CURRENT AFFAIRS IES PRE 2019 SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

JANUARY 2018

1.NASA is going to launch Parker Solar Probe in 2018 to explore the sun’s outer atmosphere. It will be launched onboard of Delta IV Heavy launch vehicle. It will perform its scientific investigations in a hazardous region of intense heat and solar radiation.

Primary goals of mission: Trace how energy and heat move through solar corona. Explore what accelerates solar wind as well as solar energetic particles.

Parker Solar Probe mission scientific goals

Determine structure and dynamics of magnetic fields at sources of solar wind.

Trace flow of energy that heats corona and accelerates solar wind.

Determine what mechanisms accelerate and transport energetic particles.

Explore dusty plasma near Sun and its influence on solar wind and energetic particle formation.



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2.India’s fastest and first multi-petaflops (PF) supercomputer named Pratyush was unveiled at Pune-based Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM). The supercomputer has been named as ‘Pratyush’ meaning Sun.

It will help India with better forecasts in terms of monsoon, extreme events, cyclones, tsunamis, earthquakes, air quality, lightning, fishing, hot and cold waves, flood and drought among others.

Key Facts

Supercomputer Pratyush will be national facility for improving weather and climate forecasts and services under umbrella of the Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES). Pratyush has 6.8 PF computational power installed at two MoES Institutes. 4.0 Peta Flops HPC facility at IITM, Pune and 2.8 Peta Flops facility at NCMRWF, Noida. (PF is a measure of a computer’s processing speed).

Pratyush is fourth fastest supercomputer in world dedicated for weather and climate research. It follows supercomputing machines in Japan, US and United Kingdom. It will improve rankings of Indian supercomputer from 300s to 30s in Top500 list, a respected international tracker of the world’s fastest supercomputers.

3.The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) will launch two missions — GOLD and ICON later this year. They will team up to explore the ionosphere, located 96 km above Earth’s surface.The Global-scale Observations of the Limb and Disk (GOLD) mission will be launched in January 2018 and Ionospheric Connection Explorer (ICON) will be launched later this year

4.Ministry of Earth Science (MoES) has inaugurated high performance computer system (HPC) or supercomputer Mihir (meaning sun) at National Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasting (NCMRWF), Noida.The HCP will provide facility for improving weather/climate forecasts. It is country’s largest HPC facility in terms of peak capacity and performance. It also propelled India’s ranking to Top 30 in the list of HPC facilities in world.

Key Facts

With this, MoES has acquired HPC facility total of 6.8 Peta Flops (PF) which has been installed at two of its constituent units: 4.0 PF HPC facility named ‘Pratyush’ at Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), Pune and 2.8 Peta Flops facility at NCMRWF, Noida. It also improved India rank to 4th position after Japan, UK and US interms of dedicated HPC resources for weather/climate forecasts.

 

FEBRUARY 2018

1.State owned Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) is planning to introduce carbon dioxide (CO2) injection technology in its Gandhar oil field in Gujarat. It will be first large scale CO2-injected project in Asia.

Its purpose is to recover extra 20 million barrels of crude oil under enhanced oil recovery (EOR) programme. EOR programme aims at recovering up to 20% of residual oil from ageing oil fields to improve India’s energy security.

2.Scientists have confirmed discovery of nearly 100 new exoplanets outside our solar system based on data from second mission of NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope (K2 mission) released in 2014. With this total number of exoplanets found using NASA’s K2 mission has reached almost 300.

Kepler Mission

NASA had launched Kepler spacecraft in 2009 to hunt for exoplanets in single patch of sky. The spacecraft had crippled the telescope in 2013 due to mechanical failure. However, by changing its field of view periodically, astronomers and engineers had then devised way to repurpose and save the space telescope which had paved way for K2 mission. The telescope hunts exoplanet transits by registering dips in light caused by shadow after it crosses in front of its host star.

