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SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY - March 2020

Mar 2020

Mar 30, 2020

Apple Launches COVID-19 Information App, Website

  • In a bid to provide accurate and credible information to users about the COVID-19 pandemic, tech giant Apple has released a new dedicated app and website for users across the US.
  • The new COVID-19 app and website provide the latest information and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
  • The app is available on the App Store. The users can also use the new tools to answer questions around risk factors, recent exposure, and symptoms. The tool will provide guidance on social distancing and self-isolating based on risk level. In addition to the new tools, Apple also enabled Siri to provide guidance and resources from the CDC.
  • Users in the US can ask Siri, "How do I know if I have coronavirus?" to access the information.

Mar 28, 2020

US Space Force Launches First Mission

  •  The United States Space Force launched its first national security mission on March 26, 2020 sending an ultra-secure military communication satellite into orbit even as the coronavirus pandemic paralyzes much of the country.
  • AEHF-6, as the satellite is called, is the sixth and final in the Lockheed Martin AEHF constellation.

Facebook Launches Messenger Chatbot To Counter Fake News

  •  Facebook has launched Messenger Chatbot to share information about coronavirus, as part of efforts to help people access authentic information about the pandemic, and counter fake news. "Together with the Ministry of Health and MyGov, Facebook has facilitated Corona Helpdesk Chatbot on Messenger to raise awareness, provide authentic and accurate information and bust fake news about coronavirus.
  • Facebook users can start accessing the Corona Helpdesk Chatbot and reach out to the Ministry of Health for authentic news, official updates, precautionary measures and emergency helpline numbers through this chatbot.
  • The chatbot comes with English and Hindi language capabilities. To contact the chatbot, users can go to the Facebook page on MyGov Corona Hub and then start a chat by typing 'Get Started', which will prompt them to either type in a query or choose from a list of frequently asked questions.

China's Long March-5B Carrier Rocket Arrives At Launch Site

  •  China's Long March-5B carrier rocket arrived at the launch site in southern China's Hainan Province after a week of ocean and rail transport, according to the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation.
  • The rocket will take part in a joint rehearsal with the prototype of the Chinese space station's core module at the Wenchang Space Launch Center. It is scheduled to make its maiden flight and launch the prototype of China's new manned spaceship in April, 2020.
  • The Long March-5B is a modified version of Long March-5 rocket and will be China's first 1.5-stage large carrier rocket, according to Wang Jue, chief commander of the Long March-5 rocket.
  • The rocket is 53.7 meters long, with a diameter of five meters and a liftoff weight of 849 tonnes. It uses pollution-free propellant including liquid oxygen, liquid hydrogen and kerosene. It has a carrying capacity of more than 22 tonnes in low-Earth orbit. It has the largest carrying capacity in low-Earth orbit among all Chinese rockets.

Mar 27, 2020

Odisha To Set Up Second COVID-19 Testing Lab At VIMSAR

  • To ease the burden on the only COVID-19 testing facility in Odisha, the state government has started working on a Biosafety Level 2 (BSL-2) laboratory at Veer Surendra Sai Institute of Medical Sciences and Research (VIMSAR) at Burla.
  • VIMSAR Superintendent Jayashree Dora said that the feasibility report for setting up of the laboratory was sent to the state government.
  • The laboratory has been proposed to be set up in the Microbiology Department of VIMSAR at the earliest.
  • Swab samples of all suspected coronavirus patients are currently being sent to the Regional Medical Research Center (RMRC) in Bhubaneswar.

Mar 26, 2020

Indian Govt To Launch CoWin-20 App To Help Curb Spread Of Coronavirus

  •  The Indian government is reportedly working on a smartphone app to help stop the spread of coronavirus. The app called "CoWin-20" is currently in beta testing and it will launch for both Android and iOS platforms.
  • CoWin-20 app will track users through their smartphone location to stop the community spread of coronavirus. The app will also record the user's travel history to determine if they're at risk of Covid-19 and people they may have come in contact with.
  • In addition to this, users will also get to know the location of coronavirus testing centres and quarantine sites in India. The CoWin-20 app will also host government advisories and information on coronavirus. Users will be alerted on all the latest coronavirus updates issued by the Indian government.

Scientists of ARI, Pune Develop Biofortified, High Protein Wheat Variety

  •  Scientists from Agharkar Research Institute (ARI), Pune, an autonomous institute under the Department of Science & Technology, Government of India, have developed a biofortified durum wheat variety MACS 4028, which shows high protein content.
  • The wheat variety developed by the ARI  scientists group on Wheat improvement, shown high protein content of about 14.7%, better nutritional quality having zinc 40.3 ppm, and iron content of 40.3ppm and 46.1ppm respectively, good milling quality and overall acceptability.
  • MACS 4028, the development of which was published in the Indian Journal of Genetics and Plant Breeding, is a semi-dwarf variety, which matures in 102 days and has shown the superior and stable yielding ability of 19.3 quintals per hectare. It is resistant to stem rust, leaf rust, foliar aphids, root aphids, and brown wheat mite.
  • The MACS 4028 variety is also included by the Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK) programme for United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) to alleviate malnutrition in a sustainable way and can boost the Vision 2022 "Kuposhan Mukt Bharat", the National Nutrition Strategy. An endeavor to tackle the hidden hunger in the rural areas of India is being continued using traditional plant breeding approach to achieve "Kuposhan Mukt Bharat."

First Made-in-India COVID-19 Test Kit By Mylab Gets Commercial Approval

  •  Pune-based molecular diagnostics company Mylab Discovery Solutions Pvt Ltd, which specialises in molecular diagnostic kits has developed first made-in-India test kit for COVID-19 in a record time of six weeks. The kit -- Mylab PathoDetect COVID-19 Qualitative PCR kit -- is the first one to receive commercial approval from the Indian FDA/ Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO). Besides, Mylab is the only Indian company to have achieved 100 per cent sensitivity and specificity in the ICMR evaluation.
  • Mylab has several years of experience in manufacturing RTPCR kits. It manufactures a range of kits at the facility approved by Indian FDA/CDSCO and is compliant with MDR 2017 regulation for manufacturing medical devices of Class C and D, the most stringent and regulated products by the government.

Mar 16, 2020

Scientists Develop Solar Receiver Tube Technology for Industrial Process Heat

  • Scientists at the International Advanced Research Centre for Powder Metallurgy and New Materials (ARCI), Hyderabad (Telangana), developed a cost-effective 'solar receiver tube technology' that absorbs solar radiation and converts it into heat for the targeted applications, especially in industries.
  • ARCI has filed 2 patent applications for this technology, and also inked an MoU (Memorandum of understanding) with Greenera Energy India Private Limited for technology transfer, that aims to develop the solar receiver tube for wider market absorption.
  • The solar receiver tube, which has a high corrosion resistance, functions based on the Concentrating Solar Thermal (CST),that provides a better solution to handle the demands on industrial process heat (≤ 250 °C).
  • The receiver tube has the capability of 93% absorption, 14% emittance and has better thermal stability as well. The trial of absorber coating has been made successfully for heat gain and heat loss studies in a testing facility established at ARCI.
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