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SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY - October 2021

Oct 2021

May 16, 2022

Scientists discover almost 35 million years old rare snake fossil from Ladakh

  • Scientists have discovered the fossil of a Madtsoiidae snake in the Himalayan mountains in Ladakh, which sheds fresh light on the prevalence and existence of this rare serpent species in the Indian subcontinent. Madtsoiidae is an extinct group of medium-sized to gigantic snakes, firstly appeared during the later part of the Cretaceous period, that began 145 million years ago and ended 66 million years ago. They are thought to grow up to 30 feet in length.
  • Madtsoiidae were mostly found in the Gondwanan landmasses, an ancient supercontinent that broke up about 180 million years ago and eventually split into landmasses that are today known as Africa, South America, Australia, Antarctica, the Indian subcontinent and the Arabian Peninsula.
    • The study was undertaken by researchers from the Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology, Dehradun, Panjab University, Chandigarh, Indian Institute of Technology, Ropar and Comenius University, Slovakia. The newly discovered specimen has been housed in the repository of Wadia Institute.

May 15, 2022

Chinese Findings on Mars Suggest Water Existed for Longer on Planet's Surface

  • Hydrated minerals discovered by China's robotic rover on Mars in a vast basin believed to be the site of an ancient ocean suggest water was present on the planet's surface for longer than previously thought, said Chinese scientists.
  • According to an analysis of data sent back by the rover, Zhurong, signs of water were detected in sampled minerals from just 700 million years ago. Mars is believed to have been wet until about 3 billion years ago, when the planet's second geological age, known as the Hesperian Epoch, ended. In the current Amazonian period, there is no surface water. The soil containing the minerals Zhurong sampled had a hard crust that could have been formed by rising ground water or melted ice that had since evaporated.
  • The Chinese rover has been exploring the vast plain of Utopia Planitia since its landing on the planet in May 2021. Zhurong has travelled about 2 kilometres from its landing site as it gathers data on the terrain.

May 14, 2022

First Image of Black Hole at Heart of Milky Way

  • Scientists from the Event Horizon Telescope(EHT) facility, a collaboration of over 300 researchers, revealed the first image of the black hole at the centre of the Milky Way. This image of the black hole referred to as Sagittarius A* (SgrA*) gave further support to the idea that the compact object at the centre of our galaxy is indeed a black hole. This strengthens Einstein's general theory of relativity.
  • In 2019, the Event Horizon Telescope made history by releasing the first ever image of a black hole M87* – the black hole at the centre of a galaxy Messier 87, which is a supergiant elliptic galaxy.

May 10, 2022

RailTel Launches PM-WANI Based Access to its Wi-Fi at 100 Railway Stations across the Country

  • RailTel, a Mini Ratna PSU, launched Prime Minister Wi-Fi Access Network Interface (PM-WANI) scheme based on access to its Public WiFi services across 100 railway stations across the country. This public-friendly service was virtually launched by RailTel chairman and managing director Puneet Chawla. To access this WiFi network, android users can download the mobile app 'Wi-DOT' available on Google Play Store. This app has been developed in close coordination with C-DOT.
  • This method of accessing Wi-Fi through the 'mobile app' will be in addition to the existing method of accessing WiFi at these stations through the conventional method of selecting RailWire Service Set Identifier (SSID).
  • PM-WANI is an ambitious program of the Department of Telecom (DoT) to connect all silo Wi-Fi networks for ease of use and proliferate broadband usage for the masses. The government further plans to extend the PM-WANI-based access of RailTel's public Wi-Fi services to all 6,102 railway stations in a phased manner by the end of June 2022.

May 09, 2022

SpaceX Dragon Endurance Crew-3 Returns after 6-months

  • On board SpaceX Dragon Endurance, three NASA astronauts and one from the European Space Agency landed safely on Earth from the International Space Station. SpaceX spacecraft 'Dragon' made a touchdown on the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Florida after spending six months on the International Space Station (ISS). The spacecraft carried four astronauts including Indian-American astronaut Raja Chari.
  • SpaceX was founded in 2002 by Elon Musk, the billionaire CEO of electric carmaker Tesla Inc, who recently clinched a deal to buy Twitter. California-based SpaceX has launched seven human spaceflights in all over the past two years - five for NASA and two for private ventures - as well as dozens of cargo and satellite payload missions since 2012.

Country's First 'Flow Chemistry Technology Hub' set up in Hyderabad

  • The Telangana government in collaboration with pharma majors such as Dr Reddy's Laboratories and Laurus Labs as well as academia has set up a one-of-its-kind flow chemistry technology hub (FCTH) at the Dr Reddy's Institute of Life Sciences (DRILS).
  • The hub, which houses state-of-the-art flow chemistry equipment, will provide hands-on training and promote scientific capability building to ensure greater incorporation of flow chemistry techniques in pharma R&D and greater adoption of continuous synthesis for manufacturing of active pharma ingredients (APIs).
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