3.Scientists from Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bengaluru have indigenously developed country’s first super critical carbon dioxide (S-CO2) Brayton Test Loop facility. The facility was inaugurated at the IISc campus. It is first test loop technology coupled with solar heat source in world that will generate clean energy from power plants, including solar thermal.This next generation, efficient, compact, waterless super critical CO2 Brayton cycle test loop for power generation will be useful for meeting energy needs of the country. It has potential to replace steam based nuclear and thermal power plants, thus reducing the carbon foot print significantly. Besides, increasing power generation and making process more efficient, the new technology will make power plants cheaper with lower operating costs.

4.WHAT IS 5G

5G is wireless communication technology based on third-generation partnership project (3GPP). It is next generation mobile networks technology after 4G LTE networks. It is expected to offer enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB) through R15 repeaters that can cater to coverage requirements.

In December 2017, 3GPP had completed first set of 5G New Radio standards. The 5G technology will offer far greater upload and download speed available at present.

High data speed offered by 5G network will help cloud systems to stream software updates, music, and navigation data to driverless cars. Moreover, it holds the key to growth of artificial intelligence (AI) systems and enhance IoT. As per the OECD Committee on Digital Economic Policy, 5G technologies rollout will help in increasing GDP, creating employment and digitizing the economy.




 

MARCH 2018

1.Cybersecurity agencies have detected a new malware called Saposhi that can take over electronic devices and use them for Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks. Saposhi Malware is capable of taking over electronic devices and turning them into bots (device taken over by malware) which can then be used for any purpose, including DDoS attacks which, with enough firepower, can cripple entire industries.

Key Facts

Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT), a Central government body that deals with cyberattacks has so far has not issued any alert regarding Saposhi malware. Saposhi is similar in its intensity to Reaper malware, which was taking over millions of devices at rate of 10,000 devices per day. In October 2017, CERT had issued alert about Reaper which is highly evolved malware capable of hacking devices like Wi-Fi routers and security cameras and also hiding its own presence in bot.

Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks

In DDoS attacks, malware first creates network of bots — called botnet and then uses botnet to ping single server beyond its capacity at same time. As number of pings are far beyond server’s capacity, server crashes and denies service to its consumers. Malwares like Saposhi, Reaper and Mirai are primarily are used for DDoS attacks.

For example, if large botnet attacks server of fleet cab provider, its server will crash, and scores of consumers will be unable to avail of its services, causing chaos in daily commuting as well as massive losses to the company.

 

2.Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has entered into Technology Transfer Agreement (TTA) with Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) to transfer technology for manufacturing space grade Lithium-Ion (Li-Ion) cells.

The technology transfer will enable BHEL to produce space grade Li-Ion cells which can meet country’s space programme requirements. It can also be adopted to cater Li-Ion cell requirement for other national needs.

Key Facts

The ISRO uses Li-Ion batteries as power sources for satellite and launch vehicle applications due to their high energy density, reliability and long cycle life. ISRO’s Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) at Thiruvananthapuram has successfully developed technology to produce space grade Li-ion cell. It also has demonstrated performance of cell under various testing conditions and established its cycle life characteristics in accelerated mode. These Li-Ion cells are currently being used for various satellite and launch vehicle applications.

Benefits of Lithium-Ion (Li-Ion) battery

The lithium-ion battery is light weighted and is one-third the weight of lead acid batteries. It is nearly 100% efficient in both charging and discharging as compared to lead battery which has 70% efficiency. It completely discharges i.e. 100% as compared to 80% for lead acid.The rechargeable lithium-ion battery has life cycle of 5000 times or more compared to just 400-500 cycles in lead acid. It also maintains constant voltage throughout the entire discharge cycle whereas voltage in lead acid battery drops consistently throughout its discharge cycle. It is much cleaner technology and is safer for environment as it does not have environmental impact as lead acid battery

3.The Raja Ramanna Centre for Advanced Technology (RRCAT), an Indore-based unit of Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) has developed an instrument called Fluorimeter, to measure traces of uranium in water.

The device is capable of examining traces of uranium in sample of water from 0.1 PPB (Parts-per-billion) unit to 100 PPB. It can be easily taken anywhere and water can be taken from any source for testing to instantly reveal if uranium traces present in water.

It costs around Rs 1 lakh. For mass production of this instrument, DAE has transferred its technology to its other unit, Electronics Corporation of India Ltd (ECIL). The device will be especially helpful in areas like Punjab where uranium traces in water sources have been found to be at dangerous levels.

