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Science and Technology - May 2011


NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) launched Space Shuttle, Endeavour on 16 May 2011 from the Kennedy Space Centre, Florida for its final mission. The Space Shuttle, Endeavour carried a particle physics experiment to the International Space Station.


Minister for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh declared that the Union government had approved two more tiger reserves in Karnataka. B.R. Hills in Chamarajanagar district and Kudremukh in Chikmagalur district became the 40th and 41st tiger reserves in the country.



The expert group on strategies for low carbon growth submitted its report. The expert group was headed by Kirit Parikh. The expert group was set up in the aftermath of the December 2009 Copenhagen Summit with the objective of suggesting a low carbon growth strategy including sector-specific initiatives. 

The report by the expert group suggested a possibility of a higher range of emission intensity reduction up to 35% by 2020 over 2005 level. 



The Indian Union Ministry of Environment gave its approval to India’s first Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) specialising in infrastructure development in Himalayan region in Mandi district of Himachal Pradesh. The IIT with 8000 students and 800 faculty members will be spread in an area of 500 hectares in Kamand region of the district. Of this land, 125 hectares will be forestland. 



The Union Minister of Environment and forests, Jairam Ramesh stated  that they had cleared the 400 MW Maheshwar hydroelectric power project on the Narmada River in Madhya Pradesh. The ministry had given stop-work order after it was discovered that the Shree Maheshwar Hydel Power Corporation had failed to implement its resettlement and resettlement programme meant for people living in villages whose homes will be destroyed because of the construction of dam. The Narmada Bachao Andolan had spearheaded the protest against the project. 



Indian Space Research Organisation(ISRO) unveiled a supercomputer on 2 May 2011, which is to be India's fastest supercomputer in terms of theoretical peak performance of 220 TeraFLOPS (220 Trillion Floating Point Operations per second). The supercomputing facility named as Satish Dhawan Supercomputing Facility is located at Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC), Thiruvananthapuram.

The new Graphic Processing Unit (GPU) based supercomputer named SAGA-220 (Supercomputer for Aerospace with GPU Architecture-220 TeraFLOPS) is being used by space scientists for solving complex aerospace problems. 

The supercomputer SAGA-220 was inaugurated by Dr K Radhakrishnan, Chairman, ISRO at VSSC.SAGA-220 Supercomputer is fully designed and built by Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre using commercially available hardware, open source software components and in house developments.



First Ministerial Conference on Healthy Lifestyles and Non-communicable Disease Control was organised in Moscow by World Health Organisation on 28 and 29 April 2011. At the conference mental disorders was included in the non-communicable diseases (NCDs) list at India’s insistence. 



The Department of the Environment and Forests of India declared of setting up a National Environmental Appraisal and Monitoring Authority (NEAMA) as a part of efforts to bring in institutional reforms and improve environmental governance. 

As a professional, science-based and autonomous entity tasked with environmental appraisals and monitoring of compliance, NEAMA is planned to mark a major improvement over the prevailing system of the institutional reforms and environmental governance.



The first American in space, late Alan Shepard, was honoured with his own stamp on 4 May 2011 on the eve of the 50th anniversary of his flight. The success of Shepard's flight had helped lead America to the moon. Shepard later became the fifth man to walk on the moon. He died in 1998 at age 74.

The Postal Service dedicated the Forever stamp to commemorate Shepard's suborbital flight on 5 May 1961. He is the first astronaut to be honoured, all by himself, on a stamp. Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin was the first man to go to space and he had defeated Alan Shepard by one month.



India's advanced communication satellite GSAT-8 was successfully launched into its geosynchronous transfer orbit by Arianespace's launch vehicle Ariane-5 from Kourou in French Guyana on 21 May 2011. 

India's GSAT-8 which is the largest and heaviest satellite built by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and its partners was one of the two satellites on the flight.



India successfully test fired indigenously developed air-to-air Astra interceptor missile with an 80 km range from Chandipur in Orissa first on 20 May and then again on 21 May 2011. Astra is one of the smallest missiles developed by the DRDO in terms of size and weight. 

Developed by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), the Beyond-Visual-Range Air-to-Air missile was test-fired with an objective to study the modifications incorporated in its main frame and flight systems. 

The missile was test-fired to gauge performance of its motor, propulsion system and the configurations of the vehicle and aero-dynamics performance.



Union Environment and Forest Minister Jairam Ramesh on 24 May 2011 launched an elephant conservation programme, Hathi Mere Sathi on lines of the National Tiger Conservation Authority. 

The objective of the programme is to protect elephants as the mining projects in Central India pose great threat to Elephant corridors especially in the states of Orissa, Chattisgarh and Jharkhand.


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