Space Technology : news and updates


China successfully launched “Shenzhou-12” manned spaceship

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What is the News?

China has launched the Long March 2F rocket transporting the Shenzhou-12 or Divine Vessel.

About Shenzhou-12 or Divine Vessel:
  • Shenzhou-12 is a manned mission. It is the third of the 11 missions that needed to complete China’s first Permanent space station, named Tiangong Space Station. Among these missions, four will be manned missions.
  • Working:
    • Shenzhou-12 is made up of three sections—an orbiter module, a return module and a propelling module.
    • It will carry three astronauts to the orbiting Tianhe core module. The astronauts will test the module’s technologies, including its life-support system.
    • Moreover, the men will also be monitored for how they fare in space physically and psychologically for an extended period of time.
  • Significance: Shenzhou-12 is China’s seventh manned mission to space and the first during the construction of China’s space station.
    • It is also the first in nearly five years after China’s manned mission in 2016.
About Tiangong Space Station:
  • Tiangong is a planned Chinese Permanent space station to be placed in Low Earth orbit.
  • The operations of the station will be controlled by the Beijing Aerospace Command and Control Center in China.
  • Significance: The Space Station roughly will be one-fifth the mass of the International Space Station.

Source: Indian Express

 

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What is the New Shephard rocket system?

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What is the News?

Amazon founder and billionaire Jeff Bezos’s space company named Blue Origin has concluded the online auction for the first seat on the New Shephard rocket system. It is a rocket system meant to take tourists to space.

About New Shephard Rocket System:
  • New Shephard is a reusable rocket system that has been designed to take astronauts and research payloads past the Karman line – the internationally recognized boundary of space.
  • Built by: The rocket system has been built by Blue Origin, space company of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.
  • Named after: The rocket system has been named after astronaut Alan Shephard – the first American to go to space.
Significance of this New Shephard rocket system:
  • The idea behind New Shephard is to provide easier and more cost-effective access to space. This is meant for purposes such as academic research, corporate technology development and entrepreneurial ventures among others.
  • Moreover, apart from academic and research-oriented goals, the rocket will also allow space tourists to experience microgravity by taking them 100 km above the Earth.
    • Microgravity is the condition in which people or objects appear to be weightless. The effects of microgravity can be seen when astronauts and objects float in space.
What is the Karman Line?
  • The Karman line is the internationally recognized boundary of space.
  • The line is named after Theodore von Kármán, a Hungarian American engineer and physicist.
    • He was the first person to determine the altitude at which the atmosphere becomes too thin to support aeronautical flight.
  • The Fédération Aéronautique Internationale(FAI) defines the Kármán line as the altitude of 100 kilometres (62 miles) above Earth’s mean sea level.
    • FAI is an international standard-setting and record-keeping body for aeronautics and astronautics.
  • However, not all organizations recognize this definition. The US Air Force and NASA define the boundary as 50 miles (80 km) above sea level. But there is no International law that defines the edge of space or the limit of national airspace.

Source: Indian Express

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“EnVision Mission” to Venus by ESA

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What is the News? European Space Agency(ESA) has announced a new mission with the name EnVision mission.

About EnVision Mission:
  • EnVision is a European Space Agency(ESA)-led mission. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is working as a contributor.
  • Aim: The mission will carry instruments to study the Venus atmosphere and surface. Also, to monitor trace gases in the atmosphere, and analyze the surface composition of Venus.
  • Launch Year: The mission is likely to be launched sometime in the 2030s. It will be launched on an Ariane 6 rocket. The rocket will take about 15 months to reach Venus and will take 16 more months to achieve orbit circularization.
Other Venus Missions:
  • Venus Express(2005-2014): It is an ESA-led mission to Venus that focussed on atmospheric research and pointed to volcanic hotspots on the planet’s surface.
  • Akatsuki spacecraft: It is a Japanese Spacecraft that has been studying the planet’s atmosphere since 2015.
  • DAVINCI+ and VERITAS Mission: These are two robotic missions announced by NASA to Venus. It will be launched between 2028-2030.
  • Shukrayaan-1: It is a proposed mission of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) to Venus. It aims to study the surface and atmosphere of Venus. It is expected to be launched in 2023.
About Venus:
  • Venus is the second-brightest object in the sky after the moon.
  • It appears bright because of its thick cloud cover that reflects and scatters light.

Click Here to Read more about Venus

 Why study Venus?
  • To understand how Earth and Venus evolved so differently from each other. Whereas both planets are, roughly, of the same size and composition.
  • To understand more about the Venus thick cloud cover and the volcanoes on its surface.
  • To understand about the existence of life on Venus in its distant past and the possibility that life may exist in the top layers of its clouds where temperatures are less extreme.
    • In 2020, a team of scientists reported that they had found phosphine gas in the atmosphere of Venus that triggered excitement in the scientific community that some life forms might be supported by the planet.

Source: Indian Express  

 

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“CHIME telescope” detects numerous “Fast Radio Bursts”

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What is the news?

Scientists from the Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment (CHIME) have detected 535 Fast Radio Bursts (FRB). It is the largest collection of FRB till date.

CHIME telescope (Source: Wiki)

  • They have detected this in collaboration with India’s Tata Institute for Fundamental Research (TIFR) and the National Centre for Radio Astrophysics (NCRA).
Also read: India’s Thirty Meter telescope

 

What are Fast Radio Bursts (FRBs)?

  • FRBs are bright bursts of radio waves (radio waves can be produced by astronomical objects with changing magnetic fields) that blaze for a few milliseconds before vanishing without a trace.
  • They are spotted in various and distant parts of the universe as well as in our own galaxy. However, their origins are still unknown, and their appearance is highly unpredictable.
  • The first FRB was spotted in 2007. Since then, scientists had only caught sight of around 140 bursts in their telescopes.
  • Source: Magnetars could be the source of some fast radio bursts(FRBs).

What is a Magnetar?

  • Magnetar: It is a type of neutron star. The magnetic field of such a star is very powerful. It can be over a thousand times stronger than a typical neutron star’s magnetic field.
  • Neutron: The formation of a neutron star occurs when the core of a massive star undergoes gravitational collapse at the end of its life.
Fast Radio Bursts (FRBs) discovered by CHIME Telescope
  • The CHIME telescope has detected 535 new fast radio bursts in its first year of operation between 2018 and 2019.
  • Location of FRBs: When the scientists mapped their locations, they found the FRBs were evenly distributed in space, seeming to arise from any and all parts of the sky.
  • Types: The newly discovered FRBs appear to fall into two distinct classes: those that repeat and those that don’t repeat.
    • The repeater FRBs looked different. Each burst lasted slightly longer and emitted more focused radio frequencies than bursts from non-repeating FRBs.
    • These differences strongly suggest that emission from repeaters and non-repeaters is generated either by different physical mechanisms or in different astrophysical environments.
  • Significance: Scientists hope that the CHIME telescope will soon help them discover more properties of fast radio bursts and know more about the possible sources they are coming from.
CHIME Telescope
  • Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment (CHIME) is a radio telescope designed to answer major questions in astrophysics and cosmology.
  • The telescope is a partnership between the University of British Columbia, McGill University, the University of Toronto and the Canadian National Research Council’s Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory.
  • Working of CHIME Telescope:
    • The CHIME telescope functions a bit differently from others used for radio astronomy. Most radio astronomy is done by rotating a large dish to focus light from different parts of the sky.
    • On the other hand, the CHIME telescope comprises four massive parabolic radio antennas. It has no moving parts, and it receives radio signals each day from half of the sky as the Earth rotates.
    • The telescope has a powerful digital signaling processor that works at about seven terabits per second – equivalent to a few percent of the world’s internet traffic.
    • This digital signal processor reconstructs and looks in thousands of directions simultaneously. That’s what helps it to detect FRBs a thousand times more often than a traditional telescope.
  • Location: The telescope is located at Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory in British Columbia, Canada.

Source: The Hindu

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NASA’s New Venus Missions

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What is the News? NASA has announced two new Venus Missions. It will examine the planet’s atmosphere and geological features.

NASA is awarding approximately $500 million permission for development. The missions will be launched between 2028 and 2030.

Which are those two new Venus Missions? 
Davinci+ Venus Mission:
  • Davinci+ stands for Deep Atmosphere Venus Investigation of Noble gases, Chemistry, and Imaging.
  • Aim: The mission will measure the planet’s atmosphere to gain insight into how it formed and evolved. It will also aim to determine whether Venus ever had an ocean and was possibly habitable.
  • Significance: This would be the first U.S.-led mission to Venus’ atmosphere since 1978. The results from the mission could reshape our understanding of terrestrial planet formation in our solar system and beyond.
VERITAS Mission:
  • VERITAS stands for Venus Emissivity, Radio Science, InSAR, Topography, and Spectroscopy.
  • Aim: The mission will map the planet’s surface to understand its geologic history and investigate how it developed so differently than Earth.
  • The mission will use a form of radar to chart surface elevations and discover whether volcanoes and earthquakes are still happening.
Previous Venus Missions:
  • The US and the former Soviet Union sent multiple spacecraft to Venus in the early days of space exploration.
  • NASA’s Mariner 2 performed the first successful flyby to Venus in 1962.
  • Then the Soviets’ Venera 7 made the first successful landing on Venus in 1970.
  • In 1989, NASA used a space shuttle to send its Magellan spacecraft into orbit around Venus.
  • In 2006, the European Space Agency put a spacecraft around Venus.

Note: Shukrayaan-1 is a proposed mission of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) to Venus. It aims to study the surface and atmosphere of Venus. It is expected to be launched in 2023.

Source: Indian Express

 

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“Total lunar Eclipse and Super Moon” – 2 Celestial Events Coincided

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The two celestial events – Total Lunar Eclipse and Supermoon coincided on may 26.

