Science and Technology Current Affairs: Jan-March 2018

Science and Technology

1. Parker Solar Probe Mission:

  • The Mission is scheduled to be launched in July 2018 by NASA
  • It has been designed and built by Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory.
  • It is named after solar astrophysicist Eugene Parker. This is the first time NASA spacecraft is named after living person.
  • The goal of this mission is to trace how energy and heat move through solar corona and to explore what accelerates solar wind as well as solar energetic particles.

2. GOLD and ICON Mission:

  • The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) will launch two missions — The Global-scale Observations of the Limb and Disk (GOLD) and Ionospheric Connection Explorer (ICON) later this year. 
  • They will team up to explore the ionosphere, located 96 km above Earth’s surface. ICON will be launched in low-Earth orbit (LEO) located at 560 km above Earth, like a close-up camera. GOLD will be launched in geostationary orbit over Western Hemisphere, about 35,398 km above the earth. 

3. Zuma Mission:

  • It is launched by SpaceX (California-based Private spaceflight company) for US Government.
  • It has been manufactured by Northrup Grumman, Virginia-based aerospace and defence company
  • It was launched on board of SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, US.

4. India rank:

  • India ranked 109th in mobile internet speed. 
  • India ranked 67th in Broadband space.
Top 5 fastest mobile network countries:
  • South Korea 
  • Norway 
  • Sweden
  • Hong Kong
  • Switzerland

5. China has successfully launched two satellites:

  • China has successfully launched two BeiDou-3 satellites to provide navigation and positioning services to countries along Belt and Road initiative (BRI) by the end of 2018.
  • The two satellites were designated as BeiDou-3 M7 and BeiDou-3 M8 (26th and 27th satellites) in BeiDou Navigation Satellite System (BDS).

6. Agni-5 ballistic missile:

  • Agni-5 ballistic missile was successfully test fired from Abdul Kalam Wheeler Island, Odisha.
  • It is about 17 metres long, 2 metres wide and has a launch weight of around 50 tonnes. It has strike range of over 5,000 kilometres and can carry nuclear warhead of more than one tonne.
  • It also incorporates advanced technologies involving ring laser gyroscope and accelerometer for navigation and guidance.

7. SARAS PT1N:

  • The production version aircraft will have the 19-seat capacity. SARAS PT1N, the new upgraded version of indigenous transport aircraft SARAS developed by National Aeronautics Laboratory (NAL) successfully made its maiden flight in Bengaluru, Karnataka.
  • SARAS PT1N is a 14-seater passenger aircraft designed and developed by CSIR-NAL, a frontline aerospace research laboratory. 
  • The primary objective of the test was to evaluate system performance that will be collected in about 20 flights. The data collected from this shall be used to freeze the design of production version aircraft.

8. Prithvi-II missile:

  • It is the first missile to be indigenously developed by DRDO under India’s prestigious Integrated Guided Missile Development Program (IGMDP).
  • Prithvi-II is short-range surface-to-surface ballistic missile. It is 9 meters long, the single-stage liquid-fueled missile capable of carrying 500-1,000 kilogram of warheads. It is thrusted by liquid propulsion twin engines and as strike range of 350 km. 
  • The test was carried out from mobile launcher from launch complex-3 of the Integrated Test Range at Chandipur near Balasore, Odisha.

9. Progress MS-08:

  • Russian space agency Roskosmos has successfully launched Progress MS-08, an unmanned cargo spacecraft for the International Space Station (ISS). It was launched onboard of Soyuz-2.1a rocket from Russian-leased Baikonur launch facility in Kazakhstan.
  • It was also carrying equipment for the German-Russian ICARUS research project aimed at studying wildlife-migration patterns.

10. HAL successfully tests Light Combat Helicopter for the first time:

  • State-run Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) for the first time has successfully made 5.8-tonne Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) with its own automatic flight control system.
  • It is powered by two Shakti engines and has many features of indigenous Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) Dhruv. It also has day and night targeting systems for crew, including helmet-pointed sight and electro-optical pod.

