Science & Technology Current Affairs 2019 - Current Affairs Today

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  • Scientists discovered new Universe map which unveiled 3,00,000 more galaxies

    20 February 2019
    A new map of the night sky published in charts hundreds of thousands of previously unknown galaxies discovered using a LOFAR telescope that can detect light sources optical instruments cannot see.  More than 200 astronomers from 18 countries were involved in the study, which used radio astronomy to look at a segment of the sky over the northern hemisphere, and found 3,00,000 previously unseen light sources thought to be distant galaxies. The team plans to create images of the northern sky, which they say will reveal as many as 15 million as-yet undetected radio sources.  Radio astronomy allows scientists to detect radiation produced when massive celestial objects interact. The LOFAR telescope is made up of a network of radio antenna across seven countries, forming the equivalent of a 1,300-km diameter satellite dish.

    Scientist developed the first walking robot to navigate without GPS

    20 February 2019
    AntBot is the first walking robot to have navigational capabilities without GPS or mapping. It has been designed by Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) and Aix-Marseille University researchers at ISM, on lines similar to desert ants who use polarised lights and UV radiation to navigate in space.  It consists of an optical compass which determines its movements by the help of polarised light. Weighing only 2.3 kg, this robot has six feet for increased mobility, allowing it to move in complex environments, precisely where deploying wheeled robots and drones can be complicated.

    Indias First Fulldome 3D Digital Theatre Inaugurated In Kolkata

    20 February 2019
    Union Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma inaugurated India’s very first ‘Fulldome 3D Digital Theatre’ at the Science City in Kolkata, West Bengal. It is fully funded by the Ministry of Culture at a cost of Rs 20 crore. About Culture Minister Headquarters: Shastri Bhawan, New Delhi Annual budget  : ₹2,843.32 crore (US$400 million) (2018-19 est.)[1] Minister responsible: Mahesh Sharma, Minister of State 

    First Israeli private lunar mission set to be launched

    19 February 2019
    SpaceIL, an Israeli Private company, is to launch what it hopes will be the first private spacecraft to land on the moon in the 4th week of February 2019. SpaceIL and State-owned Israel Aerospace Industries said that the spacecraft, dubbed Beresheet, or Genesis, will ship from Florida, where, propelled by a SpaceX rocket, it will commence its voyage to the moon.

    Symantec has launched Email Fraud Protection

    19 February 2019
    Global cybersecurity company Symantec has launched ‘Email Fraud Protection’, an automated solution, to help organizations block fraudulent emails from reaching enterprises.  It aims to reduce workload for IT departments and eliminate the need to manually manage email security configurations while combating Business Email Compromise attacks. The solution is now available as part of Symantec’s Email Security Solution and Integrated Cyber Defence Platform. With this solution, email authentication standards are met by automatic monitoring of approved third-party senders.
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    NASA plans to send astronauts on Moon in 2028

    18 February 2019
    NASA, The U.S. space agency, plans to send American astronauts back on the Moon by 2028, with unmanned demonstration missions in 2024 and 2026. Bridenstine laid out the space agency’s plan to support the development of commercial hardware capable of landing astronauts on the Moon. The mission architecture represents a dramatic shift from the way NASA had put humans on the Moon when Apollo 11 in July 1969 put Neil Armstrong as the first man to walk on the lunar surface.  The procurement plan, as laid out in a document known as a Broad Agency Announcement, calls for commercial ventures to propose concepts for a descent module, a space refueling system and a transfer vehicle by March 25. In May, NASA would select several companies for an initial six-month phase to study and develop in this line and will allocate up to $9 million to each company. Astronauts would make their first trip to the lunar surface in 2028. NASA’s plan calls for four astronauts to spend as long as seven days on the Moon.

    NASA to launch SPHEREx mission in 2023 to explore universe's origins

    17 February 2019
    NASA has announced a new space telescope mission dedicated to understanding the origins of life and the universe. It's called the Spectro-Photometer for the History of the Universe, Epoch of Reionization and Ices Explorer - shortly SPHEREx. NASA is aiming for a 2023 launch and has already earmarked $242 million for the project. Once SPHEREx is already in orbit, it will observe and collect data on over 300 million galaxies, some as far as 10 billion light-years away from Earth, and 100 million stars in our own Milky Way every six months. Main goals of SPHEREx mission: ♦ To search for water and organic molecules within the Milky Way. ♦ To find more clues on how our universe formed and evolved.