What is a supermoon?
  • The Moon travels around our planet in an elliptical orbit or an elongated circle.
  • Each month, the Moon passes through perigee (the point closest to Earth) and apogee (the point farthest from Earth).
  • When the Moon is at or near its closest point to Earth at the same time as it is full, it is called a “supermoon.”
  • During this event, because the full moon is a little closer to us than usual, it appears especially large and bright in the sky.

Note:  According to NASA, astrologer Richard Nolle in 1979 coined the term supermoon. In a typical year, there may be two to four full supermoons and two to four new supermoons in a row.

What is Lunar Eclipse?
  • The lunar eclipse occurs when the Earth comes between the Sun and the Moon thereby obstructing the sunlight falling on the Moon. Lunar eclipses only happen at Full Moon.

Types of Lunar Eclipse: There are three kinds of lunar eclipses:

  • Total Lunar Eclipse: During this, the Earth comes in between the Sun and the Moon. It stops the light of the Sun from reaching the Moon and casting a complete shadow over it.
  • Partial Lunar Eclipse: During this, the moon will travel through the Earth’s outer penumbra before and after partially sweeping through the Earth’s inner dark umbral shadow.
  • Penumbral Lunar Eclipse: During this, the Moon moves through the outer part of the Earth’s shadow, thus becoming very faint.
Note: The composition of Earth’s shadow is of two cone-shaped components.
  • Penumbra or outer shadow is a zone where the Earth blocks part of the Sun’s rays from reaching the Moon.
  • Umbra or inner shadow is a zone where the Earth blocks all direct sunlight from reaching the Moon.
What has happened on May 26, 2021?
  • On this day, two celestial events took place at the same time. One is the supermoon and the other is a total lunar eclipse. Because of the total lunar eclipse, the moon will also appear to be red.
  • The moon will appear red because the Earth will block some of the light from the Sun from reaching the moon. Now as the Earth’s atmosphere filters the light, it will soften “the edge of our planet’s shadow” “giving the Moon a deep, rosy glow.

Source: Indian Express

 

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“Winchcombe Meteorite” – To be Displayed in the UK

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What is the News? A piece of Winchcombe meteorite will be displayed at the National History Museum, Gloucestershire (UK).

About Winchcombe meteorite:
  • The Winchcombe meteorite is also known as carbonaceous meteorite. These meteorites have high proportion of carbon.
  • It was discovered after it landed in the driveway of a house located in Gloucestershire in the UK and considered “astonishingly rare”.
  • It is named after the place, where it fell down i.e. the town of Winchcombe in Gloucestershire in the UK. Furthermore, its weight is 103 grams, and it resembles coal in looks

Significance of meteorites:

  • Meteorites date back to the birth of the solar system nearly 4.5 billion years ago. Hence, examining it may offer scientists and researchers clues about the beginning of the solar system and maybe even the Earth.
  • Moreover, this meteorite is also significant because it has fallen and recovered from the UK in about 30 years.
What are Meteoroids, Meteors, and Meteorites?
  • Meteoroids: These are objects in space that range in size from dust grains to small asteroids. Think of them as “space rocks.”
  • Meteors: When meteoroids enter Earth’s atmosphere (or that of another planet, like Mars) at high speed and burn up, the fireballs or “shooting stars” are called meteors.
  • Meteorite: When a meteoroid survives a trip through the atmosphere and hits the ground, it’s called a meteorite.
Specific Missions launched to study Asteroid:
  • OSIRIS-REx mission: NASA launched it in 2018, with the aim to reach asteroid Bennu and get back a sample from the ancient asteroid.
  • Hayabusa2 mission: It was launched by Japan Space Agency in 2014 with the aim to study the asteroid Ryugu and to collect samples to bring to Earth for analysis. It returned to Earth in 2020.

Source: Indian Express


 

Arunachal harbours a Vanadium source

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China launches Classified “Yaogan Satellites” Into Orbit

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What is the News?

China has successfully launched the eighth group of three Yaogan-30 satellites into orbit on a Long March 2C rocket.

The eighth group of three Yaogan-30 satellites will join the seven previous groups in the orbit that had been launched earlier.

About Yaogan Satellites:

  • Firstly, Yaogan is a series of Chinese reconnaissance satellites launched in the early 21st century.
    • A reconnaissance satellite or intelligence satellite is an Earth observation satellite or a communications satellite. It is deployed for military or intelligence applications.
  • Secondly, Purpose: The satellites will be used for electromagnetic environment surveys and other related technology tests.
  • Thirdly, First Launched in: The first Yaogan 1 satellite was launched in the year 2006.
  • Fourthly, Concerns: Western analysts suspect that these Yaogan satellites are equipped with synthetic aperture radar(SAR) for military reconnaissance purposes.
    • SAR refers to a technique for producing high-resolution images. The radar can penetrate clouds and darkness and produce precise images. This means that it can collect data day and night in any weather.

Source: SPACE.COM

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“Tianwen-1 Mission” – China lands Zhurong Rover on Mars

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What is the News? 

China successfully lands Zhurong Rover from the Tianwen-1 mission on Mars. Specifically, it has landed on the Utopia Planitia, a large plain in the Northern Hemisphere of Mars.

Note: The Zhurong rover has been named after an ancient Chinese god of fire. It will explore the Mars surface near the landing site.

Significance:

  • Firstly, with the successful landing, China became the third nation to achieve a successful soft landing on Mars after the Soviet Union and the United States.
  • Secondly, with the successful deployment of the rover on Mars, China becomes the only second country after the US to send a rover to the surface of Mars.
  • Thirdly, China has also become the 1st country to carry out an orbiting, landing, and roving operation during its first mission to Mars.

 About Tianwen-1 Mission:

  • Tianwen-1 is an interplanetary mission by the China National Space Administration(CNSA).
  • Aim: It aims to send a robotic spacecraft to Mars consisting of an orbiter, deployable camera, lander, and the Zhurong rover.
  • Launched Year: The mission was successfully launched from the Wenchang Spacecraft Launch Site in July 2020 on a Long March 5 heavy-lift launch vehicle.
  • Objectives of the mission: The scientific objectives of the mission are to study the:
    • Geology of Mars
    • Current and past presence of water
    • Internal structure of the planet
    • Identification of minerals and rock types on the surface as well as
    • Characterisation of the space environment and atmosphere of Mars.

Source: Indian Express

“Zhurong” – China’s first Mars rover

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NASA’s “OSIRIS-REx Mission” to begin return from “Asteroid Bennu”

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NASA’s OSIRIS-REx Mission will depart from asteroid Bennu and start its two-year-long journey back to Earth.

About OSIRIS-REx Mission:
  • OSIRIS-REx stands for Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security, Regolith Explorer.
  • The mission was launched in 2016. It was the first U.S. mission to successfully collect a sample from an asteroid.
  • Aim: To travel to a near-Earth asteroid named Bennu and bring a small sample back to Earth for study.
  • Instruments: The spacecraft contains five instruments meant to explore Bennu. This includes cameras, a spectrometer and a laser altimeter.
  • Duration: The mission is essentially a seven-year-long. The mission will conclude when at least 60 grams of samples are delivered back to the Earth.
Asteroid Bennu:
  • Asteroid Bennu is named after an Egyptian deity. It is as tall as the Empire State Building. It is located about 200 million miles away from the Earth.
  • A team from the NASA-funded Lincoln Near-Earth Asteroid Research team in 1999 discovered the asteroid.
Characteristics of Asteroid Bennu:
  • Firstly, Bennu is a B-type asteroid. It contains significant amounts of carbon and various other minerals.
    • Because of its high carbon content, the asteroid reflects about 4% of the light that hits it. The reflection is very low when compared with Venus(reflects about 65% of the light). Earth reflects about 30%.
  • Secondly, Around 20-40% of Bennu’s interior is empty. This means that it was formed in the first 10 million years of the solar system’s creation which is roughly around 4.5 billion years old.
  • Lastly, Bennu is classified as a Near-Earth Object (NEO). So, it has a possibility to strike the Earth in the next century between the years 2175 and 2199.
    • NEOs are comets and asteroids nudged by the gravitational attraction of nearby planets orbits. This allows them to enter the Earth’s neighbourhood.
Why study Asteroid Bennu?
  • Asteroid Bennu is considered to be an ancient asteroid. Further, it has not gone through a lot of composition-altering changes for billions of years. This means that below the surface of Bennu the chemicals and rocks lie in the same form since the birth of the solar system.
  • Therefore, scientists and researchers are interested in studying this asteroid. As it might give them clues about the origins of the solar system, the sun, the Earth and the other planets.
What are Asteroids?
  • Asteroids are rocky objects that orbit the Sun. They are much smaller than planets, so they are also called minor planets. According to NASA, there are around 994,383 known asteroids.
  • Scientists study asteroids to:
    • Asteroids were formed at the same time as other objects in the solar system. So, the scientists will look for information about the formation and history of planets and the sun
    • Another reason for tracking them is to look for potentially hazardous asteroids.

Source: Indian Express


Explained: What is Planet Nine?

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Uncontrolled Re-entry of China’s Long March 5B Rocket Debris

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What is the News?

The debris from a Chinese Long March 5B rocket made an uncontrolled re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere and fell into the waters of the Indian Ocean west of the Maldives.

About Long March 5B Rocket:
  • The Long March 5B rocket is China’s largest rocket. It was launched into space in April 2021 for putting into orbit a core module named Tianhe.
    • Tianhe is one of the core modules of China’s permanent space station. Tiangong Space Station is its name.
    • This Chinese space station will only be the 2nd after the International Space Station (ISS). Its lifespan will be 10 years but could last 15 years, or until 2037.
Why did re-entry of Long March 5B Rocket raise concerns?
  • After the launch of a rocket, its discarded booster stages re-enter the atmosphere soon after liftoff. Then, they harmlessly fall into the ocean as a standard practice.
  • However, in this case, a large part of the rocket went into orbit along with the section of the under-construction space station that it was carrying.
  • While in orbit, this vehicle kept rubbing against the air at the top of the atmosphere and the resulting friction caused it to start losing altitude.
  • This resulted in the Long March 5B rocket’s uncontrolled re-entry back to the Earth inevitable.
Has out of control crashes happened before?
  • It is the 4th largest uncontrolled reentry of debris into the atmosphere.
  • In March 2021, a SpaceX rocket stage made an uncontrolled landing on a farm in the US. But this happened due to a malfunction in the engine tasked to bring it down and not by choice.
  • In 1979, when the NASA space station Skylab was brought down, some debris ended up in Australia leading to an apology from the then-US President.
  • In 1978, when a nuclear-powered Soviet satellite crashed in Canada, Russia was forced to bear a part of the expense gone into cleaning the radioactive debris.