11. Schistura larketensis:

  • Scientists have discovered a new species of blind fish named Schistura larketensis inside a cave in East Jaintia Hills district of Meghalaya.

12. TCV Vaccine:

  • The World Health Organisation (WHO) has given its pre-qualification to Typbar Typhoid Conjugate Vaccine (TVC) developed by Hyderabad based Bharat Biotech for global use.
  • It has been evaluated in Human Challenge Studies at Oxford University.

13. New Balsam Species:

Scientists have discovered four new balsam species from various locations in Eastern Himalayas in the northeastern state of Arunachal Pradesh.
They are: 
1. Impatiens haridasanii: It was discovered in Pongchan. The species is characterised by small yellow flowers and hairy leaves.
2. Impatiens pseudocitrina: It was discovered in Anjaw district. It sports bright yellow flowers with small red spots on the throat and has long spur at the back.
3. Impatiens nilalohitae: It was discovered from the Lower Dibang valley. It grows to height of more than one metre and has dark purple flowers with pale yellow throat and green stalk
4. Impatiens roingensis: It was found growing in Roing and Upper Siang. It has clustered white flowers with yellow patch on the mouth and hooked spur.
Other Information:
  • Balsams are commonly known as jewel weeds because of diverse colour of their flowers. They are distributed throughout the Eastern Himalayas and the Western Ghats, Sri Lanka, South East Asia, Africa and Madagascar. Their genus is called Impatiens, signifying impatient nature of their fruits which explode when touched. India is home to more than 230 balsam species.

14. India’s First Digital Online Oncology Tutorial:

  • The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has launched India’s first digital Online Oncology Tutorial Series designed by Tata Memorial Centre (a grant-in-aid cancer centre under Department of Atomic Energy, GOI).
Other Information:
  • Oncology literally means a branch of science that deals with tumours and cancers. The word “onco” means bulk/ mass/ tumor while “-logy” means study.The overall course is designed for 7 weeks with different modules based on various sites and sub-sites of Cancer. It comprises of 14 hours of comprehensive e-learning through more than 40 video lectures, case studies, assessment questionnaires and periodic interactive Webinar sessions with respective consultants of TMC.

15. Elcysma Ziroensis:

  • Researchers from Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) have discovered a new species of moth, scientifically named Elcysma Ziroensis from Talley Wildlife Sanctuary in Arunachal Pradesh 
  • This species has only been seen during autumn, notably in month of September. This indicates that it is univoltine species, meaning it has one brood of young in a year.

16. Chinese scientists for the first time successfully clone monkeys:

  • Chinese scientists for the first time have successfully cloned two identical long-tailed macaques (monkeys), named Zhong Zhong and Hua Hua using the same technique that produced Dolly sheep two decades ago. 
  • These two identical long-tailed macaques were cloned using process called somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT), which involves transferring the nucleus of cell, which includes its DNA, into egg whose nucleus is removed.
Other Information:
  • Chinese Scientists were successful to clone macaques using modulators to switch on or off certain genes that were inhibiting embryo development. Their technique worked only when nuclei were transferred from foetal cells, rather than adult ones, as was the case with Dolly. In all, it took 127 eggs to produce two live macaque births.

17. Rotovac:

  • Rotavac became first Indigenously developed vaccine from India to be pre-qualified by World Health Organisation (WHO). It means that vaccine can be sold internationally to several countries in South America and Africa.
  • Rotavac conceived and developed by the Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech Limited. It protects against childhood diarrhoea caused by the rotavirus.
Other Information:
  • Rotavirus - It is a most common causative agent of moderate-to-severe diarrhoea (MSD) among infants below 11 months age group in India. It spreads from person to person due to bacterial and parasiting agents that are primarily transmitted through contaminated food or water. In India, diarrhoea caused by rotavirus, kills nearly 80 thousand children under age of 5 years and up to 10 lakh hospitalizations each year.

