian astronauts to space, launched the GSAT-29 satellite into Geostationary Transfer Orbit (GTO). The satellite will then be positioned in Earth's Geostationary Orbit (GEO) using thrusters, at an altitude of 207 kilometres above ground
  • Technology Facility Center (TFC): It is a new centre established in the premises of the CSIR-North East Institute of Science & Technology (NEIST) in Jorhat, Assam. The Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER) will bear the cost of setting up of this new Science Centre and has, to begin with, allocated Rs.40 crore for its construction. Present on this historic occasion were, among others, Member of Lok Sabha from Jorhat, Kamkhya Prasad Tasa, Director CSIR-NEIST Dr S. Chattopadhyaya, Chairman Research Council Dr G.N. Qazi, Secretary NEC (North-Eastern Council) Shri Ram Muivah, Vice-Chancellor and National University, Dr Pardeshi Lal. TFC will prove to be a boon for young aspiring youth and will emerge as a Center of Excellence for all the eight States of Northeast as well as the rest of India.
  • Social media : These are interactive computer-mediated technologies that facilitate the creation and sharing of information, ideas, career interests and other forms of expression via virtual communities and networks US scientists have developed a web-based tool to help monitor the prevalence of fake news on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. Developed by researchers at the University of Michigan in the US, the tool uses a Platform Health Metric called the Iffy Quotient, which draws data from two external entities: NewsWhip and Media Bias/Fact Checker. NewsWhip, a social media engagement tracking firm, collects URLs on hundreds of thousands of sites every day and then gathers information on which of those sites have engagements on Facebook and Twitter. Iffy Quotient queries NewsWhip for the top 5,000 most popular URLs on the two social media platforms. Then the tool checks to see if those domain names have been flagged by Media Bias/Fact Check, an independent site that classifies various sources based on their reliability and bias. The first report issued by the researchers confirms what was suspected about the 2016 US presidential election: the Iffy Quotient increased dramatically on both Facebook and Twitter during the election.

Current Affairs in Science & Technology - October 2018

  • Artificial Moon: It is a latest scientific initiative proposed by Chengdu aerospace science and technology microelectronics system research institute. The city of Chengdu has unveiled plans to replace the city’s streetlights with a satellite that will boost the glow of the real moon. The artificial moon will be able to light an area with a diameter of 10 to 80 kilometres. Wu Chunfeng, chairman of Chengdu aerospace science and technology microelectronics system research institute, announced the news and said that the artificial moon would be eight times brighter than the real moon. The testing of the illumination started years ago and is now ready. The manmade moon will have a coating that can reflect light from the sun with solar panel-like wings. The angles of these wings can then be adjusted to allow the light to focus on a precise location. The exact details of the spacecraft, the launch date and how the artificial moon would be maintained were not revealed. Officials from the city of Chengdu said they were hoping to save money on street lighting and also increase tourism.
  • Artificial Intelligence:It is a way of making a computer, a computer-controlled robot, or a software think intelligently, in the similar manner the intelligent humans think. NITI Aayog has inked agreement with Microsoft India to deploy artificial intelligence (AI) technologies to deal with problems in agriculture and health care and promote adoption of area language computing among the other folks. This partnership will assist NITI Aayog to shift over and above pilots and understand how to scale AI implementation in sectors characterized by preponderance of community products. Below the agreement, Microsoft will present NITI Aayog sophisticated AI-dependent remedies to handle worries in agriculture and health care which includes farm advisory services, health care screening styles at Major Health Centres (PHCs) and build potential for AI by education between some others. It will also assist NITI Aayog by combining cloud, AI, investigate and its vertical skills for new initiatives and options throughout various main parts.
  • Climate change: It is a change in the statistical distribution of weather patterns when that change lasts for an extended period of time. Climate change may refer to a change in average weather conditions, or in the time variation of weather within the context of longer-term average conditions. India has suffered economic losses of $79.5 billion due to natural disasters during the last two decades, according to the United Nations (UN). Between 1998 to 2017, two of the worst years for lower-middle income countries -- a category that India falls into -- were 2002 when a severe drought in India affected 300 million people, and 2015 again with a drought hitting India and other countries, according to the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction report. It warned of growing risk from climate change, which would hit developing countries the hardest. The last 20 years have seen a dramatic rise of 151 per cent in direct economic losses from climate-related disasters, the report said. During that period 77 per cent of the economic losses $2,908 billion were due to climate-related disasters.
  • ISRO: The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is the space agency of the Government of India headquartered in the city of Bangalore. Its vision is to "harness space technology for national development while pursuing space science research and planetary exploration. The Roscosmos State Corporation for Space Activities and Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) will be working together on the first manned space mission. At end of delegation level talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladmir Putin, a MoU was inked between ISRO and the Federal Space Agency of Russia ‘ROSCOSMOS’ for joint activities in the field of Human Spaceflight Programme. The Russian side has offered a ride to Indian astronaut a short visit to International Space Station (ISS) on board a Soyuz spacecraft for a short training mission in 2022. India hopes to send its first manned mission Gaganyaan in 2022.
  • Bioelectronic medicine: It is a new development in the scientific world where an implantable, biodegradable wireless device that speeds nerve regeneration and improves the healing of a damaged nerve. Researchers at the Washington University in the US developed a device that delivers regular pulses of electricity to damaged peripheral nerves in rats after a surgical repair process, accelerating the regrowth of nerves in their legs and enhancing the ultimate recovery of muscle strength and control. The size of a dime and the thickness of a sheet of paper,the wireless device operates for about two weeks before naturally absorbing into the body, according to the study published in the journal Nature Medicine. This method offers therapy and treatment over a clinically relevant period of time and directly at the site where it’s needed, thereby reducing side-effects or risks associated with conventional, permanent implants. While the device has not been tested in humans, the findings offer promise as a future therapeutic option for nerve injury patients.
  • Stanford University: It is a private research university in Stanford, California. Stanford is known for its academic strength, wealth, proximity to Silicon Valley, and ranking as one of the world's top universities. Stanford University takes first place on Reuters' list of the World's Most Innovative Universities for the fourth consecutive year. Backed by producing new patents and papers that influence researchers around the world, the university has locked down the top spot. According to the report, the patents and research works include several developments in the field of rtificial intelligence. Members of the department of Electrical Engineering have come up with an AI camera system that analyzes images faster and with less energy than current systems. The work could lead to a new generation of smart camera applications in autonomous vehicles, surveillance systems and medical devices. At the university's department of Computer Science, researchers have designed an AI system that can predict potential drug interactions before new pharmaceuticals are ever tested on humans. The system, called Decagon, could help researchers find better drug combinations to treat complex diseases.
  • Nobel Prize: The Nobel Prize is a set of six annual international awards bestowed in several categories by Swedish and Norwegian institutions in recognition of academic, cultural, or scientific advances. The will of the Swedish scientist Alfred Nobel established the prizes in 1895.
  • 2018 Nobel Physics Prize : Arthur Ashkin of the United States won one half of the nine million Swedish kronor (about USD 1.01 million or 870,000 euros) prize, while Gerard Mourou of France and Donna Strickland of Canada shared the other half.
  • 2018 Nobel Medicine Prize: Two immunologists, James Allison of the US and Tasuku Honjo of Japan, won this year's Nobel Medicine Prize for research into how the body's natural defences can fight cancer.
  • 2018 Nobel Chemistry Prize: US scientists Frances Arnold and George Smith and British researcher Gregory Winter won the Nobel Chemistry Prize for applying the principles of evolution to develop enzymes used to make everything from biofuels to pharmaceuticals. Arnold, just the fifth woman to win the Nobel Chemistry Prize, won one half of the nine million Swedish kronor (about USD 1.01 million or 870,000 euros) award, while Smith and Winter shared the other half.
  • 2018 Nobel Peace Prize: Denis Mukwege and Nadia Murad are awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for 2018 for their efforts to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war and armed conflict. The prize is worth nine million Swedish kronor (USD 1.01 million).The winners have been chosen from among 331 nominations (216 individuals and 115 organisations) which the second highest number of nominees ever, next only to the 376 nominated in 2016.

