Indian Scientists develop Carbon-based Wrapper for preserving Fruits


  • Indian researchers led by Dr. P. S Vijayakumar from Institute of Nano Science and Technology, Mohali have developed a composite paper made of carbon (graphene oxide) loaded with preservatives that can be used as wrappers to help extend shelf life of fruits.
  • Unlike the present preservative dipping technology, where the preservatives are adsorbed by the fruit, causing chronic toxicity to the consumers; here preservatives the wrapper releases the preservative only when needed. Conventional preservation relies on coating the preservative with the resin, wax, or edible polymer, which may cause chronic health problems.
  • The wrapper can be reused, which is not possible with the present technology.

India's First Earthquake Early Warning Mobile App


India's first early warning mobile application which can alert users before an earthquake was recently launched in Uttarakhand.

  • The application is called 'Uttarakhand Bhookamp Alert' and has been developed by IIT Roorkee.
  • The project was sponsored by the Uttarakhand State Disaster Management Authority.

Features

  • The application uses an Earthquake Early Warning (EEW), a real-time earthquake information system that can detect the onset of the earthquake.
  • It can issue warnings before significant tremors take hold of an area.
  • The app can also help to tell the location of people trapped inside a structure following an earthquake.
  • It disseminates information regarding the occurrence of an earthquake, as well as the expected time of arrival and intensity at the tremor location to prevent any loss of life.
  • It is compatible with both Android and iOS platforms, and is available in two versions.

EEW exploits the Advantage of Varying Speeds of Seismic Waves

  • According to IIT-Roorkee experts, the physical basis for an earthquake early warning system is the speed of the seismic waves, which propagate after the release of stress from faults movement. The strong ground shaking is caused by shear waves which travel at about half the speed of the primary waves and much slower than electromagnetic signals. The EEW system exploits this advantage.

Indian Scientists Develop Self-Healing Materials


  • Researchers from the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER) Kolkata, teaming up with IIT Kharagpur, have developed piezoelectric molecular crystals that repair themselves from mechanical damages without need for any external intervention.
  • Piezoelectric crystals are a class of materials that generate electricity when it undergoes a mechanical impact.
  • The piezoelectric molecules developed by the scientists called bipyrazole organic crystals recombine following mechanical fracture without any external intervention, autonomously self-healing in milliseconds with crystallographic precision.
  • In these molecular solids, due to the unique property of generating electrical charges on mechanical impact, the broken pieces acquire electrical charges at the crack junction, leading to attraction by damaged parts and precise autonomous repair.

AIM, NITI Aayog, AWS Announce New Initiatives To Boost Innovation


  • Atal Innovation Mission, NITI Aayog, and Amazon Web Services have announced new initiatives to strengthen the innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem in India.
  • This will be done by empowering school students with cloud computing skills, and enabling entrepreneurs to build innovative education technology solutions on the cloud.
  • Atal Innovation Mission will leverage Amazon Web Services Educate, which is Amazon’s global program that provides resources for students and educators to accelerate cloud-related learning.
  • This program will introduce the fundamentals of cloud computing such as cloud storage, virtual compute power, web hosting, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and virtual reality, to students at more than 7000 Atal Tinkering Labs.
  • It will equip the talented youth of the country with digital and web-based tools that can enhance their creative and innovative capabilities.

Fly Ash


  • Recently, two people died and four were missing after a dyke of a fly ash pond of Reliance’s Sasan Ultra Mega Power Project in Singrauli breached , causing spillage on several acres of agricultural fields.
  • The project, owned by Anil Ambani's Reliance Power, is 780 kilometres northeast of the state capital of Bhopal.
  • Singrauli houses various power projects, including NTPC, Coal India, Reliance Power and Essar Power.

About Fly Ash

  • Also known as flue ash and pulverised fuel ash, fly ash is a fine powder that is a byproduct of burning pulverized coal in electric generation power plants.

Production

  • It is produced by coal-fired electric and steam generating plants. Typically, coal is pulverized and blown with air into the boiler's combustion chamber where it immediately ignites, generating heat and producing a molten mineral residue.
  • Boiler tubes extract heat from the boiler, cooling the flue gas and causing the molten mineral residue to harden and form ash.
  • Coarse ash particles, referred to as bottom ash or slag, fall to the bottom of the combustion chamber, while the lighter fine ash particles, termed fly ash, remain suspended in the flue gas.

Properties

Physical Properties

  • It depend on the nature of coal; mineral matter chemistry and mineralogy, furnace  design,  furnace  operation  and  method  of  particulate  control;  such  as Sulphur Oxide (SOx) and Nitrogen Oxide (NOx) control technologies.
  • Fly ash particles are generally spherical in shape and ranging from 0.5 µm to 100 µm.

Chemical Properties

  • Major Constituents: Fly ash is a pozzolan, a substance containing aluminous and siliceous material that forms cement in the presence of water. In addition, it contains ferric oxide and calcium oxide.
  • Minor Constituents: Arsenic, beryllium, boron, cadmium, chromium, hexavalent chromium, cobalt, lead, manganese, mercury, molybdenum, selenium, strontium, thallium, and vanadium, along with very small concentrations of dioxins and PAH compounds.

Classification

  • Basically, there are two classes of fly ash: Class F and Class C fly ash.
  • The chief difference between these classes is the amount of calcium, silica, alumina, and iron content in the ash.

Class F

  • The burning of harder, older anthracite and bituminous coal typically produces Class F fly ash.
  • This fly ash is pozzolanic in nature, and contains less than 7% lime (CaO).

Class C

  • Fly ash produced from the burning of younger lignite or sub-bituminous coal, in addition to having pozzolanic properties, also has some self-cementing properties.
  • Class C fly ash generally contains more than 20% lime (CaO).
  • Unlike Class F, self-cementing Class C fly ash does not require an activator.

Applications of Fly Ash

  • Fly-ash pellets which can replace normal aggregate in concrete mixture
  • Embankments and other structural fills (usually for road construction)
  • Grout and Flowable fill production
  • Waste stabilization and solidification
  • Cement clinker production - (as a substitute material for clay)
  • Mine reclamation
  • Stabilization of soft soils
  • Road subbase construction
  • As aggregate substitute material (e.g. for brick production)
  • Mineral filler in asphaltic concrete
  • Agricultural uses: soil amendment, fertilizer, cattle feeders, soil stabilization in stock feed yards, and agricultural stakes
  • Loose application on rivers to melt ice
  • Loose application on roads and parking lots for ice control

Benefits

  • Fly ash can be a cost-effective substitute for Portland cement in many markets.
  • It is also recognized as an environmentally friendly material because it is a byproduct and has low embodied energy, the measure of how much energy is consumed in producing and shipping a building material.
  • Fly ash utilization, especially in concrete, has significant environmental benefits including:
  • increasing the life of concrete roads and structures by improving concrete durability,
  • net reduction in energy use and greenhouse gas and other adverse air emissions when fly ash is used to replace or displace manufactured cement
  • reduction in amount of coal combustion products that must be disposed in landfills
  • conservation of other natural resources and materials.