Source: The Hindu


 

“NEO-01” – Chinese robot prototype to clear space debris

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NASA’s “Crew-2 Mission” Launched

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The US launched 4 astronauts to the International Space Station(ISS) as part of a collaboration between NASA and SpaceX under the Commercial Crew Program. The mission is called Crew-2 Mission. 

Demo-2 Mission:
  • In May 2020, NASA and SpaceX launched the Demo-2 test mission.
  • The mission carried two astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS).
  • Aim: The aim of this mission was to test flight to see if SpaceX capsules could be used on a regular basis to ferry astronauts to and from the ISS.

Crew-1 Mission:

  • After the success of Demo-2, Crew-1 was launched in November 2020. It was the first of six crewed missions between NASA and SpaceX, marking the beginning of a new era in the US for space travel.
  • Purpose: The crew together with expedition 64 members conducted microgravity studies at the ISS. It included materials to investigate food physiology meant to study the effects of dietary improvements on immune function and the gut microbiome and how those improvements can help crews adapt to spaceflight.
Crew-2 Mission:
  • Crew-2 Mission is the second crew rotation of the SpaceX Crew Dragon and the first with international partners.
  • The mission carried four astronauts to ISS. Among them, two are from NASA and two are from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and the European Space Agency(ESA).
  • The central focus of the mission will be to continue research on a series of Tissue Chips in Space studies.
Tissue Chips:
  • Tissue Chips are small models of human organs that contain multiple cell types that behave similarly to the human body organs.
  • According to NASA, these chips can potentially speed up the process of identifying safe and effective drugs and vaccines.
  • Scientists can use these tissue chips in space to study diseases that affect specific human organs, which would take months or years to develop on Earth.
Commercial Crew Program(CCP):
  • The Commercial Crew Program(CCP) is a partnership between NASA and private industry. Its aim is to carry astronauts to and from the International Space Station.
  • Objective: The program aims to help lower the cost of spaceflight. It is to potentially create a new commercial market for humans in space.
  • Business Partners: Two companies are partnering with NASA on the Commercial Crew Program: Boeing and SpaceX.
  • How is this program different? Unlike previous human spaceflight programs, NASA is a customer buying flights from commercial providers. The agency does not own or operate the spacecraft.
  • Significance: By encouraging private companies to provide crew transportation services to and from low-Earth orbit, NASA can focus on building spacecraft and rockets meant for deep space exploration missions.

Source: Indian Express

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A Mystery Behind “Positron Excess Phenomenon” Solved by Researchers

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What is the News?

High energy particles are generally lower in the cosmic universe. But the high number of high-energy particles of the antimatter called positrons was a mystery for scientists.

But the researchers from the Raman Research Institute(RRI), Bengaluru have resolved a mystery called the “Positron Excess Phenomenon“.

What is Antimatter?
  • Antimatter is the opposite of normal matter. More specifically, the sub-atomic particles of antimatter have properties opposite those of normal matter. For example, the electrical charge of antimatter particles is reversed.
  • The creation of antimatter happened along with matter after the Big Bang. But in today’s universe, antimatter is rare.
  • For example, Positron
What is Positron or anti-electron?
  • A Positron is an antimatter counterpart to an electron.
  • A positron has the equal or same mass as an electron.
  • But the electron has a Negative Electric Charge whereas Positron has a Positive electric Charge.

What is Positron Excess?

  • Over the years scientists observed excess of positron having the energy of more than 10 GeV
  • But Positrons having an energy of more than 300 GeV are lower in comparison to astronomers’ expectations.
  • This behavior of positrons between 10 and 300 GeV is called as the ‘positron excess’.
Reason for Positron Excess:
  • The Milky Way consists of giant clouds of molecular hydrogen. They are the seats of the formation of new stars. These clouds can be as massive as 10 million times of the Sun’s mass. Further, these clouds can extend up to 600 light-years.
    • The Milky Way is a huge collection of stars, dust, and gas. It is called a spiral galaxy because if viewed from the top or bottom, it will look like a spinning pinwheel.
  • Cosmic rays are produced in supernovae explosions. These waves propagate through these giant clouds before they reach the Earth.
  • Cosmic rays interact with molecular hydrogen and can give rise to other cosmic rays primarily electrons and positrons.
  • Further, cosmic rays propagate through these clouds and decay from their original forms and lose their wave energy by energising the clouds. Some may also get re-energised.
  • Researchers from the Raman Research Institute(RRI) found out that Cosmic rays interaction with giant clouds is a viable contributor to the origin of positron excess phenomenon.
What are Cosmic Rays?
  • Cosmic rays are one of the very few direct samples of matter from outside the solar system. They are high energy particles that move through space at nearly the speed of light.
  • They originate from the sun, from outside the solar system in our own galaxy, and from distant galaxies.
  • Furthermore, they are tp blame for electronics problems in satellites and other machinery.

Source: PIB

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“Tianhe” – Chinese Space Station Core Module

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What is the News?

China has launched the main module Tianhe, or the “Heavenly Harmony” of its first permanent space station Tiangong.

About Tianhe or Heavenly Harmony module:
  • Tianhe is the core module of China’s permanent space station. Tiangong Space Station is its name.
  • The module was launched into space aboard a Long March 5B rocket from the Wenchang Launch Center in China.
  • The module consists of three sections:
    • The habitable living quarter,
    • The non-habitable service section,
    • A docking hub.
  • Functions of the Module:
    • The Module provides life support and living quarters for three crew members.
    • Further, the module also provides guidance, navigation and orientation control for the station.
    • It also provides the station’s power, propulsion and life support systems.
  • Significance: This module is the first of the 11 missions to build and supply the permanent space station.
About Tiangong Space Station:
  • It is a planned Chinese Permanent space station to be placed in Low Earth orbit.
  • The Space Station roughly will have one-fifth the mass of the International Space Station. Also, It will be the size of the decommissioned Russian Mir space station.
  • The operations of the station will be controlled by the Beijing Aerospace Command and Control Center in China.

Source: The Hindu

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“Pink Moon 2021”: This year’s first Supermoon

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What is the News?

People around the world on 26th April 2021 witnessed the first Supermoon or Pink Moon

What is Supermoon?
  • The Astrologer Richard Nolle in 1979 coined the term Supermoon .
  • The supermoon is a full moon or a new moon that nearly coincides with a perigee (A point of the Moon’s orbit closest to Earth).
  • The supermoon makes the moon appear a little bigger and looks brighter than usual. However, to our own eyes, the differences are indistinguishable.
Why call it ‘Pink Moon’?
  • The moon will not be originally pink. It got its name from the pink wildflowers (Wild Ground Phlox). These flowers bloom in the spring and are native to North America.
  • Further, there are many other names for this moon. Such as Sprouting Grass Moon, the Egg Moon, the Paschal moon, and the Fish Moon.
Other definitions:

Blue Moon: When two full moons appear in the same calendar month, the second is termed a “blue moon”.

Blood Moon:
  • The meaning of a “blood moon” is based on its red glow of the moon. The blood moon occurs during a total lunar eclipse.
  • During a total lunar eclipse, Earth lines up between the Moon and the Sun. This hides the Moon from the sunlight.
  • When this happens, the only light that reaches the Moon’s surface is from the edges of the Earth’s atmosphere.
  • The air molecules from Earth’s atmosphere scatter out most of the blue light. The remaining light reflects onto the Moon’s surface with a red glow making the Moon appear red in the night sky.

Note: The name “blood moon” is also sometimes used for a Moon that appears reddish because of dust, smoke or haze in the sky.

Source: Hindustan Times

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“NEO-01” – Chinese robot prototype to clear space debris

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What is the News?

The Chinese government has launched a robot prototype named ‘NEO-01’ in the Low Earth Orbit through its Long March 6 rocket.

About ‘NEO-01’:
  • NEO-01 is a robot prototype developed by China-based space mining start-up ‘Origin Space’.
  • Aim: The aim is to observe small celestial bodies in deep space and to experiment with a novel approach to clearing up space debris.
  • Method to remove space debris: NEO-01 will use a large net to capture debris left behind by other spacecraft. After collection, it will burn them using its electric propulsion system.
    • Electric Propulsion(EP) is a class of space propulsion. This propulsion will make use of electrical power to accelerate a propellant. These technologies generate electrical energy either from a solar source or from a nuclear source.
What is Space Debris?
  • Firstly, space debris is any piece of machinery or debris left by humans in space.
  • Secondly, it can refer to big objects such as dead satellites that have failed or been left in orbit at the end of their mission. It can also refer to smaller things, like bits of debris or paint flecks that have fallen off from a rocket.
  • Thirdly, space debris is a threat to active satellites and spaceships as they pose the risk of collisions.

Source: The Hindu

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“Zhurong” – China’s first Mars rover

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What is the News? The China National Space Administration has announced that it will name its first Mars rover ‘Zhurong’.