Current Affairs in Science & Technology - September 2018

  • Institute of Nuclear Medicine & Allied Sciences (INMAS): It is a laboratory of the Defence Research and Development Organisation. Located in New Delhi, it is involved in Nuclear medicine research and responding to nuclear accidents and explosions. The scientists at a INMAS claim to have developed India's first indigenous medical kit that may ensure protection from serious injuries and faster healing of wounds resulting from nuclear warfare or radioactive leakage. The kit, developed after two decades of work by the Institute of Nuclear Medicine and Allied Sciences (INMAS) here, has over 25 items, including radio-protectors that provide 80-90 per cent protection against radiation and nerve gas agents, bandages that absorb radiation as well as tablets and ointments. Developed in India for the first time, it's a potent alternative to similar kits that were till now being procured from strategically advanced nations such as the US and Russia at much higher prices. The contents include an advanced form of Prussian blue tablets, highly effective in incorporating Radio Cesium (Cs-137) and Radio Thallium, among the most feared radioisotopes in nuclear bombs that destroy human body cells. The tablet provides 100 per cent absorption from the gut and other portals of entry to the human body, according to documents inside the medical kit accessed.
  • Eyerovtuna: It is the country's first underwater robotic drone developed at Maker Village, which can send real-time videos of ships and other underwater structures to help with their repair and maintenance, was launched and handed over to the Naval Physical and Oceanographic Laboratory (NPOL) of DRDO on Friday. The drone will be used by NPOL for research and development activities which in turn would result in a commercial product for defence purposes. The first commercial Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV)/ underwater drone, Eyerovtuna was developed by EyeROV Technologies. NPOL, a laboratory of Delhi-headquartered Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), made the first order of the product. The development of the product of EyeROV was largely supported by Kerala Start up Mission (KSUM) through various schemes.
  • Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) : It is the space agency of the Government of India headquartered in the city of Bangalore. Its vision is to "harness space technology for national development while pursuing space science research and planetary exploration. ISRO has launched two satellites from the United Kingdom , NovaSAR and S1-4 from the first launch pad at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre. The lightest version of the PSLV, flying in its core-alone version without the six strap-on motors, the PSLV-C-42 rose into the skies at 10.08 p.m. Almost 18 minutes later, the two satellites were placed in the desired orbit by ISRO. This was the 12th such launch of a core-alone version of the PSLV by ISRO. The two satellites, owned by Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL) were placed in a circular orbit around the poles, 583 km from Earth. The commercial arm of ISRO, Antrix Corporation earned more than ₹220 crore on this launch. The NovaSAR is a technology demonstration mission designed to test the capabilities of a new low cost S-band SAR platform. It will be used for ship detection and maritime monitoring and also flood monitoring, besides agricultural and forestry applications. The S1-4 will be used for environment monitoring, urban management, and tackling disasters. Among the slew of launches scheduled over the next few months, the much-awaited and delayed, India's second lunar mission, Chandrayaan-2 finally has a launch window. Chandrayaan-2 is planned for a window from January 3 to February 16, 2019 that we are targeting. It can happen anytime during that window. But we are aiming for the beginning of the window, January 3. Right now with the status of the rocket, the GSLV Mk-3 M1, and the present status of the satellite, we are not expecting any more delay. At the same time tests are going on. If unexpected things happen, that may have some impact. But right now, we are not anticipating any delay. The other launches include the GSAT series that will provide bandwidth speeds of up to 100 Gbps per second, as part of the government's Digital India efforts.
  • SBand Polarimetry Doppler Weather : It is newly inaugurated facility at Sriharikota spaceport near Chennai. The radar has been developed by Bharat Electronics Ltd, Bengaluru under ToT (Training of Trainers) from ISRO. The Doppler Weather Radar (DWR) provides advanced information, enhances the lead-time essential for saving lives and property in the event of a natural disaster associated with severe weather. While conventional radars are able to track and predict cyclones, the DWR provides detailed information on a storm's internal wind flow and structure. The severity of the weather systems can be quantitatively estimated and more precise advanced warnings can be generated for saving human lives and property. The polarimetric capability of the radar will significantly improve the accuracy of rainfall estimation leading to accurate and timely flash flood warnings, according to ISRO's earlier release.
  • India Cooling Action Plan (ICAP): It is a system planned by the Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) for the cooling requirement across sectors and lists out actions which can help reduce cooling demand. Its thrust is to look for synergies in actions for securing both environmental and socio-economic benefits. ICAP's overarching goal is to provide sustainable cooling and thermal comfort for all while securing environmental and socio-economic benefits for the society. Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) has released draft India Cooling Action Plan (ICAP). It makes India first country in world to develop such document. The draft was prepared by Ozone Cell of MoEFC. It aims to provide sustainable cooling while keeping in mind, at the same time, the need to protect the ozone layer from substances that can deplete it. It provides a 20-year perspective, with projections for cooling needs in 2037-38. Hydrogen powered train: The new train will carry a hydrogen tank and fuel cells on the roof, and produce electricity by combining hydrogen and oxygen. Germany has rolled out the world's first hydrogen-powered train. The landmark move, signals to push the challenge that might of polluting diesel trains with costlier but more eco-friendly technology. Two bright blue Coradia iLint trains, built by French company Alstom, began running a 100km route between the towns and cities of Cuxhaven, Bremerhaven, Bremervoerde and Buxtehude in northern Germany a stretch normally plied by diesel trains.
  • Cyclotron: It is an apparatus in which charged atomic and subatomic particles are accelerated by an alternating electric field while following an outward spiral or circular path in a magnetic field. India's largest Cyclotron, a type of particle accelerator that produces radioisotopes, for medical applications became operational last week in Kolkata. According to the Department of Atomic Energy, the facility called Cyclone-30 at the Variable Energy Cyclotron Centre (VECC) in Kolkata will provide affordable radioisotopes and related radiopharmaceuticals. Cyclone-30 is in the first phase of production generating Flourodeocyglucose (FDG), a radioisotope used for date imaging and oncological tissue imaging. The machine is soon expected to produce Germanium 68 and Gallium 68 radioisotopes both imported and expensive. Cyclone-30 will become the first and only facility in the country to produce Germanium 68 isotopes, which is used in the diagnosis of breast cancer. Simultaneously, we will be able to produce Palladium 103 isotopes which is used for the treatment of prostate cancer. The machine at VECC was likely to bring down costs of radioisotopes for the pharmaceutical industry such as Germanium 68 by almost half.
  • Gaganyaan Mission: It is India's maiden human spaceflight programme. The mission was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his 72nd Independence Day speech. It is India's first manned space mission that will be launched by ISRO by 2022. The mission will send a three-member crew to space for a period of five to seven days. The crew will do microgravity experiment during the mission. The crew will be selected by Indian Air Force (IAF) and ISRO jointly after which they will undergo training for two-three years. GSLV Mk-III launch vehicle, having the necessary payload capability for this mission, will be used to launch Gaganyaan. The programme will make India the fourth nation in the world to launch a Human Spaceflight Mission. So far, only the USA, Russia and China have launched human spaceflight missions. India and France have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to constitute a working group for Gaganyaan Mission, India's first manned space mission. The French space agency CNES and the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) will be combining their expertise in fields of space medicine, astronaut health monitoring, life support, radiation protection, space debris protection and personal hygiene systems. The ambit of the cooperation includes ISRO's access to space hospital facilities in France. Both the sides have decided that infrastructure such as CADMOS centre for development of microgravity applications and space operations or the MEDES space clinic will be used for training of future Indian astronauts. French-Indian space cooperation includes climate monitoring, with a fleet of joint satellites devoted to research and operational applications. The two countries also have plans to work on Mars, Venus and asteroids.
  • Space Elevator: It is a proposed type of planet-to-space transportation system. The main component would be a cable anchored to the surface and extending into space. Researchers from Shizuoka University, Japan are planning to conduct world's first experiment to test small prototype of space elevator in space by using two mini satellites. According to official sources, two ultra-small cubic satellites developed by Shizuoka University Faculty of Engineering will be used for demonstration of space elevator technology. Each satellite measures 10 centimeters each side. Roughly 10-meter-long steel cable will be employed to connect twin satellites. The pair of satellites will be released from International Space Station (ISS) and container acting like elevator car will be moved on cable connecting satellites using motor. The movement of motorised elevator box will be monitored with cameras in the satellites.
  • Google: It is an American multinational technology company that specializes in Internet-related services and products, which include online advertising technologies, search engine, cloud computing, software, and hardware. Google has announces new AI technology to combat online child sexual abuse. Google said its cutting-edge AI technology uses deep neural networks for image processing to help discover and detect child sexual abuse material (CSAM) online. The new tool based on the deep neural networks will be made available for free to non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and other "industry partners," including other technology companies, via a new Content Safety API service that could be offered upon request.