Environmental Hazard

  • When ash is disposed in dry landfills or wet ponds, there are associated environmental effects. Wet surface impoundments account for a fifth of coal ash disposal.
  • These wet impoundments can be an issue if they do not have proper liners for the landfill or pond to prevent leaking and leaching.
  • Both leaking and leaching lead to groundwater contamination.
  • This groundwater contamination can be harmful to human heath if the groundwater is a source of drinking water.
  • In addition to leaching, fly ash toxics are able to travel through the environment as a result of erosion, runoff, or through the air as fine dust.
  • Application of flyash, particularly unweathered ones, shows a tendency of accumulating elements like B, Mo, Se and Al. The accumulations of these elements to toxic levels are responsible for reductions in the crop yields and consequently influence animal and human health.

Health Hazard

  • Fly ash contains crystalline silica which is known to cause lung disease, in particular silicosis, if inhaled.
  • It impacts on the nervous system, causing cognitive defects, developmental delays, and behavioral problems while also increasing a person's chance of developing kidney disease, and gastrointestinal illness.

Genome India Project


  • On 7th February, 2020, the government gave clearance to an ambitious gene-mapping project- Genome India Project (GIP), which has been described as the “first scratching of the surface of the vast genetic diversity of India”.

Need            

  • Indian ethnicity is under-represented in genomic datasets currently according to experts and the diverse population of the country interest’s genome-mining researchers across the globe.
  • This has been found necessary as over 95% of the genome samples available, which are the basis of new, cutting-edge research in medicine and pharmacology, use the white, Caucasian genome as the base.
  • Mapping of India's genetic landscape is critical for next generation medicine, agriculture and for biodiversity management.

About Genome India Project

  • The GIP will be spearheaded by the Centre for Brain Research at Bengaluru-based Indian Institute of Science as the nodal point of about 20 institutions, each doing its bit in collecting samples, doing the computations, and then the research.
  • The project hopes to form a grid after collecting 10,000 samples in the first phase from across India, to arrive at a representative Indian genome.
  • To support this development, government will initiate two new national level Science Schemes, to create a comprehensive database.

Genome

  • A genome is an organism’s complete set of Deoxyribose Nucleic Acid (DNA), including all its genes.
  • Each genome contains all of the information needed to build and maintain that organism.
  • In humans, a copy of the entire genome — more than 3 billion DNA base pairs — is contained in all cells that have a nucleus.

Impact of GIP

Building Indian Reference Genome

  • The GIP will help vastly to add to the available information on the human species and advance the cause, both because of the scale and the diversity of the Indian population.
  • Its aim is to ultimately build a grid of the Indian “reference genome”, to understand fully the type and nature of diseases and traits that comprise the diverse Indian population. For example, if the Northeast sees a tendency towards a specific disease, interventions can be made in the region, assisting public health, which make it easier to battle the illness.

Healthcare Genomics

  • The most obvious use would be in personalized medicine, anticipating diseases and modulating treatment according to the genome of patients.
  • For instance, cardiovascular disease generally leads to heart attacks in South Asians, but to strokes in most parts of Africa.
  • If such propensities to disease can be mapped to variations across genomes, it is believed public health interventions can be targeted better, and diseases anticipated before they develop.

Agriculture Genomics

  • It would help to develop a better understanding of the genetic basis of susceptibility to blights, rusts and pests and to improve and design crops with enhanced resistance.
  • Further, it may become possible to deter them genetically, and reduce dependence on chemicals.

Contribution to Global Science

  • Global science would also benefit from a mapping project in one of the world’s most diverse gene pools, which would provide data useful for the mapping of the spread and migration of a range of life forms in the Old World, from plants to humans.

Issues Involved

Medical Ethics: In a project that aims only to create a database of genetic information, gene modification is not among the stated objectives. Recently China-based scientist, who helped create the world’s first gene-edited babies, was sentenced to three years in prison exposes the risk of doctors privately running away with the idea of fixing genetic issues.

Data & Storage Issue: Anonymity of the data and questions of its possible use and misuse is another challenge which would need to be addressed. Keeping the data on a cloud is fraught with problems and would raise questions of ownership of the data.

India is yet to pass a Data Privacy Bill with adequate safeguards. Launching a Genome India Project before the privacy question is settled could give rise to another set of problems.

Social Issues: India has been plagued with the question of heredity and racial purity and more scientific studies of genes and classifying them could reinforce stereotypes and allow for politics and history to acquire a racial twist. A Genome India Project would further add a genetic dimension to the ongoing debate of being indigenous and non-indigenous.


Genome Mapping
 

  • Genome mapping essentially means figuring out the location of a specific gene on a particular region of the chromosome and also determining the location of and relative distances between other genes on that chromosome.
  • The first ever genetic map was created by Alfred Strutevant while he worked on Drosophila melanogaster with Thomas Hunt Morgan.
  • Genome mapping provided a critical starting point for the Human Genome Project.
  • A Centimorgan is a unit used to measure genetic linkage. One centimorgan equals a one percent chance that a marker on a chromosome will become separated from a second marker on the same chromosome due to crossing over in a single generation.

Types

  • Genetic Mapping: It looks at how genetic information is shuffled between chromosomes or between different regions in the same chromosome during meiosis (a type of cell division).
  • Physical Mapping: It looks at the physical distance between known DNA sequences (including genes) by working out the number of base pairs (A-T, C-G) between them.

Human Genome Project (HGP)

HGP was an international programme that led to the decoding of the entire human genome.

Beginning on October 1, 1990 and completed in April 2003, the HGP gave us the ability, for the first time, to read nature’s complete genetic blueprint for building a human being.

The project was able to identify the locations of many human genes and provide information about their structure and organisation.

ELSI Program

The Ethical, Legal, and Social Implications (ELSI) program was founded in 1990 as an integral part of the HGP.

The mission of the ELSI program was to identify and address issues raised by genomic research that would affect individuals, families, and society.

Four Focus Areas

  • Privacy and fairness in the use of genetic information, including the potential for genetic discrimination in employment and insurance.
  • The integration of new genetic technologies, such as genetic testing, into the practice of clinical medicine.
  • Ethical issues surrounding the design and conduct of genetic research with people, including the process of informed consent.
  • The education of healthcare professionals, policy makers, students, and the public about genetics and the complex issues that result from genomic research.


Difference between Genome Mapping and Genome Sequencing

  • The main difference between gene mapping and gene sequencing is that the gene mapping identifies the locus of genes and their relative distance within the genome whereas the gene sequencing spells out the order of the nucleotides, which makes up the genes in the genome.
  • Furthermore, gene mapping results in a less-detailed outcome while gene sequencing results in a fully-detailed outcome.


National Mission On Quantum Technologies & Applications


  • The government in its budget-2020 has announced a National Mission on Quantum Technologies & Applications (NM-QTA) for developing quantum computing linked technologies in the country.