Uranium Pollution

Uranium is a radioactive element. The Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) has fixed tpermissible radiological limit to 60 PPB of uranium concentration for drinking water. It is advisable to people to avoid using water from sources where uranium traces are more than fixed limit. Drinking water with high levels of uranium traces increases radiological and chemical risks to human health. It may cause thyroid cancer, blood cancer, depression and other serious ailments.

4.NASA will send first-ever mission named as InSight (Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport) dedicated to exploring the deep interior of Mars.

InSight will be stationary lander that will be launched in May 2018. It will be first NASA mission since the Apollo moon landings to place seismometer, a device that measures quakes on the soil of another planet.

InSight Mission

InSight is NASA’s Discovery Program mission that aims to place stationary lander equipped with seismometer and heat transfer probe on surface of Mars to study red planet’s early geological evolution. It is terrestrial planet explorer that will address one of most fundamental issues of planetary and solar system science. It will help in understanding processes that shaped rocky planets of inner solar system (including Earth) more than four billion years ago. The robotic lander will perform a radio science experiment to study internal structure of Mars by deploying seismometer and a burrowing heat probe. It will measure Mar’s vital signs such as pulse (seismology), temperature (heat flow probe) and reflexes (precision tracking). It will let scientists understand how different its crust, mantle and core are from Eart

 

APRIL 2018

1.NASA has successfully conducted Advanced Supersonic Parachute Inflation Research Experiment (ASPIRE) to test supersonic parachute that will help its space exploration missions to land on Mars. The parachute was launched aboard of sounding rocket from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in US. It was tested in sky, mimicking conditions of entering red planet.

Key Facts

The test of ASPIRE was meant to mimic conditions that spacecraft will experience during red planet entry, descent and landing (EDL). Shortly after liftoff, ASPIRE splashed down into Atlantic Ocean, from where it was retrieved by boat. Analysis of recovered parachute, and data gathered by cameras and other instruments will help researcher’s complete design of the chute for NASA’s 2020 Mars rover.

Background

NASA’s ambitious Mars rover mission is set to launch in 2020 to deploy six-wheeled vehicle on martian surface to study rocks on site and cache samples for eventual return to Earth. It will rely on special parachute to slow spacecraft down when it is entering Martian atmosphere at over speed of 12,000 mph (5.4 kilometers per second). The six-wheeled rover body is based heavily on NASA’s earlier Curiosity Mars rover.

2.WHAT IS Zika virus

Zika virus is vector borne disease transmitted primarily by Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, the same mosquito that transmits dengue. It can also spread through blood transfusion and sexual contact. It is capable of causing serious birth defects i.e. neurological disorders and foetal deformation known as Microcephaly in which infants are born with abnormally smaller heads. Besides a possible link between virus and Guillain-Barré syndrome (a condition in which the body’s immune system attacks part of the nervous system) is also suspected. There is no specific treatment or vaccine currently available to treat Zika. The best form of prevention is protection against mosquito bites and clearing stagnant water where mosquitoes breed.

In 2013, the first zika virus outbreak was reported in the Marquesas Islands in the southern Pacific Ocean. It subsequently spread to Brazil in May 2015. In India, three cases were identified in Gujarat and one Tamil Nadu, suggesting that the virus is not new in the country.

 

MAY 2018

1.Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER) in collaboration with private company has developed a new device-Arsenic Sensor and Removal Media to detect and remove arsenic content from water and make it safe and usable by households.

Arsenic Pollution

Arsenic is a natural component in the earth’s crust. It is widely distributed throughout the environment in the air, water and land. It is highly toxic in its inorganic form. Intake of soluble inorganic arsenic over long period can lead to chronic arsenic poisoning (arsenicosis), diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and cancer. WHO permissible limit of arsenic in groundwater is 0.1 mg per litre. . In India, it was revised recently by Bureau of Indian Standards from 0.05 mg/l to 0.01 mg/l. In India, Arsenic pollution big problem in Bengal and neighbouring states. In Bengal, there are 83 blocks in eight districts where groundwater is arsenic contaminated. Malda, Murshidabad and Nadia districts have higher levels of arsenic concentration

2.Scientists have discovered an asteroid named Oumuamua (or (514107) 2015 BZ509) nestling in Jupiter’s orbit that had migrated from another star system. It makes it first known permanent immigrant to our solar system. It   confirms suspicions of scientists’ that asteroids from other stars have arrived in our solar system. The asteroid Oumuamua was actually first discovered in 2014, but after four years of tracking it, scientists were able to determine that it had arrived in our solar system some 4.5 billion years ago – just as Earth was beginning to form.

