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SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY - February 2020

Feb 2020

Feb 29, 2020

Astronomers at UBC Astronomy Club Discovers 17 New Planets

  • University of British Columbia astronomy student Michelle Kunimoto has discovered 17 new planets, including a potentially habitable, Earth-sized world, by combing through data gathered by NASA's Kepler mission.
  • Over its original four-year mission, the Kepler satellite looked for planets, especially those that lie in the "Habitable Zones" of their stars, where liquid water could exist on a rocky planet's surface.
  • The new findings, published in The Astronomical Journal, include one such particularly rare planet. Officially named KIC-7340288 b, the planet discovered by Kunimoto is just 1 ½ times the size of Earth - small enough to be considered rocky, instead of gaseous like the giant planets of the Solar System - and in the habitable zone of its star.

Feb 28, 2020

Cambridge Team Finds Exoplanet Twice Earth's Size

  • A Cambridge-based Indian-origin astronomer has led the discovery of an exoplanet more than twice the size of Earth considered potentially habitable, opening the search for life on planets significantly larger than Earth but smaller than Neptune.
  • The research team led by Nikku Madhusudhan at the university's Institute of Astronomy used the mass, radius, and atmospheric data of the exoplanet K2-18b, and determined that it is possible for the planet to host liquid water at habitable conditions beneath its hydrogen-rich atmosphere. The results reported show that the exoplanet is 124 light-years away, and is 2.6 times the radius and 8.6 times the mass of Earth.
  • It orbits its star within the habitable zone, where temperatures could allow liquid water to exist.

Feb 27, 2020

Intelsat Telecoms Satellite Gets New Lease of Life

  • Two American satellites docked high over the Atlantic in a demonstration of what many commentators expect to be a burgeoning new industry.
  • One of the platforms is an old telecoms spacecraft low on fuel; the other is an auxiliary unit that will now take over all the former's manoeuvring functions.
  • This will allow Intelsat-901 to extend its 19-year mission of relaying TV and other services by another five years.
  • The event has been described as a major accomplishment by the firms involved.
  • Northrop Grumman, which produced the Mission Extension Vehicle-1 that grabbed hold of Intelsat-901, said that it was the first time two commercial satellites had come together in this way at an altitude of just over 36,000 km.

Feb 26, 2020

In a World First, Cheetah Cubs Born via in Vitro Fertilisation

  • Two cheetah cubs have been born through in vitro fertilisation and embryo transfer to a surrogate mother for the first time, Ohio zoo officials announced on Monday.
  • The male and female cubs were born to 3-year-old Izzy at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. The biological mother of the cubs is 6-year-old Kibibi who has never reproduced and is too old to easily become pregnant naturally.
  • Kibibi's eggs were extracted and then fertilised in a Columbus Zoo laboratory on November 19. The early stage embryos were implanted into Izzy on November 21, and an ultrasound revealed she was pregnant with two foetuses about a month later.

An E-commerce App "Thirumathi Kart" for SHG Products

  • An e-commerce mobile application called "Thirumathi Kart" developed by National Institute of Technology, Tiruchi (NIT-T) for promoting products developed by self-help groups (SHG), was launched in Tiruchi, Tamil Nadu (TN) by Collector of Tiruchi, S. Sivarasu in the presence of Mini Shaji Thomas, Director, NIT-T, and other officials at the inauguration ceremony of 'Marketing strategies in the digital era: self-promotion of SHG products through Thirumathi Kart' programme.
  • The app, Thirumathi Kart will be the main app for usage of public domain, the other 2 apps namely Thirumathi Kart (seller) and Thirumathi Kart (logistics), are for use among the SHGs.
  • The app was developed under the project, 'Design and development of ICT-enabled cloud-based mobile application for self-promotion of products developed by SHG' assisted by Department of Science and Technology (DST).
  • The project aimed to connect the customers with SHGs to empower women with sustainable income-generation platform.

Feb 25, 2020

Scientists Discover Breathable Oxygen in Galaxy Outside of Milky Way

  • A team of astronomers at China's Shanghai Astronomical Observatory, led by Junzhi Wang identified molecular oxygen in a galaxy outside the Milky Way. The team identified the presence of molecular oxygen by analyzing light waves that had reached Earth from Markarian 231, a galaxy around 581 million light years away.
  • The light wave readings were taken at two different locations: the IRAM (Institute for Radio Astronomy in the Millimeter Range) 30-meter telescope in Granada, Spain, and the Northern Extended Millimeter Array telescope in the French Alps.
  • The team estimates there could be 100 times more oxygen in Markarian 231 than Miky Way. Over the last 20 years, molecular oxygen has been detected on two other locations in the Milky Way: the Rho Ophiuchi cloud and the Orion nebula.
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