List of Contents
- Importance of Perseverance Mission on Mars
- Importance of Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover
- “Square Kilometre Array” (SKA) Project
- ISRO to adopt 100 Atal Tinkering Labs for promoting Space Education
- First set of data from Chandrayaan-2 released: ISRO
- What is the Great conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter?
- Project Loon
- Isro launches India’s 42nd communication satellite CMS-01
- Explained: What is Planet Nine?
- DRDO successfully demonstrates quantum communication between two labs
- What is Beresheet 2 Mission?
- Australian telescope maps three million galaxies in just 300 hours
Importance of Perseverance Mission on Mars
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.
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:
- 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.
- The curiosity rover which landed on Mars in 2012 found out regions that could have hosted life.
- 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.
- 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.
- The rover will study the geology of mars and store samples in a place that can be accessed by a future mission.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Importance of Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover
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.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- Mars Odyssey spacecraft in 2001: This spacecraft found the hydrogen signature on Mars. This indicated the presence of water ice on Mars.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
“Square Kilometre Array” (SKA) Project
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).
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.
- 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
ISRO to adopt 100 Atal Tinkering Labs for promoting Space Education
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.
- 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
Source: The Hindu
News: Indian Space Research Organisation(ISRO) has released the first set of data from Chandrayaan-2 Mission for the general public.
- 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.
- 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.
What is the Great conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter?
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”.
- 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).
- 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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News: Project Loon has set a new record for the longest stratospheric flight by staying in air for 312 days.
- 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.
- 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.
Isro launches India’s 42nd communication satellite CMS-01
Source: Click here
News: Indian Space Research Organisation(ISRO) has launched the country’s 42nd communication satellite named CMS-01.
- 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.
Explained: What is Planet Nine?
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.
- 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.
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
- It must orbit the Sun.
- It should be massive enough to acquire an approximately spherical shape.
- 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
DRDO successfully demonstrates quantum communication between two labs
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News: Defence Research and Development Organisation(DRDO) has successfully demonstrated communication between its two labs using Quantum Key Distribution(QKD) technology.
- 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.
What is Beresheet 2 Mission?
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News: Israel has announced the launch of Beresheet 2 Mission.
- 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.
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.
- 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.