10 th July, 2018-IAS Current Affairs
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‘Progress 70’ (GS3: Science and Technology)
Issue: Roscosmos successfully launched the Progress 70 cargo ship on the fastest trip yet to the International Space Station. Less than 4 hours after launch the spacecraft docked at the orbiting lab
About Progress 70
Progress MS-09 identified by NASA as Progress 70 or 70P, is a Progress spacecraft to be used by Roscosmos to resupply the International Space Station (ISS).
It has been designed to attempt a super fast-tracked rendezvous with the Station, docking to the ISS just 3 hours (2 orbits) after launch – making it the fastest orbital rendezvous ever-attempted with the Station
Progress spacecraft are disposable vehicles that are packed with trash and unneeded items and intentionally burned up in Earth’s atmosphere at mission’s end. Progress 70 will stay linked to the space station until January 2019, when it will be discarded
‘World’s Oldest color’ (Facts that could be asked in Prelims)
Issue: Scientists have discovered what they say are the world’s oldest colors – and they are bright pink.
The pigments were discovered after researchers crushed 1.1bn-year-old rocks found in a marine shale deposit, beneath the Sahara desert, in the Taoudeni basin in Mauritania, West Africa.
Significance of this discovery
The bright pink pigments are the molecular fossils of chlorophyll that were produced by ancient photosynthetic organisms inhabiting an ancient ocean that has long since vanished
When the researchers had analyzed the structure of the pink molecule, they were able to find what had produced them – tiny cyanobacteria.
About Sahara Desert
The Sahara Desert is located in the northern portion of Africa and covers over 3,500,000 square miles (9,000,000 sq km) or roughly 10% of the continent. It is bounded in the east by the Red Sea and it stretches west to the Atlantic Ocean. To the north, the Sahara Desert’s northern boundary is the Mediterranean Sea, while in the south it ends at the Sahel, an area where the desert landscape transforms into a semi-arid tropical savanna.
Since the Sahara Desert makes up nearly 10% of the African continent
The Sahara covers parts of several African nations including Algeria, Chad, Egypt, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Sudan and Tunisia. Most of the Sahara Desert is undeveloped and features a varied topography. Most of its landscape has been shaped over time by wind and includes sand dunes, sand seas called ergs, barren stone plateaus, gravel plains, dry valleys and salt flats. Around 25% of the desert is sand dunes, some of which reach over 500 ft (152 m) in height.
There are also several mountain ranges within the Sahara and many are volcanic. The highest peak found in these mountains is Emi Koussi, a shield volcano that rises to 11,204 ft (3,415 m). It is a part of the Tibesti Range in northern Chad. The lowest point in the Sahara Desert is in Egypt’s Qattera Depression at -436 ft (-133 m) below sea level.
Most of the water found in the Sahara today is in the form of seasonal or intermittent streams. The only permanent river in the desert is the Nile River that flows from Central Africa to the Mediterranean Sea
Due to the high temperatures and arid conditions of the Sahara Desert, the plant life in the Sahara Desert is sparse and includes only around 500 species. These consist mainly of drought and heat resistant varieties and those adapted to salty conditions (halophytes) where there is sufficient moisture.
The harsh conditions found in the Sahara Desert have also played a role in the presence of animal life in the Sahara Desert. In the central and driest part of the desert, there are around 70 different animal species, 20 of which are large mammals like the spotted hyena. Other mammals include the gerbil, sand fox, and Cape hare. Reptiles like the sand viper and the monitor lizard are present in the Sahara as well.
‘Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment Follow-On or GRACE-FO’ (Facts that could be asked in Prelims)
Issue: NASA has powered on the laser ranging interferometer or LRI instrument aboard the recently launched twin climate-monitoring satellites Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment Follow-On or GRACE-FO.
About the mission
The mission, a partnership between NASA and the German Research Center for Geosciences, will track the changing pull of gravity on the GRACE-FO satellites. This will provide the data needed to help scientists monitor and have a better understanding of the thinning of the ice sheets, the rising sea levels, the phenomena popularly associated with climate change, and the flow of magma underground.
‘RAMA (Reconstituting Asteroids into Mechanical Automata)’ (GS3: Science)
Issue: NASA has recently announced it would give funds to a California- based 3D printing company for finding ways to turn asteroids into giant, autonomous spacecraft, which could fly to outposts in space
About the project
- Made In Space’s project, known as RAMA (Reconstituting Asteroids into Mechanical Automata), could one day enable space colonization by helping make off-Earth manufacturing efficient and economically viable
- The company plans to use 3D printing to turn the asteroids into self-flying vehicles by 2030.
- The company is considering sending an advanced robotic “Seed Craft” out to rendezvous with a succession of near-Earth asteroids in space, as part of its long-term project.