JUNE 2018

1.The first satellite named RemoveDEBRIS was successfully deployed from International Space Station (ISS) and to demonstrate a range of innovative technologies to clean up space debris orbiting Earth. It was transported to ISS via SpaceX CRS-14 launch in early April 2018. The satellite was designed, built and manufactured by consortium of space companies and research institutions led by Surrey Space Centre at University of Surrey, United Kingdom. The project is co-funded by European Commission.

RemoveDEBRIS Mission

RemoveDEBRIS mission is aimed at performing key Active Debris Removal (ADR) technology demonstrations (e.g capture, deorbiting) representative of operational scenario during low-cost mission using novel key technologies for ADR. The mission plans is to test efficacy of several ADR technologies on mock targets in low Earth orbit (LEO), rather than engaging in ADR of real space debris.

The mission will comprise of main satellite platform that once in orbit will deploy two CubeSats as artificial debris targets to demonstrate four methods for release, capture and deorbit two space debris targets, called DebriSATs. These four methods are

Net capture: It involves net that will be deployed at target CubeSat.

Harpoon Capture: It will be launched at target plate made of representative satellite panel materials.

Vision-based navigation: It will send data about debris back to the ground for processing using cameras and LiDAR (light detection and ranging).

De-orbiting process: The spacecraft after entering Earth’s atmosphere during de-orbiting process will burn up, leaving no debris behind.

Background

More than 5 decades of human space exploration since first Soviet-launched Sputnik satellite in 1957 has produced hazardous belt of orbiting space debris. There are estimated to be more than 100 million pieces of space debris circling our planet in lower orbit, posing growing threat to future space exploration. These pieces of debris travel at high speeds. A relatively small piece of orbital debris can inflict a great deal of damage on satellites or spacecrafts orbiting in the space. This phenomenon is Kessler Syndrome which describes a self-sustaining cascading collision of space debris in LEO may render space eventually inoperable for important space services like navigation, weather forecasting, communications etc







JULY 2018

1.The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has launched ‘Remote Sensing Toolkit’ to promote commercial use of satellite data. The toolkit was launched as part of NASA’s Technology Transfer program that offers open remote-sensing data benefiting scientific community, other government agencies and nonprofit organizations.

Remote Sensing Toolkit

It is an online toolkit that aims to make it easier for users to find, analyse and utilise relevant satellite data for their research, business projects or conservation efforts. It has been designed to help users search for data, as well as utilize ready-to-use tools and code to build new tools. It provides simple system that quickly identifies relevant sources based on user input. It makes finding and using NASA satellite data easier than ever before. It aims to spark innovation among entrepreneurial community and lead to further commercialisation of NASA technology

2.Ministry of Earth Sciences has unveiled state-of-the-art Air Quality and Weather Forecast System– SAFAR (System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting) at Chandni Chowk in Delhi. It is first of its kind and most advanced system in India. Such advanced are also proposed to be implemented in other three cities of India- Pune, Mumbai and Ahmedabad.

SAFAR (System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting)

SAFAR was developed indigenously by Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), Pune and operationalized by India Meteorological Department (IMD). It is integral part of India’s first Air Quality Early Warning System operational in Delhi. It will monitor all weather parameters like temperature, rainfall, humidity, wind speed and wind direction.

It also will measure sun’s UV-Index (UVI), PM1, Mercury and Black carbon in real time in addition to regular air quality and weather parameters like PM2.5, PM10, Sulfur Dioxide, Ozone, Nitrogen Oxides, Carbon Monoxide. It can also provide measurement of online automatic ultrafine particles PM1 and Mercury, both of which have direct relevance to human health. It will also monitor existence harmful pollutants of Benzene, Toluene and Xylene.