    NASAs Opportunity rover declared dead by NASA

    15 February 2019
    During 14 years of intrepid exploration across Mars, NASA’s Opportunity rover advanced human knowledge by confirming that water once flowed on the red planet but it has analyzed its last soil sample.  In June 2018, NASA lost contact with the rover during a dust storm. It was declared officially dead on 13th February 2019. It ended one of the most fruitful missions in the history of space exploration. Unable to recharge its batteries, Opportunity left hundreds of messages sent from the earth unanswered over the months. NASA said it made its last attempt at contact on 12th February 2019.

    e-AUSHADHI portal launched for licensing of AYUSH medicine

    15 February 2019
    Minister of State for AYUSH, Shripad Yesso Naik launched the e-AUSHADHI portal, for online licensing of Ayurveda, Siddha, Unani and Homoeopathy drugs and related matters. AUSHADHI is an acronym for Ayurveda, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy Automated Drug Help Initiative.

    Himalayan Cloud Observatory set up in Tehri

    11 February 2019
    A Himalayan Cloud Observatory is set up in Tehri district with a motive to forecast and monitor cloudburst incidents in the Himalayan region and help to minimise the damage. The Observatory is established in the SRT campus,in Tehri and is in the testing period. This is the second observatory in the country.

    Solid Fuel Ducted Ramjet (SFDR),indigenously developed missile system successfully flight tested in Odisha

    11 February 2019
    The second indigenously developed ‘Solid Fuel Ducted Ramjet’ (SFDR), propulsion-based missile system was successfully flight tested from ITR, Chandipur, Odisha, by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). Unlike conventional rockets that carry propellant and oxidizer, Ramjet uses the air as an oxidizer just like a jet engine, and hence, the weight of the fuel required is eliminated. SFDR propulsion is designed in such a way that it allows for an up and down throttling which further lets the missile to amplify its speed until it reached the terminal phase of flight. ♦ The first flight of SFDR, developed under a joint Indo-Russian R&D project, was tested in 2018. ♦ The Indian SFDR will be used as variants of missiles such as the advanced version of ASTRA.

    Facebook acquires GrokStyle virtual search start-up to boost AI capabilities

    11 February 2019
    Facebook acquired US-based virtual search start-up, GrokStyle, at an undisclosed amount. GrokStyle was founded in 2015 and is based in San Francisco, USA. The basic idea is to allow users to match a piece of furniture or a light fixture in an image to visually find similar ones in stock at stores. About Facebook ♦ Chairman & CEO – Mark Zuckerberg ♦ Headquarters – California, USA

    Chennai Police Commissioner launches mobile app Digicop

    9 February 2019
    Chennai Police Commissioner A.K. Viswanathan launched mobile App ‘DigiCop’ of the city police department at the commissioner’s office in Chennai. This app as of now have details of 18,000 stolen mobile phones are stored. Using this app, the user can lodge mobile theft complaints and also check if the user’s mobile is in the police list of retrieved mobiles. Moreover, if someone is buying a phone from a second-hand shop they can verify if the phone is stolen or genuine. Using this app, Users can also follow, if their stolen two-wheeler had been traced by the police.

    USFDA approved Laurus Labs HIV drug

    9 February 2019
    Laurus Labs, a Pharma firm, has received tentative approval from the United States Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) for Tenofovir/Lamivudine/Dolutegravir (TLD) 300/300/ 50mg fixed dose combination drug. The product is the preferred first-line regimen for the treatment of people living with HIV. It will be available in the generic form in low and middle-income countries. The U.S. health regulator had given tentative approval under the Presidential Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. Meanwhile, the company has received an Establishment Inspection Report (EIR) from USFDA for its Unit 6.

    India ropes in space technology to track border management

    9 February 2019
    India areas are island development, border security, communication and navigation, GIS and operations planning system, and border infrastructure development. The recommendation was given a green signal as Union Minister Rajnath Singh approved use of space technology at the borders. The task force headed by Joint Secretary (Border Management) and having members from Border Security Force (BSF), Department of Space and Border Management division of the Home Ministry consulted all stakeholders including BGFs, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), National Security Council Secretariat (NSCS) and the Ministry of Defence (MoD).