Current Affairs in Science & Technology - August 2018

  • Innovation Cell: Innovation cell is Ministry of Human Resource and Development's initiative and has been established at AICTE premises with a purpose to systematically foster the culture of Innovation in all Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) across the country. The primary mandate of Innovation Cell is to encourage, inspire and nurture young students by exposing them to new ideas and processes resulting in innovative activities in their formative years fostered through Network of Innovation clubs in Higher Educational Institutions. In yet another game changing initiative, the Union Minister for HRD, Shri Prakash Javadekar and Union Minister of State for HRD, Dr. Satya Pal Singh launched the Innovation Cell at AICTE, New Delhi.
  • The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO): It is the space agency of the Government of India headquartered in the city of Bangalore. ) ISRO has unveiled India's Gaganyaan programme for manned space flight before 2022 as announced by the Prime Minister on the Independence Day. The manned mission to space having 3 crew members will be in space for 5-7 days. After the takeoff, the manned flight will reach the orbit in 16 minutes. The crew, while coming back to the Earth, could land in the Arabian Sea off the Gujarat coast or in the Bay of Bengal or even on land, he added. He said the mission may be executed six months before India completes its 75th Independence Day with the help of GSLV Mk-III launch vehicle. The spacecraft will be placed in a low earth orbit of 300-400 km and the total programme cost is expected to be less than Rs 10,000 crores.
  • European Space Agency (ESA): It is an intergovernmental organisation of 22 member states dedicated to the exploration of space. ESA has successfully launched wind-sensing satellite named Aeolus into orbit on board of Vega rocket from French Guyana. It is world's first wind-sensing satellite dedicated to map Earth's wind on global scale in particular tropical winds which are very poorly mapped because of almost complete absence of direct observations. The satellite is Aeolus named after guardian of wind in Greek mythology. It will be placed at altitude of 320km above the Earth. It is part of the Copernicus project, a joint initiative of European Union (EU) and European Space Agency (ESA) to track environmental damage and aid disaster relief operations.
  • Jatropha: Jatropha is a genus of flowering plants in the spurge family, Euphorbiaceae. The name is derived from the Greek words meaning "physician", hence the common name physic nut. A blend of oil from jatropha seeds and aviation turbine fuel propelled the country's first ever bio jet fuel-powered flight on Monday between Dehradun and Delhi. The 43 minute flight was operated by SpiceJet's Bombardier Q-400 aircraft with 20 officials and five crew members on board. A blend of 25% of bio jet fuel and 75% of aviation turbine fuel (ATF) was carried in one of the two engines of the plane, while the other engine carried only ATF. International standards permit a blend rate of upto 50% biofuel with ATF.
  • E-Cigaratte: It is a handheld electronic device that simulates the feeling of tobacco smoking. Union Health Ministry has instructed all the States that e-cigarettes and other Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS) should not be sold under their jurisdiction. Punjab, Karnataka, Kerala, Mizoram, Jammu and Kashmir, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar have already prohibited the use of e-cigarettes, heat-not-burn devices, E-Shisha and e-nicotine-flavoured hookahs, and have prohibited the manufacture, import, sale and distribution of ENDS. The Health Ministry has issued an advisory for the other States to follow suit. ENDS products are a great health risk to the public at large, especially to children, adolescents, pregnant women and women of reproductive age. States and Union Territories are advised in larger public health interest, and in order to prevent the initiation of ENDS by non-smokers and youth, with special attention to vulnerable groups, to ensure that ENDS are not sold..., it said. Thirty countries including Australia, Singapore and Sri Lanka have already brought in such bans.
  • Influenza: It is a commonly known as "the flu", is an infectious disease caused by an influenza virus. The Indian government and the European Union (EU) has joined hands for Rs. 240 crore research programme to develop a Next Generation Influenza Vaccine to protect citizens worldwide. Both the EU and the Department of Biotechnology (DBT) ), Government of India, have also committed EUR 15 million each to fund this joint call for the program named "Horizon 2020".
  • Wheat : Wheat is one of the world's most commonly consumed cereal grains. It comes from a type of grass (Triticum) that is grown in countless varieties worldwide. Bread wheat, or common wheat, is the most common species. Several other closely related species include durum, spelt, emmer, einkorn, and Khorasan wheat. Scientists have decoded the entire DNA of wheat for the first time. Researchers hope the findings will allow them to produce new low allergy varieties as well as crops that need less water. It is hoped the research will benefit sufferers from Coeliac disease - who become ill when eating gluten. It is the world's most widely-cultivated crop on Earth and detailing it was a far more complex task than that of the human genome. Wheat has 16 billion base pairs - the building blocks of DNA - five times more than the humans. More than 200 scientists from 73 research institutions including the UK's John Innes Centre worked on the mammoth task - the results of which are published in the journal Science. Wheat has 21 chromosomes, 107,891 genes and more than 4 million molecular markers.
  • Cyclone warning centre: It is one of the most important functions of the Indian Meteorological Department. The Centre has proposed to set up a Cyclone Warning Centre in Thiruvananthapuram. New centre would further strengthen the present forecasting activity in IMD's existing office in Kerala. The ministry is also planning to set up another C-Band Doppler Weather Radar at Mangalore by end of 2019 which would cover the northern parts of Kerala. At present, there are two Doppler Weather Radars in the state -- at Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram. With these three radars, the entire state would be covered for monitoring of rainfall and severe weather events, and adequately warn the people well in advance. The IMD has developed many new models and tools from nowcasts (2-3 hours) to extended range forecasts (15-20 days' lead time). The MoES is also planning to organise an awareness and training workshop for the state disaster management authorities of all states and other stakeholders by next month, to brief and train them on the new tools and their use for effective decision making.
  • Global Positioning System (GPS): It is a satellite navigation system used to determine the ground position of an object. Researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have developed an in-body GPS system, called ReMix, which can identify the location of ingestible implants inside the body via low-power wireless signals. Scientists team expects that such implants can be used to track tumours by monitoring even slight movements. In the future, the implants may also help in dispensing drugs to a specific area in the body. ReMix is being developed by MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) in alliance with Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH). The in-body GPS system is based on a wireless technology that MIT previously developed to detect heart rate, breathing and movement. To validate the system, the researchers implanted a small marker in animal tissues. They used a wireless device that reflects radio signals off the patient to track the marker's movement. This marker does not transmit any signals of its own. It merely reflects those transmitted by the wireless device. As a result, the marker does not need a battery or any external source of energy.