SAFAR has giant true colour LED display which gives out real-time air quality index on 24×7 basis with colour coding alongwith 72-hour advance forecast. Based on Air Quality Index on particular day, health advisory and related precaution will be notified to prepare citizens well in advance.

Benefits

SAFAR will accelerate public awareness and preparedness of air pollution and weather extremes. It will also lead to better understanding of linkages among emissions, weather, pollution and climate. It will strengthen existing air quality network of SAFAR, Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC). Besides health, SAFAR system will benefit cost savings to several other sectors like agriculture, aviation, infrastructure, disaster management skill, tourism and many others, which directly or indirectly get affected by air quality and weather.

AUGUST 2018

1.Computer scientists from Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Madras have developed first of family of six industry-standard microprocessors under Project Shakti. The initial batch of 300 chips have been named RISECREEK and have been fabricated at Intel’s facility at Oregon, US for free to run Linux operating system. Project Shakti was started in 2014 as IIT-M initiative and part of it is funded by Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology.

RISECREEK microprocessors

Their design is open source and can be adapted by others. They optimise power use and compete with international units such as Cortex A5 from Advanced RISC Machines (ARM). They have better performance in terms of DMIPS per megahertz rating than A5 and score of 1.68 against competition’s 1.57. These viable industry-grade microprocessors can operate at frequency of 350 MHz, thus meets demands of defence and strategic equipment of country such as NAVIC (Indian Regional Navigation Satellite) and Internet of Things (IoT) electronics. These processors can also be tapped for future efforts in semiconductors


2. The world’s first-ever thermal battery plant owned by Bharat Energy Storage Technology Private Limited (BEST) was inaugurated in Amravati, Andhra Pradesh. This plant aims to create new energy storage form that is expected to have commercial applications, while also maintain low carbon footprint and less dependent on external factors like weather.

Key Facts

The plant will begin its commercial operations from May 2019. BEST is planning to create a battery capacity of 1000MW. This is expected to be upgraded to a 10GW capacity by 2025. The thermal battery is based on alternative sources of energy production, and its presence is expected to reduce dependence on fossil fuels. It provide energy solutions for electrical grids, transport and telecom services. Before we look at its applications, here is a lowdown on the science behind thermal battery technology. This plant is based on technology patented in India by Dr Patrick Glynn in 2016.

Working of thermal battery technology

Thermal battery use thermal energy to operate i.e. energy created by temperature differences. The energy transfer in in this battery helps to store heat when heat travels from one part of battery setup to other. For this transmission, thermal battery consists of two parts viz. cool zone (sink) and hot source (source.)

Both these sides consist of compounds known as phase-changing materials (PCMs), which can change their state of matter on basis of physical and chemical reaction. When sink of thermal battery receives heat, it transforms physically or chemically, thereby storing energy, while source cools down.

During operation, sink is cooled down, so it releases stored energy, while source heats up. Depending on nature of battery, system can derive heat from any source, which makes thermal battery very versatile. For power transmission, thermal batteries can function as long as there is heat source

How it is different from Conventional battery technology?

Conventional battery technology work on basis of electrical energy and is based on system of charging and discharging cycles that are driven by electricity. For example Lithium-ion (Lion) battery, staple of many electronic devices, consists of electric charges being transferred from electrodes. Energy is derived from this battery, when lithium atoms turn into lithium ions (Li+), and get stored when this reaction reverses.

Benefits

Thermal battery is hailed as perfect alternative to non-renewable energy sources. It is considered to be even better than solar energy. It will be energy source for power telecommunications services, electrical grids, electric vehicles (electric buses, on a single charge expected to run for upto 800kms). It has lesser heat sensitivity, and low carbon footprint these are better than Li-ion batteries and outperform solar panels, which have expensive maintanence, and high weather-dependent operation. Solar batteries cannot be charged or utilised to their optimum potential after sunset or even when the skies are densely clouded. Though thermal batteries are priced at par with widely used Lithium-ion batteries, but they have low carbon footprint and also last longer.

