13th August, 2018-IAS Current Affairs
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‘NASA’s Parker Solar Probe’ (GS3: Science)
Issue: NASA has launched Parker Solar Probe, the US space agency’s historic small car-sized probe, on its seven-year space odyssey that will take it gradually closer to the Sun at 3.8 million miles.
About the mission
Parker Solar Probe is a NASA robotic spacecraft en route to probe the outer corona of the Sun. The mission’s findings will help researchers improve their forecasts of space weather events, which have the potential to damage satellites and harm astronauts in orbit, disrupt radio communications and, at their most severe, overwhelm power grids.
The probe is named after Eugene Parker, a solar physicist, who in 1958 first predicted the existence of the solar wind, a stream of charged particles and magnetic fields that flow continuously from the sun.
What is Sun’s Corona?
Our Sun is surrounded by a jacket of gases called an atmosphere. The corona is the outermost part of the Sun’s atmosphere.
The corona is usually hidden by the bright light of the Sun’s surface. That makes it difficult to see without using special instruments. However, the corona can be seen during a total solar eclipse.
The corona reaches extremely high temperatures. However, the corona is very dim. The corona is about 10 million times less dense than the Sun’s surface. This low density makes the corona much less bright than the surface of the Sun.
The corona extends far out into space. From it comes the solar wind that travels through our solar system. The corona’s temperature causes its particles to move at very high speeds. These speeds are so high that the particles can escape the Sun’s gravity.
‘Rupee Value’ (GS3: Indian Economy)
Issue: Uncertainties in Turkey which is adversely impacting it’s currency also impacted financial markets in India with the rupee plunging to all time low of 69.62 a dollar and the Sensex tumbling over 250 points.
Why is Turkey facing pressure?
The Turkish Lira came under pressure following challenges faced by the economy but more importantly due to its deteriorating relationship with the United States.
Impact of Turkey’s lira freefall
- A plunge in the Turkish lira rocked global equities and emerging markets
- Fear of further fallout sent investors scurrying for safety in assets like the yen and U.S. government bonds. This is impacting India as well
- Bank shares across Europe fell and the euro slipped to its lowest since July 2017
The flare-up in tensions has made it difficult for global investors to justify remaining in Europe and is negative for emerging markets
‘V S Naipaul’ (Facts that could be asked in Prelims)
Issue: V.S. Naipaul, the Nobel laureate who documented the migrations of peoples, the unraveling of the British Empire, the ironies of exile and the clash between belief and unbelief in more than a dozen unsparing novels and as many works of nonfiction, died on Saturday at his home in London.
About the author
- S. Naipaul was a British writer who won the 2001 Nobel Prize for Literature. He was born in Trinidad in a family with Indian roots, resided in England as an adult and traveled across and wrote about India, Africa, the Islamic world, and South and North America in his novels and non-fiction works.
He is known for his comic early novels set in Trinidad and Tobago, his bleaker later novels of the wider world, and his autobiographical chronicles of life and travels. He published more than thirty books, both of fiction and nonfiction, over some fifty years.
‘Laboratory for the Conservation of Endangered Species (LaCONES)’ (GS3: Science and Technology)
Issue: The Laboratory for the Conservation of Endangered Species (LaCONES), a dedicated facility of CSIR’s Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) in Hyderabad uses modern biotechnologies for conservation of endangered wildlife.
Achievement of CCMB
Scientists of CCMB were successful in producing off-springs of blue rock pigeon, spotted deer and blackbuck, which were on the verge of extinction, through artificial insemination of cryo-preserved sperm. CCMB scientists in collaboration with Nehru Zoological Park, Hyderabad have now rescued Indian Mouse Deer from extinction through successful conservation breeding programme.
Success story of Indian Mouse Deer presents an example of collaborative effort of different agencies – CSIR-CCMB, Central Zoo Authority and Telangana State Forest Department in working towards a national cause.