  • Laboratory of Conservation of Endangered Species: It is a first of its kind genetic resource bank, which could have far reaching implications in conservation and revival of extinct and endangered species in the near future. It was inaugurated at Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology's (CCMB) Laboratory of Conservation of Endangered Species (LaCONES) facility. It is dubbed as National Wildlife Genetic Resource Bank and inaugurated by Union Minister for Science and Technology and Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Dr. Harsh Vardhan, the genetic bank will cryopreserve living cell lines, gametes and embryos of endangered wild animal species in India. Such a genetic bank will be a priceless resource material for conservation, taking up artificial reproduction, conducting studies in evolution biology and wildlife medicine. This is the first-of-its-kind facility in India where genetic material will be stored for posterity and will be a ready reckoner for future generations. Biotechnology research in basic Biology is developing at a very fast pace and in coming years, there will be a definite need for such resources. The CCMB-LaCONES is the only laboratory in India that has developed methods for collection and cryopreservation of semen and oocytes from wildlife and successfully reproducing blackbuck, spotted deer and pigeons. The operating costs for maintaining such a genetic resource bank at CCMB-LaCONES will be around Rs 1 crore a year.
  • Aerogel : It is a new transparent heat-resistant gel developed using beer waste. The material which features the look like a flattened plastic contact lens, could also be used on buildings on Mars, Earth to help make huge savings on energy costs. The gel is so resistant to heat that you could put a strip of it on the hand and a fire on top without feeling a thing, researchers said. However, unlike similar products on the market, the material is mostly see-through.
  • Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO): It is the space agency of the Government of India headquartered in the city of Bangalore. India will send a human to space by 2022, said Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during his Independence Day speech. The project would cost about Rs 100 billion. If India succeeds, it will be the fourth country to achieve this landmark. Modi said, I want to give the country some good news: We have resolved that by 2022, before we celebrate 75 years of Independence, India will place an Indian in space. India is proud of our scientists, who are excelling in their research and are at the forefront of innovation. In 2022, or if possible before, India will unfurl the tricolour in space. K VijayRaghavan, principal scientific advisor to the Government of India, said the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) was well on track to do this. Technologies being used and developed will have many benefits to society
  • Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IIT-Madras) : It is a public engineering institute located in Chennai, Tamil Nadu. A group of computer scientists and students from IIT-Madras have development first of a family of six industry-standard microprocessors. The initial batch of 300 chips, named RISECREEK and produced under Project Shakti, have been fabricated free at Intel's facility at Oregon, U.S., to run the Linux operating system. According to an official source, its microprocessors can be adapted by others, as the design is open source. They optimise power use and compete with international units such as the Cortex A5 from Advanced RISC Machines (ARM).
  • ISRO: The Indian Space Research Organisation is the space agency of the Government of India headquartered in the city of Bangalore. The launch of India's second lunar mission 'Chandrayaan-2', has been postponed to October. Union Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office, in-charge of the Department of Space, Jitendra Singh had on 16 February last said the lunar mission under which the Isro will for the first time attempt to land a rover on the moon's south pole, will be launched in April. Sivan had earlier said the window to launch the Rs 800 crore mission was between April and November 2018. While the targeted date was April, Isro would launch the mission in October or November, he had said. According to Isro, Chandrayaan-2 is a totally indigenous mission comprising an orbiter, lander and rover".
  • Akademik Lomonosov: It is the world's first floating nuclear power station. Constructed by the state nuclear power firm Rosatom, the 144 by 30 metre (472 by 98 foot) ship holds two reactors with two 35 megawatt nuclear reactors that are similar to those used to power icebreaker ships. The 21,000-tonne barge will be towed in the summer of 2019 to the port of Pevek in the autonomous Chukotka region in Russia's extreme northeast, 350 kilometres north of the Arctic Circle. The barge can produce enough electricity to power a town of 2,00,000 residents, far more than the 5,000 who live in Pevek, Russia's northernmost town. It will be primarily used to power oil rigs as Russia pushes further north into the Arctic to drill for oil and gas and needs electricity in far-flung locations.
  • Nipah Virus: Nipah Virus is a newly emerging zoonosis that causes a severe disease in both animals and humans. This virus was first identified in Malaysia and Singapore in 1998. At that time, it was primarily caused in pigs and through them got transferred to humans. Nipah Virus infected as many as 265 people then, out of which 40 per cent were taken under intensive care due to the infection having spread severely. As quoted by the WHO, the natural host of the virus are fruit bats of the Pteropodidae Family, Pteropus genus. Nipah Virus is usually associated with inflammation of the brain due to which severe days of fever can often lead to a state of confusion, disorientation and even persistent drowsiness. If not taken care of, these symptoms can even cause a coma in a span of 24-48 hours. There are many patients who show neurological, respiratory and pulmonary signs as well. Therefore, do not ignore any such signs.
  • New frog species: Scientists from Karnataka have found a new frog species in a small industrial region in coastal Karnataka. The new frog named as Microhyla kodial after the city of Mangaluru (called kodial in the Konkani language) from where they spotted it two years ago. The frog is found only in a small industrial region here a former timber dumping yard surrounded by seaport, petrochemical, chemical and refinery industries. The yard is bounded by the rail line of the Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals Limited on one side and the busy National Highway 66 on another.
  • Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO): It is the space agency of the Government of India headquartered in the city of Bangalore. Its vision is to harness space technology for national development while pursuing space science research and planetary exploration. Scientists at the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) have reported progress in the development of an environment-friendly propellant to power satellites and spacecraft. The effort is to replace the conventional hydrazine rocket fuel, a highly toxic and carcinogenic chemical, with a greener propellant for future missions. Initial tests by a research team at the Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre (LPSC) have shown promising results in the formulation and associated tests of a propellant blend based on hydroxylammonium nitrate (HAN).
