Current Affairs: Jan 2019 to Feb 2019
Science & Tech.
|CALL DROP||ü Situation of disconnection of call before caller ends the call mostly on wireless call|
|QUADRANTIDS METEOR SHOWER||ü Occurs every year in early January
ü When earth passes through a stream of dusty debris cast off by asteroid 2003 EH1
|Chang’e-4 Spacecraft||ü China launched Chang’e-4 spacecraft, – the dark side of the moon.
ü rotates exactly once every time it circles our planet, thus keeping the same hemisphere pointing toward Earth at all times.
ü the first-ever landing on the far side of the moon.
ü carries a rover
ü instruments include cameras, low-frequency radio spectrum analyser, lunar neutron and radiation dose detectors.
ü China has possibly become the first country to make a soft landing, which is a landing of a spacecraft during which no serious damage is incurred.
ü Thus, the pioneering landing demonstrates China’s growing ambitions as a space power
|Discovery of Fast Radio Burst
Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment (CHIME) has reported the sighting of a repeating fast radio burst
from a distant galaxy
|ü Fast Radio Bursts are brief (few millisecond) bursts of radio waves coming from far beyond our Milky Way Galaxy
ü The CHIME Telescope is located at the Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory (DRAO), a national facility
ü for astronomy operated by the National Research Council of Canada.
Officially called, MU69
|ü a contact binary composed of two joined bodies 19 km and 14 km across that are nicknamed “Ultima” and “Thule”, respectively.
ü When two asteroids collide and get stuck together it is known as
a contact binary.
ü It is named after a mythical island in medieval literature.
ü Ultima Thule means ‘beyond Thule’, beyond the borders of the known world, symbolizing the exploration of the distant Kuiper Belt
ü and Kuiper Belt objects.
ü It was discovered in 2014 with the help of the Hubble Space Telescope.
|Juno and Jupiter Volcanic Plumes||ü NASA’s solar-powered Juno spacecraft has sent new images of volcanic plume on Jupiter’s moon Io.
ü Jovian moon Io –the most volcanic body in our solar system.
ü Juno will improve our understanding of the solar system’s beginnings by revealing the origin and evolution of Jupiter.
1. Determine how much water is in Jupiter’s atmosphere
2. Look deep into Jupiter’s atmosphere to measure composition, temperature, cloud motions and other properties
3. Map Jupiter’s magnetic and gravity fields, revealing the planet’s deep structure
4. Explore and study Jupiter’s magnetosphere near the planet’s poles, especially the auroras – Jupiter’s northern and southern lights
|Super Blood Wolf Moon
|ü Moon appears particularly large and bright with a reddish glow.
ü A supermoon happens when the full moon coincides with the moon’s closest approach to Earth in its orbit (perigee).
ü moon appear a little brighter and closer than normal.
ü Blood during a total lunar eclipse when the Earth passes in between the Sun and the Moon.
ü Earth’s atmosphere scatters blue so only the red light gets reflected onto the Moon’s surface and makes it look red.
ü Wolf Moon is the name given by Native Americans to a full moon that appears in January.
ü So Super Blood Wolf Moon = Full Moon + Perigee + Lunar Eclipse + January
ü A lunar eclipse only takes place when there is a full Moon.
|ü successfully launched recently by US scientists from the McMurdo Station in Antarctica.
ü launched on a helium balloon intended to reach an altitude of 130,000 feet i.e at nearly four times the cruising altitude of commercial airliners, and above 99 per cent of the Earth’s atmosphere.
ü analyse X-rays arriving from distant neutron stars, black holes and other exotic celestial bodies.
ü prime observation target will be Vela X-1, a neutron star in binary orbit with a supergiant star.
ü Neutron stars are objects of very small radius (typically 30 km) and very high density, composed predominantly of closely packed neutrons.
ü Supergiant stars are the largest stars-thousands of times bigger than our Sun and have a mass up to 100 times greater.
ü The largest known supergiant star, VY Canis Majoris, is up to 2,100 times the size of the Sun.
ü Binary stars are two stars orbiting a common center of mass
|MICROSAT-R and KALAMSAT
|ü PSLV-C44 successfully injected Microsat-R and Kalamsat-V2 satellites
ü Microsat-R is a 130-kg military imaging satellite.