Significance of such conservation efforts
Despite being one of the most biodiverse countries in the world, nearly 14% of all species in India face serious threat of extinction. It is therefore, important to carry out conservation breeding and assisted reproductive strategies for conservation and management of threatened species. Long-term storage of gametes, primary cells and tissues collected from threatened species could be an important step in establishing genetic resource for reproductive technologies in conservation breeding programmes.
CCMB-LaCONES is the only laboratory in India that has developed methods for collection and cryopreservation of semen and oocytes from wildlife and successfully reproducing endangered blackbuck, spotted deer and Nicobar pigeons.
‘Clot buster’ (GS3: Science)
Issue: A new Clot buster, PEGylated Streptokinase – a Novel Biological Entity developed by Dr. Girish Sahni, DG, CSIR and Secretary, DSIR and his team of inventors at CSIR-Institute of Microbial Technology (CSIR-IMTECH), Chandigarh is all set to revolutionize the treatment of ischemic strokes
What are Ischemic strokes?
Ischemic stroke is a condition caused by a dysfunction in the supply of blood to the brain due to emboli, thrombus or atherosclerosis occurring in cerebral arteries. According to the American Stroke Association (ASA), brain strokes are the second leading cause of death in the world with a staggering 15 million people effected causing 11 million people either die or become permanently disabled. Surprisingly, the prevalence of stroke is much higher in India than the West and about 87% of all strokes are ischemic strokes.
About the new product
PEGylated Streptokinase, the novel recombinant protein Thrombolytic molecule has been precisely engineered through decades of research for enhanced proteolytic stability and extended plasma half-life, fibrin-specificity and associated clot specificity, with reduced immuno-reactivity which would be significant attributes with unmistakable clinical advantages such as reduced probability of hemorrhage over current treatment regimens of thrombolytic drugs for acute stroke.
‘UP defence industrial corridor’ (GS2: Government policies for development in various sectors)
Issue: Uttar Pradesh Defence Industrial Corridor took off to a great start with an announcement of investment over Rs. 3700 crore in defence production at Industry Meet organized at Aligarh
Investments in UP Defence Industrial Corridor made are as follows:
HAL -Rs. 1200 crore, OFB – Rs. 1077 crore, MKU – Rs. 900 crore, BEL- Rs. 240 crore, Bharat Forge – Rs. 200 crore and PTC – Rs. 115 crore. The total amount of investment announced was of the order of Rs. 3732 crore. Boeing India announced setting up of a skill centre in cooperation with HAL.
‘Solar Target’ (GS3: Infrastructure related to Energy)
Issue: India will not be able to achieve its ambitious target of generating 100GW solar power by 2022, ratings agency Crisil said. The best-case scenario, the country will touch 78-80 GW, against the current capacity of 21.65 GW.
Factors pointed out in the report for the failure to meet the solar target
- A safeguard duty on solar modules from China and Malaysia, which took effect this month and will continue for two years, is expected to slow capacity addition.
- A key area of concern is the rooftop solar segment. The solar mission’s target for the rooftop segment—using the rooftops of commercial and industrial units to generate their own power and depend less on the grid—is 40 GW by 2022. Crisil expects this figure to be not more than 8 GW by 2023, because the cost of power here is expected to be far higher than from the grid.
India is the world’s third-largest energy consumer after the US and China. Its renewable energy programme is ambitious where as it stands now.
About National Solar Energy mission
The immediate aim of the Mission is to focus on setting up an enabling environment for solar technology penetration in the country both at a centralized and decentralized level.
To achieve this, the Mission targets are:
- To create an enabling policy framework for the deployment of 20,000 MW of solar power by 2022.
- To ramp up capacity of grid-connected solar power generation to 1000 MW within three years – by 2013; an additional 3000 MW by 2017 through the mandatory use of the renewable purchase obligation by utilities backed with a preferential tariff. This capacity can be more than doubled – reaching 10,000MW installed power by 2017 or more, based on the enhanced and enabled international finance and technology transfer. The ambitious target for 2022 of 20,000 MW or more, will be dependent on the ‘learning’ of the first two phases, which if successful, could lead to conditions of grid-competitive solar power. The transition could be appropriately up scaled, based on availability of international finance and technology.