  • National Wind Solar Hybrid Policy (2018): It is a new policy announced by Ministry of New and Renewable Energy to promote to promote new hybrid projects as well as hybridisation of existing wind/solar projects. The objective of the policy is to provide a framework for promotion of large grid connected wind-solar PV hybrid system for efficient utilization of transmission infrastructure and land. It also aims at reducing the variability in renewable power generation and achieving better grid stability. The Policy provides for procurement of power from a hybrid project on tariff based transparent bidding process for which Government entities may invite bids.
  • National Policy on Biofuels (2018): It is a new policy approved by Union Cabinet, which aims to seek farmers dispose of their surplus stock and reduce India's oil-import dependence. The Policy categorises biofuels as Basic Biofuels. First Generation (1G) bioethanol & biodiesel and Advanced Biofuels - Second Generation (2G) ethanol, Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) to drop-in fuels, Third Generation (3G) biofuels, bio-CNG etc. to enable extension of appropriate financial and fiscal incentives under each category. The policy expands the scope of raw material for ethanol production by allowing use of sugarcane juice, sugar containing materials like sugar beet, sweet sorghum, starch containing materials like corn, cassava, damaged food grains like wheat, broken rice, rotten potatoes, unfit for human consumption for ethanol production.
  • National Institute of Mental Health Rehabilitation: It is a health created for the understanding and treatment of mental illnesses through basic and clinical research, paving the way for prevention, recovery, and cure. The Union Cabinet Chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved the establishment of National Institute of Mental Health Rehabilitation (NIMHR) at Bhopal. The estimated cumulative cost of the project is Rs 179.54 crore in first three years. This includes non-recurring expenditure of Rs 128.54 crore and recurring expenditure of Rs 51 crore.
  • Hidden reserves of water found in Moon: Scientists have found a mineral in a lunar meteorite pointing to the presence of abundant hidden reserves of water ice under the surface of the Moon. A team from the Tohoku University in Japan found the mineral, called moganite, in a lunar meteorite discovered in a desert in northwest Africa. Moganite, a crystal of silicon dioxide, is known to form on Earth in specific circumstances in sedimentary settings from alkaline fluids. It has never before been detected in samples of lunar rock. Researchers believe the mineral formed on the surface of the Moon in the area called Procellarum Terrane, as water originally present in lunar dirt evaporated due to exposure to strong sunlight."For the first time, we can prove that there is water ice in the lunar material," said Masahiro Kayama from Tohoku University, who led the study.
  • Atomic clock: It is a clock device that uses an electron transition frequency in the microwave, optical, or ultraviolet region of the electromagnetic spectrum of atoms as a frequency standard for its timekeeping element. The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), has developed an atomic clock to be used in navigation satellites to measure the precise location data. This clock is currently undergoing a series of qualification tests. Once it successfully clears all tests, the desi atomic clock will be used in an experimental navigation satellite to test its accuracy and durability in space.
  • Plastic eating enzyme: A group of international scientists have accidently developed a mutant enzyme that breaks down plastic drinks. The accidental break through could help solve the global plastic pollution crisis by enabling for the first time the full recycling of bottles. The new bacterium was found eating plastic at a waste dump in Japan. Scientists have now revealed the detailed structure of the crucial enzyme produced by the bug. Prof John McGeehan, at the University of Portsmouth, UK, who led the research said, What we are hoping to do is use this enzyme to turn this plastic back into its original components, so we can literally recycle it back to plastic. It means we won't need to dig up any more oil and, fundamentally, it should reduce the amount of plastic in the environment.
  • Odilorhabins: It is new class of antibiotics, discovered by a team of scientists from the University of Illinois, Chicago (US). Odilorhabdins are produced by a symbiotic bacterium found in soil-dwelling nematode worms. Called Xenorhabdus nematophila, the bacterial symbiont produces toxins and immuno-modulators, enabling the nematode to colonize and kill insects. The bacteria further benefit the host nematode by releasing antibiotics that prevent the invasion of the insect's carcass by other competing bacteria and fungi.
  • IRNSS-1I: It is a navigation satellite launched by Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) on 12 April. IRNSS is launched to create India's own navigation system which would be quite similar to the US' GPS or Global Positioning System. IRNSS can also provide accurate position information service to users in India as well as the region extending up to 1,500 km from its boundary. IRNSS-1I also carries two types of payloads for navigation and ranging. The navigation payload will transmit navigation service signals to the users, while the ranging payload consists of a C-band transponder, which facilitates accurate determination of the range of the satellite.
  • GSAT-6A: It was the India's largest communications satellite and carrying a 6-metre antenna for enabling more efficient ground communication. The satellite itself was successfully placed into a geosynchronous orbit, but has lost communication. When the satellite was on course to normal operating configuration for the third and final firing, scheduled for April 1, 2018, communication from the satellite was lost. Efforts are underway to establish the link with the satellite. The second orbit raising operation of GSAT-6A satellite has been successfully carried out by LAM Engine firing for about 53 minutes on March 31, 2018, in the morning.
  • TRAI: The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) is a statutory body set up by the Government of India under section 3 of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India Act, 1997. It is the regulator of the telecommunications sector in India. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has mooted a concept of open architecture-based public Wi-Fi grid to bring down the cost of internet by 90 per cent. This will allow small entrepreneurs like tea stalls, grocery shops and vendors to set up and maintain access points. Device manufacturers, payment companies, ISPs/telcos and consumer internet companies can provide the remaining pieces to set up public data offices (PDOs). The regulator's concept involves PDOs much like PCOs of yesteryears that galvanised connectivity. The PDOs will be companies, or even small merchants, interested in providing Wi-Fi hotspots to public either free or on payment model. According to the report submitted to telecom ministry, the products available for consumption should begin from sachet sized, that is, low denomination, as low as ₹2. It said users should be able to easily discover the network, do one-click authentication and payment and connect their devices in Wi-Fi hotspots.
  • Eel