Aim

  • It aims at harnessing the potential of QTA and keep the country in league with the ones taking the lead in the domain

Need for NM-QTA

  • Quantum technology is opening up new frontiers in computing, communications, cyber security and encryption with wide-spread applications.It is expected that lots of commercial applications would emerge from theoretical constructs which are developing in this area.
  • It is perceived that the countries who achieve an edge in this emerging field will have a greater advantage in garnering multifold economic growth and dominant leadership role.
  • With such notion, it has become imperative both for government and industries to be prepared to develop these emerging and disruptive technologies in order to secure our communications, financial transactions, remain competitive, drive societal progress, generate employment, foster economic growth and to improve the overall quality of life.

About NM-TQA

  • The mission will be implemented by the Department of Science & Technology (DST) for a period of five years.
  • Focus Area:The areas of focus for the Mission will be in fundamental science, translation, technology development, human and infrastructural resource generation, innovation and start-ups to address issues concerning national priorities.
  • The next generation transformative technologies that will receive a push under this mission include quantum computers and computing, quantum communication,quantum key distribution, encryption, crypt analysis, quantum devices, quantum sensing, quantum materials, quantum clock, etc.
  • Digital platform will be created which will facilitate seamless application and capture Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) and also in an institute of excellence, a centre will be established that will work in the field of intellectual property.
  • Knowledge translation clusters will be set up across different technology sectors including in new and emerging sectors for designing, fabrication and proof of concept.

QuEST Programme

  • The seeds for the national commitment to quantum computing was sown in mid-2017, when the DST’s Interdisciplinary Cyber-Physical Systems (ICPS) division invited proposals for projects related to quantum computing as part of the new Quantum-Enabled Science and Technology (QuEST) programme.
  • Phase-1 of the problem involvedhiring research experts and establishing teams with the know-how to physically build such systems.

Broad Objectives

  • Development and demonstration of quantum computers.
  • Development and demonstration of quantum communication & cryptography.
  • Development of quantum-enhanced and inspired technology.
  • Development of advanced mathematical quantum techniques, algorithms and theory ofquantum information systems.

Impact

Help in Development of Next Generation Technology

  • The Mission will be able address the ever increasing technological requirements of the society, and take into account the international technology trends and road maps of leading countries for development of next generation technologies.
  • It will help prepare next generation skilled manpower, boost translational research and also encourage entrepreneurship and start-up ecosystem development.

Boost to Quantum Technology

  • It would help develop and bring quantum computers, secured communications through fibre and free space, quantum encryption and crypt-analysis and associated technologies within reach in the country and help address India specific national and regional issues.

Bringing India in line with Advance Countries

  • By promoting advanced research in quantum science and technology, India can be brought at par with other advanced countries and can derive several direct and indirect benefits, leading to overall development of country.

Quantum Technologies

  • Quantum technologies comprise quantum computing, quantum communication, quantum optics, quantum information processing, quantum internet and quantum artificial intelligence.
  • It is based on the principles of quantum theory, which explains the nature of energy and matter on the atomic and subatomic level. It concerns the control and manipulation of quantum systems, with the goal of achieving information processing beyond the limits of the classical world.

Quantum Computing

  • Quantum computing is essentially harnessing and exploiting the amazing laws of quantum mechanics to process information.
  • A traditional computer uses long strings of “bits,” which encode either a zero or a one. A quantum computer, on the other hand, uses quantum bits, or qubits.Quibits are subatomic particles such as electrons and photons.
  • Operation of quantum computer is based on two key principles of quantum physics: Superposition and Entanglement.

Types

  • There are three primary types of quantum computing.
  • Quantum annealing
  • Quantum simulations
  • Universal quantum computing
  • Each type differs by the amount of processing power (qubits) needed and number of possible applications, as well as the time required to become commercially viable.

Advantages

  • Very Fast Performance:The basic advantage is speed as it is able to simulate several classical computers working in parallel.Exploiting the principles of quantum mechanics, they can easily tackle computational problems that may be tough for the classical computer as the size of the numbers and number of inputs involved grows bigger.
  • Highest Level of Accuracy:its highest level of accuracy makes it suitable for big data handling and cases concerned with national security, cyber security, etc.
  • Energy Efficient: In addition to holding the potential to solve some of the world’s most computationally challenging problems, quantum computers use significantly less energy, which could lead to lower costs.

Quantum Supremacy

  • Quantum supremacy refers to quantum computers being able to solve a problem that a classical computer cannot.
  • The term was coined by John Preskillin 2012.
  • In October, 2019, Google’s quantum computer- Sycamore, claimed to achieve  supremacy as it reportedly did the task in 200 seconds that would have apparently taken a supercomputer 10,000 years to complete.

Challenges

High Construction Cost

  • The cost of construction and handling of errors in qubitsis quite huge, posing a great challenge in development of quantum computer.
  • Another major obstacle in the construction of quantum computers has been the physical realisation of chips that can process qubits.

Decoherence

  • To create a quantum computer, it is essential to keep an object in an overlapping state long enough to carry out the number of processes that are required. Unfortunately, this is not always possible since it continually loses this state of superposition, which is known as
  • Decoherence, caused by vibrations, temperature fluctuations, electromagnetic waves and other interactions with the outside environment, ultimately destroys the exotic quantum properties of the computer.

Applications

  • Optimization, planning, and logistics
  • Forecasting
  • Financial modeling
  • Drug design and discovery
  • Genomics
  • Cyber security and cryptography
  • Molecular modeling
  • Chemistry modeling, computational chemistry
  • Material design and modeling
  • Aerospace physics
  • Quantum simulation — simulation of physical systems at the quantum mechanical level
  • Random number generation

Polycrack Technology


  • On 23rd January, 2020, Indian Railways commissioned the country's first governmental waste to energy plant in Mancheswar Carriage Repair Workshop at Bhubaneswar, Odisha under the East Coast Railway zone.
  • The plant will use Polycrack technology to process the scrap and convert waste into energy to produce light diesel oil in 24 hours.
  • This is the first such plant of the Indian Railways network and the third such plant across the country.
  • The first plant was a small one with a capacity of 50 kg a day set up by Infosys at Bangalore in 2011. The second came up at Moti Bagh in Delhi in 2014 and the third one was set up at Hindalco in 2019 with 50 kg capacity per batch.

Need

  • A big chunk of non-ferrous scrap is generated in Indian Railways workshops for which there is no efficient method of disposal and treatment. As a result, the scrap is sent to landfills, which is environmentally hazardous as its treatment is difficult.

What is Polycrack Technology?

  • Polycrack technology, the first patented heterogenous catalytic process, converts non-ferrous scraps into hydrocarbon liquid fuels, gas, carbon and water and doesn’t require pre-segregation of waste for their processing.

Waste Used

  • All types of plastic
  • Petroleum sludge
  • Un-segregated MSW (Municipal Solid Waste) with moisture up to 50 percent,
  • e-waste, automobile fluff
  • Organic waste including bamboo, garden waste, jatropha fruit and palm bunch
  • Sludge from Edible Oil Industry
  • De-oiled Cake from Edible Oil Industry

Features

  • Polycrack’s strength includes not requiring pre-segregation of waste, allowing waste as collected to be directly used. With a high moisture tolerance, drying of waste is not required.
  • The process is a closed cycle system and does not release dangerous pollutants into the atmosphere.
  • All constituents are converted into valuable energy thereby making it Zero Discharge Process.
  • The flammable, non-condensed gases are reused to supply the entire system with energy. The only emission comes from the combustion of gaseous fuels.
  • Gas generated in the process is re-used to provide energy to the system thereby making it self-reliant of its energy requirement and also bring down the operating cost.