ü The Kalamsat is a 10cm cube communication nano-satellite weighing about 1.2kg designed by students.
ü The PSLV is a four-stage engine expendable rocket with alternating solid and liquid fuel.
ü In a normal launch vehicle, each stage falls off after fuel completes burn-off.
ü However, stage four, after releasing the payload, wanders around in space as junk.
ü The PSLV-DL, used for Kalamsat, will follow the same pattern, except that the fourth stage (PS4) won’t fall off.
ü It will serve as a platform for the satellite like deploying solar panels or other tools to aid the satellite.
ü It is the first satellite to use PS4 as an orbital platform, thus reducing space debris.
ü A 64-gram earlier version of the Kalamsat nicknamed “gulab jamun” was launched by NASA in 2017. But it never reached orbit.
ü PSLV-C44 is a new variant of PSLV called PSLV-DL (D standing for
ü In its normal configuration, the rocket will have six strap-on motors in the first stage.
ü However, PSLVDL will have just two strap-on motors for the first time.
|ü China has named their lunar rover as ‘Yutu 2’.
ü part of China Chang’e-4 lunar probe.
ü to carry out experiments on the unexplored far side of the moon.
ü It would also analyse soil and rock samples for minerals, apart from activating.
ü China’s lunar probe is part of its ‘Made in China-2025’ project, which focuses on advanced technology, including space applications.
|Sub-glacial Antarctic Lakes Scientific Access
|ü The place of exploration is bottom of the ice sheet that covers Mercer Sub-glacial Lake about 370 miles from the South Pole.
ü SALSA is an expedition that will shed light on what kind of life can survive in such remote regions.
ü Mercer will be the second sub-glacial lake that humans have sampled directly.
|LEPROSY IN INDIA
|ü infectious disease caused by Mycobacterium leprae and is highly contagious.
ü bacteria has a long incubation period.
ü take 6-10 years or even 20 years for the first symptoms to surface.
ü mainly affects the skin, the peripheral nerves, the mucosa of the upper respiratory tract and the eyes.
ü curable and treatment provided in the early stages averts disability.
Mycobacterium Indicus Pranii (MIP)
ü an indigenous vaccine for leprosy developed by National Institute of Immunology.
ü now being introduced into the National Leprosy Elimination Programme (NLEP). It will boost the immune system against the bacterial disease
ü India was officially declared to have eliminated leprosy in 2005 when new cases fell to less than 1 per 10,000, yet India still accounts for the largest number of leprosy affected people in the world (58 per cent).
|ü They are formed when a gas such as methane gets trapped in well-defined cages of water molecules forming crystalline solids. It is a solid ice-like form of water that contains gas molecules in its molecular cavities.
ü Natural gas hydrates : on continental margins and shelves
ü generally associated with biologically rich cold seep ecosystems at the seafloor. Cold seeps are locations where hydrocarbon-rich fluid seeps up from below the sea floor, often as methane or hydrogen sulfide.
ü It is estimated that total amount of carbon in the form of methane hydrates, far exceeds the carbon content in all the fossil fuel reserves put together and hence these are supposed to be the future potential energy resource.
ü Extraction of gas hydrates: The natural gas from gas hydrate can be produced via:
ü Depressurization: Drilling of hole into the layer of hydrate and reducing the pressure beneath. This technique is implemented for hydrates only in polar regions beneath the permafrost.
ü Thermal stimulation: via steam injection, hot brine solution etc. that raises the temperature of the local reservoir outside the hydrate region to cause the dissociation of the hydrate, thus releasing free gas which can be collected
ü The National Gas Hydrate Programme (NGHP) is of national importance considering India’s phenomenal growing energy demand. The programme was initiated in 1997. It first conducted studies in 2006.
ü India has entered into an agreement with Canada to develop technology in this regard.
ü IIT Madras, in collaboration with GAIL, is working to recover methane from methane hydrate from the Krishna-Godavari Basin and sequester CO2 simultaneously
|YOUNG SCIENTIST PROGRAMME
ü Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) has recently launched Young Scientist Programme for school students.
About the Young Scientist Programme
ü aims to inculcate and nurture space research fervor in young minds
ü Under this 1-month program, 3 students from each of the 29 States and 7 UTs will be selected.
