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SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY - July 2019

Jul 2019

Jul 30, 2019

Chandrayaan 2

  •  According to ISRO, the orbit of Chandrayaan-2 around the Earth was raised for a third time to reach a highly elliptical orbit of 276 x 71792 km. The on-board propulsion system was fired for 989 seconds.
  • The third manoeuvre was completed successfully and the spacecraft parameters are all normal for now.
  • The propulsion systems have to be fired two more times on August 2 and 6 (2019) to increase the apogee or the point on the orbit farthest from the Earth.
  • A total of six manoeuvres had been planned in the 23-day duration that Chandrayaan 2 would spend going around the earth – one to increase the perigee or the point on the orbit closest to the Earth and five others to the apogee.
  • However, the rocket carrying Chandrayaan 2, India's heaviest GSLV Mark III, "over-performed" on the day of the launch giving a boost of 6,000 km to the spacecraft.
  • This reduced the number of manoeuvres to five – one to increase the perigee and four to increase the apogee – till the spacecraft left Earth-orbit and started its journey towards the moon.
  • The spacecraft will be injected in a trans-lunar orbit (orbit between Earth and moon) on August 14, 2019 with the parameters 266 x 4,13,623 km. The spacecraft is scheduled to reach a lunar orbit of August 20, 2019.

Reliance Jio Launches 'Jio Saarthi'

  •  Reliance Jio launched a digital assistant 'Jio Saarthi' to make it easier for users to recharge online. The voice assistant has been integrated in Reliance's MyJio app and supports Hindi and English languages for now. Reliance plans to add 12 regional languages in the near future.
  • The Jio Saarthi voice assistant essentially guides users through every step of making an online recharge.
  • For instance, it helps locate where to tap to enter card details or how to find your card number or expiry date and where to enter it. While the feature has been integrated within the MyJio app, Reliance Jio would send a notification to users who have never done an online recharge.

Jul 27, 2019

Indian Scientists Discover New Milky Way Stars

  • A team of scientists at Aryabhatta Research Institute of Observational Sciences (ARIES) in Nainital has identified 28 new variable stars in the halo or outer part of the Milky Way galaxy, nearly 60,000 light years away in the constellation Coma Berenices, visible in the northern night sky.
  • The brightness of variable stars fluctuates with time due to change in emitted light, with the periodic swelling and shrinking of stars changing the quantum of light reaching earth.
  • Using a powerful 3.6-metre optical telescope, the Devasthal Optical Telescope (DOT), the scientists conducted photometric observations to discover the stars.
  • The stars were found in globular cluster NGC 4147; a globular cluster is a large but compact cluster of stars around a galactic core and is spherical in shape. Typically a globular cluster has very old stars.
  • The detailed findings are to be published in next month's Astronomical Journal.
  • The halo of a galaxy is a nearly spherical region surrounding the galaxy like diffuse light when seen from a distance. Only about 1% of a galaxy's mass resides in its halo area, and coupled with low brightness, the observation of stars in halos is very difficult. This is why our finding holds much significance.

Jul 26, 2019

North Korea Tests Short-Range Ballistic Missiles

  •  North Korea test-fired two new short-range ballistic missiles, its first missile test since its leader, Kim Jong Un, and US President Donald Trump agreed to revive denuclearisation talks last month.
  • South Korea, which supports efforts by North Korea and the US to end years of hostility, urged the North to stop acts that are unhelpful to easing tension, saying the tests posed a military threat on the Korean peninsula.
  • The South said it believed the missiles were a new type of ballistic missile but it would make a final assessment with the US.
  • Firing a ballistic missile would be a violation of UN Security Council resolutions that ban the North from the use of such technology. North Korea has rejected the restriction as an infringement of its sovereign right to selfdefence.
  • North Korea launched the missiles from the east coast city of Wonsan with one flying about 430km and the other 690km over the sea. They both reached an altitude of 50km.
  • The launch casts new doubt on efforts to restart stalled denuclearisation talks after Trump and Kim met at the demilitarised zone (DMZ) between the two Koreas at the end of June 2019.
  • US secretary of state Mike Pompeo and North Korean foreign minister Ri Yong Ho are expected to meet on the sidelines of a forum in Bangkok.

Jul 25, 2019

Face Recognition Cams at IGI Airport

  •  Delhi's Indira Gandhi International airport will soon get its first set of face recognition cameras, which will help the Central Industrial Security Force end the menace of people entering the airport terminal using fake and edited tickets. 
  • The facility, which is expected to be in use by August 2019, will initially be used only on the airport staff and will be extended by the year end for flyers.
  • The face recognition systems have been installed at three levels — at the terminal entry, at security hold area (SHA) and at boarding gates. Initially one machine has been installed at each level.
  • A passenger who arrives at the terminal entry will require entering his/her name and flight details at a kiosk installed at the entry.The camera in the machine captures their face and generates a unique identification number. The passenger then heads to the security hold area (SHA) and feeds that unique number into a similar kiosk and is given access to head for his/her security check. Once done with the security check, the passenger will head to the boarding area. At the time of boarding passengers will pass through similar kiosk which will give them a quick access as their information is already saved.
  • Before its introduction in Delhi, the technology was successfully tested at the Hyderabad airport in 2018.

Netflix Unveils Cheaper Mobile-only Plan

  •  Netflix has introduced a mobile-only subscription plan in India at Rs.199 a month, as the world's largest video streaming service looks to add users in the country where video content consumption has surged, with data prices plunging to among the lowest in the world.
  • This is Netflix's first mobile-specific option anywhere in the world and its fourth India plan in addition to the existing basic (Rs.499), standard (Rs.649) and premium (Rs.799) plans.
  • With the cheaper subscription plan, Netflix expects to reach new users in India, who typically watch videos on their mobile phones.
  • Still, Netflix will have to grapple with several local and overseas rivals such as Disneyowned streaming service Hotstar and Amazon Prime Video, which are luring users with free or low-priced offerings.
  • According to the Ficci-EY media and entertainment industry report for 2019, smartphone penetration in India grew to 36% of total phones in 2018.
  • Indians spend 30% of their time on mobile phones on entertainment, second only to social media. However, in terms of data, they use over 70% on entertainment.

Jul 24, 2019

Nasa to Use Chandrayaan-2 Data

  •  Nasa plans to use the data obtained by Chandrayaan-2 in the south pole region of the Moon while working out its next manned lunar mission in a few years.
  • The Nasa mission plan envisages landing the first set of astronauts on the south pole of the Moon around 2024 under its Artemis programme. The idea is to establish a sustainable human presence on the moon, with the goal of sending humans to Mars.
  • Isro is using the Nasa's deep space network at Goldstone in California for tracking the Chandrayaan-2 mission.
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