Advantages

  • Fully automated system requires minimum man power.
  • Low capital cost and low operating cost.
  • Operates at around 450 degrees, making it a low temperature process when compared with other options.
  • Excellent air quality surrounding the plant.
  • Biological decomposition is not allowed as the Waste is treated as it is received.
  • The foot print of the WTE plant is small hence the area required for installing the plant is less when compared with conventional method of processing.
  • There is no atmospheric emission during the process unlike other conventional methods except for combustion gases which have pollutants less than the prescribed norms the world over.
  • Safe and efficient system with built-in safety features enables even an unskilled user to operate the machine with ease.

Waste to Energy

  • Waste-to-Energy (WTE) refers to a variety of treatment technologies that convert waste to electricity, heat, fuel, or other usable materials, as well as a range of residues including fly ash, sludge, slag, boiler ash, wastewater and emissions, including greenhouse gases.
  • It provides a safe, technologically advanced means of waste disposal that reduces greenhouse gases, generates clean energy and recycles metal.
  • It offers recovery of energy by conversion of non-recyclable materials through various processes including thermal and non-thermal technologies:

Thermal Technologies

  • Gasification
  • Pyrolysis
  • Thermal Depolymerization
  • PGP (Plasma Arc Gasification)

Non-thermal Technologies

  • Anaerobic Digestion
  • Mechanical biological treatment(MBT)
  • MBT + Anaerobic digestion
  • Ethanol Production
  • MBT to Refuse Derived Fuel

Benefits

  • Production and Use of Energy: Electricity and heat can be generated from waste, which provide an alternative and more environment-friendly source of energy.
  • Alternative to Fossil Fuels: Waste-to-energy is one of the most robust and effective alternative energy options to reduce CO2 emissions and replace fossil fuels.
  • Reduction of Waste Going to Landfill: Waste that would have normally gone to landfills is diverted to an energy processing unit thereby saving valuable land.
  • Help in Climate Change Mitigation: WTE is widely recognized as a technology that can help mitigate climate change. WTE facilities are the only form of energy generation that actually reduces greenhouse gases. When waste is delivered to a WTE facility, the methane that would have been generated if it were sent to a landfill is avoided.
  • Domestic Production of Energy: Plenty of waste is generated locally and hence there is no requirement of transportation of materials or this process from far out.
  • Benefit to Local Community and Economy: As waste to energy plants are generally setup locally it creates jobs, the local community benefits and materials are sourced locally.

Challenges

  • High Operating Cost: Effective waste management is expensive, often comprising 20 per cent to 50 % of municipal budgets.Despite all the subsidies, the electricity produced from WTE plants is the most expensive. Compared to Rs 3-4 per kWh from coal and solar plants, WTE plants sell electricity at about Rs 7/kWh.
  • Sustainability Issue: Most wastes sent to the WTE plants are un-segregated which impacts the power generation by the plant and leads to pollutants. Moreover, the leftover burnt material is not suitable for brick making, which then has to be disposed off in landfills, further increasing pollution.
  • Feasibility Issue: WTE plants do not get many buyers for the power they generate due to cheaper alternatives being available and high maintenance costs. This is because of a high capital cost, high operation & management expenses, low calorific value of the fuel used and the additional fuel used to burn the waste.
  • Health Issue: Because these plants have to handle a vast quantity of mixed waste, the housekeeping is extremely challenging leading to a lot of odour and visual pollution.

From Cloud Computing To Edge Computing


  • According to a research, by 2025, companies will generate and process more than 75% of their data outside of traditional centralised data centres- that is, at the “edge” of the cloud.
  • Internet of Things (IoT) devices are generating vast volumes of dataand approximately 80 billion devices will be connected to the internet by 2025.
  • In this backdrop, cloud-based systems cannot handle the massive rush of data, which gives way to Edge Computing.

Edge Computing

  • Edge computing is a distributed, open IT architecture that features decentralised processing power, enabling mobile computing and Internet of Things (IoT) technologies. Here, data is processed by the device itself or by a local computeror server, rather than being transmitted to a data centre.
  • Simply put, edge computing enables data to be analysed, processed, and transferred at the edge of a network.
  • The idea is to analyse data locally, closer to where it is stored, in real-time without latency, rather than send it far away to a centralised data centre. However, only the relevant data or information is collected and then sent, rather than all of the data collected.
  • Edge computing plays a pivotal role as it brings computing power, control, storage and applications closer to end users.
  • For ex. whether anyone is  streaming a video on Netflix or accessing a library of video games in the cloud, edge computing allows for quicker data processing and content delivery.

Difference with Fog Computing and Cloud Computing

  • The basic difference among the three lies in where the data processing takes place.
  • At the moment, the existing Internet of Things (IoT) systems perform all of their computations in the cloud using data centres.
  • Edge computing usually occurs directly on the devices to which the sensors are attached or a gateway device that is physically close to the sensors.That data doesn’t need to be sent over a network as soon as it processed; only important data is sent, reducing the amount of data that travels over the network.
  • Fog computing moves the edge computing activities to processors that are connected to the local area network (LAN) or into the LAN hardware itself so they may be physically more distant from the sensors and actuators.
  • In cloud computing, data is collected and analyzed in some centralized location where developers and operators have more control over processing and system communications.


Benefits

  • Cost Effective: It allows for efficient data processing in that large amounts of data can be processed near the source, reducing Internet bandwidth usage. This both eliminates costs and ensures that applications can be used effectively in remote locations.
  • Reduces Latency: Edge computing reduces data latency and trips between networks and devices, allowing smart applications and devices to respond to data almost instantaneously, as its being created, eliminating lag time. This is critical for technologies such as self-driving cars.
  • Faster Response Time: The response times with edge computing is also faster, as it doesn’t need to go to the cloud, thus reducing the time it takes to gather actionable insights from data.
  • Increased Data Security: Due to its ability to process data without ever putting it into a public cloud, edge computing adds a useful layer of security for sensitive data .It protects sensitive data and helps organisations have greater monitoring systems.
  • Uninterrupted Connectivity:It allows smart devices and manufacturing equipment to operate without disruption, even if they’re offline or there’s intermittent connectivity.
  • Works on Multiple Devices: whether devices are new or legacy, edge computing can covert communication protocols. This allows language from older devices to be converted into language that modern devices and the cloud can understand, which can also reduce new equipment costs.

