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SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY - May 2019

May 2019

May 31, 2019

'Forbidden planet' seen in Neptunian Desert

  •  Astronomers say they have discovered a rogue exoplanet with its own atmosphere in the Neptunian Desert. NGTS-4b, nick-named 'The Forbidden Planet' is smaller than Neptune but three times the size of Earth, said researchers led by the University of Warwick.
  • The exoplanet, described in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, has a mass of 20 Earth masses, a radius 20% smaller than Neptune, and temperature of 1000° Celsius.
  • It orbits around the star in only 1.3 days — the equivalent of Earth's orbit around the Sun of one year.
  • It is the first exoplanet of its kind to have been found in the Neptunian Desert, researchers said. The Neptunian Desert is the region close to stars where no Neptune-sized planets are found.
  • This area receives strong irradiation from the star, meaning the planets do not retain their gaseous atmosphere as they evaporate leaving just a rocky core.
  • However NGTS-4b still has its atmosphere of gas. Researchers believe the planet may have moved into the Neptunian Desert recently, in the last one million years, or it was very big and the atmosphere is still evaporating. 

May 25, 2019

SpaceX Launches 60 Starlink Satellites

  •  SpaceX took a giant leap towards making global Internet coverage a reality as its fifth Falcon 9 rocket of the year took flight, sending 60 Internet-beaming Starlink satellites into space.
  • The Falcon 9 lifted off from the Space Launch Complex 40 at Florida`s Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, following several delays: first a 24-hour delay due to high upper-level winds on May 15, and then a week-long delay so SpaceX could give the onboard satellites a software upgrade.
  • Following the successful launch, the rocket`s first stage gently touched down on a floating platform at sea, marking the company`s 40th booster recovery. 
  • It was the third flight for this particular booster, marking just the second time SpaceX has flown a Falcon 9 first stage more than twice.

May 23, 2019

Country's Largest Liquid Hydrogen Tank

  • ISRO Chairman K. Sivan flagged off the country's largest liquid hydrogen storage tank at Sri City.
  • VRV Asia Pacific manufactured the storage tank with a Liquid Nitrogen shield in a collaborative effort with the Satish Dhawan Space Centre. The tank can store 120 kilolitres of liquid hydrogen, which is used as fuel for satellite launch vehicles.

May 22, 2019

Chandrayaan 2 Launch Date

  •  India' ambitious moon mission Chandrayaan 2 will be launched after July 9, Indian Space Research Organisation Chairman Dr. K Sivan said of the mission that missed an earlier launch window in January.
  • Chandrayaan 2 is going to be a landmark mission for India which will be launched between July 9 and 16. Chandrayan 2 is the most challenging mission undertaken by ISRO. It will land at a place where nobody else has landed before.
  • The Chandrayaan-2, which is set to cost about Rs 800 crore, will involve unloading of a rover to study the Moon.

ISRO Launches Radar Imaging Satellite

  •  India's Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) rocket carrying radar imaging earth observation satellite RISAT-2B lifted off from the first launch pad of the rocket port.
  • About 15 minutes into the flight the rocket ejected the 615 kg RISAT-2B into about 555-km orbit.
  • According to the ISRO, the RISAT-2B with a life span of five years will be used for agriculture, forestry and disaster management support.
  • The satellite will also be used for surveillance purposes while the ISRO is silent on this aspect.
  • There is increased demand for satellites from strategic sectors. About six/seven satellites are planned to be built.
  • The PSLV is a four-stage engine expendable rocket with alternating solid and liquid fuel.
  • The ISRO will also be launching another radar imaging satellite RISAT-2BR1 and two more defence satellites sometime in July or August with its new rocket Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV).

May 21, 2019

India adopts New Definition for Kilogram

  •  India, along with the rest of the world, adopted new definitions for four base units, the kilogram, kelvin, mole and ampere, which were released by scientists at the General Conference on Weights and Measures in France in November 2018.
  • The Council of Scientific and Industrial Research's National Physical Laboratory has sent the new definitions to the ministry of human resource development for the engineering course syllabus and to the National Council of Educational Research and Training for adoption in schools. 
  • The new units were adopted on the occasion of World Metrology Day.

Google Cuts Android Support to Huawei

  •  Hundreds of millions of smartphone users will be affected by Google's decision to sever its Android operating system ties with Chinese handset maker Huawei.
  • The decision, in the midst of a United States trade war with China, means that Huawei users will start losing access to Google's proprietary services such as Gmail and Maps, and be shut out of future upgrades to Android on their phones.
  • The move by the California internet giant on the software front was compounded by news that US chipmakers have stopped supplying Huawei, hitting the hardware of its phones.
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