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April 2017 Science and Technology

  • India test-fires Agni-III ballistic missileIndia carried out a fresh user trial of 3,000 kilometre range Agni-III ballistic missile from Abdul Kalam Island off Odisha coast on 27th April. The Strategic Forces Command with logistics support from Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO) carried out the test from launch pad No. 4 of the Integrated Test Range. The test was aimed at re-establishing the operational effectiveness of the weapon system. 

    The Agni-III, capable of carrying both conventional and nuclear warheads weighing up to 1.5 tonnes, is 17 metres tall with a two-metre diameter and weighs about 48 tonnes. The missile has a two-stage solid propellant system. It can re-enter the atmosphere at a very high velocity. 

    Agni-III is a rail mobile system capable missile and can be launched from anywhere giving the country intermediate range ballistic missile firepower and greatly extending its power projection in the region. 
  • China launches its first cargo spacecraft Tianzhou-1China launched its first cargo spacecraft on 20th April, taking another step towards its goal of establishing a permanently manned space station by 2022. The Tianzhou-1 cargo resupply spacecraft lifted off on a Long March-7 Y2 rocket from the Wenchang Satellite Launch Centre in the southern island province of Hainan. 

    The spacecraft is designed to dock with the Tiangong 2 space laboratory, where two astronauts spent a month last October in China's longest ever manned space mission. 

    The cargo spacecraft mission will provide an important technological basis for the construction of China's space station. The spacecraft can carry 6 tonnes of goods, 2 tonnes of fuel and can fly unmanned for three months. 
  • Indian Navy test-fires land attack version of Brahmos supersonic cruise missileIndian Navy on 21st April successfully tested the land attack version of supersonic cruise missile, Brahmos. The long range missile was fired from Indian Navy's ship Teg on a target on land. 

    BrahMos Missile has been jointly developed by India and Russia, and its anti-ship variant has already been inducted into the Navy. Majority of the frontline ships of Indian Navy, like the Kolkata, Ranvir and Teg classes of ships, are capable of firing this missile. 

    Land Attack variant of BrahMos Missile provides Indian Naval Ships the capability to precisely neutralise selected targets deep inland, far away from coast, from stand-off ranges at sea. With this successful test-fire India is now in the club of select few nations having this capability. 
  • NASA's Kepler space telescope discovers Venus-like planetAstronomers, using NASA's Kepler space telescope, have discovered a Venus like planet. Isabel Angelo, a scientist at SETI Institute, research organisation in the US said the plant is orbiting a dim star that is one-fifth the diameter of Sun and is located 219 light-years away from Earth. 

    This newly found world is only slightly larger than Earth, and it tightly embraces its low-temperature star called Kepler-1649, encircling it every nine days. The tight orbit causes the flux of sunlight reaching the planet to be 2.3 times as great as the solar flux on Earth. For comparison, the solar flux on Venus is 1.9 times the terrestrial value. 
  • ISRO inducts private sector to make full multi-crore heavy duty satellitesIndian Space Research Organisation, ISRO, for the first time has inducted the private sector to make a full multi-crore heavy duty satellite. A consortium led by Alpha Design Technologies, Bengaluru is tasked to make two full satellites for India's navigation system. 

    Director of ISRO Satellite Centre in Bengaluru Dr. M. Annadurai said, there was a gap between the space agency's requirement and production capability. The private sector will now bridge this gap. 
  • Govt clears proposal to buy Barak missiles for NavyThe government on 3rd April approved procurement of a fresh batch of Barak surface-to-air missiles for Naval warships to enhance India's maritime capability. A meeting of the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), chaired by Defence Minister Arun Jaitley, approved capital acquisition proposals totaling over 860 crore rupees, including for the purchase of Barak missiles. 
  • Japanese research team develops new type of rice plantA Japanese research team has developed a new type of rice plant that is resistant to drought. The team includes researchers from laboratories including the Japan International Research Center for Agricultural Sciences and the RIKEN institute. They removed genes that enhance tolerance of dry conditions from a plant called Arabidopsis, and injected them into a popular rice plant in South America. 

    The researchers observed the growth of the rice plants at a farm in Colombia for 3 years. The treated plants yielded as much as 2.5 times more compared to before the treatment during the dry season from 2013 to 2014 when no rain fell for more than 1 month.
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