ü Students mostly from class VIII will be given lectures and access to R&D labs and practical experience of building a small satellite.
ü conceptualized after the similar Programme run by the American Space Agency NASA.
ü All the expenses of travelling and boarding will be funded entirely by ISRO.
ü Under this, six incubation centres will be established in various parts of the country – North, South, East, West, Centre and North-East, and
ü the first such centre has been established in Agartala in Tripura
• ANUSAT: ANUSAT (Anna University Satellite) – first satellite built by an Indian University.
• STUDSAT: Student Satellite (STUDSAT) is the first pico-satellite developed in the country by a consortium of seven engineering colleges from Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.
• YOUTHSAT: A joint Indo-Russian stellar and atmospheric satellite mission with the participation of students. to investigate the relationship between solar variability and thermosphere-Ionosphere changes.
• SRMSat: A nanosatellite weighing 10.9 kg, developed by SRM University, which attempts to address the problem of Global warming and pollution levels in the atmosphere by monitoring CO2 and water vapour.
• Jugnu: A nanosatellite weighing 3 kg, developed by IIT Kanpur under the guidance of ISRO. The satellite is intended to prove the indigenously developed camera system for imaging the Earth in the near infrared region and test image processing algorithms.
UNISPACE NANOSATELLITE ASSEMBLY & TRAINING PROGRAMME (UNNATI)
ü an initiative to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the first United Nations conference on the exploration and peaceful uses of outer space (UNISPACE+50).
ü provide opportunities to the participating developing countries to strengthen in assembling, integrating and testing of Nanosatellite.
ü In mass classification a Nanosatellite is any satellite with mass from
1kg to 10kg.
ü These satellites can reduce the cost of launching because weight is the most important (and most expensive) aspect of launching an object into space.
ü Many Nanosatellites are deployed together in network of satellites (satellite constellation) that operates as a single entity which can capture minute details.
ü This system can provide people in poor, rural or low population density areas around the world with affordable, high-speed internet access which is currently underserved due to high cost of traditional satellites.
|INTERNATIONAL YEAR OF THE PERIODIC TABLE OF CHEMICAL ELEMENTS||Why in News?
ü The United Nations General Assembly has proclaimed 2019 as
the International Year of the Periodic Table of Chemical Elements
to celebrate its 150 years.
About the Periodic Table of Chemical Elements
ü Russian scientist Dmitry Mendeleev published the first periodic table in 1869.
ü ( organized all chemical elements by the atomic mass (number of protons & neutrons) and other chemical properties).
ü Mendeleev’s Periodic Law: The Properties of elements are periodic functions of their atomic masses.
ü However, the shortcomings of Mendeleev’s Periodic Table were uncertain position of Hydrogen and no place for isotopes (similar chemical properties but different atomic masses) which were discovered later.
ü Thus, Modern periodic table, managed by the International Union for Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) is arranged on the basis of atomic number rather than atomic mass.
o a tabular arrangement of the chemical elements, arranged by atomic number, electron configuration, and recurring chemical properties, whose structure shows periodic trends.
o The Seven rows of the table, called periods, generally have metals on the left and non-metals on the right.
o The columns, called groups, contain elements with similar chemical behaviours.
o The elements from atomic numbers 1 (hydrogen) through 118 (oganesson) have been discovered or synthesized, completing seven full rows of the periodic table.
ü UNESCO and the 1001 Inventions organization will launch a new educational initiative celebrating 2019 International Year of the Periodic Table of Chemical Elements (IYPT2019) – a yearlong initiative to raise awareness of chemistry and its applications for sustainable development.
|CLEANING UP SPACE DEBRIS
|ü a new device named space harpoon
ü that captures junk
ü is part of the RemoveDEBRIS project, a multi-organization European effort to create and test methods of reducing space debris.
About Space Debris
ü encompasses both natural (meteoroid) and artificial (man-made) particles. Meteoroids are in orbit about the sun, while most artificial debris is in orbit about the Earth.
ü Hence, the latter is more commonly referred to as orbital debris.