    Inkjet solar panels set to to produce solar panels under lower temperatures

    9 February 2019
    Polish physicist and businesswoman Olga Malinkiewicz has developed a novel inkjet processing method for perovskites, a new generation of cheaper solar cells, that makes it possible to produce solar panels under lower temperatures, thus sharply reducing costs.  Solar panels coated with the mineral are light, flexible, efficient, inexpensive and come in varying hues and degrees of transparency. They can easily be fixed to almost any surface, be it laptop, car, drone, spacecraft or building, to produce electricity, including in the shade or indoors.  Perovskite has been known to science since at least the 1830s. It was first identified by German mineralogist Gustav Rose while prospecting in the Ural mountains and named after Russian mineralogist Lev Perovski.

    Hubble discovers NGC 6752, dwarf galaxy in cosmic neighbourhood

    9 February 2019
    The Hubble Space Telescope has made an unexpected discovery of a new dwarf galaxy in the cosmic backyard. The dwarf galaxy is located just 30 million light-years away.  An international team of astronomers used the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope to study white dwarf stars within the globular cluster NGC 6752.

    Saudi plans to launch its first satellite for communications

    7 February 2019
    Saudi Arabia announced the launch of its first satellite for communications from the French Guiana Space Centre. Khaled bin Abdulaziz Al-Falih, minister of Energy, Industry and Mineral Resources, said the launch aims at localizing strategic technologies and enabling Saudi young people to work with state-of-the-art technologies in the field of satellite development and manufacturing.  The satellite and will offer multiple applications including broadband telecommunications and secure communications for remote and disaster-stricken areas. The satellite SGS-1 aims to employ advanced Ka-band capabilities to enable space communications at ultra-fast speeds, and will offer multiple applications including broadband telecommunications and secure communications for remote and disaster-stricken areas.

    PM JAY App has been launched on Google play store

    7 February 2019
    Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PM-JAY) App has been launched on Google play store. Ayushman Bharat Yojana or Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PM-JAY) is a centrally sponsored scheme. The scheme was launched in the year 2018 under the Ayushman Bharat Mission of MoHFW in the country. This scheme aims at making interventions in primary, secondary and tertiary care systems, covering both preventive and promotive health, to address healthcare holistically. Moving ahead to digitalization this app is now available on Google Play store.

    ISRO launched GSAT-31 fromFrench Guiana

    6 February 2019
    Indian Space Research Organisation's (ISRO) 40th communication satellite GSAT-31 has been launched successfully by European launch services provider- Ariane-5 rocket from French Guiana. It placed GSAT-31 in the intended Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit. Weighing about 2,535 kg, the GSAT-31 will provide continuity to operational services on some of the in-orbit satellites.  GSAT-31 is to provide transponder capacity for supporting VSAT networks, Television uplinks, Digital Satellite News Gathering, DTH television services, cellular backhaul connectivity, and many such applications. 

    ISRO set to launch GSAT 31 from French Guiana

    5 February 2019
    The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is all set to launch its 40th communication satellite GSAT-31 from the spaceport in French Guiana. It weighs about 2,535 kg. The satellite is scheduled for launch on board the Ariane-5 from Kourou in French Guiana. The satellite provides Indian mainland and island coverage.  SAT-31 will be used for supporting Very Small Aperture Terminal (VSAT) networks, television uplinks, digital satellite news gathering, DTH television services, cellular backhaul connectivity, and many such applications. ISRO said that two Ku-band beacon downlink signals are transmitted for ground tracking purpose.

    ISRO to get its new communication satellite

    1 February 2019
    The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is to get its new communication satellite GSAT-31 aloft in space on February 6 from French Guiana on a hired European rocket. GSAT-31 will replace the INSAT-4CR. GSAT-31 weighs roughly 2,500 kg. The latter with 12 Ku-band transponders was put to orbit in September 2007 to drive what was then a new DTH industry. The launch of Ariane-5 V247 mission is fixed for 2.31 a.m. IST on February 6.

