1. Rocket Launching Port

The issue in news

Setting up of country’s second space rocket launching port by ISRO.

Main points

  • The Union Minister of State for Space informed the Lok Sabha that the Tamil Nadu State Government has identified over 961 hectares in Thoothukudi district for the country’s proposed second rocket launch port.
  • At present, rockets are launched from the Indian Space Research Organisation spaceport at Sriharikota, near Chennai.
  • The government has decided to set up a second facility in the backdrop of an increase in the number of launches by ISRO for domestic and international customers.
  • The proposed site is in Thoothukudi’s Kulasekarapattinam town.
  • A rocket launch pad at Kulasekarapattinam will be close to the equator and hence ideal for putting satellites in polar orbit.
  • ISRO has a Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre (LPSC) is at Mahendragiri in Tirunelveli district, Tamil Nadu where it assembles the second and fourth stages/engines for the PSLV.
  • Instead of transporting the second and fourth stages to Sriharikota from Mahendragiri, it will be easier to shift them to the launch pad if it is built in Kulasekarapattinam which is around 100 km away.


  1. Neutrino Observatory

The issue in news

Government to set up Neutrino Observatory in the country.

Main points

  • India based Neutrino Observatory (INO) will observe neutrinos produced in the atmosphere of the Earth.
  • This observation will tell us more about the properties of neutrino particles, whose main source is the Sun and the Earth’s atmosphere.
  • The neutrino detector will be a magnetized iron calorimeter, which will be the heaviest one made by any country.
  • The site identified is in Bodi West Hills, in Theni district, Tamil Nadu.


What are neutrinos?

  • Neutrinos are elusive subatomic particles created in a wide variety of nuclear processes.
  • They carry no electrical charge.
  • Of the four fundamental forces in the universe, neutrinos only interact with two — gravity and the weak force, which is responsible for the radioactive decay of atoms.
  • Having nearly no mass, they zip through the cosmos at almost the speed of light.
  • Countless neutrinos came into existence fractions of a second after the Big Bang. And new neutrinos are created all the time: in the nuclear hearts of stars, in particle accelerators and atomic reactors on Earth, during the explosive collapse of supernovas and when radioactive elements decay.
  • Neutrinos are extremely difficult to detect because they have very little interaction with matter.


  1. Destination North East-2020

The issue in news

Union Minister unveils the Logo and song for festival “Destination North East-2020”.

About Destination North East-2020:

  • It is a four-day event held in different cities in India to showcase and promote the north-eastern states of India.
  • The festival showcases the culture, cuisine, tourist destinations and experiences of the north-east.
  • The festival “Destination North East” has been held in different parts around the country for the last couple of years. It was held in Varanasi in 2019 and in Chandigarh the year before that.
  • This year, however, the event can be attended while being at home as it will be conducted virtually because of the pandemic.


  1. O-SMART Scheme

The issue in news

Ocean Services, Modelling, Applications, Resources and Technology (O-SMART) Scheme of the Ministry of Earth Sciences.

About the Scheme:

  • The Cabinet had approved the O-SMART scheme in August 2019 to integrate a total of 16 sub-projects addressing ocean development activities such as Services, Technology, Resources, Observations and Science.
  • Recognizing the importance of implementing schemes that are highly multi-disciplinary in the ocean sector keeping in mind national interests and international commitments, the Ministry had proposed to continue the existing schemes in a focused way as a part of the O-SMART umbrella scheme.

Objectives of the scheme:

  • To generate and regularly update information on Marine Living Resources and their relationship with the physical environment in the Indian Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
  • To periodically monitor levels of seawater pollutants for health assessment of coastal waters of India, to develop shoreline change maps for assessment of coastal erosion due to natural and anthropogenic activities.
  • To develop a wide range of state-of-the-art ocean observation systems for the acquisition of real-time data from the seas around India.
  • To generate and disseminate a suite of user-oriented ocean information, advisories, warnings, data and data products for the benefit of society.
  • To develop high-resolution models for ocean forecast and reanalysis system.
  • To develop algorithms for validation of satellite data for coastal research and to monitor changes in the coastal research.
  • To develop technologies to tap the marine bioresources, to generate freshwater and energy from the ocean, and develop underwater vehicles and technologies.
  • To establish a ballast water treatment facility.
  • To support operation and maintenance of 5 Research vessels for ocean survey/monitoring/technology demonstration programmes.
  • To establish a state of the art seafront facility to cater to the testing and sea trial activities of ocean technology, And many similar activities.