ü The term Kessler syndrome is associated with Space Debris, which is used to describe a self-sustaining cascading collision of space debris in LEO (Low Earth Orbit)
The Remove Debris Mission
ü platform will showcase four methods for release, capture and deorbit two space debris targets, called DebriSATs:
ü Net capture: It involves a net that will be deployed at the target CubeSat.
ü Harpoon Capture: Which will be launched at a target plate made of “representative satellite panel materials”
ü Vision-based navigation: Using cameras and LiDAR (light detection and ranging), the platform will send data about the debris back to the ground for processing.
ü De-orbiting process: As it enters Earth’s atmosphere, the spacecraft will burn up, leaving no debris behind.
ü The mission will demonstrate key Active Debris Removal (ADR) technologies in orbit, which will have significance for future missions as well.
ü meant for larger targets,
ü for example full-size satellites that have malfunctioned and are drifting from their orbit.
About Inter-Agency Space Debris Coordination Committee
ü an international governmental forum for the worldwide coordination of activities related to the issues of man-made and natural debris in space.
ü aims to exchange information on space debris research activities between member space agencies, to facilitate opportunities for cooperation in space debris research, to review the progress of ongoing cooperative activities, and to identify debris mitigation options.
ü ISRO is also a member of this committee
ü European Space Agency- e. Deorbit mission, which would target derelict satellite in low orbit,
ü capture it, then safely burn it up in a controlled atmospheric reentry.
ü Japan- It launched Kounotori 6 satellite, which uses a half mile long tether to remove some of the debris
ü The tether, made of aluminium strands and steel wire, is designed to slow the debris,pulling it out of orbit.
ü multi- object tracking radar (MOTR) developed by the Satish Dhawan Space Centre allows ISRO to track 10 objects simultaneously.
|PROGRESS OF DIGITAL LITERACY PROGRAMS IN INDIA
Pradhan Mantri Gramin Digital Saksharta Abhiyan’
|ü Recently a report on review of National Digital Literacy Mission was laid in Parliament by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology.
About Digital Literacy
ü As per the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, Digital Literacy is defined as
ü the ability of individuals and communities to understand and use digital technologies for meaningful actions within life situations. Any individual who can operate computer/laptop/tablet/smart phone and use other IT related
ü tools is being considered as digitally literate.
ü Digital Literacy holds important in areas such as using Government Schemes, Digital Payments, egovernance, Agriculture, Education, Health, Employment etc.
Current Status of Digital Literacy in India
ü Low Digital Literacy– Among people in the age group of 14-29 years, only 18.3% were able to operate a computer in rural areas as compared to 48.9% in urban areas.
ü Ineffective usage of digital literacy- An IIT-Delhi study found that while beneficiaries were now comfortable using social media, they were not as adept at browsing the internet for education opportunities and
ü employment listings among others.
ü Objectives: To make six crore persons in rural areas, across States/UTs, digitally literate,reaching to around 40% of rural households by covering one member from every eligible household.
ü Implementing Agency: implemented by CSC eGovernance Services India Limited, a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) incorporated under the Companies Act 1956,(herein after referred to as ‘CSC-SPV’), under Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology
ü Duration: The duration of the Scheme is up to 31st March, 2019.
ü Coverage of scheme: applicable for rural areas of the country.
|SOLID FUEL DUCTED RAMJET (SFDR)
|ü Recently, DRDO successfully flight tested the second indigenously developed ‘Solid Fuel Ducted Ramjet (SFDR)’
ü propulsion-based missile system, the first test of which was carried out in May 2018.
ü an Indo-Russian R&D project which has been established to develop a long-range air-to-air missile and a surface-to-air missile system in near future.
Defence Research Development Laboratory (DRDL), Hyderabad
ü At present, the conventional missiles use booster or sustainer configuration with solid or liquid propellants. They do not allow the missile enough energy to maintain its speed and tackle a maneuvering target.
ü SFDR technology, based on the ramjet propulsion system depends only on its forward motion at supersonic speed to compress intake air and the engine flow-path components have no moving parts.
ü Unlike solid rocket propellant whose formulation is approximately 20% fuel and 80% oxidizer, the solid ramjet fuel is 100% fuel and obtains oxidizer from air, with the result being approximately four times the specific impulse (the product of thrust and time divided by propellant weight) as compared to solid rocket propellant.
