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SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY - October 2019

Oct 2019

Oct 30, 2019

Mars InSight's Mole Has Partially Backed Out of Its Hole

  •  After making progress over the past several weeks digging into the surface of Mars, InSight's mole has backed about halfway out of its hole.
  • Preliminary assessments point to unusual soil conditions on the Red Planet. The international mission team is developing the next steps to get it buried again.
  • Meantime, the lander's seismometer — the Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure, or, SEIS — continues to collect data on marsquakes in order to provide a better understanding of the Mars interior and why Earth and the Red Planet are so different today after sharing similarities billions of years ago.
  • The French space agency, Centre National d'Études Spatiales (CNES) and its partners provided the SEIS instrument to NASA.

US Air Force Space Plane Back On Earth After Two-Year Mission

  •  The US Air Force's mystery space plane is back on Earth, after 780 days in orbit following a record-breaking two-year mission.
  • The X-37B landed at Kennedy Space Centre of National Aeronautics and Space Administration in Florida.
  • The Air Force is mum about what the plane did in orbit after launching aboard a SpaceX rocket in 2017.
  • The mission sets a new endurance record for the reusable test vehicle. US officials said that this latest mission has successfully completed its objectives.
  • This was the fifth spaceflight by a vehicle of this sort. No. 6 is planned for 2020 with another launch from Cape Canaveral.

Oct 26, 2019

New VIPER Lunar Rover to Map Water Ice on the Moon

  •  NASA is sending a mobile robot to the South Pole of the Moon to get a close-up view of the location and concentration of water ice in the region and for the first time ever, actually sample the water ice at the same pole where the first woman and next man will land in 2024 under the Artemis program. 
  • NASA's Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover, or VIPER, is a mobile robot that will roam around the Moon's south pole looking for water ice. 
  • The VIPER mission will give surface-level detail of where the water is, and how much is available for us to use. This will bring us a significant step closer towards NASA's ultimate goal of a sustainable, long-term presence on the Moon – making it possible to eventually explore Mars and beyond.
  • About the size of a golf cart, the Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover, or VIPER, will roam several miles, using its four science instruments — including a 1-meter drill — to sample various soil environments.
  • Planned for delivery to the lunar surface in December 2022, VIPER will collect about 100 days of data that will be used to inform the first global water resource maps of the Moon. 

CSIR Completes Whole Genome Sequencing Of Over 1000 Indians

  •  The Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR) has completed Whole Genome Sequencing of 1,008 Indians from different populations across the country under the IndiGen Genome project, a government press release said.
  • The project, implemented by the CSIR-Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (IGIB), Delhi and CSIR-Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), Hyderabad will have applications in a number of areas including predictive and preventive medicine with faster and efficient diagnosis of rare genetic diseases.
  • The outcomes of the IndiGen will be utilized towards understanding the genetic diversity on a population scale, make available genetic variant frequencies for clinical applications and enable genetic epidemiology of diseases.

Oct 25, 2019

US, France Join Forces To Develop Traffic Management System For Space

  •  France's National Center for Space Studies (CNES) has agreed to work with the United States to develop systems on space situational awareness and traffic management for the commercial space industry.
  • Ross signed a letter of intent with CNES President Jean-Yves Le Gall on the sidelines of a Washington event hosted by the International Astronautical Congress.
  • Ross explained that the United States is seeking other international partners in addition to France to prepare for an anticipated USD 1 trillion commercial space economy.
  • The agreement outlines principles and goals for the relationship including regular coordination and exchange of information regarding SSA, STM, and other space activities.

Oct 24, 2019

OmniVision Announces Guinness World Record For Smallest Image Sensor

  •  OmniVision Technologies Inc. announced that its OV6948 camera module is the winner of the Guinness World Record for "The Smallest Image Sensor Commercially Available," at a size of 0.575 mm x 0.575 mm. 
  • The announcement was made as part of the 2019 Medical Design and Manufacturing (MD&M) technology show in Minneapolis. Derived from this ultra-small imager, the company also announced its OVM6948 CameraCubeChip, a fully packaged, wafer-level camera module measuring 0.65mm x 0.65mm, with a z-height of 1.158mm.
  • OmniVision developed these medical imagers to address the market demand for decreased invasiveness and deeper anatomical access.
  • Additionally, these imagers can address the many challenges posed by reusable medical imaging equipment, including cross-contamination risks and inefficiencies due to high maintenance costs.

A New Stable Form Of Plutonium Discovered

  •  An international team of scientists, led by the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR), have found a new compound of plutonium with an unexpected, pentavalent oxidation state, using the ESRF, the European Synchrotron, Grenoble, France.
  • This new phase of plutonium is solid and stable, and may be a transient phase in radioactive waste repositories. The results are published in Angewandte Chemie.

Oct 20, 2019

India Is Trying To Build The World's Biggest Facial Recognition System

  •  The child labor activist, who works for Indian NGO Bachpan Bachao Andolan, had launched a pilot program 15 months prior to match a police database containing photos of all of India's missing children with another one comprising shots of all the minors living in the country's child care institutions.
  • India is unable to match 10,561 missing children with those living in institutions. They are currently in the process of being reunited with their families.  Most of them were victims of trafficking, forced to work in the fields, in garment factories or in brothels.
  • This momentous undertaking was made possible by facial recognition technology provided by New Delhi's police.
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