  1. Schemes for Indian researchers residing in foreign countries

The issue in news

Schemes of the Ministry of Science & Technology to provide attractive avenues and opportunities to Indian researchers residing in foreign countries to work in Indian Institutes and Universities.

Main points:

Visiting Advanced Joint Research (VAJRA) Faculty Scheme:

  • This Scheme is to bring overseas scientists and academicians including Non-resident Indians (NRI) and Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) to India to work in public-funded Institutions and Universities for a specific period of time.
  • The scheme offers adjunct/visiting faculty assignments to overseas scientists including Indian researchers to undertake high-quality collaborative research in cutting edge areas of science and technology with one or more Indian collaborators.

Ramanujan Fellowship:

  • This Fellowship provides attractive avenues and opportunities to Indian researchers of high calibre, who are residing abroad, to work in Indian Institutes/Universities in all areas of Science, Engineering and Medicine.
  • It is directed to scientists and engineers below the age of 40 years, who want to return to India from abroad.

Ramalingaswami Re-entry Fellowship:

  • The programme is to encourage scientists (Indian Nationals) working outside the country, who would like to return to India to pursue their research interests in Life Sciences, Modern Biology, Biotechnology, and other related areas.

Biomedical Research Career Programme (BRCP):

  • This program provides an opportunity to early, intermediate and senior-level researchers to establish their research & academic career in Basic biomedical or Clinical & Public Health in India.
  • These fellowships are open to all eligible researchers who wish to relocate or continue to work in India.

Scientists/Technologists of Indian Origin (STIO) in Indian research Laboratory:

  • There is a provision to appoint Scientists/Technologists of Indian Origin (STIO) on a contractual basis at Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) laboratories to nurture a research field in their area of expertise.

Senior Research Associateship (SRA) (Scientist’s Pool Scheme):

  • This scheme is primarily meant to provide temporary placement to highly qualified Indian scientists, engineers, technologists, and medical personnel returning from abroad, who are not holding any employment in India.
  • The Senior Research Associateship is not a regular appointment, but is a temporary facility to enable the Associate to do research/teaching in India while looking for a regular position.


  1. African Elephant dying due to Cyanobacteria

The issue in news

Toxins in water, produced by cyanobacteria (cyanobacterial neurotoxins) killed more than 300 elephants in Botswana this year.


  • Cyanobacteria are a group of photosynthetic bacteria, some of which are nitrogen-fixing. Cyanobacteria are microscopic organisms common in water and sometimes found in soil.
  • They live in a wide variety of moist soils and water either freely or in a symbiotic relationship with plants or lichen-forming fungi.
  • Cyanobacteria get their name from the bluish pigment phycocyanin, which they use to capture light for photosynthesis.
  • They also contain ‘chlorophyll a’, the same photosynthetic pigment that plants use.
  • ‘Chlorophyll a’ is a specific form of chlorophyll used in oxygenic photosynthesis.
  • It absorbs most energy from wavelengths of violet-blue and orange-red light.
  • It also reflects green-yellow light, and as such contributes to the observed green colour of most plants.


  • While not all cyanobacteria produce toxins, some cyanobacterial blooms can harm people and animals.
  • Additionally, scientists assert that toxic ones are occurring more frequently as a result of climate change driving up global temperatures.
  • Scientists are concerned about their potential impact as climate change leads to warmer water temperatures, which many cyanobacteria prefer.
  • According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Southern Africa’s temperatures are rising at twice the global average


  • Botswana is a landlocked country of southern Africa having few flat hills, most of its highest points are located along the south-east section of the country (the eastern edge of the Kalahari Basin).


  • The semi-arid Kalahari Desert covers about 70% of Botswana’s surface.


  • Botswana is home to plants and animals, mostly different types of acacia trees, animals like lion, cheetah, leopard, hyena, antelopes, meerkats, as well as many birds species and reptiles.

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