Applications

  • Field and Industrial IoT: Various sensors and other field devices across verticals like Manufacturing, Transportation, and Power are a prime candidate for Edge computing. These devices can be Energy Meters, Aircraft engines, Oil rigs, Scanners in Retail, Wind turbines, Connected cars, Radio-frequency identifications (RFIDs) in Supply chain, Robotics, etc.These are often characterized by applications that collect data from edge devices and analyze it for different business use cases – security management, predictive maintenance, performance or usage tracking, demand forecasting, etc.
  • Smart Cities and Architecture: Many cities across the globe are contending for the tag of a Smart City. IoT devices will make living in such cities easier for citizens. The use cases here range from municipalities providing faster urban services (repair of equipment), traffic management (to reduce gridlock), public safety and green energy provisioning.
  • Customer Experience in Retail and Hospitality: Customer sentiment data and social media data is collected and analyzed to improve customer experience. Data here is being captured by a kiosk or a Point of Sale (PoS) system or Terminal.
  • Facial and Image Recognition:As a way of identifying customers and reducing fraud in verticals such as Retail, Banking, and Entertainment.

Challenges

  • Edge computing sites are usually remote with limited or no on-site technical expertise. If something fails on-site you need to have an infrastructure in place that can be fixed easily by non-technical local labor and further managed centrally by a small number of experts located elsewhere.
  • Scaling out to many small sites can be more complicated than adding the equivalent capacity to a single core datacenter. The increased overhead of physical locations can be difficult for smaller companies to manage.
  • Site management operations need to be highly reproducible across all edge computing sites to simplify management, allow for easier troubleshooting and to prevent the configuration of software implemented in slightly different ways at each of the sites.
  • While edge computing offers greater control over information flows by constraining the data geographically, the physical security of the site is often much lower. This can lead to a greater risk of malicious or accidental situations (like a tripped cable).

Way Forward

  • With specialized hardware, software, and developer environments, edge computing is likely to increase operational reliability, enable real-time predictions, and improve data security. The much anticipated 5G service, which promises lower latency and enhanced coverage and responsiveness and quantum computing, which accelerates computation, may further increase edge computing’s efficiency.
  • However, the efficient distribution of the processing needs across the network of edge devices will be a challenge. Also, efficient scheduling of tasks will become essential in avoiding system failure and optimizing machine learning. Over time, it is expected that more powerful processing chips with lower power requirements will be available, and then AI-based edge computing will really shine.

Guidelines For Evaluation Of Nanopharmaceuticals In India


  • Recently, the Ministry Science & Technology released Guidelines for Evaluation of Nanopharmaceuticals in India, in New Delhi.
  • The Guidelines are developed by Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO), Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and is an outcome of all concerned Inter-Ministerial efforts coordinated by DBT.

Aim

  • To ensure the quality, safety and efficacy of nanopharmaceuticals.
  • To encourage the commercialization of nanotechnology based inventions by increasing their benefit-to-risk ratio.

Need for Guidelines

  • There are no specific guidelines for development and evaluation of nanopharmaceuticals in India, there is a need to formulate comprehensive guideline focusing on the quality, safety and efficacy of nanopharmaceuticals for their therapeutic use and application.

About the Guidelines

  • The guidelines have been developed in line with the provisions of Schedule Y of Drugs and Cosmetics Rules, 1945 as well as Second Schedule of the New Drugs and Clinical Trials Rules, 2019.
  • The guidelines define the nano-pharmaceuticals and categorise it according to its level of degradability and organic or inorganic nature.
  • It applies to the nano pharmaceuticals in the form of finished formulation as well as Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient (API) of a new molecule or an already approved molecule with altered nanoscale dimensions.
  • However, these guidelines do not apply to the conventional drug with incidental presence of nanoparticles or drug products containing microorganisms or proteins, which are naturally present in the nanoscale range.
  • These are also not applicable to medical devices, in vitro diagnostics, tissue engineered products using nanotechnology and nanoparticle modified cell based therapies.

Nanopharmaceuticals

  • A nanopharmaceutical is defined as a pharmaceutical preparation containing nanomaterials (1 to 100 nm in at least one dimension) intended for internal use or external application on human for the purpose of therapeutics, diagnostics and health benefits.
Categorisation

Broadly, all nanopharmaceutical preparations will be treated as New Drug which will be evaluated by CDCSO. They are divided in to following four categories:

  • Category I: The drug is a new molecular entity and the nanocarrier is also new and not approved in any country.
  • Category II: The drug is a new molecular entity not approved in any country, but the nanocarrier is already used / approved for other nanopharmaceuticals.
  • Category III: Conventional/ traditional form of the drug is approved in well regulated countries and/or India but the nanocarrier system is new and not approved in any country.
  • Category IV: Conventional/traditional form of the drug and the nanocarrier system both are approved as a specific formulation in well regulated countries, but yet not in India. It should be subjected to abbreviated/ bridging studies as per Second Schedule of NDCTR.
Benefits
  • Nanopharmaceuticals offer the ability to detect diseases at much earlier stages and the diagnostic applications could build upon conventional procedures using nanoparticles
  • Nanopharmaceuticals can enable target specific delivery of drugs and therapeutic molecules minimizing off target effects and toxicity.
  • Nanopharmaceutical have higher efficacy, lower toxicity and are safer than the conventional drugs.
  • Nanopharmaceutical reduces the cost of drug discovery, design & development and enhances the drug delivery process. This results in improved success rate which enables faster introduction of new, cost-effective products to the marketplace.

Impact of Guidelines

  • Way to Effective Research: These guidelines will pave the way for effective translational research towards development of novel nanoformulations. Indian researchers would be facilitated to undertake research in line with the regulatory guidelines and is expected that Industry would be keen to participate from the beginning of the research pipeline towards product development and commercialization.
  • Facilitating Decision Making: It will facilitate the decision making by regulator during clearances to newer products based on nanotechnology and similarly to researchers to get clearance for their products to launch in market.
  • Benefits to End Users: End users will also be benefited by the quality assured anticipated products in the market in accordance to the guidelines.
  • Private Investments: It will help attracting private investments in the country since these guidelines would strengthen the regulatory system.
  • Safety Guidelines for Other Domains: It will give impetus to initiate activities for developing safety guidelines for other domains like agri-inputs and agri-products, cosmetics, implantable devices, through interventions of nanotechnology.
  • Contribute to Affordable Health Care for All Mission: The guidelines will pave the way for significant benefits through such cutting-edge technology and contribute to the mission on "Affordable Health Care for All".

Way Forward

  • India is a developing country with a huge population burden. In this regard, development of cost effective quality enabled products is important which can be achieved through cutting edge technologies like nano-interventions.
  • The nanotechnology intervention has opened a new horizon for targeted delivery of approved drugs and repurposing of drugs. Every year several new nanopharmaceuticals/ nanomedicine are being introduced into the market globally.
  • It is one of the most important steps for delineating quality, safety and efficacy assessment of the novel nanoformulations and the rapid progress in this emerging field is expected to change the current therapeutic practice in near future.
  • It is intended to provide transparent, consistent and predictable regulatory pathways for nanopharmaceuticals and will encourage the Indian innovators and industries to develop and commercialize new nanopharmaceuticals which will make our country a global leader in this area.

Enzyme Technology For Cheaper Bio-fuel


  • Recently, the scientists from the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB) in New Delhi, received a patent from the US Patent and Trademark Office for the enzymes that enhances the production of biofuels from agricultural waste.

