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SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY - November 2021

Nov 2021

May 25, 2022

Union Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw Successfully Tests Made-in-India 5G Call at IIT Madras

  • Union Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw made the first 5G call on a trial network set up at IIT Madras using indigenously-developed telecom gears. Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the country's first 5G test-bed, incubated at IIT Madras, to enable startups and industry players to test and validate their products locally and reduce dependence on foreign facilities.
  • The government expects commercial roll-out of 5G services to start in the country by August-September 2022.
  • The 5G test-bed has been developed as a multi-institute collaborative project by eight institutes led by IIT Madras. In the absence of a 5G test-bed, startups and other industry players were required to go abroad to test and validate their products for installation in a 5G network.

May 24, 2022

Indian Railways and IIT Madras Partner to Develop India's First Indigenous Hyperloop

  • The Ministry of Railways partnered with IIT Madras for the development of a made-in-India Hyperloop system. It has also announced that it'll be setting up a Centre for Excellence for Hyperloop technologies at the aforementioned institution. India has shown interest in Hyperloop tech since 2017, by then Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu. In fact, the ministry also held talks with US-based Hyperloop One, but nothing quite materialised.
  • IIT Madras's Avishkar Hyperloop which was formed in 2017 had been working on scalability and frugal engineering concepts for the development of a Hyperloop based transportation system for India. The group was one of the top ten finalists at the SpaceX Hyperloop Pod competition of 2019 and was the only Asian team to do so. They also were awarded the 'Most Scalable Design Award' at the European Hyperloop Week in 2021.

Hubble Observes Extremely Distant Globular Cluster

  • The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope captured an amazing new photo of the globular cluster Liller 1.
  • Liller 1 is located approximately 30,000 light-years away from Earth in the constellation of Scorpius.
  • Also known as C 1730-333, it lies within the Milky Way's bulge, the dense and dusty region at the Galactic center.
  • Liller 1 is a particularly interesting globular cluster, because unlike most of its kind, it contains a mix of young and old stars.
  • According to Hubble astronomers, globular clusters typically house only old stars, some nearly as old as the Universe itself.

May 23, 2022

NatGeo Installs World's Highest Weather Station on Mt. Everest

  • National Geographic Society installed the "world's highest weather station" on Mount Everest at an altitude of 8,830 metres to automatically measure various meteorological phenomena.
  • The weather monitoring system, powered by solar energy, is supposed to measure various meteorological phenomena like air temperature, wind speed and direction, air pressure, change in surface height of snow, and incoming and outgoing short and longwave radiation.
  • The NatGeo team, led by climate scientist Baker Perry from the Appalachian State University in the US, consisted of climbers and scientists, many of whom scaled the world's highest peak while installing the weather station. The team spent a month near Everest and also carried out the maintenance of other stations, including a station at South Col.

Hyderabad-based Skyroot Aerospace Successfully Test Fires Engine of Vikram-1 Rocket

  • Private sector rocket maker Skyroot Aerospace Private Ltd successfully tested its Vikram-1 rocket's third stage/engine. Named 'Kalam-100' after renowned Indian rocket scientist Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, the third stage of Vikram-1 produces a peak vacuum thrust of 100 kN (about10 tons) and has a burn time of 108 seconds.
  • The rocket stage is built with high-strength carbon fiber structure, solid fuel, Ethylene-Propylene-Diene terpolymers (EPDM) thermal protection system, and carbon ablative nozzle. The rocket stage/engine has no moving parts and a high level of automation in manufacturing.
  • The rocket's stage was tested at the facilities of Solar Industries India Ltd, one of the investors in Skyroot. This is the largest rocket stage ever designed, manufactured, and tested completely in the Indian private sector.

May 21, 2022

Blue Origin Delays May 20 Space Tourist Launch

  • Jeff Bezos space venture Blue Origin delayed its fifth tourist flight to space. The company in a statement said its NS-21 faced some vehicle issues. The company has not announced the new target launch date. NS-21 is expected to fly six customer astronauts. Echazarreta will become the first Mexican-born woman and youngest American woman to fly to space, while Hespanha will be the second Brazilian to fly to space.
  • The typical 11-minute flight aims to carry the crew members far above the Karman line -- an internationally recognised boundary of space that lies 62 miles (100 km) above the Earth's surface. The company conducted its fourth human flight to the edge of space with six people in March 2022.

May 19, 2022

Full Lunar Eclipse Creates Rare Super Blood Moon

  • Millions of people across the world were able to see the reddish glow of a rare and spectacular show in the sky — a lunar eclipse known as a "super flower blood moon." This rare event happens only when a series of conditions are at play. Along with there being a total lunar eclipse — when Earth is directly between the moon and the sun — the full moon must also be at its closest point to Earth, known as a "super moon." The full moon in May is sometimes known as the flower moon since spring is in bloom in the Northern Hemisphere. The moon appears "blood red" when the eclipse reaches totality.
  • While only parts of the world were able to see the dazzling astronomical event, it was a sight to remember.

SpaceX Launches Starlink Satellites from California

  • A SpaceX rocket carried 53 satellites for the Starlink internet constellation into orbit after blasting off from California. The Falcon 9 booster lifted off from Vandenberg Space Force Base and minutes later the first stage landed on a drone ship in the Pacific Ocean while the second stage continued toward low Earth orbit. SpaceX later tweeted that the satellites were successfully deployed.
  • Starlink is a space-based system that SpaceX has been building for years to bring internet access to underserved areas of the world. Hawthorne, California-based SpaceX has hundreds of Starlink satellites orbiting Earth at an altitude of 340 miles (550 kilometres).
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