    Parker probe begins second orbit of Sun

    30 January 2019
    National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the U.S. space agency said that the Parker Solar Probe has begun its second orbit of the sun. It is on track for its closest approach to the sun. Just 161 days after its launch, the Parker probe completed its first orbit of the sun on January 19.  The spacecraft has now begun the second of 24 planned orbits, on track for its second perihelion, or closest approach to the sun, on April 4. Parker Solar Probe entered full operational status on January 1. The craft has been sending data back home ever since. The Parker probe’s 2nd perihelion or closest approach to the sun will once again bring it about 15 million miles from the sun.

    Natco Pharma launched a combination drug Valsartan Sacubitril tablet

    29 January 2019
    Natco Pharma has launched a combination drug Valsartan-Sacubitril tablet in India. It is used for certain types of heart failure and works by relaxing blood vessels, making it easier for the heart to pump blood. The company said that the drug was launched under its brand Valsac at an affordable price.

    Telangana government to monitor the forest cover using NRSAs data

    29 January 2019
    As a measure to save the forest, the Telangana government has decided to monitor the forest cover continuously. For this, the State Government is planning to utilize satellite imagery. The State has accordingly roped in the National Remote Sensing Agency (NRSA) for providing high-resolution satellite images to enable it to keep a tab on encroachments, if any, in the forest areas.  The NRSA with its set of satellites will regularly monitor the forest cover and report to the State Government any negative change (decline in the cover on account of encroachments and other reasons).  National Remote Sensing Agency (NRSA):  ♦ Location: Hyderabad, Telangana  ♦ Parent: Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO)  ♦ It manages data from aerial and satellite sources.

    Telangana govt. to provide app to tackle sewer blockage

    28 January 2019
    Hyderabad Metropolitan Water Supply & Sewerage Board (HMWSSB) has proposed the State government to provide a mobile app to drivers of the mini jetting machines to tackle sewer blockage complaints in a speedy manner and give easy access to the machines.  The app will be integrated with the complaints module of the Water Board. It will show the complaints registered under the mini jetting machines jurisdiction. With the help of complaint details, the driver will be able to know the route map of the locations where the complaint is pending. After attending the complaint, geo-tagged photographs will be captured and the complaint will automatically be closed in the system.

    Ministry of Defence launched RDP INDIA 2019 app

    28 January 2019
    Ministry of Defence launched ‘RDP INDIA 2019’ app was launched on the 70th Republic Day. Using the mobile application, people can watch the highlights of this year’s Republic Day parade at the Rajpath. The new initiative is in sync with the Digital India campaign of the government. The app included the information including the order of the march, details of the tableaux presented by different States and Ministries, cultural performances by children, fly past and names of recipients of Pradhan Mantri Rashtriya Bal Puraskar, 2019. Ministry of Defence: ♦ Formed: 1776 (as Military Department), August 1947(as Ministry of Defence) ♦ Headquarters: New Delhi ♦ Minister: Nirmala Sitharaman ♦ Deputy Minister: Dr.Subhash Ramrao Bhamre ♦ It is responsible for coordinating and supervising all agencies and functions of the government relating directly to national security and the Indian armed forces   

    India accounts more than half leprosy cases globally: WHO

    28 January 2019
    World Health Organization (WHO) stated more than half of the leprosy cases globally was reported by India although there is a steady decline worldwide in the number of leprosy cases which is estimated to be 2 around Lakh. Significant leprosy cases has been detected in South-east Asia region, Brazil, Sub-Saharan Africa and Pacific apart from India. WHO said leprosy related ‘discrimination, stigma, and prejudice’ were the most powerful barriers in ending the disease. It also stated that disease is 100% curable if detected early. Leprosy is a chronic infectious disease which mainly affects the skin, the peripheral nerves, mucosal surfaces of the upper respiratory tract and the eyes.

    Indias first indigenously developed NGRAM was tested successfully

    27 January 2019
    India’s first indigenously developed Next Generation Anti-Radiation Missile (NGRAM), an air-to-surface one, which can be fired from Sukhoi fighter jets, was successfully tested at the missile testing range in Balasore, Hyderabad.  The missile can be launched from different altitudes and all the parameters were met during the testing. The missile was developed by Abdul Kalam Missile Complex comprising DLRL, which plays the lead role, Research Centre Imarat, Advanced Systems Laboratory (ASL). The missile system is being developed by the BEL and an unidentified private industry partner.