About the Technology

  • The scientists disrupted a control mechanism found in the fungus penicillium funiculosum (PF) that regulates its metabolic activity.
  • Disrupting this mechanism called carbon catabolite repression helped the scientists to increase the production of enzymes that are involved in converting cellulose into sugars and, thus increased the production of biofuels.

Reason for Opting penicillium funiculosum (PF)

  • The scientist chose PF as it was found to produce five times more active enzyme (known as CBH1) in breaking down cellulose as compared to its fungal cousin Trichoderma reesei, more commonly used in industrial enzyme cocktails.

Significance

  • Providing Better Alternative: It is likely to provide a better alternative for making commercial cellulase enzyme that can be used for production of second generation (G2) biofuel.
  • Increased 2G Ethanol Production: It can help to produce higher quantities of 2G ethanol from agricultural waste materials including rice and wheat straws leading to less dependency on fossil fuels.

Challenges

  • Limited Availability of Enzyme and High Cost: Currently, there is very limited availability of commercial cellulase enzyme preparation in the market for 2G ethanol, causing less production of biofuels and this is often stated as the major reason for the higher cost of 2G ethanol.

 

International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB)

  • It is a unique intergovernmental organisation initially established as a special project of United Nations Industrial Development Organization(UNIDO).
  • Fully autonomous since 1994, it runs 46 state-of-the-art laboratories, in Trieste, Italy, New Delhi, India and Cape Town, South Africa and forms an interactive network with over 65 Member States.

Functions

  • It plays a key role in Biotechnology worldwide for excellence in Research, Training and Technology Transfer to industry to contribute in concrete terms to the achievement of sustainable global development and operates within the United Nations System.

 

Biofuels

  • Bio-fuels are produced from renewable resources and are used in place of or in blend with diesel, petrol or other fossil fuels for transport, stationary, portable and other applications.

Classification

  • Biofuels are classified into following generations-

   

Source: Researchgate

Government Initiatives

Pradhan Mantri Jl-VAN Yojana

  • Launched in February, 2019, the scheme focuses to incentivise 2G Ethanol sector and support this nascent industry by creating a suitable ecosystem for setting up commercial projects and increasing Research & Development in this area.
  • Under this Yojana, 12 Commercial Scale and 10 demonstration scale Second Generation (2G) ethanol Projects will be provided a Viability Gap Funding (VGF) support in two phases:
  • Phase-I (2018-19 to 2022-23): wherein  six  commercial  projects  and five demonstration projects will be supported.
  • Phase-II (2020-21 to 2023-24): wherein remaining six commercial projects and five demonstration projects will be supported.

National Policy on Biofuels-2018

  • It envisages an indicative target of 20% blending of ethanol in petrol and 5% blending of bio-diesel in diesel by 2030.
  • The Policy categorises biofuels as "Basic Biofuels" viz. First Generation (1G) bioethanol & biodiesel and "Advanced Biofuels" - Second Generation (2G) ethanol, Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) to drop-in fuels, Third Generation (3G) biofuels, bio-CNG etc. to enable extension of appropriate financial and fiscal incentives under each category.

GOBAR (Galvanizing Organic Bio-Agro Resources) DHAN Scheme

  • Launched in 2018, under the Swachh Baharat Mission (Gramin), it  aims to positively impact village cleanliness and generate wealth and energy from cattle and organic waste.

India Plans To Launch Its Own Space Station


Why is it in News?

The Chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) said on 13 June that India is planning to have its own space station and the details of the project will be worked out after the first manned mission, Gaganyaan, scheduled in 2022.

Relevance of the News: It signifies India’s vision and future plans of accessing the space and indigenization of Indian space activities.

About the Mission:

  • The proposed space station would probably have a weight of 20 tonnes and will serve as a facility where astronauts can stay for 15-20 days.
  • The space station would be placed in an orbit 400 km above earth and the time frame for its launch is 5-7 years after Gaganyaan.
  • As a part of preparation of space station, ISRO would launch a small module for microgravity experiments.

Gaganyaan:

  • Gaganyaan is a crewed orbital spacecraft which is expected to carry three people into the space for seven days. The project is expected to be completed and launched by 2022 and Rs 10000 crore have been approved for it.
  • The spacecraft would be placed in a low earth orbit of 300-400 km.
  • With this, India could potentially become the fourth country to send a man to space, after the erstwhile USSR, the US and China.
  • Gaganyaan would be launched with a ‘GSLV Mk-III’ which is a three-stage heavy lift launch vehicle.
  • Prior to the main launch, two unmanned missions would be undertaken, one in December 2022 and the second, six months after that.

DRDO Successfully Tests HSTDV


Why is it in News?

On 12th June, 2019, the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) successfully carried out the maiden test of Hypersonic Technology Demonstrator Vehicle (HSTDV) and other technologies.

Relevance of the News: HSTDV exhibits India’s advance in space science, technology and research.

Hypersonic Technology Demonstrator Vehicle (HSTDV):

  • The HSTDV is an indigenously developed technology demonstrator unmanned vehicle. It is developed by the DRDO and supported by Israel and Russia.
  • It has been launched on a missile and it aims to prove India’s capability in a number of critical technologies.
  • In the test, a missile containing the technology demonstrator vehicle was launched and the vehicle was released only after the missile reaches a certain altitude and velocity. The HSTDV project aims to demonstrate the performance of a scram-jet engine at an altitude of 15 km to 20 kms.
  • The vehicle that can cruise up to a speed of Mach 6 (or six times the speed of sound) and rise up to an altitude of 32 km in 20 seconds.

Uses of HSTDV:

  • A successful test of a hypersonic technology transporter vehicle is likely to bolster the development of a hypersonic Brahmos II cruise missile currently under development and based on scramjet technology.
  • It can be used in making the missiles of the future, and energy-efficient, low cost and reusable satellite-launch vehicles.

Scramjet Technology:

  • In scram-jet technology, combustion of fuel takes place in a chamber in the missile at supersonic speeds.
  • This is different from a ram jet system where the system collects the air it needs from the atmosphere during the flight at subsonic speeds and the propellants burn in the combustion chamber.

All-Weather Radar Imaging Satellite


Why is it in News?

RISAT-2B satellite was launched on May 22 from Sriharikota and it marked the resumption of a vital ring of Indian all-seeing radar imaging satellites. Two were launched earlier in 2009 and 2012.At least a half-dozen could be launched in the near future. These would provide reconnaissance capability from about 500 km in space and a comprehensive vigil over the country.

 

Benefits of radar satellites:

  • When it is cloudy or dark, regular remote-sensing or optical imaging satellites which work like a light-dependent camera cannot perceive hidden or surreptitious objects on the ground.
  • However, radar satellites are equipped with an active sensor, the synthetic aperture radar (SAR), which can sense or ‘observe’ Earth in a special way from space day and night, rain or cloud which makes them special for security forces and disaster relief agencies.
  • Radar imaging satellites pick up structures, new bunkers very well, and sometimes help to count them, too.
  • In India radar imaging is used for crop estimation because the main crop growing season of kharif is in May-September when it rains and gets cloudy. Radar data has been used extensively for forestry, soil, land use, geology and during floods and cyclone.