- To create favorable conditions for solar manufacturing capability, particularly solar thermal for indigenous production and market leadership.
- To promote programmes for off grid applications, reaching 2000 MW by 2022 including 20 million solar lighting systems.
‘Climate-connect’ (GS3: Conservation of Environment)
Issue: London-based Indian energy start-up Climate Connect is seeking to raise $5-10 million
About the start up
Climate Connect, which deploys artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning technology software across the energy generation, transmission and distribution spectrum, currently works with a portfolio of 20 gigawatts (GW).
The company offers real-time intraday, day-ahead, term-ahead, and long-term energy forecasts using AI algorithms powered by millions of hourly data points from the transmission system, distribution network, generation types, and weather models. It also forecasts market prices and bid volumes.
Its stated aim is to use technology to make renewable energy affordable to the masses.
‘ISRO TV channel’ (GS3: Science)
Issue: The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) will have an year-long Vikram Sarabhai centenary celebration starting in August 2019 to honor the visionary scientist and its legendary founding father.
In a few months’ time, it plans to roll out a dedicated ISRO TV channel showcasing space applications, developments and science issues, targeting young viewers and people in remote areas in their language.
About the Vikram Sarabhai
Vikram Ambalal Sarabhai (12 August 1919 – 30 December 1971) was an Indian scientist and innovator widely regarded as the father of India’s space programme.
Known as the cradle of space sciences in India, the Physical Research Laboratory (PRL) was founded in 1947 by Vikram Sarabhai. Sarabhai was only 28 when he sowed the seeds of a space agency around the late 1940s and 1950s.
ISRO’s tributes to Sarabhai start with naming the first Indian moon landing spacecraft of the Chandrayaan-2 mission ‘Vikram’. The mission is planned for early 2019.
‘Scylla serrata’ (Facts that could be asked in Prelims)
Issue: Hunt for the high-valued crab Scylla serrata is the most remunerative task for the womenfolk along the mangrove belts in Krishna district.
While the south-east Asian countries look at India’s mangrove patches for their consumption need, the progressive farmers in the country are running after the seed the scarcity of which has created an additional demand for it. The average price of the Scylla serrata is ₹1,200 to ₹1,500 per kg in any season.
‘Viraj Madappa’ (Facts that could be asked in Prelims)
Issue: The 20-year-old becomes the youngest Indian to win an Asian Tour title
While his nearest rivals crumbled in the face of pressure and testing conditions, the 20-year-old held his nerve and collected the TAKE Solutions Masters trophy with a four-under 67 final round on Sunday. The maiden Asian Tour title also made him richer by $63,000. Madappa became the youngest Indian to win on the Asian Tour, beating the record held by Gaganjeet Bhullar who won the Indonesia Invitational when he was 21.
‘CAG report’ (GS2: Constitutional bodies)
Issue: No facility exists for training Navy crew on various aspects of damage control and firefighting in a submarine, the Comptroller and Auditor-General (CAG) has observed in a report
Observations made in the report
- Even after identifying the requirement of a critical training facility and recommendations by a Board, which investigated a major submarine accident, there is undue delay in procurement and installation of the same
- The report highlighted delays in the completion of the Naval Academy Project at Ezhimala, non-availability of training equipment for new induction platforms, a deficiency in quality of training and other issues.
Need for this facility
Training in damage control and firefighting assumes greater importance as India inducts nuclear submarines into its fleet. Indigenously built ballistic missile nuclear submarine (SSBN) INS Arihant was quietly inducted in 2016, and follow on boats are in various stages of testing and construction. India also has the nuclear attack submarine (SSN) INS Chakra, which is on-lease from Russia.