    China clones five gene-edited monkeys

    27 January 2019
    Scientists in China have cloned five monkeys for human disease research. The research team edited genes of monkeys to induce several human diseases like Alzheimer's claiming that it would help in medical research.  This experiment may likely to raise fresh ethical concerns about gene-editing. As per the media reports, this is the first time multiple clones had been made from a gene-edited monkey for biomedical research. The announcement in  National Science Review, a Chinese journal, follows the recent confirmation that the world's first gene-edited human babies have been born in China,  which caused widespread disquiet in the scientific community. The cloned monkeys born in Shanghai at the Institute of Neuroscience of Chinese Academy of Sciences are closer to the human in physiology, make better models for research on disease pathogenesis and potential therapeutic treatments.  In order to create an ideal donor monkey, researchers knocked out a core circadian regulatory tranion factor named BMAL1, using gene editing at the embryo stage. They selected one of the gene-edited monkeys with the most severe disease phenotypes as the donor. The fibroblasts of the donor were then used to clone five monkeys by somatic cell nuclear transfer, the same method used to generate Zhong Zhong and Hua Hua, the first cloned monkeys born in China at the end of 2017.

    ISRO has planned 32 missions

    26 January 2019
    The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has planned 32 missions, including the prestigious Chandrayaan-2, during 2019. The organization has also received approval for the Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV) and is working on reusable launch vehicle development.  Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO):  ♦ Formation: 15 August 1969  ♦ Headquarters: Bangalore, Karnataka  ♦ Chairman: Dr.K.Sivan  ♦ Primary spaceport: Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SHAR), Sriharikota  ♦ Parent organization: Department of Space, Government of India

    India launched Apollo Proton Cancer Centre (APCC) in Chennai

    26 January 2019
    India launched Apollo Proton Cancer Centre (APCC) in Chennai, Tamil Nadu. With this launch, India has become the 16th country in the world to offer proton therapy for cancer.  The Centre offers proton therapy with pencil-beam technology that provides a high degree of precision. APCC is a 150-bed integrated cancer care Centre. It has the Intensity Modulated Proton Therapy and Image-Guided Radiotherapy component.  At present, there are 72-odd facilities operational across the globe. Around 60 to 70% of cancer patients need radiation. Through proton beam therapy, which is a form of radiation, zero dose beyond the tumour is achievable.

    TN government plans to unveil a new electronics manufacturing policy

    25 January 2019
    The Tamil Nadu government plans to unveil a new electronics manufacturing policy in February, with the aim of becoming the leader in the sector. The State was working on an electronics manufacturing policy, which was being prepared with inputs from experts.  The State is currently the second largest in terms of electronics manufacturing and has huge potential to become No. 1. Uttar Pradesh holds the first position.

    ISRO successfully launched Microsat R into space

    25 January 2019
    Indian Space Research Organisation's (ISRO) first mission of 2019, Microsat-R, was successfully launched into space on 24th January 2019. PSLV-C44 was launched from the older First Launch Pad at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh. The 130-kg Microsat-R is a military imaging satellite.  Microsat-R and its payload come assembled from a handful of laboratories of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and is meant for military use.  ISRO also used this launch as an opportunity to demonstrate the usability of the fourth stage of the rocket after the satellites are ejected into orbit. This would enable any agency that wants to conduct experiments in space to use the fourth stage till it disintegrates naturally. The fourth stage of the rocket may be orbiting in space for six months to a year. ISRO is aiming to use this time-frame to enable agencies to run short time experiments. Mr. Sivan asked students in India to develop such satellites and ISRO would take care of the launch.

    ISRO to launch Microsat R

    24 January 2019
    Indian Space Research Organisation's (ISRO) first mission of 2019, Microsat-R, is to be launched into space on 24th January 2019. The 130-kg Microsat-R is a military imaging satellite.  Microsat-R and its payload come assembled from a handful of laboratories of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and is meant for military use. The satellite was assembled outside and ISRO only interfaced it with its own systems and the launch vehicle, just as it treats any customer satellite.  PSLV-C44 will be launched from the older First Launch Pad at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh. For its part, ISRO is experimenting on two aspects of the vehicle. One is to reuse a waste stage.

