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SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY - September 2020

Sep 2020

Sep 30, 2020

Buried Lakes of Liquid Water Discovered on Mars

  • Three new underground lakes have been detected near the South Pole of Mars.
  • Scientists also confirmed the existence of a fourth lake - the presence of which was hinted at in 2018.
  • Liquid water is vital for biology, so the finding will be of interest to researchers studying the potential for life elsewhere in the Solar System.
  • But the lakes are also thought to be extremely salty, which could pose challenges to the survival of any microbial life forms.
  • Billions of years ago, water flowed in rivers and pooled in lakes on the Martian surface. But Mars has since lost much of its atmosphere, which means water canot stay liquid for long on the surface today.
  • However, it's a different matter underground.

United Arab Emirates to Launch Spacecraft to Moon in 2024

  • A top official in the United Arab Emirates said that his country plans to send an unmanned spacecraft to the moon in 2024.
  • Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who is also the ruler of Dubai, made the announcement.
  • Sheikh Mohammed's announcement comes after the launch of a Mars probe earlier this year by the UAE.
  • Sheikh Mohammed said the rover would be named "Rashid," the same name of his late father, Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum.
  • If successful in 2024, the UAE could become the fourth nation on the Earth to land a spacecraft on the moon, after the US, the Soviet Union and China. India has tried and failed to land a spacecraft, as has Israel and Japan.

ASTROTAT Completes Five Successful Years of Maping Star

  • The ASTROSAT was the first multi-wavelength satellite launched by Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO). It was launched in September 2015. It has now completed five years of successful imaging of celestial objects.
  • The ASTROSAT explored stars, star clusters and mapped large and small galaxies of Milky Way galaxy called "Magellanic Clouds". The Magellanic Clouds are energetic phenomenon such as Gamma-ray bursts, supernovae, active galactic nuclei. In simple terms, they are called Satellite Galaxies of Milky Way.
  • The resolution of ASTROSAT is three times better than the resolution of NASA Mission, GALEX.
  • With the success of ASTROSAT, India has become one of the exclusive club of nations to have space-based observatories. The other countries that have space observatories are USA, Japan, European Space Agency, Russia and Japan. The satellite aims to provide high energy processes in binary star systems that contain black holes and neutron stars.
  • ASTROSAT was the first dedicated Indian Mission that studied celestial sources in X-ray, UV and optical spectral bands simultaneously with its five UV Telescopes and X-ray telescopes. The ground command and control centre of ASTROSAT is located in ISRO Telemetry Tracking and Command Network (ISTRAC), Bangalore.
  • The ground stations of ISTRAC are located in Bangalore, Hyderabad, Port Blair, Thiruvananthapuram, Sriharikota and Lucknow.

Sep 29, 2020

China's Unmanned Plateau Helicopter Makes Maiden Flight

  • China's first homemade unmanned helicopter focusing on high-altitude areas has successfully completed a maiden flight in a plateau region.
  • The AR-500C prototype completed its first plateau flight at the Daocheng Yading Airport, which is the world's highest civilian airport with an elevation of 4,411 metres.
  • This flight broke the record for the elevation at which a domestically built unmanned helicopter took off and landed.
  • During the 15-minute flight, the drone completed a series of tests, including climbing, hovering, rotating and other operational manoeuvres, before steadily landing.
  • This demonstrated the AR-500C's general ability to fly in all types of terrain.
  • The maiden flight comes at a time when India and China are locked in a military standoff in eastern Ladakh since early May this year.

Himalaya Chandra Telescope Completes Successful 20 Years

  • The Himalayan Chandra Telescope is located at the Indian Astronomical Observatory (IAO). It has been scanning the night sky in search of comets, stellar explosions, exo-planets and asteroids.
  • It operates using delicate satellite communication link from Centre for Research and Education in Science and Technology (CREST), IIA (Indian Institute of Astrophysics). The telescope marked 20 years of successful operation with more than 260 research papers published using data obtained from it.
  • The Indian Astronomical Observatory is located at Hanle, Ladakh. The telescopes located at the observatory are as follows
  • Himalayan Chandra Telescope
  • Global Relay of Observatories Watching Transients Happen (GROWTH) India
  • Imaging Cherenkov Telescope (MACE)
  • Gamma-Ray Array Telescope (HAGAR)
  • It is located on Mt Saraswati at an altitude of 4,500 metres. It is operated by the Indian Institute of Astrophysics, Bangalore. It was installed by IIA, Bangalore in 2000. The telescope has three major science instruments namely Near-IR Imager, Himalayan Faint Object Spectrograph and Optical CCD Imager.
  • The telescope is remotely operated by INSAT-3B satellite link that allows operation even in sub-zero temperatures.
       • It generated 1000 GB of data in a year.

Sep 28, 2020

India's First RRTS Train with Design Speed of 180 kmph Unveiled

  • The Centre unveiled the first look of the Regional Rapid Transit System (RRTS) train that can attain a top speed of 180 kilometres per hour on the Delhi-Ghaziabad-Meerut corridor. The design is inspired by Delhi's iconic Lotus Temple and is aligned with PM Narendra Modi's 'Make in India' policy.
  • The entire rolling stock of RRTS will be manufactured at Bombardier's Savli plant in Gujarat and it is sustainable and energy-efficient green train. With radiating stainless steel outer body, these aerodynamic RRTS trains will be lightweight and fully air-conditioned.

Sep 25, 2020

Momentus Signs Launch Service Agreements with Pixxel

  • Momentus signed two new launch service agreements with Pixxel and GP Advanced Projects. Momentus will deliver Pixxel's second smallsat to Sun-Synchronous Orbit (SSO) orbit in December 2021 onboard a SpaceX Falcon-9 launch. Additionally, GP Advanced Projects' FEES2 Picosatellite will fly on Vigoride's second demo mission in April 2021.
  • Pixxel is building a constellation of earth imaging small satellites that can provide real-time remote sensing data globally. The Momentus Shuttle Service will provide a rideshare for multiple Pixxel spacecraft to predefined orbits.
  • GP Advanced Projects' Flexible Experimental Embedded Satellite (FEES) is a picosatellite platform for autonomous in-orbit validation and testing. A first model will fly onboard G.A.U.S.S. Unisat-7 satellite launched on a Soyuz, and Momentus will fly the enhanced FEES2 variant on a Vigoride shuttle via a Falcon-9 rocket in the first half of 2021.

Sep 24, 2020

NASA Outlines Plan for First Woman on Moon by 2024

  • The US space agency (NASA) has formally outlined its $28bn (£22bn) plan to return to the Moon by 2024.
  • As part of a programme called Artemis, NASA will send a man and a woman to the lunar surface in the first landing with humans since 1972.
  • But the agency's timeline is contingent on Congress releasing $3.2bn for building a landing system.
  • Astronauts will travel in an Apollo-like capsule called Orion that will be launched on a powerful rocket called SLS.
  • NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said that the $28bn represents the costs associated for the next four years in the Artemis programme to land on the Moon. SLS funding, Orion funding, the human landing system and of course the spacesuits - all of those things that are part of the Artemis programme are included.
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