2.Prime Minister Narendra Modi as part of his 72nd Independence Day speech vowed to put Indian in space by 2022 under manned space mission on board ‘Gaganyaan’. This announcement gives Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) definitive timeline for manned space mission it has been working on for the last 15 years.

Note: If successful, India will become fourth nation in the world to send astronaut into space after US, Russia and China. Former Indian Air Force (IAF) pilot Rakesh Sharma was first Indian to travel to space. He was part of the Soviet Union’s Soyuz T-11 expedition, launched on April 2, 1984, as part of the Intercosmos programme.

3. European Space Agency (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.


4. Union Government’s premier think tank NITI Aayog has made computer chip manufacturer NVIDIA its deep learning technology partner to support its MoveHack event. MoveHack is global mobility hackathon event organized by NITI Aayog to crowdsource solutions aimed at the future of mobility in India.

Deep learning technology: It is subset of machine learning (ML) in artificial intelligence (AI) that has networks capable of learning unsupervised from data that is unstructured or unlabelled.

Key Facts

As deep learning technology partner, NVIDIA will help NITI Aayog to solve grand challenge of making innovations in mass mobility matter of national importance using Artifical Intellegence (AI) and deep learning. It will provide participants in MoveHack event with graphics processing unit (GPU) and deep learning technologies, as well as remote access to NVIDIA DGX systems, purpose built deep learning supercomputers. Moreover, participants will also get a chance to be mentored by experts from the chip-making company.

SEPTEMBER 2018

 

1.Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), Trombay has recommissioned India’s oldest nuclear research reactor named ‘Apsara’, which was shut down permanently in 2009 for repair. The refurbished version of this reactor has been named as ‘Apsara-upgraded’ (Apsara-U) and also has double capacity compared to its earlier version.  It is located within India’s nuclear weapons facility at BARC’s Trombay campus (Maharashtra).




2.Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) successfully launched two satellites— NovaSAR and S1-4-belonging to United Kingdom (UK) based Surrey Satellite Technology Limited (SSTL). Both satellites were injected into Sun Synchronous Orbit (pole-to-pole orbit) at an altitude of 583 km after the launch.

About launch

These satellites were launched on board of Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C42) from first launch pad of Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) SHAR, Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh. This was the 44th flight of PSLV and the 12th flight of Core Alone version of the vehicle.Core Alone version of PSLV is lightest version without six strap-on motors. It is used for launching smaller payloads. It was ISRO’s first fully commercial trip of the year. This launch helped Antrix Corporation, commercial arm of ISRO to earn more than Rs. 220 crore. As on date, ISRO has launched 239 foreign satellites of 28 countries.

Key Facts

S1-4 Satellite: It is high resolution earth observation satellite meant for surveying resources, environment monitoring, urban management and disaster monitoring.

NovaSAR Sateillite: It carries S-band Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) and Automatic Identification Receiver payloads. It is technology demonstration mission designed to test capabilities of new low cost S-band SAR platform. Its applications include forestry mapping, land use and ice cover monitoring, flood and disaster monitoring and maritime missions. It will be operated from SSTL’s Spacecraft Operations Centre in Guildford, UK.

PSLV

PSLV is the third generation launch vehicle of India, designed and developed by ISRO’s Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, Thiruvananthapuram. It is hailed as the reliable and versatile workhorse launch vehicle of India. It consists of four stages, using solid and liquid propulsion systems alternately. Each stage of PSLV is self-contained vehicle capable of functioning independently with own propulsion systems.

It is capable of launching 1600 kg satellites in 620 km sun-synchronous polar orbit and 1050 ks satellite in geo-synchronous transfer orbit. There are three variants of PSLV, namely, PSLV-G, PSLV-CA, PSLV-XL. In the standard configuration, it measures 44.4 m tall, with a lift off weigh of 295 tonnes.

Some notable payloads launched by PSLV include India’s first lunar probe Chandrayaan-1, India’s first interplanetary mission, Mars Orbiter Mission (Mangalyaan) and India’s first space observatory, Astrosat.

3.Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has inaugurated S–Band Polarimetry Doppler Weather Radar (DWR) at Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota spaceport, Andhra Pradesh. It will be used for observation of weather system up to range of 500 km and also for early warning of severe weather events.