18. Hedychium chingmeianum and Caulokaempferia dinabandhuensis:

  • Botanical Survey of India (BSI) Scientists have discovered two new species of ginger named Hedychium chingmeianum and Caulokaempferia dinabandhuensis in easternmost districts of northeast India. 
  • Both the plants belong to the family of Zingiberaceae, to which the commonly found ginger (Zingiber officinale) belongs.
Other Information:
  • Hedychium chingmeianum: It was discovered in Tuensang district in Nagaland, both bordering Myanmar. It is an epiphytic plant and grows on trunks of tall trees. It has reddish stems and creamy white flowers.
  • Caulokaempferia dinabandhuensis: It was found growing in rock crevices, boulders and humus rich soil in the Shirui Hills in Ukhrul in Manipur. It has beautiful oval-shaped pink flowers which appear in June-July. It has been named after Mr. Dinabandhu Sahoo.

19. High performance computing facility inaugurated at Noida:

  • Ministry of Earth Science (MoES) has inaugurated high performance computer system (HPC) or supercomputer Mihir (meaning sun) at National Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasting (NCMRWF), Noida.
  • The HCP will provide facility for improving weather/climate forecasts. It is country’s largest HPC facility in terms of peak capacity and performance. It also propelled India’s ranking to Top 30 in the list of HPC facilities in world.
Other Information:
  • With this, MoES has acquired HPC facility total of 6.8 Peta Flops (PF) which has been installed at two of its constituent units: 4.0 PF HPC facility named ‘Pratyush’ at Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), Pune and 2.8 Peta Flops facility at NCMRWF, Noida. It also improved India rank to 4th position after Japan, UK and US interms of dedicated HPC resources for weather/climate forecasts.

20. Google launches ‘#SecurityCheckKiya’ campaign:

  • Search engine giant Google has launched ‘#SecurityCheckKiya’ campaign in India to create awareness around Internet safety. It was launched on the occasion of Safer Internet Day (6 February).
  • The campaign aims to protect first-time web users from account hijacking, safeguard Android devices from malicious apps and secure all their personal data if they lose their device.

21. Scientists for the first time grow human eggs to full maturity in the laboratory:

  • Scientists from Britain and United States for the first time have succeeded in growing human eggs in the laboratory from earliest stages in ovarian tissue all way too full maturity. This is the first time human eggs have been developed outside the human body from their earliest stage to full maturity.
  • This technique widens the scope of available fertility treatments. It can help in developing regenerative medicine therapies and new infertility treatments. 

22. First Large Scale Project:

  • State owned Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) is planning to introduce carbon dioxide (CO2) injection technology in its Gandhar oil field in Gujarat. It will be first large scale CO2-injected project in Asia.
  • Under this project, ONGC plans to invest $75 million in CO2 capture and another $200 million in injector producer network to recover an extra 15% of residual oil currently valued at $1.36 billion. It will be operational in 20 months. ONGC is in talks with National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) for utilising nearly 5 million tonnes of emitted gas (CO2) from the latter’s Gandhar plant.

23. Malacidins:

  • Scientists from The Rockefeller University in New York have reported discovery of a new class of antibiotics called malacidins. It has been produced by microorganisms living in soil and dirt and is capable of killing off several antibiotic-resistant pathogens
Other Information:
  • Malacidins are active against multidrug-resistant pathogens, sterilise methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) skin infections in animal wound model and did not select for resistance in laboratory conditions. The malacidins was tested on rats with MRSA skin infections. The condition was cured, and even after 20 days of continued contact with malacidins, the rodents did not experience any side effects.

24. Nyctibatrachus mewasinghi:

  • Scientists have discovered new species of frog named Mewa Singh’s night frog (Nyctibatrachus mewasinghi) in Kozhikode’s Malabar Wildlife Sanctuary, Kerala in Western Ghats.
  • It was discovered in small stream running along the Peruvannamuzhi dam. It is latest contribution to spurt in amphibian discoveries across India.