    Eel is any of more than 800 species of teleost fishes characterized by elongate wormlike bodies. Researchers have discovered three new kinds of species of eel along the northern Bay of Bengal. Describing the species, Anil Mohapatra, the scientist at Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) said, Dark brown with white dots on the dorsal side known as Gymnothorax pseudotile was discovered at the Digha coast of the Bay of Bengal. The other two species, Gymnothorax visakhaensis (uniformly brown) and Enchelycore propinqua (reddish brown body mottled with irregular creamy white spots), were discovered from the Visakhapatnam coast of the Bay of Bengal. While Gymnothorax pseudotile is about 1 feet to 1.5 feet long, Gymnothorax visakhaensis is about a foot long. Enchelycore propinqua is the smallest of them measuring less than a foot. A description of all the three new species was published in the journal Zootaxa.

  • World's smallest satellite - Japan successfully launched on the world's smallest satellite-carrying rocket following a failed attempt in January last year. According to a release from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, 'The rocket about the size of a utility pole, measuring 10 meters in length and 50 centimeters in diameter, lifted off from the Uchinoura Space Center in Kagoshima Prefecture and delivered its payload to its intended orbit'. The No. 5 vehicle of the SS-520 series carried a microsatellite weighing about 3 kilograms developed by the University of Tokyo to collect imagery of the Earth's surface. The launch was aimed at verifying JAXA's technology used to launch small rockets made with commercially available components at lower cost amid growing global demand for microsatellites. The agency used components found in home electronics and smartphones for the rocket. JAXA launched the No. 4 vehicle on Jan. 15 last year, but terminated its flight shortly after liftoff due to a communications problem. The agency found that vibrations during liftoff caused a short circuit, leading to a loss of power in the data transmitter. For Saturday's launch, the agency made more than 40 improvements to prevent a recurrence.

Science & Technology 2014

  • Indian Spacecraft Orbiter Halfway To Mars

    India's maiden mission to Mars is on course, with its spacecraft Orbiter crossing the halfway mark on its voyage to the red planet, four months after it left Earth Dec 1.

    "The spacecraft Wednesday at 9.50 a.m. crossed the halfway mark of its journey to Mars along the designated helio (sun)-centric trajectory in the solar orbit," the state-run Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) said in a statement here.

  • Indian Navigation Satellite's Orbit Raised

    The Indian space agency Saturday raised further the orbit of its second navigation satellite by around 4,200 km by firing the space craft's onboard motor for around seven minutes, said a senior official.

    "The satellite's motor was fired for around seven minutes today (Saturday) evening. Post raising the satellite's elliptical orbit is 292.7 x 24,830 km," an official of the space agency told IANS preferring anonymity.

Current Affairs [April 2014]

Science & Technology 2013

Current Affairs [November 2013]
  • 'India Must Be Part Of Global Mega-Science Projects'

    Stressing on the importance of critical research relevant to the country, eminent physicist and principal scientific advisor to the Indian government R. Chidambaram Friday said the nation needs to be a part of global mega-science projects.

    Speaking at Calcutta University's annual convocation here, Chidambaram referred to the studies regarding the recent path-breaking discovery of the Higgs Boson, and advocated India's participation in projects relating to origins of the universe.

  • India to sling Mars craft into Sun orbit Sunday

    ndia's maiden Mars craft will sling into Sun orbit early Sunday for a 280-day long voyage to reach the red planet Sep 24, 2014.

    "The Orbiter entered the final orbit of earth early Wednesday for its trans-injection into the Sun orbit Sunday at 00.49 a.m. for a nine-month journey to Mars through the interplanetary space, a senior space agency official said here.

  • India Leaps Into Interplanetary Space With Mars Mission

    India will be the first Asian country and the fourth entity in the world to leap into interplanetary space Tuesday with an exploratory mission to Mars, about 400 million km from planet Earth.

    "So far, only Russia, the US and the European Space Agency (ESA) have undertaken such missions to Mars. India will be the fourth and first in Asia," a top space agency official told IANS ahead of the Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) launch from Sriharikota spaceport, about 80km northeast of Chennai.

Current Affairs [October 2013]
  • India's Mars Mission To Blast Off On November 5

    India's ambitious Rs.450 crore space mission to Mars has now been fixed for blast-off Nov 5, said a top Indian space agency official Tuesday.