Doppler Weather Radar (DWR)

The radar has been indigenously developed by Bharat Electronics Ltd (BEL), Bengaluru under ToT (Training of Trainers) from ISRO. It is the seventh radar of such type manufactured in the country under “Make in India”. It will provide advanced information, enhances lead-time essential for saving lives and property in event of natural disaster associated with severe weather.

It will also provide detailed information on storm’s internal wind flow and structure as compared to conventional radars which are only able to track and predict cyclones. Polarimetric capability of this radar will significantly help to improve accuracy of rainfall estimation leading to accurate and timely flash flood warnings. With its help, severity of weather systems can be quantitatively estimated and more precise advanced warnings can be generated for saving human lives and property

4. India’s biggest cyclotron facility named Cyclone-30 became operational at Kolkata-based Variable Energy Cyclotron Centre (VECC), which comes under Department of Atomic Energy (DAE). Cyclotron is used to produce radioisotopes for diagnostic and therapeutic use for cancer care. Radiations from these isotopes are used to destroy cancer cells.

Cyclone-30

It will produce radioisotopes vital for diagnosis and treatment of cancer.It will be first and only cyclotron facility in country to produce Germanium 68 radioisotopes, which is used in diagnosis of breast cancer. It will also produce Palladium 103 isotopes, which is used for the treatment of prostate cancer. In its future stages, it will also produce Iodine 123 isotopes, which can help detect thyroid cancer.

It started working for first time when 30 MeV beam reached Faraday Cup (a metal cup designed to catch charged particles in vacuum). The beam from this facility was used to produce fluorine-18 isotope for preparation of radio-pharmaceutical fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG), which is used for diagnose various types of cancer.It will start regular production by mid-2019 after supporting nuclear systems and regulatory clearances are commissioned.


5. Germany has rolled out world’s first hydrogen-powered passenger train. These locomotives named iLint trains emit zero emissions, making them eco-friendly. This train technology offers greener and quieter alternative to diesel on non-electrified railway lines. These hydrogen trains are manufactured by French TGV-maker Alstom and are commercially running on 100km route between towns and cities of Cuxhaven, Bremerhaven, Bremervoerde and Buxtehude in northern Germany.

Hydrogen trains

Hydrogen trains are equipped with fuel cells that produce electricity by combining hydrogen with oxygen. This conversion process only emits steam and water, thus producing zero emissions. Excess energy produced is stored in ion-lithium batteries on board train.

These trains also make very little noise. Moreover, hydrogen fuel cells have advantages over batteries. Instead of recharging, they can easily be refueled like gas or diesel engine. It is also easier to build refueling infrastructure for these trains at railway stations.

These trains can run for around 1,000 km on a single tank of hydrogen, similar to the range of diesel trains. These trains offer attractive prospect to many cities scrambling to combat air pollution. The only disadvantage these hydrogen trains is that they are more expensive than fossil fuel-based trains.

 

OCTOBER 2018

1. Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) has launched Artificial Intelligence (AI) powered chatbot– Ask Disha ((Digital Interaction to Seek Help Anytime) to help its users answer various queries. The chatbot is special computer programme designed to simulate conversation with users, especially over the internet. It has gone live on IRCTC’s next-gen e ticketing website and soon will be integrated on the IRCTC Rail Connect Android app.

2. Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Central University of Jammu (CUJ) in Jammu today for setting up of Satish Dhawan Center for Space Science in University. It will be first of its kind institute coming up in Jammu and Kashmir.

Satish Dhawan Center for Space Science

The centre is named after Satish Dhawan, father of experimental fluid dynamics research in India and former Chairman of ISRO (1971-84). He was born in Srinagar and played leading the successful and indigenous development of Indian space programme. The centre will have facilities for Geospatial Data analysis that will help in sustainable use of natural resources and planning land-use pattern.

It will also have ground-based observations for atmospheric studies, research lab for astrophysics, atmospheric sensing and glacier studies lab for better use of large quantity of water stored in the form of seasonal snow, ice and glaciers in the rivers of North India. It will also have Disaster Management Center to take up research in the area of different disasters like flood, landslides, forest fires, drought and climate change. Materials Sciences Lab for space applications will be also established for synthesizing and designing new sensors and materials for space applications.