25. Scientists for first time grow skeletal muscle tissue from stem cells:

  • Scientists from Duke University in North Carolina, US have developed working human skeletal muscle from stem cells in the laboratory.
  • The development is breakthrough that holds promise for sufferers of degenerative muscular diseases. 

26. Jiocoin Project:

  • Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd is planning to create its own cryptocurrency, JioCoin. The Jiocoin project is being led by Mukesh Ambani’s elder son Akash Ambani.
  • Under it, Reliance Jio is planning to build a 50-member team of young professionals to work on blockchain technology, which can also be used for multiple applications and develop various blockchain products.
Other Information:
  • The blockchain is decentralized incorruptible digital ledger for storing data across a peer-to-peer network. It decentralizes information without it being copied. Information is held on blockchain through shared database which can be accessed on real-time basis. This database is not stored on physical servers but on cloud, which makes it easy to store unlimited data.

27. S-CO2 Brayton Test Loop facility:

  • Scientists from Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bengaluru have indigenously developed country’s first super critical carbon dioxide (S-CO2) Brayton Test Loop facility. The facility was inaugurated at the IISc campus. 
  • It is first test loop technology coupled with solar heat source in world that will generate clean energy from power plants, including solar thermal.

28. India’s First 5G Network Trail:

  • Telecom Major Bharti Airtel and Chinese telecom equipment maker Huawei have successfully conducted India’s first 5G (fifth generation) network trial. It was conducted at Airtel’s network experience centre in Manesar, Gurugram (Haryana) and was able to achieve over 3 gigabit per second (Gbps) data speed.
Other Information:
  • The setup for this 5G trial involved 5G RAN that operated on 3.5GHz network band, along with 5G Core and 50GE network slicing router. In duration of tests, a user throughput speed of 3Gbps was achieved, claimed to be highest for 3.5GHz band. The tests were conducted within a 100MHz bandwidth and resulted in a 1-millisecond end-to-end network latency.

29. Drypetes kalamii:

  • Scientists from Botanical Survey of India (BSI) have identified new plant species named Drypetes kalamii from Buxa and Jaldapara National Parks in West Bengal. 
  • It has been named after former President of India, Dr APJ Kalam. The new species is close relative of medicinal plant known in Sanskrit as Putrajivah.

30. AYUSH QOL-2C:

  • The Central Council for Research in Ayurvedic Sciences (CCRAS) has undertaken development of coded drug AYUSH QOL-2C for improving quality of life in cancer patients. 
  • It had conducted clinical studies of the drug in breast cancer patients at St. John’s Medical College, Bengaluru and AIIMS, New Delhi and in lung cancer patients at Bhagwan Mahaveer Cancer Hospital and Research Centre, Jaipur.

31. China develops artificial heart with rocket technology:

  • Chinese scientists have developed artificial heart using rocket technology and it is currently undergoing through testing experiments on animals.
  • The heart was developed jointly by China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology (CALT) and Teda International Cardiovascular Hospital in North China’s Tianjin.

32. 105th Indian Science Congress:

  • It was held at Manipur Central University in Imphal in March, 2018.
  • Theme of 105th Science Congress- Reaching the Unreached through Science and Technology. 
  • It is organised by Indian Science Congress association every year. 

33. India’s First Cloned Assamese buffalo:

  • The Central Institute for Research on Buffaloes (CIRB) has claimed that India’s first cloned Assamese buffalo male calf named Sach-Gaurav was born in Hisar, Haryana. It was born to Murrah buffalo, at Hi-Tech Sach Dairy Farm, 100 kms from cloning laboratory, making it first buffalo calf to be born in field.

34. 6th Foundation Day:

  • It was held at New Delhi on March 20, 2018. 
  • Theme of 6th Foundation Day- Sustaining Innovation – A Market-Driven Pathway. 
  • It is organised by The Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC).

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