About Zhurong:
  • Zhurong is China’s first Mars rover mission. The rover is aboard the Tianwen-1 space probe.
        • Launched in: The rover was launched in the Mars orbit Mission in February 2021 and is due to land in May.
  • Named after: The rover is named after a traditional fire god. The rover’s title also fits with the Chinese name for Mars i.e. “Huo Xing” or fire star.
  • Purpose: Zhurong carries multispectral cameras and instruments to analyze the composition of the rocks. It will also investigate subsurface characteristics with ground-penetrating radar.
  • Landing Site: The expected landing site located in Utopia Planitia. It is the largest recognized impact basin on Mars.
  • Significance: China would become the third country after the former Soviet Union and the United States to put a robot rover on Mars.
About Tianwen-1 mission:
  • Tianwen-1 is China’s first Mars exploration mission. The name comes from the long poem “Tianwen,” meaning Questions to Heaven.
  • Objectives: The mission has three objectives to fulfil:
    • To orbit the red planet for comprehensive observation.
    • Land on Martian soil and send a rover to roam around the landing site.
    • To conduct investigations into geological structure, atmosphere, environment, soil and water of Mars.

Source: The Hindu

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ISRO’s “RESPOND Programme” to support joint research projects of IIT-D

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What is the News?

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) announced its support to 8 joint research projects of Space Technology Cell (STC), IIT-Delhi. ISRO will support these projects under its RESPOND programme.

About RESPOND Programme:
  • ISRO launched the RESPOND (Research Sponsored) programme in the 1970s.
  • Objective: The objective is to establish strong links with premier academic institutions through financial assistance to carry out R&D projects relevant to space. Further, ISRO will derive useful outputs of such R&D projects and use that in ISRO programmes.
  • Financial Support: Under the Programme, ISRO provides financial support for conducting research and development activities. Projects related to space science, space technology and space applications in universities and academic institutions in India will get such financial support.
  • Administered by: The programme is under the administration of the Physical Research Laboratory(PRL). PRL is an autonomous unit under the Department of Space.
  • Significance: The research studies conducted under the programme will focus on some future Space activities of ISRO. Further, It will also act as a good supplement to various missions undertaken by ISRO.

Source: The Hindu

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“NASA’s Mars Helicopter Ingenuity” Makes First Flight on Another Planet

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What is the News? NASA’s Mars Helicopter Ingenuity successfully flies on Mars. It is the first powered flight on another planet.

 About NASA’s Mars Helicopter Ingenuity
  • Ingenuity is the first helicopter to fly on Mars. NASA’s rover called Perseverance carried it to the Red Planet.
  • Purpose: The helicopter’s main task is to carry out a technology demonstration to test the first powered flight on Mars. Further, it also aims to collect samples from the locations on Mars where the rover cannot reach.
  • Features: NASA’s Mars Helicopter Ingenuity is able to fly using counter-rotating blades that spin at about 2,400 rpm. It also has a wireless communication system and is equipped with computers, navigation sensors, and two cameras. Moreover, it is also solar-powered and is able to charge on its own.
  • Note: The Ingenuity helicopter’s mission is experimental in nature and is completely independent of the Perseverance rover mission.

Read Also:- Importance of Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover

Why it was an engineering challenge?

The atmosphere on Mars is 1% in density compared to the atmosphere on Earth. Thus, to fly on Mars, helicopter blades need to rotate 8 times as fast as a passenger helicopter to fly on Earth.

A helicopter flying a few meters from the surface on Mars requires the same amount of energy, as it requires to fly 2-3 times the height of Mt Everest on earth.

Moreover, a helicopter requires to have its own energy source from solar panels. Also, Ingenuity will face very cold Martian nights that can be brutal on batteries and the onboard computer.

  • Significance of the mission:
    • A helicopter was placed on the surface of Mars for the first time ever.
    • Hence, it’s performance during this mission will help in considering small helicopters for future Mars missions — where they can perform a support role as robotic scouts, surveying terrain from above or as full standalone science craft.
Perseverance Rover:
  • Perseverance is a car-sized Mars rover designed to explore the crater Jezero on Mars as part of NASA’s Mars 2020 mission.
  • Launched in: The rover was launched in July,2020. It landed at the Jezero Crater of Mars in February.2021.
  • Purpose:
    • The rover is designed to better understand the geology of Mars and seek signs of ancient life.
    • It will also collect and store a set of rock and soil samples that could be returned to Earth in the future.
    • Further, it will also test new technology to benefit future robotic and human exploration of Mars.

Source: The Hindu


Read Also: Environmental Challenges 

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ARIES Tracked “Supernova explosion” in Wolf–Rayet stars

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What is the News?

Aryabhatta Research Institute of Observational Sciences(ARIES) tracks a rare supernova explosion. They traced the supernova explosion to one of the hottest kinds of stars called Wolf–Rayet stars or WR stars.

ARIES is an autonomous institute under the Department of Science & Technology.

About the Supernova Explosion
  • Astronomers studied the supernovae explosion called SN 2015dj. The explosion happened in the galaxy NGC 7371 in 2015.
  • The ARIES calculated the mass of the star collapsed to form the supernovae.
  • Based on that, they have found that the original star was a combination of two stars. One of them is a massive WR star. The other one is a star much less in mass than the Sun.
About Wolf–Rayet stars:
  • Wolf–Rayet stars are highly luminous objects. The surface temperature of WR stars is a thousand times more than the Sun.
  • They are massive stars. Further, they have completely lost their outer hydrogen. So the WR stares fusing helium or heavier elements in the core.
  • The study of certain types of massive luminous supernovae explosion can help probe these stars that remain a mystery for scientists.
What is Supernova?
  • Supernovae(SNe) are highly energetic explosions in the Universe releasing an enormous amount of energy.
  • Long-term monitoring of these explosions helps us understand the nature of the exploding star as well as the explosion properties. It can also help calculate the number of massive stars.
  • A supernova is the explosion of a star. It is the largest explosion that takes place in space. Supernovas are often seen in other galaxies. But supernovas are difficult to see in our own Milky Way galaxy because dust blocks our view. Further, a supernova happens where there is a change in the core or center of a star.

Source: PIB

 

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“NASA’s InSight lander” Detects Massive Quakes on Mars

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What is the News? NASA’s InSight lander detects two strong quakes on Mars. The lander is a part of NASA’s InSight mission to Mars, launched in 2018.

About NASA’s InSight Mission 
  • InSight is short for Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport. It is a NASA Mission.
  • The Mission aims to study the deep interiors of Mars. It is the first program to analyze the interior of the Red Planet, beneath its surface i.e. its crust, mantle, and core.
  • Part of: InSight mission is part of NASA’s Discovery Program (1992).
    • Discovery Program is a series of Solar System exploration missions. NASA funds these missions through its Planetary Missions Program Office.
About InSight Mission Lander:
  1. NASA launched the lander under NASA’s InSight mission in 2018.
  2. Purpose: It is a robotic lander designed to study the deep interior of Mars to learn how all celestial bodies with rocky surfaces, including Earth and the Moon, formed.
  3. Manufactured by: The lander was manufactured by Lockheed Martin Space Systems. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory manages it. Further, European agencies built most of its scientific instruments.
  4. Scientific Instruments: The scientific instruments used for the mission are:
    • seismometer for detecting quakes;
    • sensors for gauging wind and air pressure;
    • magnetometer and a heat flow probe designed to take the planet’s temperature.

Source: Hindustan Times

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“NISAR Satellite” for Observing Earth’s Surface

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What is the News?

NASA and ISRO are collaborating on developing the NISAR Satellite.

About NISAR Satellite:
  1. NISAR is a joint Earth-observing mission between NASA and the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO).
  2. This satellite will be able to detect the earth’s surface movement as small as 0.4 inches over an area.
  3. It will be a three-year mission. It will scan the globe including Earth’s land, ice sheets, and sea ice, every 12 days during its mission.
  4. Full-Form: The name NISAR is short for NASA-ISRO-SAR. SAR here refers to the Synthetic Aperture Radar.
    • SAR refers to a technique for producing high-resolution images. Because of the precision, the radar can penetrate clouds and darkness. It means, it can collect data day and night in any weather.
  5. Launched Year: The satellite will get launched in 2022 from the Satish Dhawan Space Center in Sriharikota, India into a near-polar orbit.

Objectives of the Mission: The primary goals of the mission includes:

  • Tracking subtle changes in the Earth’s surface
  • Spotting warning signs of imminent volcanic eruptions
  • Helping to monitor groundwater supplies and
  • Tracking the rate at which ice sheets are melting.
Contributions from NASA and ISRO:

The partnership agreement for this mission was signed in 2014. According to the agreement:

  • NASA will provide one of the radars for the satellite, a high-rate communication subsystem for science data, GPS receivers and a payload data subsystem.
  • On the other hand, ISRO will provide the spacecraft bus, the second type of radar (called the S-band radar), the launch vehicle and associated launch services.
Significance of this mission:
  • The images from the satellite will allow scientists to track changes in croplands, hazard sites. It will also help to monitor crises such as volcanic eruptions.
  • The images will also be able to capture changes in the Earth caused by certain activities. For instance, drawing drinking water from an underground aquifer can leave signs on the surface. If too much of it is drawn out, the ground begins to sink which is what scientists believe the images will be able to show them.

Source: Indian Express

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“Martian blueberries” find a parallel in India

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What is the News?

According to Researchers from Planetary Sciences Division of Physical Research Laboratory, Ahmedabad the Blueberries in India and “Martian Blueberries” share similar characteristics.

What are Martian Blueberries?
  • Martian blueberries are small spherical haematites.  The Mars rover “Opportunity” discovered them in 2004 on the planet Mars.
What are these Martian blueberries made up of?
  • As per the study of the mineralogy of the Martian Blueberries they were made of iron oxide compounds called haematites.
  • These haematites are known to form in oxidising environments through precipitation from aqueous fluids (water like fluid). Hence, the presence of haematites suggests that water was present on Mars.
  • Further, the Haematites on Mars not just show the presence of water. It also indicates that the planet had an atmosphere with oxygen as haematites need oxygen to stabilise.
  • However, the age of the ‘blueberries’ on Mars is not known yet. Therefore, studies from the newly landed Perseverance rover of NASA may help find new clues and signs of life to get a detailed picture of the history of Mars.
Are there any similar Haematite concentrations places on Earth?
  • Researchers from India have been studying the Jhuran formation in Kutch, Gujarat. The formation is between 145 and 201 million years old.
  • The detailed investigations of the haematite concretions in this area revealed that they resemble the Martian Blueberries. They have similar morphology – spherical and similar mineralogy – a mixture of haematite and goethite.
  • Further, it has been also argued that the transformation of Mars from the wet and humid to dry and arid environment is mimicked by the history of Kutch in Gujarat.
  • Hence, the Kutch area could also be a potential testing site for carrying out future Mars exploration studies on Earth.

