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SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY - March 2020

Mar 2020

Aug 28, 2021

Astronomers Identify New Class of Exoplanets

  • Hycean worlds are composed of water-rich interiors with massive oceans underlying hydrogen-rich atmospheres; with densities between those of rocky super-Earths and larger mini-Neptunes, these exoplanets can be optimal candidates in the search for exoplanetary habitability and may be abundant in the exoplanet population.
  • Of the thousands of exoplanets known today, the vast majority are low-mass planets with sizes of 1-4 Earth masses, between the terrestrial planets and ice giants of our Solar System.
  • With no analogs in the Solar System, these planets are variedly classed as super-Earths or mini-Neptunes depending on inferences about their bulk compositions based on their densities.
  • Earlier studies of such planets have found that the pressure and temperature beneath their hydrogen-rich atmospheres would be too high to support life.
  • However, Dr. Nikku Madhusudhan, an astronomer in the Institute of Astronomy at the University of Cambridge, and colleagues recently found that in certain conditions these planets could support life.
  • The result led to a detailed investigation into the full range of planetary and stellar properties for which these conditions are possible, which known exoplanets may satisfy those conditions, and whether their biosignatures may be observable.
  • The investigation led the astronomers to identify a new class of planets, Hycean planets, with massive planet-wide oceans beneath hydrogen-rich atmospheres.

Aug 26, 2021

Tesla Hiring Roboticists for its Humanoid Robot Project

  • Electric vehicle maker Tesla has started to hire roboticists to build its recently announced Tesla Bot, a humanoid robot to become a new vehicle for its AI technology.
  • The Tesla humanoid robotics modelling team is looking for a highly skilled and motivated colleague that would like to help building the next generation biped robot.
  • Musk had announced that his company is working on a humanoid robot and the prototype will arrive sometime next year.
  • The 5.8-inch bot would be used to handle automated machines at Tesla factories, as well as some of the hardware and software that powers the Autopilot driver assistance software.

Aug 25, 2021

Astronomers Discover Fastest-Orbiting Asteroid

  • The newly-discovered asteroid 2021 PH27 has a diameter of about 1 km (3,280 feet) and orbits the Sun in just 113 days, the shortest known orbital period for an asteroid and second shortest for any object in our solar system after Mercury.
  • 2021 PH27 has a semi-major axis of 70 million km (43 million miles, 0.46 AU), giving it a 113-day orbital period on an unstable elongated orbit that crosses the orbits of both Mercury and Venus.
  • This means that within a few million years it will likely be destroyed in a collision with one of these planets or the Sun, or it will be ejected from its current position.
  • 2021 PH27 was discovered by Carnegie Institution for Science's Dr. Scott Sheppard in images taken by Brown University astronomers Ian Dell'Antonio and Shenming Fu.

Xiaomi to Drop 'Mi' Branding from its Products

  • As per reports, Xiaomi is dropping the 'Mi' branding from its products and it is said to simply use 'Xiaomi' in the future.
  • The move was reportedly signalled by the recent launch of the company's new product, the Xiaomi Mix 4.
  • The Xiaomi Mix 4 was launched in China earlier this month, but it does not carry the 'Mi' branding.

Aug 24, 2021

Mystery Object in Space Could be a New Arm of the Milky Way

  • Astronomers have discovered an enormous new filament of gas and dust hanging at the outer edge of our galaxy. Nicknamed 'Cattail,' the feature is not yet fully mapped, and the team who found it believe it could be a previously unknown arm of our Milky Way galaxy.
  • The Milky Way is a giant spiral galaxy, which has a central bulge surrounded by coiling arms containing stars, gas and dust. Our home galaxy has four known spiral arms — two major arms named Scutum-Centaurus and Perseus, and two minor arms squished between them named Norma and Sagittarius, according to NASA.

OneWeb Launches 34 Satellites into Orbit

  • OneWeb, the Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite communications company backed by Bharti, announced the launch of 34 satellites by Arianespace from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in southern Kazakhstan.
  • The latest launch brings the company's total in-orbit constellation to 288 satellites. OneWeb is on track to commence service this year and deliver global service in 2022.
  • The move highlights the business momentum as the company prepares to introduce commercial service and focus on scaling to global service.
  • The satellites would form part of OneWeb's 648 LEO satellite fleet that aim to deliver high-speed, low-latency global connectivity.

Aug 23, 2021

Japan Aims to Bring Back Soil Samples from Mars Moon by 2029

  • Japan's space agency plans to bring soil samples back from the Mars region ahead of the US and Chinese missions now operating on Mars, in hopes of finding clues to the planet's origin and traces of possible life.
  • The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, or JAXA, plans to launch an explorer in 2024 to land on the Martian moon Phobos to collect 10 grams (0.35 ounce) of soil and bring it back to Earth in 2029.
  • The rapid return trip would put Japan ahead of the United States and China in bringing back samples from the Martian region despite starting later.

Chinese Zhurong Mars Rover Soldiers on after Completing Programme

  • China's Zhurong Mars rover is soldiering on after completing its initial programme to explore the red planet and search for frozen water that could provide clues as to whether it once supported life.
  • The rover would continue to explore the area known as Utopia Planitia where it landed on May 14. Zhurong has been consistently sending back photos and data via the Tianwen-1 orbiter that crosses over it once a day. After the United States, China is the second country to land and sustainably operate a spacecraft on Mars, where days are 40 minutes longer than on Earth.
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