    Researchers developed a system producing fuel from Carbon dioxide

    23 January 2019
    Researchers from Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST) in South Korea, developed a system that can produce electricity and hydrogen fuel from carbon dioxide, the main contributor to global warming.  The Hybrid Na-CO2 system can continuously produce electrical energy and hydrogen through efficient carbon dioxide (CO2) conversion with the stable operation for over 1,000 hours. The key to that technology is the easy conversion of chemically stable CO2 molecules to other materials. The new system has solved this problem with CO2 dissolution mechanism. 

    ISROs top priority is Gaganyaan

    20 January 2019
    The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) announced that working on the human space flight programme Gaganyaan and launching a major student outreach apart from the scheduled missions is its top priority.  A separate Human Space Flight Centre has been formed in ISRO. The Gaganyaan project will come under it and that’s how we will target the first unmanned mission in December 2020.  Dr. Sivan, Chairman of ISRO, announced a Young Scientist Programme (YSP) and termed it their most important project to reach out to students. He also said that ISRO is planning to spread its wings in new areas. This year ISRO has planned 32 missions, including 14 launch vehicles, 17 spacecraft and one demo.

    Chinese space agency said cotton sprouted in moon

    20 January 2019
    The Chinese space agency said that a cotton seedling that sprouted on the moon has been left to die as China’s historic lunar lander continues a freezing night-time nap that will last as long as two earth weeks.  It also announced earlier this week that the seed had germinated inside a special canister aboard the Chang’e-4 probe, after the spacecraft on January 3 made the first-ever landing on the far side of the moon. The mini biosphere, which operated for over 212 hours, was shut down as planned.

    Bescom to launch AI powered chatbots

    20 January 2019
    The Bangalore Electricity Supply Company (Bescom) is preparing to launch Artificial Intelligence (AI) powered chatbots to deal with the innumerable calls and messages that its multiple helplines receive when there are power cuts.  The power utility has called for an Expression of Interest from IT service providers to implement the idea on its social media pages, helpline, and app. The chatbots are expected to be utilized in multiple interfaces, such as WhatsApp, social media, and the website.

    JAXA launched satellite into space to deliver artificial meteors

    19 January 2019
    Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) launched a rocket carrying a satellite on a mission to deliver the world’s first artificial meteor shower into space. ALE Co. Ltd, a start-up based in Tokyo, developed the microsatellite for the celestial show over Hiroshima early 2020 as the initial experiment for what it calls a “shooting stars on demand” service.  The satellite is to release tiny balls that glow brightly as they hurtle through the atmosphere, simulating a meteor shower. They would glow brightly enough to be seen even over the light-polluted metropolis of Tokyo. The rocket carried a total of seven ultra-small satellites that will demonstrate various “innovative” technologies.

    Reliance Retail, Jio to launch new e-commerce platform

    19 January 2019
    Reliance Industries Ltd Chairman and Managing Director Mukesh Ambani group companies Reliance Retail and Reliance Jio Infocomm would jointly launch a new e-commerce platform in the country.  Gujarat would be the first state to get it in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

    Scientists have found evidence of methane rainfall on Titan

    18 January 2019
    Scientists have found evidence of methane rainfall on the north pole of Titan, the largest moon of Saturn, using data from the Cassini spacecraft. The rainfall would be the first indication of the start of a summer season in Titan’s northern hemisphere. The researchers identified a reflective feature near Titan’s north pole on an image taken on June 7, 2016, by Cassini’s near-infrared instrument, the Visual and Infrared Mapping Spectrometer. The reflective feature covered about 46,332 square miles and did not appear on images from previous and subsequent Cassini passes. The Cassini mission was a collaboration between NASA, Europe agency and Italian space agency. It was launched in October 1997. The purpose of the spacecraft is to study the planet Saturn and its system, including its rings and natural satellites.

    Drone corridor proposed to expand unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) services in India

    17 January 2019
    A task-force constituted by the Union government has proposed the creation of a “Drone Corridor” in the country. The task force is created to address the various challenges posed by Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) in India.  It has recommended key principles in the Drone Ecosystem Policy Roadmap that will guide the drafting of ‘Civil Aviation Regulations’ (CAR) 2.0.  Currently, a basic framework for regulations in the area has been established under the “DigitalSky Platform” in CAR 1.0 which took effect from December 1, 2018. The roadmap was released at the Global Aviation Summit 2019 being held at Mumbai.