About RISAT-2B

  • It has a mass of 615 kg and will orbit at 555km distance from the earth and is built for a 5-year operational lifetime.
  • The satellite will be capable of monitoring weather day and night, in all weather conditions.

INS Vishal


Why is it in News?

Budgetary woes has put India’s supercarrier INS Vishal on hold.

About INS Vishal:

  • INS Vishal, also known as Indigenous Aircraft Carrier 2 (IAC-2), is a planned aircraft carrier to be built by Cochin Shipyard Limited for the Indian Navy.
  • It is intended to be the second aircraft carrier to be built in India after INS Vikrant (IAC-1), and the first supercarrier to be built in India.

What is the Present Issue with INS Vishal?

  • INS Vishal was conceived as a 65,000 tonne aircraft carrier, embarking 55 aircraft and costing Rs 60,000 crore. After the MoD objected to the cost, the navy downsized the proposal to a 50,000-tonne carrier costing about Rs 50,000 crore. But the MoD remains unwilling to accord funding or sanction. Navy has time and again pointed that it needs INS Vishal to counter the aggressiveness of China in Indian Ocean Region.

INS Imphal


Why is it in News?

The Indian Navy has launched Guided Missile Destroyer INS Imphal from Mazagon Dock Mumbai.

About INS Imphal:

  • INS Imphal is the third ship to be launched under Project 15B (first was INS Vishakhapatnam & 2nd was INS Mormugao).
  • The warships built under the project are propelled by four gas turbines to achieve speed of 30 knots approximately.
  • They have a length of 163 metres and 17.4 metres at the beam and a displacement of 7.300 tonnes.
  • The ship was named in recognition of the Indian soldiers who fought in Battle of Imphal during World War II. It is the first Indian Navy ship named after a city in Northeast India.

What is Project 15B?

  • It is a project to develop world class warships for Indian Navy.
  • Government of India in 2011 had sanctioned four 15B ships at the cost of Rs. 29,700 crore to develop a class of stealth guided missile destroyers for the Indian Navy.
  • The Project 15B missile destroyers are modern warships equipped with latest weapons package in continuation of lineage of the highly successful Delhi and Kolkata Class ships.
  • The first ship of the project 15B was INS Vishakhaptnam which was launched on April 20, 2015.


Source: Business Standard

National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT)


Why is it in News?

The appointment committee of Cabinet has given nod for the appointment of 32 members to the NCLT.

About NCLT:

  • NCLT is the outcome of the Justice Eradi Committee.
  • The NCLT was established under the Companies Act 2013 and constituted in 2016.
  • It is a quasi judicial body that adjudicates the issues related to Indian companies.
  • All proceedings under the Companies Act, including proceedings relating to arbitration, compromise, arrangements and reconstruction and winding up of companies and issues related to Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 is being dealt by the National Company Law Tribunal.

National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT):

  • The NCLAT was established under the Companies Act 2013 to hear the appeals against the order of NCLT and is functional since 2016.
  • NCLAT is also the Appellate Tribunal for hearing appeals against the orders passed by Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (IBBI) and by Competition Commission of India (CCI).


Source: TH, IE

Bacteriophage


Why is it in News?

In the samples collected by CSIR-NEERI, bacteriophage was found to be 3 times more in proportion to the isolated bacterias taken.

About Bacteriophage:

  • A bacteriophage is a type of virus that infects bacteria. In fact, the word bacteriophage literally means ‘bacteria eater’, because bacteriophages destroy their host cells.
  • All bacteriophages are composed of a nucleic acid molecule that is surrounded by a protein structure.
  • A bacteriophage attaches itself to a susceptible bacterium and infects the host cell. Following infection, the bacteriophage hijacks the bacterium's cellular machinery to prevent it from producing bacterial components and instead forces the cell to produce viral components.
  • Eventually, new bacteriophages assemble and burst out of the bacterium in a process called lysis.
  • Bacteriophages occasionally remove a portion of their host cells' bacterial DNA during the infection process and then transfer this DNA into the genome of new host cells. This process is known as transduction.


Source: TH, NCERT

Nirbhay Missile


Why is it in News?

Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) successfully test fired the first subsonic missile ‘Nirbhay’ from Chandipur coast of Odisha.

About the Nirbhay Missile System:

  • It is a two stage missile system that has been indigenously developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).
  • It is a long range subsonic missile system that can be launched from multiple platforms and is capable of carrying conventional and nuclear warheads.
  • It is capable of cruising at an altitude as low as 0.1 km and has a range of around 1000km.
  • It is capable of carrying warheads of up to 300kg at a speed of 0.6 to 0.7 Mach number.

Mach Number:

  • It is a non-dimensional number which is a ratio of velocity of object to the velocity of sound.
  • Mach 1 means the speed of object is same as the speed of sound.
  • Mach<1 implies speed of object is less than the speed of sound.
  • Mach>1 implies speed of object is more than the speed of sound.
  • If Mach number is greater than 5, it is generally referred to as hypersonic flow.


Source: The Diplomat, IE

PSLV C45


Why is it in News?

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) launched the PSLV-C45 rocket on 1st April 2019 that carried one Indian (EMISAT) and 28 international satellites into space.

What is so Unique about this Mission?

This flight was unique in many ways, but some features which stand out are:-

1. It was the first time that ISRO launched a rocket that injected satellites in three different orbits (by PSLVC-37, satellites have been ejected in two different orbits at the most).

2. The fourth and last stage of the rocket will function as a satellite itself for some time, instead of being rendered junk after ejecting its payloads.

3. Earlier, rockets used to have 2 or 6 strap-on motors, but in this mission it had 4 strap motors which provided the much needed thrust along with reduced weight.

What Strap-on Motors do?

Strap-ons are booster rockets attached externally to the main rocket, and provide additional thrust, or energy, by firing themselves midway during the flight.

How did this PSLV C-45 inject the Satellites in Three Different orbits?

On most previous occasions, the primary satellite was taken to its orbit, while the others were ejected, or sprayed in quick succession either before or after that into different trajectories. There used to be only a marginal difference in the vertical distances between satellites. The entire operation used to be over in a few minutes.

PSLV C-45 did something very different. It placed the primary satellite, EMISAT, a piece of surveillance equipment to be used by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), to the 748 km sun-synchronous polar orbit. It then made one complete revolution around Earth, over the poles, while lowering its orbit to 504 km height, after which it deposited the 28 international customer satellites — 24 from the US, two from Lithuania, and one each from Switzerland and Spain.

It then made a further round of Earth while attaining an even lower orbit of 485 km, where the fourth stage of the rocket will continue for some time (it is being described as ‘orbital platform’).

What was this EMISAT Satellite for?

