News Crux Science & Technology

Mars Ice Mapping Mission


NASA, in collaboration with the Italian Space Agency (ASI), the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), is planning to launch a robotic Mars ice mapping mission, which could help the agency identify potential science objectives for initial human missions to Mars. It could help identify abundant, accessible ice for future candidate landing sites on the Red Planet.

  • The international Mars Ice Mapper mission would detect the location, depth, spatial extent, and abundance of near-surface ice deposits, which would enable the science community to interpret a more detailed volatile history of Mars.
  • The radar-carrying orbiter would also help identify properties of the dust, loose rocky material—known as regolith—and rock layers that might impact the ability to access ice.
  • The ice-mapping mission could help the agency identify potential science objectives for initial human missions to Mars, which are expected to be designed for about 30 days of exploration on the surface.

News Crux Science & Technology

HAL And MIDHANI To Develop & Manufacture Composite Raw Materials


  • Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and Mishra Dhatu Nigam Limited (MIDHANI) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for development and production of composite raw materials during the Aero India 2021 in Bengaluru.
  • This is the first time that such a MoU has been signed for composite raw materials.
  • Composites raw materials, mainly in the form of prepregs used in platforms like Light Combat Aircraft (LCA), Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH), Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) and Light Utility Helicopter (LUH) are currently imported.
  • There is no equivalent proven Indian approved/qualified supplier for various types of prepregs (carbon, aramid, glass types, etc) for the aircraft applications. This creates dependency on foreign Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs).
  • The usage of composites in the aerospace is going to exist and increase, particularly for fighter aircraft/helicopter because of its inherent advantages over metallic raw materials. In addition, similar requirement exists for other aerospace and defence programmes, including those of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO) and National Aerospace Laboratories (NAL).

What are Prepregs?

  • Prepregs are composite materials in which a reinforcement fiber is pre-impregnated with a thermoplastic or thermoset resin matrix in a certain ratio. Prepregs have unique properties as they are cured under high temperatures and pressures.

News Crux International

IOR Defence Ministers’ Conclave


  • The Indian Ocean Region (IOR) Defence Ministers’ Conclave was held with a keynote address by defence Minister of India - Rajnath Singh - on 4th February on the sidelines of Aero India 2021 in Bengaluru.
  • He highlighted India’s approach and vision to tackle global challenges through Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi’s dynamic five ‘S’ vision - Samman (Respect), Samvaad (Dialogue), Sahyog (Cooperation), Shanti (Peace) and Samriddhi (Prosperity).
  • Twenty six out of 28 countries from the IOR region attended the conclave either physically or in virtual mode.

Geopolitical and Commercial significance of IOR

  • Indian Ocean is a shared asset and a lifeline to international trade and transport due to its control of major sea-lanes carrying half of the world’s container ships, one third of the world’s bulk cargo traffic and two thirds of the world’s oil shipments.

Challenges Faced in IOR

  • IOR faces a number of challenges such as piracy, smuggling of drugs/people and arms, humanitarian and disaster relief, and Search & Rescue (SAR).

India & IOR

  • As the largest nation in the IOR region with a vast coast line of 7500 Kms, India has an active role to play for peaceful and prosperous co-existence of all countries.
  • To promote trade and tourism among IOR countries India has initiated various programmes like Sagarmala, Project Mausam, and Asia Africa Growth Corridor, etc.
  • In consonance with the Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of SAGAR, Neighbourhood First and Act East Policies, India has adopted a cooperative approach through capacity building assistance in partner countries. This was reflected in India’s supply of Indian made ships, maritime aircraft and setting-up of Coastal Surveillance Radar Systems, etc.
  • Defence Minister of India has announced that India is ready to supply various types of weapons systems to IOR countries.
  • India is developing a comprehensive Maritime Domain Awareness picture in the IOR, which has resulted in signing of Technical Agreements for sharing of ‘White Shipping Information’.
  • In IOR region India is providing Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR), Non-combatant Evacuation (NEO), and Search and Rescue (SAR).

News Crux States In News

Andhra Pradesh: 2nd State To Undertake Power Sector Reforms


Andhra Pradesh has become the second State after Madhya Pradesh to undertake the power sector reforms stipulated by the Department of Expenditure, Ministry of Finance.

As part of the reforms, the State has started Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) of electricity subsidy to farmers with effect from September, 2020. Thus, the State has successfully implemented one out of the three stipulated reforms in the power sector.

As per the guidelines issued by the Department of Expenditure, the States undertaking reforms in power sector are granted permission to raise additional financial resources of up to 0.25 percent of the GSDP. This is linked to a set of 3 reforms in the sector:

  1. 0.05 % of GSDP for reduction in Aggregate Technical & Commercial losses in the State as per prescribed targets.
  2. Another, 0.05 % of GSDP is allowed for reduction in the gap between Average Cost of Supply and Average Revenue Realisation (ACS-ARR gap) in the State as per prescribed targets.
  3. Finally, 0.15 % of GSDP of the State on introduction of Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) to all farmers in the State in lieu of free/ subsidised electricity. For this, the State government has to frame a scheme for transfer of cash and implement the scheme in at least one district by 31st December, 2020.

PIB News Economy

Fishery Sector In Budget 2021-22


  • Finance Minister has allocated an amount of Rs. 1220.84 crores for the Department of Fisheries, which is the highest ever annual budgetary support for the Department. This marks a 34% increase over the budget of FY 2020-21. Further, this includes an allocation of Rs. 1000 crores for the flagship scheme of the Department, Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana (PMMSY) scheme for FY 2021-21, enhanced by 43% from FY 2020-21.
  • Substantial investments will be done for the development of modern fishing harbours and fish landing centres. To start with, 5 major fishing harbours – Kochi, Chennai, Visakhapatnam, Paradip, and Petuaghat – will be developed as hubs of economic activity.
  • Further, inland fishing harbours and fish-landing centres will also be developed along the banks of rivers and waterways. Finance Minister has laid emphasis on the development of Inland Fisheries and for the first time in the history of the Fisheries sector, riverine harbours and fish landing centres will be constructed along the banks of rivers and waterways. The riverine fishing harbours and landing centres besides providing the aforementioned benefits will also provide the required thrust towards the organization of the inland fisheries sector which has hitherto been unorganized.
  • Technologically advanced deep-sea fishing vessels with modern supporting facilities will also be rolled out for optimally harnessing the potential of EEZ and High Seas, thereby doubling incomes of fishermen and other stakeholders.
  • This will also facilitate collectivization and registration of fishermen, fish workers and fish vendors associated with the fishing harbours and landing centres into Fish Farmer Producer Organisations (FFPOs).
  • Also, a Multipurpose Seaweed Park will be established in Tamil Nadu. India with a 2.2 million sq. km EEZ area and 0.53 sq km continental shelf has enormous scope for seaweed cultivation and development of indigenous seaweed-based industries comprising of value-added products, nutraceuticals, biofuels, bioplastics, etc. which can substantially contribute to the global markets.