    China plans to build international lunar base

    16 January 2019
    China Space Agency plans to establish an international lunar base, possibly using 3D printing technology to build facilities weeks after landing a rover on the moon’s far side. The future launches will culminate with a mission to test equipment for an international moon research base.  Also, four more lunar missions are planned, confirming the launch of a probe by the end of the year to bring back samples from the moon. The Chang’e-5 probe, originally scheduled to collect moon samples in the second half of 2017, will launch by the end of the year 2019. It will be followed by Chang’e-7, which will conduct a comprehensive exploration of the moon’s south pole including its topography, material composition, and space environment.

    SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launches Ten Iridium communications satellites

    15 January 2019
    SpaceX rocket delivered 10 satellites to low-Earth orbit on Friday, completing a two-year campaign by Iridium Communications to replace its original fleet with a new generation of mobile communication technology and added global aircraft tracking capability. The Falcon 9 rocket blasted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base at 7:31 am and arced over the Pacific west of Los Angeles. The previously used first stage was recovered again with a bullseye landing on a "droneship" in the ocean while the upper stage continued on to orbit. The eighth and final launch of the $3 billion (roughly Rs. 21,000 crores) Iridium NEXT project completed delivery of 75 new satellites to orbit for the McLean, Virginia, company. Sixty-six will be operational and nine will serve as in-orbit spares. Six other satellites remain on the ground as spares.

    Study shows solar wind fills the dark side of the Moon

    15 January 2019
    A study using observations from Chandrayaan 1 mission has found how plasma particles from the solar wind make their way into the Moon’s night side, filling up the wake region, long thought to be devoid of plasma particles. This has significance in understanding bodies like the Moon which do not have global magnetic fields.  In recent times, there has been a huge interest in understanding the plasma environment of the Moon, which is generated mainly by its interaction with the solar plasma wind flowing towards it from the Sun. This plasma wind consists of charged particles such as protons and is partly absorbed by the side of the Moon facing the sun. The rest of the solar plasma wind incident on the Moon flows around it but leaves a wake (a void) on the side not facing the sun (the night-side of the Moon). The interaction between the Moon and the solar plasma helps to understand any celestial body which has no atmosphere or global magnetic fields, such as asteroids and some planetary satellites.

    Researchers have discovered six new species of bent toed geckos

    14 January 2019
    Researchers have discovered six new species of bent-toed geckos, a type of small lizard, from northeastern India, and one of them is from Assam's capital, Guwahati.  While researchers found the Guwahati bent-toed gecko (Cyrtodactylus guwahatiensis, named after the city) near a small hillock in the urban sprawl of Guwahati city, the Kaziranga bent-toed gecko, the Jaintia bent-toed gecko, and the Nagaland bent-toed gecko have been discovered from Assam's Kaziranga National Park, the Jaintia hills of Meghalaya and Khonoma village in Nagaland, respectively.  The Abhayapuri bent-toed gecko is currently found only in the vicinity of Abhayapuri town in Assam’s Bongaigaon district, and the Jampui bent-toed gecko, only in Tripura’s Jampui Hills. All the new lizards belong to the genus Cyrtodactylus and are called bent-toed or bow-fingered geckos, named after their bent toes.

    ISRO aims to send human astronauts to space by the year of 2021

    13 January 2019
    The year 2021 will be a busy year for the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) as it has set itself the target to send astronauts to space. The Gaganyaan project by the space agency will make India the fourth nation to independently send humans into space announced ISRO chief Dr. K Sivan. The Gaganyaan project was announced by PM Modi on Independence Day last year and union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad last month had said that three Indian astronauts will be sent to space for up to seven days by 2022 as part of the Gaganyaan.

    NASAs TESS found a new planet

    10 January 2019
    Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), NASA’s latest planet-hunting probe, has discovered a new world outside our solar system, orbiting a dwarf star 53 light years away. This is the third new planet confirmed by TESS since its launch in April 2018. The planet has been named as HD 21749b. The planets orbits a bright, nearby dwarf star about 53 light years away, in the constellation Reticulum, and appears to have the longest orbital period of the three planets so far identified by TESS.

    ISRO plans to set up Space Galleries

    10 January 2019
    Indian Space Research Organisation, ISRO planned to set up Space Galleries in various locations in the country.  The Space Galleries are expected to disseminate the knowledge about space science and technology amongst the citizens of the country.

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