    "The Mars mission has been fixed for Nov 5. The heat shield of the rocket (Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle-PSLV) has been closed and the final electrical checks will be carried out Wednesday," K.Radhakrishnan, chairman, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), told.

  • High Speed Rail Corporation of India launched

    Railways Minister Mallikarjun Kharge Tuesday launched the High Speed Rail Corporation of India Ltd (HSRC), a subsidiary of Rail Vikas Nigam Ltd. (RVNL) and tasked to develop High Speed Rail (HSR) Corridors in India to run passenger trains at speeds up to 350 km per hour.

    Inaugurated a two-day international technical conference on "High Speed Rail Travel; Low Cost Solution" here, the minister also unveiled the logo of HSRC that has been designed by National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad.

Current Affairs [September 2013]
  • Indian Nuclear Plants Notch Top Performance In 2012

    The performance of Indian nuclear power plants as well as several fuel cycle facilities reached their highest levels last year, a top official said Wednesday.

  • Indian Satellite's Transponders Switched On

    All the 11 transponders of India's advanced multiband communication satellite (GSAT-7) have been switched on and are performing well, the space agency said late Wednesday.

  • Indian 'military' satellite put into earth's orbit

    India's first 'military' satellite was Wednesday put into the geosynchronous orbit, about 36,000 km above the earth, five days after it was launched Aug 30 on board an European rocket from Kourou in French Guiana off the Pacific coast.

Current Affairs [August 2013]
  • Eastern India to get its first bio-bank by 2016

    Eastern India's first biobank, aimed at storing cancer tissues for further research and analysis, is slated to come up here by 2016, an official said Saturday.

    The Tata Translational Cancer Research Centre (TTCRC) will come up on a two-acre plot near the existing Tata Medical Centre-Cancer Hospital in New Town, Rajarhat, on the north-eastern fringes of the Bengal capital.

  • India gets its own national media centre

    A state-of-the art National Media Centre comparable to those in capitals across the world was inaugurated Saturday, with an impressive conference hall, workplace for the media, a library, cafeteria and high-speed internet.

    The four-storied Rs.60 crore facility, built over three years, is located at the heart of the capital, on Raisina Road – with many important government buildings a stone's throw away and in the vicinity of the Parliament House and Rashtrapati Bhavan.

Current Affairs [June 2013]
  • Genetic Engineering Approval Committee Gave Approval for Field Trials of 5 GM Crops

    The Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) permitted certain companies as well as the research institutes for conducting the field trials of 5 GM (genetically modified) crops. The trials for development of genetically modified cotton, maize, castor, wheat and rice were permitted.

    The specialty of GM crops is that they are formulated for getting protection against the insects. Also, these crops are resistant to salinity and water. Also, they are more resistance to the use of nitrogen which is required by them for growing efficiently.

  • Early Tsunami Warning System installed in Rangachang

    Chief Scientist of the National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT), Vinith Kumar on 11 June 2013 announced that the Early Tsunami Warning System (ETWS) installed at Rangachang in Andaman and Nicobar Islands can predict a tsunami immediately after an earthquake. Vinith Kumar claimed that the new technology installed can predict the Tsunami within 3 minutes after the initial tremors are felt and can send alerts.

Current Affairs [May 2013]
  • US Scientists created first Cloned Human Embryo

    A group of US Scientists in second week of May 2013 declared that they have succeeded in creating a cloned human embryo using the technique that helped in developing the cloned sheep in 1996. The scientists took fifteen years to create the cloned embryo.

    The team of scientists developed the embryo using skin samples of a woman's egg to develop an early cloned human embryo. Aim of this research is development of a source of stem cells not a baby. These can be helpful in repair of damage created after heart attack or brains of patients of Parkinson's disease.

  • Superbug H041 can be more deadly than AIDS

    Doctors have warned that the new sexually transmitted Sex-Superbug named H041 can be much more deadly than the AIDS virus. Recently, two cases of the sex-superbug were confirmed in Hawaii. Doctors have claimed that the superbug is the antibiotic resistant strain of gonorrhea.

    In 2011, the superbug was discovered for the first time in Japan and then it spread to Hawaii and now visible in Norway and California. As per Doctors, the H041 bacteria can be much more deadly than the AIDS Virus because the bacteria is more aggressive and will affect more people quickly and effect is more direct.

Current Affairs [April 2013]
  • Scientists developed Device to detect Gastro-Intestinal Cancers

    Scientists developed a prototype of an advanced multi-bending cholangioscope to detect and cure Gastro-Intestinal Cancers. Earlier, most patients used to visit a physician when the disease was in an advanced stage. This new equipment has a video camera and can bend easily. It could detect cancers of bile duct, liver and pancreas. It will help in detecting the disease in early stage.

    The multi-bending peroral direct cholangioscope (PDCS) cannot be inserted free-hand into the bile duct. But a high success rate of direct insertion will be achieved if the endoscope is passed over a guide-wire and an anchoring balloon. In fact, pancreatic cancer is the third most prevalent gastro-intestinal cancer in India whereas liver cancer is the most common.

  • Union Government Approved Project for National Optical Fibre Network Creation in Gram Panchayats

    The Government of India approved the project for creation of National Optical Fibre Network (NOFN) connecting all the 250000 Gram Panchayats (GPs) in the country through Optical Cable (OFC). The Union Government decided to fund the project through Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF).

    The State Government on the other hand, will have the role of providing free Right of Way (RoW) for laying OFC. The project envisaged signing a tripartite MoU for free Right of Way (RoW) among the Union Government, State Government and Bharat Broadband Network Limited (BBNL).

    16 States/UTs signed the MoUs on 26 October 2012. These states and UTs were Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Manipur, Mizoram, Rajasthan, Tripura, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and 3 Union Territories viz. Dadra & Nagar Haveli, Daman & Diu and Puducherry. Under the MoUs, 140727 GPs will be facilitated with Optical Fibre Network in these States and UTs.

Current Affairs [March 2013]
  • Astronomers Discovered Six Speeding Stars Racing Through Milky Way

    Astronomers in the third week of January 2013 discovered six speeding stars which were racing through the space at a speed of 3.2 million kilometers per hour. These stars were ejected from the huge black hole which sits in the middle of Earth's galaxy, Milky Way.

    These stars represented the first-known hypervelocity stars that have mass just like that of Earth's Sun. The discovery is said to be very important because it would reveal how stars were formed in the dust-cloaked core of Milky Way.

  • First Complete Bionic Man of the World Unveiled at London's Science Museum

    First bionic man of the world called Rex was unveiled on 7 February 2013 at London's Science Museum. The bionic man was created using 1 million US dollar limbs as well as organs.