ü Hence, this air breathing ramjet propulsion technology helps propel the missile at high supersonic speeds(above Mach 2) for engaging targets at long ranges.
Differences between Ramjet and Scramjet
Ramjet: does not have any turbines unlike the turbojet engines.
ü achieves compression of intake air just by the forward speed of the air vehicle.
Scramjet engine: an improvement over the ramjet engine as it efficiently
ü operates at hypersonic speeds and allows supersonic combustion. Thus it is known as Supersonic Combustion Ramjet, or Scramjet
|ü Recently PARAM Shivay, the first super computer designed & built under the National Supercomputing Mission
ü by C-DAC (Center for Development of Advanced Computing) at IIT-BHU was launched.
About National Supercomputing Mission
ü launched in 2015,
ü envisages empowering our national academic and R&D institutions spread over the country by installing a vast supercomputing grid comprising of more than 70 high-performance computing facilities.
ü networked on the National Supercomputing grid over the National
Knowledge Network (NKN).
ü implemented jointly by the Department of Science and Technology (DST) and Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DeitY) through the C-DAC and Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bengaluru.
ü Started in 1993, it ranks the 500 most powerful non-distributed
computers in the world.
ü publishes an updated list of the supercomputers twice a year.
ü Currently, China dominates the list with 229 supercomputers, leading
the second place (United States) by a record margin of 121.
ü Since June 2018, the American “Summit” is the world’s most powerful
supercomputer, based on the LINPACK benchmarks.
ü LINPACK benchmark are a measure of a system’s floating point computer power. It measures how far a computer solves a nxn system of linear equations.
ü India has 4 supercomputers in the Top-500 list of the world’s top 500 supercomputers with Pratyush and Mihir being the fastest supercomputers in India.
ü premier R&D organization of the Ministry of Electronics and
Information Technology (MeitY) for carrying out R&D in IT, Electronics
and associated areas.
ü PARAM 8000, first supercomputer of India, was built by CDAC
ü highly contagious viral diseases that are spread by contact with an infected person through coughing and sneezing.
ü weakens the immune system and opens the door to secondary health problems, such as pneumonia, blindness, diarrhoea etc. This virus is an exclusive human pathogen and has no animal reservoirs or vectors.
ü Rubella, also known as German Measles, is generally a mild disease but can have serious consequences for pregnant women and their children as it may cause congenital rubella syndrome in the foetus.
ü India accounts for around one third of all children born worldwide with congenital rubella syndrome (CRS).
ü Measles-rubella (MR) vaccine is given at 9-12 months and 16-24 months of age for preventing both measles and rubella diseases in the child as no specific treatment is available for the disease.
ü To eliminate measles and control rubella, over 95% immunisation of children or strengthening of Herd Immunity is required.
ü It is a form of immunity that occurs when the vaccination of a significant portion of a population (or herd) provides a measure of protection for individuals who have not developed immunity
|NATIONAL ACTION PLAN FOR VIRAL HEPATITIS CONTROL
|ü Recently, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare launched National Action Plan for Viral Hepatitis.
About National Action Plan for Viral Hepatitis
ü provides a strategic framework, based on which National Viral Hepatitis Control Program was launched in 2018 under National Health Mission
ü an inflammation of the liver often cause by virus and other infections, toxic substances (e.g. alcohol, certain drugs).
ü There are 5 main hepatitis viruses, referred to as types A, B, C, D and E.
ü Viral hepatitis types B and C can cause chronic hepatitis and are responsible for 96% of overall hepatitis mortality while Hepatitis A and E usually cause acute hepatitis.
ü Hepatitis A and E are typically caused by ingestion of contaminated food or water.
ü Hepatitis B, C and D usually occur as a result of contact with infected body fluids such as during receiving blood, invasive medical procedures using contaminated equipment, transmission from mother to baby at birth, sexual contact etc.
ü There are vaccines to prevent hepatitis A, B and E. However, there is no vaccine for hepatitis C.
ü Also, Hepatitis D virus (HDV) infections occur only in those who are infected with Hepatitis B Virus.
ü The infections can progress to other health complications and liver cancers.
ü The challenge in eliminating chronic viral hepatitis is due to the infected person being unaware of their chronic carrier status and to the potential for them to continue to infect others for decades