Significance

It will help in tapping potential of Space Applications for region of J&K in various fields like disaster management, health, education, communication, weather forecasting, land use planning, etc. It will also provide opportunity to youth of the region to contribute to the field of space science as well as to the nation. It will also take care of the emerging Geospatial and Space Technology requirements for development of the region as its economy and habitations are affected by vegetation cover, forest area, snow, landslides, avalanches, ground water, cloud cover, atmospheric conditions etc

 

NOVEMBER 2018

The world’s largest supercomputer Spiking Neural Network Architecture (SpiNNaker) machine designed to work in same way as human brain was switched on for the first time.

SpiNNaker

It designed and built at University of Manchester in UK. It can model more biological neurons in real time than any other machine on planet. Biological neurons are basic brain cells present in nervous system that communicate by emitting ‘spikes’ of pure electro-chemical energy. It is neuromorphic computing that uses large scale computer systems containing electronic circuits to mimic these spikes in a machine.

It is capable of completing more than 200 million million actions per second, with each of its chips having 100 million transistors. It is unique as it mimics the massively parallel communication architecture of brain, sending billions of small amounts of information simultaneously to thousands of different destinations. It also unique because, unlike traditional computers, it does not communicate by sending large amounts of information from point A to B via standard network.

2. Communication satellite GSAT-29 was launched successfully by the second developmental flight of Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark III (GSLV MKIII-D2) from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) SHAR, Sriharikota.

GSAT-29

Communication satellite GSTA-29 weighing 3,423 kg is a multiband and multi-beam satellite. The mission life will be 10 years.

The satellite’s Ku-band and Ka-band payloads will cater to the communication needs of people residing in remote parts of the country especially those from Jammu & Kashmir and North-Eastern regions. Similarly, the satellite’s Q/V-Band communication payload will help in demonstrating the future high throughput satellite system technologies. Additionally, the onboard Geo High Resolution Camera will help in carrying out high resolution imaging. The onboard Optical Communication Payload will showcase a very high rate data transmission through optical communication link. This unique laser based optical communication is being tested for the first time by the ISRO.

GSLV MKIII

GSLV MKIII is ISRO’s fifth generation three stage heavy lift launch vehicle. The launch vehicle is capable of placing satellites weighing 4000 kg in GTO. The first stage constitutes two massive boosters with solid propellants. The core with liquid propellant and the cryogenic engine constitutes the second and third stages respectively.

The weight of GSLV Mark III is 641 tons roughly equals the weight of five fully loaded passenger aircrafts. GSLV MarkIII, which took 15 years to make, is the heaviest among India’s operational launch vehicles. Also, with only 43 meters tall, it is also the shortest launch vehicles.

GSLV MKIII will be used to launch Chandrayaan-2 and Gaganyaan missions.

Significance

With the success of this flight, the Indian Space programme has achieved a significant milestone as the heaviest launcher (GSLV MKIII) lifted off the heaviest satellite (GSAT-29). The success of this mission is also an important milestone for the Indian space programme as it showcases the self-reliance of ISRO in launching heavier satellites. Also, the launch also signifies the completion of the experimental phase of GSLV MarkIII. The first successful mission of GSLV MarkIII was in 2014. In 2017, GSLV Mark III-D1 placed 3150 kg GSAT-19, a high throughput communication satellite into Geostationary Transfer orbit (GTO).

the launch of GSAT-29 communication satellite will pave for bridging the digital divide in the country. The launch of the satellite is also expected to aid Digital India Programme. The satellite is also intended to serve as a test bed for several new and critical next generation payload technologies. GSAT-29 is the 33rd communication satellite of India.

The successful flight of GSAT-29 will constitute a series of experimental flights that will help in developing the heaviest rocket for the manned space missions of the ISRO. ISRO’s manned mission Gaganyaan is expected to lift of three Indian astronauts into space for a seven days trip to the Low-Earth Orbit. The mission is slated for 2022.