- The ‘‘Seed Craft’’ would harvest material from the space rocks, then use this feedstock to construct propulsion, navigation, energy-storage and other key systems onsite with the aid of 3D printing and other technologies.
- Thus transformed into autonomous spacecraft, the asteroids could be programmed to fly to a mining station in Earth-moon space, or anywhere else they’re needed.
‘Smart city’ (GS3: Investment Model)
Issue: The government on Monday announced a new Cities Investment To Innovate, Integrate and Sustain (CITIIS) challenge to identify top projects in 15 of the 100 selected smart cities, which will then receive an additional funding of approximately ₹80 crore each.
The cities would be encouraged to pitch projects in four particular sectors: sustainable mobility, public open spaces, urban governance & ICT, and social innovation in low-income settlements.
About the Smart City mission
The Smart Cities Mission, which was launched in June 2015, covers 100 Indian cities, with Shillong being added as the final city to the list recently. After the Jawaharlal Nehru Urban Renewal Mission, a smart city is one of the biggest central government financed urban development schemes.
‘Aralam farm’ (GS4: Dedication to Public Service)
Issue: After decades of murderous political violence and underdevelopment, Kannur is slowly realising its potential under a 31-year-old collector, Mir Muhammad Ali. A slew of his initiatives ranging from getting tribal children back to the Aralam school to fighting fake news about measles-rubella vaccine killing children, have been taken up in an attempt to change Kannur’s image from being the country’s bloodiest battleground between the left and right.
Some of the initiatives taken by him:
- One of his first initiatives was to make people reduce tons of plastics on their own and announce the city plastic free in six months. Kannur is dotted with picturesque rolling green pastures and pristine beaches that have not been exposed to mass tourism.
- next focus was to reach out to schools
- A major campaign against fake news on social media, focusing on students, as many parents in Kannur were unwilling to give measles-rubella vaccines to children last year, solely because of damaging rumours spreading on Whatsapp.
Note: You can quote such examples in your ethics paper which will add weightage to your answer
‘India Tourism Mart’ (GS3: Indian Economy)
Issue: The Minister of State (I/C) for Tourism, Shri. K. J. Alphons announced today that the Tourism Ministry in partnership with the Federation of Associations in Indian Tourism and Hospitality (FAITH) and with the support of State /UT Governments will organize the ‘first ever’ India Tourism Mart (ITM) from 16th to 18th September, 2018
About the event
The objective of the event is to create an annual Global Tourism Mart for India in line with major international travel marts being held in countries across the world. The Mart will provide a platform for all stakeholders in the tourism and hospitality industries to interact and transact business opportunities.
‘India-South Korea ties’ (GS2: Bilateral Relations)
Issue: India and South Korea signed five MoUs in the field of Science & Technology.
The MoUs signed include:
- Programme of Cooperation 2018-21;
- (ii) Establishment of Future Strategy Group;
- (iii) Cooperation in Biotechnology & Bio-economy
- Two other MoUs were signed between Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR), and South Korean National Research Council for Science & Technology and IIT Mumbai and Korea Institute of Science &Technology, to further accelerate future-oriented cooperation in their respective sectors.
Other areas where India and South Korea will work together
The Ministers also agreed to establish a Future Strategic Group, which will build a collaborative platform that can utilize the potential of both the countries towards fostering innovation and create impact which is of social and economic good. To begin with, both sides will be co-funding collaborative enterprise-led joint R&D projects covering (i) Digital Transformation (ii) Future Manufacturing (iii) Future Utilities and (iv) health care
It was also agreed to jointly establish two additional India-Korea Joint Network Centres in areas among ‘Cyber Physical System- Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things focused on agriculture, energy, water and transportation and ‘Semiconductor Electronics’.
‘Institutions of Eminence’ (GS2: Issues related to Education)
Issue: The Government has shortlisted Six Institutions of Eminence (IoEs) including 3 from Public Sector and 3 from Private Sector. An Empowered Expert Committee (EEC) in its report recommended selection of 6 institutions (3 from public sector and 3 from private sector) as Institutions of Eminence
About Institutions of Eminence
It is expected that the above selected Institutions will come up in top 500 of the world ranking in 10 years and in top 100 of the world ranking eventually overtime. To achieve the top world ranking, these Institutions shall be provided with greater autonomy to admit foreign students up to 30% of admitted students; to recruit foreign faculty up to 25% of faculty strength; to offer online courses up to 20% of its programmes; to enter into academic collaboration with top 500 in the world ranking Institutions without permission of UGC; free to fix and charge fees from foreign students without restriction; flexibility of course structure in terms of number of credit hours and years to take a degree; complete flexibility in fixing of curriculum and syllabus, among others.
Each public Institution selected as ‘Institution of Eminence’ will get financial assistance up to Rs. 1000 Crore over the period of five years under this scheme.