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February 2017 - Science and Technology

  • SpaceX launches rocket from historic NASA launch pad 
    NASA's historic moon shot pad is back in business. A SpaceX Falcon rocket blasted off on 19th February from Kennedy Space Center's Launch Complex 39A. It was visible for just seconds before ducking into clouds on its way to the International Space Station, with a load of supplies. 

    Astronauts flew to the moon from this very spot nearly a half-century ago. The pad was last used for NASA's final shuttle mission nearly six years ago. 


  • Astronomers find 7 Earth-size planets where life may be possible
    Astronomers have found a nearby solar system with seven Earth-sized planets, three of which circle their parent star at the right distance for liquid surface water, raising the prospect of life, research published on 22nd February showed. 

    The star, known as TRAPPIST-1, is a small, dim celestial body in the constellation Aquarius. TRAPPIST-1 is named for the Transiting Planets and Planetesimals Small Telescope (TRAPPIST) in Chile. The latest discovery is from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope. 

    It is located about 40 light years away from Earth. Researchers said the proximity of the system, combined with the proportionally large size of its planets compared to the small star, make it a good target for follow-up studies. 


  • Government launches Bharat QR code
    The Union Government has launched Bharat QR code, a quick response (QR) code to enable digital payments without card swiping machines. It is world’s first interoperable payment acceptance solution launched by Indian Government to move towards less-cash economy. 

    Bharat QR code has been developed by jointly by National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI), Visa, MasterCard and American Express under instructions from Reserve Bank of India (RBI). 

    It works as common interface for the MasterCard/Visa/RuPay platforms and also facilitate acceptance of Aadhaar-enabled payments and Unified Payments Interface (UPI). It enables person to make payments to retailers without using the merchant’s ID or number. It eliminated need of using card swiping machines making digital payments. 

    BharatQR code is of two types static and dynamic. In static QR code, first code need to be scanned and then amount is entered to make payment. In case of dynamic QR code, new QR code will be generated in real time for every transaction. In this case there is no need to enter the amount. The payment is just made by scanning and entering the PIN. 


  • AYUSH Minister inaugurates World Integrated Medicine Forum
    Minister of State (Independent Charge) for AYUSH, Shripad Yesso Naik inaugurated the World Integrated Medicine Forum on Regulation of Homeopathic Medicinal Products: National and Global strategies in New Delhi on 23rd February. 

    The two day event is organised by Ministry of AYUSH and Central Council for Research in Homeopathy (CCRH) and supported by Pharmacopoeia Commission for Indian Medicine & Homoeopathy (PCIMH) & Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO). 

    This is the first-of-its-kind forum considering the increased perception of the international world towards India as a key player in the progress of the homoeopathy drug industry. 


  • MIT scientists estimate new timeline for our solar system
    Scientists from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the US and their colleagues have estimated the new lifetime of the solar nebula which suggests that the gas giant planets Jupiter and Saturn formed within the first four million years of our solar system's formation. 

    About 4.6 billion years ago, an enormous cloud of hydrogen gas and dust collapsed under its own weight, eventually flattening into a disk called the solar nebula. Most of this interstellar material contracted at the disk's centre to form the Sun, and part of the solar nebula's remaining gas and dust condensed to form the planets and the rest of our solar system. 


  • ISRO's conducts cryogenic engine-D stage test
    ISRO on 17th February successfully carried out its indigenously developed cryogenic engine-D stage test at its liquid propulsion complex at Mahendragiri in Tirunelveli district of Tamil Nadu. According to the ISRO Chairman A S Kiran Kumar, the successful test of C-25 payload capacity of four tonnes class of satellite would pave way for the launch of GSLV Mark III C-25 satellite. 


  • India's only live volcano active again: NIO
    India's only live volcano, The Barren Island volcano, located 140-km north-east of Port Blair in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands had started showing activity in the year 1991 after being dormant for over 150 years has once again started spewing ash, the researchers at Goa based National Institute of Oceanography (NIO) said on 17th February. 

    On the January 23, 2017, a team of researchers from CSIR-NIO's research ship R V Sindhu Sankalp were busy collecting sea floor samples in the Andaman Basin near the Barren volcano when it suddenly started spewing ash. 


  • World's smallest pacemaker unveiled
    The world's smallest pacemaker has been successfully implanted for the first time in a patient in the US. Scientists said, the pacemaker is for patients with bradycardia, a condition characterised by a slow heart rate, usually fewer than 60 beats per minute. 

    The Micra Transcatheter Pacing System, recently approved by the US Food and Drug Administration, is a new type of heart device that provides patients with the most advanced pacing technology at one-tenth the size of a traditional pacemaker and is the only leadless pacemaker approved for use in the US. 


  • Indian Navy launches underwater harbor defence and surveillance system
    Indian Navy has launched an Integrated Underwater Harbor Defence and Surveillance System (IUHDSS) in Mumbai, Maharashtra to enhance the security of valuable naval assets against asymmetric threats. 

    It was inaugurated by Vice Admiral Girish Luthra, Flag Officer Commanding- in-Chief, Western Naval Command. It is second IUHDSS to be installed in India, after first was installed at Kochi, Kerala in August 2015. IUHDSS is designed and developed by Israeli Aerospace Industries ELTA for surface and sub-surface surveillance of the harbor. 


  • Horse antibodies may effectively treat Ebola: Study
    In a first, scientists have developed an effective, rapid and economical treatment for the deadly Ebola virus using antibodies from horses. The post-exposure treatment made with antibodies from horses could be used in the next Ebola outbreak. 

    This is a cost-effective treatment that can be used in low-income countries in Africa where equine production facilities are already in operation for producing snake-bite antivenin. 

    The largest recorded outbreak of Ebola virus occurred primarily in West Africa from 2014 to 2016, infecting 30,000 people and killing more than 11,000, with exported cases in Europe and North America. 


  • Earth-sized planet Proxima b unlikely to host life: NASA 
    The newly discovered Earth-sized planet Proxima b is unlikely to support life despite being in the 'habitable zone' of its host star, due to the exposure to frequent stellar eruptions, NASA scientists have found. 

    One possible effect of this interstellar radiation is atmospheric erosion, in which high-energy particles drag atmospheric molecules - such as hydrogen and oxygen, the two ingredients for water - out into space. The new model for habitable zones now takes this effect into account. 

    Considering the host star's age and the planet's proximity to its host star, scientists expect that Proxima b is subjected to torrents of X-ray and extreme ultraviolet radiation from super flares occurring roughly every two hours. 


  • India successfully test-fires interceptor missile
    India has successfully test-fired an interceptor missile off the Odisha coast. With this a significant milestone in the direction of developing a two-layered Ballistic Missile Defence system has been accomplished. The Prithvi Defence Vehicle mission is for engaging targets at an altitude above 50 km of earth's atmosphere.

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