    Prosthetic legs and ankle came from MIT, synthetic blood from Sheffield University, spleens, pancreas and artificial kidneys from University College London, retinas from Oxford University and artificial lungs came from Swansea.

Current Affairs [Febraury 2013]
  • Ministry of New and Renewable Energy Sanctioned Remote Village Electrification for 6033 Villages

    Remote Village Electrification (RVE) for a total of 6033 villages as well as hamlets was sanctioned during 11th Plan by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy. Additionally, work on 5211 villages as well as hamlets, was in its completion stage in various states such as Odisha and Tamil Nadu.

    Two proposals of 61 hamlets as well as 161 hamlets of UP along with one proposal of 14 villages of Rajasthan and one proposal of 24 villages and 274 hamlets of Jammu & Kashmir, were in all received and were under initial stage of appraisal. It is important to note that the Remote Village Electrification (RVE) programme as well as projects is usually sanctioned on the case-to-case basis after these proposals are submitted by the state notified implementing agencies according to the guidelines of this scheme.

  • Indian-origin science writer wins British Physics journalism prize

    Washington, Mar 1 (IANS) Anil Ananthaswamy, a London based Indian origin writer, has won the inaugural Physics Journalism Prize sponsored by the Institute of Physics (IOP) and the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC).

    The prize is designed to inspire the next generation of physicists by encouraging journalists to grapple with often complex topics and help spread excitement about the subject, according to an IOP release forwarded by the American Astronomical Society.

Science & Technology 2012

Current Affairs [September 2012]
  • Infosys Ltd made some news by announcing the 'Cloud Ecosystm Hub’ platform which will allow large companies to manage all their IT resources and supplementary cloud services from a single platform. They are charged fee on a usage basis.

    The medical and health science fraternity watched in excitement a noble Bluetooth technology enabled instrument was unveiled in Texas. Called the Diabetois, this instrument is capable of transferring glucose level readings from any ordinary gluco-meter into a special Android application. Then, the readings can be easily analyzed using the app, and can be mailed to a doctor as well. Diabetes is the fifth leading cause of deaths in the world, and this invention will surely interest patients of Diabetes.

    Apple's CEO Tim Cook issued an apology to the customers of the newly launched iPhone 5. Customers have been reporting frustrations with the erroneous operation of the new Maps service. In a startling statement, Tim Cook directed users towards services from rivals, notably Google's Maps service. Cook also convinced Apple customers that the company was desperately trying to the set the issues right.

  • A court in the United States gave some respite to Korean electronics manufacturing heavyweight Samsung by ordering a lower court to reconsider the sales ban slapped on Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 after arch rival Apple Inc. won a patent dispute against them.
  • The Guinness World Record for the lowest roadworthy car was made by ‘Mirai’, which translates into ‘future’ in Japanese. Faculty and students from Automobile Engineering Course of Okayama Sanyo High School created ‘Mirai’, which measures just 17.79 inches in height.
  • Investors had to rethink their estimates about RIM’s prospects in the highly competitive smartphones’ market with RIM recording highly stable financial position and quarterly results better than anticipations. The company is now expected to invest heavily in producing and marketing the next line of smartphones.
Current Affairs [February 2010] Our Milky Way in Midst of life crisis
  • Planetary scientist say that our Milky way is in its mid life crisis as a result of which it will slow down its process of production of stars in the next billion years. As per the aeronautics the galaxies are classified under two categories namely- energetic blue galaxies and the lethargic red galaxies. The blue galaxies produce stars at a massive rate while the other one are slowly dying. But a team of scientist from the Swinburne University of Technology says that our Milky Way falls into neither of the two categories. It is in fact a green valley galaxy that lays half way between the blue galaxy and the red galaxy.
  • This is the first time ever that scientists have compared both the galaxies with our Milky Way as the Astrophysical Journal reported. Though we are in our own galaxy and to determine its state was a tough job to accomplish was reported by the Astrophysical Journal.
Indian communication satellite GSAT-8 successfully launched
  • India’s communication satellite GSAT-8 was launched successfully. The satellite was launched by Arianespace from Kourou in French Guiana. The satellite was launched to enable powerful services direct to our home. The satellite weighs 3100kg and is one the heaviest and high powered satellite developed by the Indian Scientist at the Bangalore- headquarters ISRO. The ISRO team that launched the satellite showed extreme pleasure at the successful launch of the satellite.
  • "I am extremely delighted and happy to announce that ISRO successfully launched the satellite and we are happy to confirm that we have taken the charge of the satellite immediately after its injection into the orbit” ISRO Chairman K Radhakrishnan said.

Science & Technology 2010

Current Affairs [February 2010]
  • USA Space agency NASA launched Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) to discover the causes of extreme solar activity such as sun spots and solar winds & flares.
  • ‘GANGES’- Global Advisory Network Group on environmental sciences. It was created by Govt for environment research work.
  • Agni-III ballistic missile with a range of 3500 Km was successfully launched from Wheeler Island, Orissa.
  • Ht Cotton – Herbicide Tolerant Cotton. The variety of Ht Cotton in MON 1445. The variety can withstand herbicides (weed killers) for better productivity and is under trail.
  • Cervical cancer is caused by HPV- Human Papilloma Virus.
  • South Korea has world’s highest average connection speed at 14.6 Mbpd in Internet links. Japan has 2nd highest average speed.
  • Scientist deciphered the genetic blueprint of South Africa’s Archbishop Desmond Titu.
Current Affairs [January 2010]
  • 97th Indian Science Congress held at Tiruvananthapuram in Jan 2010. The theme of this year congress was ‘ Science & Technology of 21st Century- National Perspective’.
  • The longest annular solar eclipse on the third millennium occur on 15 Jan 2010. The next annular solar eclipse will be visible in year 3043. Annular eclipse is occurred when the sun is visible like a ring of fire, with the moon darkening its centre. The last annular solar eclipse visible from India was occurred in 1976. In July 2010 also, a total solar eclipse will be occurred.
  • There are three strains of wild Polio virus namely P1, P2 & P3. Type 2 wild Polio virus (P2) was eliminated from the world in 1999.
  • First public hearing on the introduction of Bt Brinjal (First Genetically Modified Food Crop in India) was held in Kolkatta. Seven such public hearing are being organized by Centre for Environment Education, for opinion of public in respect of introduction of Bt Brinjal. 2nd hearing was held at Hyderabad.
  • 50th anniversary of creation of LASER is being celebrated in 2010. Theodore Maiman constructed the first LASER in May 1960. LASER stands for Light Amplification for Stimulated Emission of Radiation. Charles H Townes was father of MASER.