  • EMISAT is a DRDO surveillance satellite (436kg) that is placed at a distance of 748 km in sun synchronous orbit that will detect and gather electronic intelligence from enemy countries.
  • EMISAT has been developed under DRDO's Project Kautilya which aims to boost India's space surveillance capacity (the project is named after the ancient Indian economist and philospher in Mauryan period who emphasised the importance of spying for a king to protect his kingdom).

What will this Orbital Platform do?

The fourth stage (Orbital Platform) is carrying three kinds of equipment to carry out some measurements and experiments, and a solar panel to provide power to these equipments and enable communication with ground stations. The experiments that will be carried are:-

  • Sturdy structure and composition of Ionosphere
  • Maritime satellite applications
  • It has equipments that will assist the amateur radio operators.

In future, such an ‘orbital platform’, as it is being described, can also be used to inject smaller satellites into orbits.

About Ionosphere:

  • It is a layer of atmosphere whose height varies from 65 km to 400 km from earth’s surface. The ionization occurs in this region because of ultraviolet light rays of the sun which are absorbed by the air molecules present in this layer.
  • The degree of ionization varies with the height of Ionosphere.
  • The maximum degree of ionization is seen in the intermediate layer and not in the upper layer.

But why so?

At great height the solar radiation is intense but the density of air is less, while at low heights the air density is high but sun’s intensity is low. The maximum ionization occurs at intermediate layer where both the conditions (sunlight & air density) are in optimal state.

Anti-Satellite Missile Test (ASAT) - Mission SHAKTI


Why is it in News?

India became the 4th country in the world to have the Anti-satellite Missile System.

What is ASAT Missile Test?

  • It is the technological capability to hit and destroy satellites in space through missiles launched from the ground. India on 27th March 2019 hit the Low Earth Orbit (LEO) Satellite Microsat-R which was placed at 300 km from Earth.

But why does a Country need to have this Capability to destroy a Satellite in the Space?

  • Satellites are extremely critical infrastructures of any country these days. A large number of crucial applications are now satellite-based. These include navigation systems, communication networks, broadcasting, banking systems, stock markets, weather forecasting, disaster management, land and ocean mapping and monitoring tools, and military applications.
  • Destroying a satellite would render these applications useless. It can cripple enemy infrastructure, and bring it down on knees, without causing any threat to human lives.

Is India the only one to have this Capability?

  • No, India is the 4th country after US, Russia and China to have this capability.

Why did India hit the Satellite placed in the Low Earth Orbit (LEO) only?

  • The major problem with the destruction of satellite is that, once it gets destroyed in space it creates space debris; when a satellite in LEO is destroyed it creates less space debris and these debris are likely to fall back in the Earth’s atmosphere within a span of few weeks.

Why is Space Debris a big issue for the Scientists?

The problem with the space debris is that it collides with the operational satellites and makes them dysfunctional. It is similar to garbage that humans generate on the Earth.

Is this test by India not the Violation of Outer Space Treaty of 1967?

  • Outer Space Treaty prohibits the placement of weapons of ‘mass destruction’ (not ordinary weapons) in the outer space. India has neither placed the weapon of mass destruction nor deployed any weapons, so the criticism by few countries is not tenable at all.

Note: India is signatory to the Outer Space Treaty and has ratified this in 1982.

Why are some Experts Criticizing the ASAT Missile Test?

Some experts are of the opinion that destroying the satellite of enemy country in the war is a very traditional approach. In the present scenario there are better ways by which damage can be caused to the enemy country for example:-

  • Technologies have been developed to jam the communication from the satellites by interfering with its radio signals. This can be attempted during the uplink or the downlink.
  • The other option is the possible use of ground-based lasers to ‘dazzle’ the sensors of the satellites and make them at least ‘partially blind’ so that they are unable to work efficiently.

Some Associated Terms:

Low Earth Orbit (LEO)

  • A Low Earth Orbit is an Earth-centered orbit with an altitude of 2,000 km or less.
  • Most of the manmade objects in space are in LEO.

Kessler Syndrome

  • The Kessler syndrome, proposed by the NASA scientist Donald J. Kessler in 1978, is a scenario in which the density of objects in low Earth orbit is high enough that collisions between objects could cause a cascade where each collision generates space debris that increases the likelihood of further collisions.

Source: IE

Mrinal


Why is it in News?

Celebrated by the ISRO, February 21 marks the 50th anniversary of India’s first solid rocket propellant.

About Mrinal:

  • It was named after a famous Classical Dancer Mrinalini Sarabhai, wife of Dr. Vikram Sarabhai.
  • It was the first totally indigenous composite propellant manufactured using locally available raw materials.
  • On Feb 21, 1969, this propellant was used to fly Rohini series RH-75 sounding rocket, which was designated Dynamic Test Vehicle (DTV), from Thumba.
  • At present, India is one of the pioneers in field of Solid Rocket Propellants, but the kick start was provided by Mrinal Solid Rocket Propellant.

Raw Materials used in Mrinal:

  • Polyester resin
  • Ammonium Perchlorate
  • Aluminium Powder along with Nitro-glycerine

What are Composite Materials?

  • A composite material is a material made from two or more constituent materials with significantly different physical or chemical properties that, when combined, produce a material with characteristics different from the individual components.
  • The individual components remain separate and distinct within the finished structure, differentiating composites from mixtures and solid solutions
  • Composite materials are light in weight and possess better structural and thermal properties, making them suitable materials to realize structural and ablative products for launch vehicle applications.

Source: www.isro.gov.in

Rotavirus Vaccine


Why is it in News?

It is for the very first time that a vaccine (Rotovac) that has been developed from scratch in India has been “pre-qualified” by the World Health Organization.

What is Rotavirus?

Rotavirus is the most common cause of severe diarrheal disease in children worldwide, and vaccination is the best way to prevent severe rotavirus illness. According to a recent study, 37 percent of the hospitalization of children is caused due to Rotavirus.

About ROTOVAC:

This vaccine has been developed locally in India by a Hyderabad based ‘Bharat Biotech’. ROTAVAC was licensed by the Drugs Controller General of India in early 2014.

Has this Vaccine been introduced by the Government in its Immunization Programme?

  • India began a phased introduction of the vaccine in its national immunization program starting in 2016, and Bharat Biotech has supplied approximately 36 million doses of ROTAVAC to the Indian government.
  • A dose costs between Rs 55-65, according to the reports of the company.

What does Pre-qualification by WHO mean?

To be “pre-qualified” means that the vaccine can be sold internationally to United Nations Organizations and several countries in Africa & South America (which have less access to medicare).

Artificial Leaf


Why is it in News?

Scientists at University of Illinois have developed an Artificial Leaf that can take up CO2 from atmosphere 10 times more than natural leaves.

What is an Artificial Leaf?

Artificial leaf mimics the process of photosynthesis where it absorbs the CO2 present in the atmosphere and converts it into carbohydrates.

How does this Artificial Leaf works in the new model?

The Artificial leaf is enclosed in a capsule that is filled with water. When sunlight falls on the leaf, the water starts to evaporate leaving the bubbles around (bubbles create vacuum). The CO2 present in the atmosphere rushes to fill that void and thus the CO2 is absorbed by the Artificial Leaf and it gets converted into carbohydrates.