Source: The Hindu

 

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“AsterX” – France’s First Military Exercise in Space

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What is the news?

French Space Command(CDE) launched its first military space exercise called AsterX.

About Exercise AsterX:

  • The exercise has been named AsterX in reference to the first French satellite, which was put into orbit in 1965.
  • Purpose: During the exercise, the French Military aims to monitor a potentially dangerous space object. It will also analyze threats to its own satellite from another foreign power possessing a considerable space force.
  • Participation: The new US Space Force and German space agencies are also taking part in this exercise along with France.
  • Significance of this exercise:
    • The exercise is a part of France’s strategy to become the world’s third-largest space power after the USA and China.
    • These space military exercises are also the first-ever attempt not only for France but also for Europe.

Why is this exercise conducted by France?

  • In 2017, Russian spy-satellite “Olymp-K” tried to intercept the transmissions from a Franco-Italian satellite “Athena-Fidus”. This satellite was in use by both Italian and French armies for secure communications. This act of Russia was called “an act of espionage” by France.
  • Hence, to prevent such attacks in the future, France in 2019 announced its French Space Command and is also conducting this exercise.

Source: Indian Express

 

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key takeaways from the “ISRO-JAXA virtual meeting”

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What is the news?

Indian Space Research Organization(ISRO) and the Japanese space agency, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency(JAXA) held a virtual meeting.

What are the key takeaways from the ISRO-JAXA virtual meeting?

  • India and Japan agreed to explore opportunities for cooperation in space situational awareness and professional exchange programmes.
  • They have signed an Implementing Arrangement for collaborative activities on rice crop area and air quality monitoring using satellite data.
  • Further, the two agencies also reviewed ongoing cooperation to launch a joint lunar polar exploration(LUPEX) mission.

About Lunar Polar Exploration(LUPEX) Mission:

  • LUPEX is a robotic lunar mission by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).
  • Aim: The mission aims to send a lunar rover and lander to explore the South Pole region of the Moon in 2024.
  • Objective: The mission will demonstrate new surface exploration technologies related to vehicular transport. It will also test lunar night survival capabilities for sustainable lunar exploration in the South Pole region of the moon.
  • Contribution: JAXA is likely to provide the H3 launch vehicle and the rover. While ISRO would be responsible for the lander for this mission.

India’s Space Cooperation with other countries:

  • India and Italy have decided to explore opportunities in earth observation, space science, and robotic and human exploration.
  • India and Australia are also in discussions. Australia may host vital tracking infrastructure to support the Gaganyaan manned space flight mission.

Source: The Hindu

 

[Answered] The growing role of the private sector in space, demands India to move quickly towards a new model for India’s space activity. Explain with illustrations.

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Astronomers discover most distant “Quasar P172+18”

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What is the news?

International team of astronomers discovers the most distant ‘Radio-Loud’ Quasar. It is named “P172+18”.  P172+18 discovered with the help of the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope (ESO’s VLT).

About P172+18:

  • P172+18 is a quasar. It emitted wavelengths with a redshift of 6.8. The higher the redshift of the radio wavelength, the farther away is the source.
    • Redshift is an increase in the wavelength and corresponding decrease in the frequency and photon energy of electromagnetic radiation(such as light).
  • The quasar is also one of the fastest accreting quasars. It means it is accumulating objects from the galaxy at an enormous speed.
  • Further, 90% of the quasars do not emit strong radio waves, making this newly-discovered quasar special.

About Quasars:

  • What are Quasars? Quasars are very luminous objects around black holes in faraway galaxies that emit jets at radio frequencies.
  • Origin of Name: The word quasar is short for “quasi-stellar radio source”. This name, which means star-like emitters of radio waves was given in the 1960s when quasars were first detected.
    • However, now most astronomers know most quasars are faint radio emitters. In addition to radio waves and visible light, quasars also emit ultraviolet rays, infrared waves, X-rays, and gamma-rays.
  • Where are they found? Quasars are only found in galaxies that have supermassive black holes which power these bright discs.
  • How are Quasars formed? Most active galaxies have a supermassive black hole at the centre which sucks in surrounding objects. These objects while moving around a black hole emit energy before being sucked into the black hole. Quasars are formed from this energy.
  • Key Characteristics of Quasars:
    • Most quasars are larger than our solar system as they are approximately 1 kiloParsec in width. (Parsec is a unit of length used to measure the astronomical objects outside the Solar System. They are approximately equal to 3.26 light-years).
    • Even though quasars are very bright, we cannot see any quasars in the night sky without using a telescope. This is due to their great distance from Earth.
    • Energy from quasars takes billions of years to reach the Earth’s atmosphere. For this reason, the study of quasars can provide astronomers with information about the early stages of the universe.

Source: Down To Earth

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Functions of “NSIL | New Space India Limited”

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What is the news?

The government clarified the mandate of the New Space India Limited(NSIL) to the Rajya Sabha. It was in response to a query by the Standing Committee on Science and Technology on whether NSIL would replace ISRO.

What will be the role of ISRO?
  • ISRO would be in charge of projects linked to “national security and advanced technology” — like the forthcoming Chandrayaan 2 mission and the Gaganyaan mission that plans to send Indian cosmonauts into space.
  • However, the bulk of commercial activities would increasingly be handled by New Space India Limited (NSIL).
About New Space India Limited(NSIL):

NSIL was established in 2019. It is a completely Govt. owned  Undertaking / CPSE. It is under the administrative control of the Department of Space (DOS).

  • Objective: To commercially exploit the research and development work of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).
  • Mandate:
    • Owning satellites for Earth Observation and Communication applications and providing space-based services
    • Building satellites and launching them as per demand
    • Providing Launch Services for satellite belonging to the customer
    • Building launch vehicles through Indian Industry and launch as per satellite customer requirement
    • Space based Services related to Earth Observation and Communication satellites on a commercial basis
    • Satellite building through Indian Industry
    • Technology Transfer to Indian Industry

Source: The Hindu

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DRDO tests Solid Fuel Ducted “Ramjet Technology”

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What is the news?

Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) successfully flight-tested Solid Fuel Ducted Ramjet (SFDR) technology.

What is Solid Fuel Ducted Ramjet (SFDR)?

  • Developed by: Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO)
  • Solid Fuel Ducted Ramjet is a missile propulsion system.
  • The system is based on the concept of the Ramjet Engine principle. It utilizes a solid fuelled air-breathing ramjet engine.

Significance of SFDR Technology:

  • The successful demonstration of the technology will enable DRDO to develop long-range air to air missiles. So far such technology is available only with a handful of countries in the world.
  • The technology can also achieve longer ranges as they do not require oxidizers as they take oxygen from the atmosphere.

What is Ramjet?

  • A ramjet is a form of air-breathing jet engine that takes up oxygen from the atmosphere during flight. Thus, it doesn’t require an oxidizer as part of the solid motor.
  • However, ramjet-powered vehicles require an assisted take-off like a rocket. It assists to accelerate it to a speed where it begins to produce thrust.
  • Further, ramjets work efficiently at supersonic speeds around Mach 3 (three times the speed of sound) and can operate up to speeds of Mach 6. But the ramjet efficiency starts to drop when the vehicle reaches hypersonic speeds.

Scramjet:

  • The scramjet engine is an improvement over the ramjet engine. It efficiently operates at hypersonic speeds and allows supersonic combustion. Thus, it is known as Supersonic Combustion Ramjet or Scramjet.

Dual Mode Ramjet:

  • A dual-mode ramjet (DMRJ) is a type of jet engine where a ramjet transforms into a scramjet over Mach 4-8 range. It means it can efficiently operate both in subsonic and supersonic combustor modes.

Source: The Hindu

[Answered] Examine how Biotechnology sector can emerge as engine of economic growth and societal change?

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India’s Space Sector: Initiatives and Issues

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Synopsis: ISRO should take advantage of the market opportunities in the India space sector. 

Introduction 

Brazil’s Amazonia-1 satellite was launched last week from Sriharikota. It was the first dedicated commercial mission of NewSpace India Limited (NSIL). NSIL is a two-year-old commercial arm of the Department of Space.  

Initiatives by India for promotion of Space sector

 There is a potential explosion of market opportunities from space applications in the near future. 

  1. Firstly, the institutionalization of space commerce. Regulatory agency the Indian National Space Promotion and Authorization Center (IN-SPACe) and an independent tribunal are formed. It will be helpful in resolving disputes among private space entities. It also signifies the recognition of potential in space commerce by the government.
  2. Secondly,  the private sector plays an important role in developing launch and satellite infrastructure for ISRO. Many companies now offer numerous services. Many of these companies even aspire to launch their own satellites.
  3. Thirdly, NSIL has a broad ambit of functions. It will collaborate on new launch programs and with overseas space industries. It is also expected to be a marketer of ISRO’s technologies. Likewise, it has to find new business opportunities and expand the sector.

What are the issues?

  1. Firstly,  the Commercialization experience of ISRO has not always been smooth. The Government still owes nearly $1.2 billion to devas multimedia due to the Devas-Antrix deal controversy. Antrix was a commercial arm of the Department of Space.
  2. Secondly, the motivation behind NSIL may not be purely commercial. NSIL is considered to be a move by India’s space establishment to protect the space industry in India from the consequences of the Devas-Antrix mess.
  3. Third, there is a scope of overlapping of roles between NSIL and ANTRIX.  This is primarily because the difference in the responsibilities of NSIL and Antrix is quite confusing. It is yet to be properly delineated.

The way forward

NSIL must try to not be another Antrix but be continuously in start-up mode. It must think of ways to aid space start-ups to reach out to rural India and enable more recruits from India’s young. It must see itself both as an Indian ambassador and disruptor in the space arena.

 

Space Industry in India: Potential and Challenges – Explained, Pointwise

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Space Industry in India: Potential and Challenges – Explained, Pointwise

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Introduction:

India’s space program is one of the most well-developed in the world. It has achieved numerous successes through its state-owned agency – Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO). Recently another feather in the cap was added with the launch of Brazil’s Amazonia-1 satellite last week from Sriharikota.

About the recent mission:
  • ISRO’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle(PSLV-C51) rocket launched Brazil’s Amazonia-1 (an earth observation satellite) and 18 co-passenger satellites.
  • It was the first dedicated mission for New Space India Ltd (NSIL), the commercial arm of ISRO.
  • The mission was conducted under a commercial arrangement with Spaceflight Inc., USA.

Read MoreISRO successfully places Brazil’s “Amazonia-1 and 18 Satellites” in orbit (forumias.com)

India’s space industry: 
  • The sector has grown exponentially over the last six decades with considerable expansion in its scope and domain.
  • It diversified from simple mapping services in the 1960s, at present to diversified services:   
    • Design and development of launch vehicles
    • Development of satellites and related technologies for earth observation, telecommunication & broadband 
    • Entering the domain of navigation, meteorology, and space science
    • R&D in space sciences
    • Most recently – planetary exploration with MOM (Mars Orbiter Mission)
  • The success of the sector can be attributed to Dr. Vikram Sarabhai, Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, and other notable people. All of them believed in the potential of India’s Space sector.
  • The country spent around US$ 1.8 billion on space programs in 2019-20. 
  • The country on average launched 5-7 satellites per year in recent years while the figure for the US is around 19 satellites. Similarly, China launches approximately 34 satellites.
Initiatives in Space Sector:
  • Opening the Space Sector: The Government in June 2020 opened up the Space sector. It allowed the participation of the Indian private sector in the entire domain of space activities. This includes satellite creation, launches, and space-based services that were earlier not open to them.
  • Draft Space Activities Bill, 2017: The bill aims to promote and regulate the space activities of India. It focuses on encouraging the participation of private-sector agencies under the guidance and authorisation of the government through the Department of Space.
  • New Space India Limited (NSIL): It is a Central Public Sector Enterprise under the Department of Space that was established in 2019. It has been mandated to space-related products and services emanating from Indian Space Programme
    to global customers. It will enable the Indian industry to scale up a high-technology manufacturing base. 
  • Indian National Space Promotion and Authorisation Centre (IN-SPACe): It has been established for promoting industries and attracting private investment in the space sector.
  • Training and Collaboration: ISRO and its research centers have active programs with academic and research institutes across the country. They are also training personnel from numerous countries around the globe.
Opportunities for India’s Space Sector
  • Low Cost: The Indian space sector has the potential of launching space vehicles at a much lower cost. This was seen in Mars Orbiter Mission which was 10 times cheaper than western missions.
  • Good Record and Trust: India has so far launched 342 foreign satellites for 34 countries using its Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle platform. This has developed a trust in Indian space potential in other countries.  
  • Presence of Budding Entrepreneurs: As per industry estimates, there are more than 40 start-ups working in India on space and satellite projects. It can complement the efforts of the government. 
  • Rising Demand in the Future: Technology innovations in the future will increase the need for higher bandwidth capacity, throughput speeds, improved radar, and thermal imaging. This can be readily met by strengthening the space sector.
  • Unrealised Potential: As per Satellite Industry Association Report (2020), the global space economy in 2019 was valued at US$ 366 billion. However, the Indian space economy is valued at US$ 7 billion, which is around 2 percent, signifying how much the sector can truly achieve.
Challenges For India’s Space Sector
  • Lower Spending: The funds allocated to the space sector are very less in comparison to other countries. The US spent 10 times and China 6 times more than India in the space sector in 2019-20.
  • Absence of a Clear Legislative Framework: The draft Space Activities bill was introduced way back in 2017 but hasn’t been passed yet.
  • Lack of robust Dispute Settlement Mechanism: This discourages private investment in the space sector. The void was seen in Antrix – Devas cancelled satellite deal. The Government of India owes nearly $1.2 billion to Devas Multimedia as per an order of a tribunal of the International Chamber of Commerce.
  • Brain Drain: India produces the best brains in the world but is unable to retain them. People emigrate from the country for better opportunities and careers that might hamper the development of the space sector.
  • Managing big constellations of satellites: Although India has a good potential to launch satellites, managing a huge number of satellites in space could be a challenging task in the future. This should be done keeping in mind the possibilities of a future space war.
Suggestions
  • The plan to set up an independent tribunal to adjudicate disputes among private space entities should be implemented promptly. 
  • The passage of the Space Activities Bill should also be done in order to give private players greater clarity and protection. This should involve proper consultation and discussions with the concerned stakeholders. 
  • The focus should be on aiding space start-ups to penetrate rural India and encourage youth to build careers in space applications and sciences.
  • NSIL should function more than a marketer of ISRO’s technologies. It should find newer business opportunities and expand the sector itself.
  • The country should also enhance spending towards the sector considering the huge future potential and robust returns on investment. 
  • The country must do more collaboration and research with pioneer countries like the US, Russia, etc. who are already managing big constellations of satellites. Further, programs like Mission Shakti (an anti-satellite weapon test) can help avoid future space wars. 
Conclusion:

Indian Space sector possesses huge untapped potential which can be realized with adequate policy measures by the government. This would boost the confidence of the private sector and deliver optimum results, thereby helping the country acquire the top spot in the global space industry.

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India develops Low Cost “Indigenous Spectrograph”

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What is the news?

Indian scientists indigenously designed and developed a low-cost optical spectrograph named “Aries-Devasthal Faint Object Spectrograph & Camera (ADFOSC)”.

Note: Spectrograph is an instrument that obtains and records an astronomical spectrum. It separates incoming light by its wavelength or frequency. It records the resulting spectrum in multichannel detectors like a photographic plate for analysis.

About the Aries Devasthal Spectrograph(ADFOSC):

  • Developed by: It has been indigenously designed and developed by Aryabhatta Research Institute of Observational Sciences(ARIES). ARIES is an autonomous institute of the Department of Science and Technology(DST).
  • Purpose: The spectrograph can locate sources of faint light from:
    • Distant galaxies in a very young universe
    • Regions around supermassive black-holes around the galaxies
    • Cosmic explosions like supernovae, young and massive stars and faint dwarf galaxies.
  • Location: The spectrograph has been successfully commissioned on the 3.6-m Devasthal Optical Telescope(DOT). It is located near Nainital Uttarakhand.

Significance of this Spectrograph:

  • Made in India: It is a Made in India spectrograph. Such spectroscopes were so far imported from abroad at high costs.
  • Cheaper than imported ones: It is about 2.5 times less costly compared to the imported ones. Moreover, it can locate sources of light with a photon-rate as low as about 1 photon per second.
  • Largest Spectrograph in India: It is the largest of its kind among the existing astronomical spectrographs in the country.

3.6-m Devasthal Optical Telescope

  • Setup by: It was set up in 2016 by Aryabhatta Research Institute of Observational Sciences (ARIES).
  • Purpose: It has been set up for the study of celestial objects at optical wavelengths.
    • Celestial objects are any natural body outside the Earth’s atmosphere. Examples are the Moon, Sun, the other planets of our solar system among others.
  • Location: It is located at the Devasthal Observatory site near Nainital, Uttarakhand.
  • Collaboration: The telescope is built in collaboration with the Belgian firm Advanced Mechanical and Optical System (AMOS).
  • Significance: It is currently the largest reflecting telescope in Asia.

Source: PIB

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History and significance of Mars Missions

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Synopsis: Questions related to Mars Missions are still answered. However, the hope of finding life on the planet excites humanity for further exploration of Mars.

Background:

  • Recently, as a part of Mars mission 2020, NASA launched orbiter Perseverance into Mars.
  • Mars 2020 is a Mars rover mission forming part of NASA’s Mars Exploration Program. It includes the rover Perseverance and the small robotic helicopter Ingenuity.
  • The rover Perseverance will explore Jezero crater and look for carbonate rocks that might hosts Stromatolites.
  • Stromatolites are layered sedimentary formations that are created by photosynthetic cyanobacteria. They signify the possibility of life on Mars.
  • The predecessor of the Perseverance orbiter is the Curiosity rover. It is surveying and testing the Martian surface since 2012.
  • The launch of Mars 2020 was the third of three space missions sent toward Mars during July 2020. Other missions include the Emirates Mars Mission with the orbiter Hope and China’s Tianwen-1 mission.

Why Mars missions are undertaken?

The possibility of life and water is high on Mars compared to other planets in the solar system. It can be inferred from the following findings

  • During the 19th century, astronomer Giovanni Schiaparelli reported that he had seen water channels on the red planet.
  • Later, another astronomer Percival Lowell talked about hundreds of canals on the equatorial region of Mars. He claimed that he was able to notice that through his telescope set up in the desert of Arizona.
  • After that, high-resolution cameras confirmed the networks of channels that might have been created by running water.
  • Also, in 2005, the Mars Express satellite found evidence of clays that may have formed after solid rocks were exposed to water.
  • In addition to this, the Curiosity rover detected carbon-containing compounds in Martian rocks and shifting levels of methane molecules in the planet’s atmosphere.
  • Two papers published in the journal Science in 2018 concluded that these findings support the possibility of the existence of microbial life.

Owing to these developments Humans want to explore Mars for two reasons,

  • One, the curiosity of humans to look for alien life forms in the solar system.
  • Two, Historically, Mars has always been viewed as a backup site for humanity to migrate. For example, entrepreneurs like Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk are proponents of this concept.

Yet, Mars has not delivered significant findings confirming the presence of life forms, and the quest for discovering potential life forms in Mars continues.

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Russia’s “Arktika-M satellite” to monitor Arctic climate

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What is the News?

Russia has successfully launched the Arktika-M satellite. The satellite was launched from the Soyuz carrier rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

About Arktika-M Satellite:

  • Arktika-M satellite is a remote-sensing and emergency communications satellite
  • Objective: It is designed to monitor the climate and environment in the Arctic region.
  • Russia plans to send up a second satellite in 2023. This satellite will be combined with the Arktika-M Satellite. These two satellites will offer round-the-clock, all-weather monitoring of the Arctic Ocean and the surface of the Earth.
  • Significance: The satellite will help create more accurate models for compiling short-term weather forecasts. The compilation will give researchers a large amount of new data for studying global climate change.

Source: TOI

Government policies and initiatives : news and updates

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ISRO successfully places Brazil’s “Amazonia-1 and 18 Satellites” in orbit

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What is the News?

ISRO’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle(PSLV-C51) rocket launched Brazil’s Amazonia-1 and 18 co-passenger satellites.

PSLV-C51:

  • It is the 53rd flight of the Indian Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) program.
  • It was also the first dedicated mission for New Space India Ltd (NSIL), the commercial arm of ISRO.
  • The mission was undertaken under a commercial arrangement with Spaceflight Inc., USA.

Amazonia-1 Satellite:

  • It is an earth observation satellite. Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research designed, integrated, tested, and operated the satellites.
  • Purpose: It will provide remote sensing data for users monitoring deforestation in the Amazon forests. Furthermore, it will analyze diversified agriculture across the Brazilian territory.
  • The satellite injected into its precise orbit of 758 km in a sun-synchronous polar orbit.
  • Significance: It is the first commercial venture for New Space India Limited (NSIL).

Satish Dhawan SAT(SDSAT) Satellite:

  • Developed by: Space Kidz India.
  • Purpose: It is a nano-satellite. It will study the radiation levels, space weather and will demonstrate long-range communication technologies.
  • The satellite has an engraving on the top panel of the satellite. This engraving shows solidarity and gratitude for the Atma Nirbhar initiative and Space privatization.

UNITYsat Satellites:

  • Built by: It is a combination of three satellites. It is designed and built jointly by the Jeppiaar Institute of Technology, G.H. Raisoni College of Engineering, Nagpur, and Sri Shakthi Institute of Engineering and Technology, Coimbatore.
  • Purpose: The satellites were launched for providing radio relay services.

Other Satellites:

  • The other satellites were from the U.S.A. Among them, one was a technology demonstration satellite.
    • Technology demonstration satellites help in the demonstration of new technologies and techniques testing. These technologies will have a use in future space missions.

The satellite that missed the launch:

Anand Satellite:

  • Developed by: Pixxel India, a Bengaluru-based start-up developed Anand Satellite.
  • Purpose: It is an earth-imaging satellite. It will monitor every part of the globe, and beam high-resolution imagery and other data. Thus, this satellite will have a variety of applications in climate change, agriculture, and urban planning.
  • It was supposed to be on this PSLV-C51 rocket mission. However, the launch cancelled due to certain software issues during testing.

Source: The Hindu

[Answered] Discuss India’s achievements in the field of Space Science and Technology. How the application of this technology has helped India in its socio-economic development?

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Importance of Perseverance Mission on Mars

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Synopsis: The Perseverance mission on Mars will test out technologies to help sustain the presence of humans there.  Further, it will help the future manned mission to Mars along with several other important experiments.

Introduction 

The scientific community is suspecting that life may have existed on Mars before Earth. Thus, there might be a possibility of microscopic life on the planet. Understanding this will enhance our studies of evolution and nurture of life outside the earth.

Landing of Perseverance rover:

  1. NASA’s mission on Mars has focused on finding traces and trails of water. The water may be related to the possible existence of life on the planet.
  2. The curiosity rover which landed on Mars in 2012 found out regions that could have hosted life. 
  3. The recent NASA mission, Mars 2020, landed on the Jezero Crater in Mars on February 18.

What does the new Mars mission aim to do?

The mission is expected to last at least the duration of one Mars year, i.e. 687 earth days.  The goals for this mission are to look for signs of ancient life and collect rock and soil samples.

  1. Perseverance will take the investigation made by the earlier Curiosity rover to the next level by studying the Jezero Crater. This particular crater was chosen because it was found to be home to an ancient delta according to an aerial study.
    •  Clay minerals and carbonates were found on the crater. It makes this crater a good place to search for life’s existence. 
  2. The rover will study the geology of mars and store samples in a place that can be accessed by a future mission.
  3. The rover will test out technologies that will help to sustain the presence of humans in future. This includes testing an instrument that extracts oxygen from atmospheric carbon dioxide
  4. The rover carries a helicopter named Ingenuity. Ingenuity is specially designed to fly in Mars’s thin atmosphere. Its only purpose would be to demonstrate flight on Mars.

The conclusion 

  • Perseverance Mission will be able to answer whether little green microbes did inhabit Mars in the distant past or not. But till then we have to wait and watch the progress.

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Government Schemes and Programs

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Importance of Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover

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Synopsis: NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover touched down on the Martian surface. The results of the experiment will determine the quest for life on Mars and the future manned mission to Mars.

Introduction 

Perseverance mission is the most advanced, most expensive, and most sophisticated mobile laboratory sent to Mars. The results will determine the next couple of decades of Martian exploration

Experiments on Mars in the past 30 years:

    1. Viking missions in the mid-70s: During these missions the first chemical analyses of Martian soil took place. Along with that, four biology experiments to detect biological activity were also conducted. 
    2. In 1984, a study showed that the isotopic composition of rare gases (Xenon, Krypton, Neon, and Argon) in the earth, matched the isotopic ratios of the Martian atmosphere measured by Viking spacecraft. This discovery boosted the understanding of the geochemical evolution of Mars.
    3. Mars Odyssey spacecraft in 2001: This spacecraft found the hydrogen signature on Mars. This indicated the presence of water ice on Mars.
    4. Phoenix Mars lander in 2008: NASA sent another spacecraft to Mars. It landed near the Martian South Pole. The lander officially confirmed the presence of water on Mars for the first time.

Why are scientists so interested in Mars? 

Scientists are interested in Martian research primarily for two reasons. They are, =

First, life may have evolved in the past on Mars. Further, Mars had conditions similar to earth. There is a possibility that microscopic life evolved on Mars.

Second, Mars is the only planet that humans can visit. It has a temperature ranging from between 20 degrees C at the Equator to minus 125 degrees C at the poles.

What is the significance of the Perseverance mission?

Perseverance focuses on finding life on Mars and will help in a future human mission to that planet.

  1. Perseverance would bring rock samples back from Mars. This will provide a decisive answer on whether life existed on Mars in the past or not.
  2. Producing oxygen on Mars is needed for a successful human mission. Perseverance has an instrument known as MOXIE or Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilisation Experiment. It will use 300 watts of power to produce about 10 grams of oxygen using atmospheric carbon dioxide.
    • This will provide oxygen for breathing and rocket fuel.
  3. Perseverance will carry the Radar Imager for Mars’ Subsurface Experiment (RIMFAX). This will help in looking for underground water on Mars. It could possibly help in the human settlement on Mars if the water is found.
  4. Apart from that, Perseverance will try to fly a helicopter on Mars (which has a sparse atmosphere). The Mars Helicopter is really a small drone. Currently, long-distance transportation on Mars has to depend on vehicles that rely on rocket engines for powered ascent and powered descent.

Conclusion 

  • Perseverance is expected to provide a significant understanding of whether a human mission to Mars is possible or not. Not only that, It is expected to give a decisive answer to the question of whether Mars ever had or still has microscopic life on the planet.
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“Square Kilometre Array” (SKA) Project

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What is the News?
 The Square Kilometre Array Observatory (SKAO) Council held its first meeting recently. In that, the member countries approved the establishment of Square Kilometre Array (SKA).

Facts:

 Square Kilometre Array (SKA) Project:

  • It is an international effort to build the world’s largest radio telescope. It is not a single telescope. It consists of an array of antennas strategically designed and set up in South Africa and Australia.
    • South Africa – host high and mid-frequency dish antennas
    • Australia – Low-frequency antennas.
  • Aim: To allow astronomers to look deeper into the universe and unravel secrets about its evolution.
  • Goals:
    • To study the universe and its evolution, origin and evolution of cosmic magnetism and dark energy and evolution of galaxies.
    • To detect very weak extra-terrestrial signals and search for molecules that support life.
  • Member Countries: South Africa, Australia, UK, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Japan, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, South Korea, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.
    • Note: India’s SKA membership is currently under review with India’s Department of Atomic Energy(DAE) and Department of Science and Technology (DST) and is expected to be completed sometime this year.
  • What is Square Kilometre Array Observatory (SKAO)?
    • SKAO is a new intergovernmental organisation dedicated to radio astronomy
    • The operation, maintenance and construction of SKA will be overseen by Square Kilometre Array Observatory (SKAO).
    • Headquarters:  The SKAO is headquartered in the UK.
  • India’s Participation: India is participating in the project through the DAE and the DST.

Apart from that, the Pune-based TIFR-National Centre for Radio Astrophysics leads a team of researchers from different Indian institutes.

  • India’s Contributions:
    • The Indian team was among the first to submit and get the design approval of a highly sophisticated Telescope Manager (TM). The TM is also nicknamed as the “nervous system” of the SKA observatory.
    • The Indian team has been chosen to lead the construction of the TM system which will be responsible for end-to-end operations of SKAO.
    • India will also contribute towards building digital hardware for the SKA low-frequency receiver systems. India also builds the digital hardware of some parts of the mid-frequency telescopes in SKA. Apart from that, India is also producing some parts of the data processing units.

Source: Indian Express

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ISRO to adopt 100 Atal Tinkering Labs for promoting Space Education

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News:  Atal Innovation Mission, NITI Aayog and Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) has announced that ISRO will be adopting 100 Atal Tinkering Labs across the country to promote education in the field of STEM, Space education and space technology related Innovations for school students.

Facts:

  • Atal Tinkering Labs: It is an initiative by the Atal Innovation Mission, Niti Aayog with the aim of establishing Atal Tinkering Laboratories(ATLs) in schools across India.
  • Objective: To foster curiosity, creativity and imagination in young minds; and inculcate skills such as design mindset, computational thinking, adaptive learning, physical computing etc.
  • Key Features of ATL:
    • ATL is a work space where young minds can give shape to their ideas through hands on do-it-yourself mode and learn innovation skills.
    • Young children will get a chance to work with tools and equipment to understand the concepts of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math).
    • ATL would contain educational and learning ‘do it yourself’ kits and equipment on – science, electronics, robotics, open source microcontroller boards, sensors and 3D printers and computers.
    • ATL can conduct different activities ranging from regional and national level competitions, exhibitions, workshops on problem solving, designing and fabrication of products, lecture series etc. at periodic intervals.
  • Financial Support: AIM will provide grant-in-aid of Rs. 20 Lakh to each school that includes a one-time establishment cost of Rs. 10 lakh and operational expenses of Rs. 10 lakh for a maximum period of 5 years to each ATL.
  • Eligibility: Schools (minimum Grade VI – X) managed by Government, local body or private trusts/society to set up ATL.

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First set of data from Chandrayaan-2 released: ISRO

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Source: The Hindu

News: Indian Space Research Organisation(ISRO) has released the first set of data from Chandrayaan-2 Mission for the general public.

Facts:

  • Nodal Centre for Planetary Data: The Indian Space Science Data Centre(ISSDC) is the nodal centre of planetary data archive for the planetary missions of the ISRO.
  • Chandrayaan-2 data: The Chandrayaan-2 data are required to be in the Planetary Data System-4(PDS4) standard and required to be peer reviewed scientifically and technically before acceptance as PDS archives and declared ready for sharing with the global scientific community and the general public.
    • This activity has been completed and hence the first set of data from the Chandrayaan-2 mission is now being released for the wider public use through the PRADAN portal hosted by the ISSDC.
  • What does the data provide? The Orbiter, which carried eight experiments/payloads, all of which have been performing well and sending data received.

Additional Facts:

  • Chandrayaan-2: It is the second lunar exploration mission developed by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) after Chandrayaan-1.
  • Main Objective: To map and study the variations in lunar surface composition, as well as the location and abundance of lunar water.
  • Launch Vehicle: The mission was launched onboard India’s most powerful launcher – GSLV MK-III M1.
  • Modules: The Chandrayaan-2 mission consisted of three main modules:
    • Orbiter carried eight scientific payloads for mapping the lunar surface and studying the exosphere (outer atmosphere) of the Moon.
    • Vikram lander carried three scientific payloads to conduct surface and subsurface science experiments.
    • A Lunar Rover named Pragyan carried two payloads to enhance our understanding of the lunar surface.
  • Note: The lander and rover were destroyed during the attempted landing in September, 2019.

 

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What is the Great conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter?

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Great conjunction:-

Source: The Indian Express

News: After nearly 400 years, Saturn and Jupiter will be brought closest in the night sky by an astronomical event called the “great conjunction” and popularly referred to as the “Christmas Star”. 

Facts: 

  • What is Conjunction?
    It is the name given to any event where planets or asteroids appear to be very close together in the sky when viewed from the Earth. 
  • What is Great Conjunction?
    Astronomers use the term great conjunction to describe meetings of the two biggest planets in the solar system, Jupiter and Saturn. 
  • The Great Conjunction happens once in about 20 years because of the time each of the planets takes to orbit around the Sun. 
  • Why this Great Conjunction is special? 
    • The alignment: Both the planets are casting the same angle with that reference plane (Earth orbital plane). Thus, the planets will come the closest to each other in nearly four centuries 
  • Previous such Great Conjunction: 
    • 1623 Great Conjunction – During the reign of Mughal emperor Jahangir (Before Maratha warrior king Chhatrapati Shivaji birth) 
    • 1226 Great Conjunction – A year before the death of the Mongol ruler Genghis Khan. 
  • Time taken to orbit around the sun: Jupiter takes roughly 12 years to complete one lap around the Sun and Saturn takes 30 years (Saturn has a larger orbit and moves more slowly because it is not as strongly influenced by the Sun’s gravitational force as planets that are closer to the Sun). 

Additional Facts: 

  • Jupiter: It is the fifth planet from the Sun and the largest in the Solar System. Jupiter’s iconic Great Red Spot is a giant storm bigger than Earth that has raged for hundreds of years. 
  • Saturn: It is the sixth planet from the Sun and the second-largest planet in the solar system. Adorned with thousands of beautiful ringlets, Saturn is unique among the planets. 

 

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Project Loon

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Source: Click here

News: Project Loon has set a new record for the longest stratospheric flight by staying in air for 312 days.

Facts:

The Loon Project

  • Project Loon: It is a project under a Google subsidiary.It consists of a network of stratospheric balloons designed to bring Internet connectivity to rural and remote communities worldwide.

Additional Facts:

  • Whitespace Internet: It uses a part of the radio spectrum known as White spaces.White Space refers to the unused broadcasting frequencies in the wireless spectrum.These spaces can provide broadband internet access that is similar to that of 4G mobile.Microsoft is providing whitespace internet to unserved areas of several countries.
  • Starlink: It is a satellite internet constellation being constructed by SpaceX with the aim to bring internet access to rural and underserved areas around the world.
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Isro launches India’s 42nd communication satellite CMS-01

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News: Indian Space Research Organisation(ISRO) has launched the country’s 42nd communication satellite named CMS-01.

Facts:

  • CMS-01: It is a communication satellite launched by the Indian Space Research Organisation(ISRO) on board the PSLV-C50.This satellite is a replacement of GSAT-12.
  • It is envisaged to provide services in the Extended-C Band of the frequency spectrum whose coverage will include the Indian mainland, Andaman-Nicobar and Lakshadweep Islands,
  • The satellite is expected to have a mission life of more than seven years.
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Explained: What is Planet Nine?

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News: A strange exoplanet named HD106906 b orbiting a double-star 336 light years away has caught the interest of astronomers as it can provide clues about our own mysterious Planet Nine — if it exists.

Facts:

  • Planet Nine: It is a hypothetical planet in the outer region of the Solar System.It is said to be 10 times the size of the Earth and orbits far beyond Neptune in a highly eccentric orbit around the Sun.
  • When was it proposed? It was first proposed in 2012 to explain perturbations in the orbits of dwarf planets beyond Neptune’s orbit which are called Kuiper Belt objects.

Additional Facts:

What is the criteria for planet?

INTERNATIONAL ASTRANAUMICAL UNION determines the criteria and vote on the decisions.

3 conditions for a celestial object to be called as a planet

  1. It must orbit the Sun.
  2. It should be massive enough to acquire an approximately spherical shape.
  3. It has to clear its orbit (being the object that exerts maximum gravitational pull within its orbit).

If it satisfies any 2 then it is called as dwarf planet.

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Ex. Ceres (in asteroid belt), Xena (in Kuiper belt)

 Dwarf Planet: According to the International Astronomical Union, a dwarf planet is a celestial body that- orbits the sun, has enough mass to assume a nearly round shape, has not cleared the neighborhood around its orbit and is not a moon.

Kuiper belt (Edgeworth–Kuiper belt): This is an Icy ring of frozen objects in the shape of circumstellar disc present in the outer Solar System, extending from the orbit of Neptune (at 30 AU) to approximately 50 AU from the Sun.

Exoplanet: It is a planet outside the Solar System.The first confirmation of detection of exoplanet occurred in 1992.

Oort cloud – a shell of objects that surrounds the entire solar system far beyond the Kuiper belt

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DRDO successfully demonstrates quantum communication between two labs

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Source: Click here

News: Defence Research and Development Organisation(DRDO) has successfully demonstrated communication between its two labs using Quantum Key Distribution(QKD) technology.

Facts:

  • Quantum Key Distribution(QKD): It is primarily a mechanism to undertake secure communication which utilises a cryptographic protocol involving various components of quantum mechanics.
  • Process: The technology enables two communicating sides to come up with random secret keys shared by both of them and known exclusively to them so only they can use it to encrypt and decrypt messages, thus achieving highly-secure communication.
  • Developed by: The technology has been developed by two DRDO facilities, Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics (CAIR), Bengaluru and DRDO Young Scientists’ Laboratory – Quantum Technology (DYSL-QT),Mumbai.
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What is Beresheet 2 Mission?

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Source: Click here

News: Israel has announced the launch of Beresheet 2 Mission.

Facts:

  • Background: Beresheet spacecraft built by Israeli NGO SpaceIL and state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries had reached the moon in 2019, but suffered an engine failure as it prepared to land.
  • Beresheet 2: It is a planned mission by Israel Aerospace and SpaceIL with the aim of landing an unmanned craft on the moon in 2024.
  • Significance: Israel could become the fourth nation to land a spacecraft on the moon after the USA, the former Soviet Union and China.
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Australian telescope maps three million galaxies in just 300 hours

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News: The Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP) has mapped about 3 million galaxies in just 300 hours.

Facts:

  • Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder(ASKAP): It is a radio telescope array located at Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO) in Australia.
  • Purpose: The telescope is designed to map the structure and evolution of the Universe which it does by observing galaxies and the hydrogen gas that they contain.
  • Operated by: It is operated by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation(CSIRO) and forms part of the Australia Telescope National Facility.
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