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March 2017 Science and Technology


  • Hyderabad to host 105th Indian Science Congress
    Osmania University in Hyderabad will host the 105th edition of the Indian Science Congress during January 3-7, 2018. According to Achyuta Samanta, General President of the Indian Science Congress Association, (ISCA) and founder of Kalinga Institute of Industrial Technology (KIIT), Bhubaneswar. 

    The conference will be on the theme ‘Science and Technology - Reaching the Unreached’. This will be the sixth time the university will be hosing the conference. The congress will be meeting in Hyderabad for the seventh time. 


  • Indian Navy to de-induct TU142M Long Range Maritime Patrol aircraft 
    The Indian Navy is preparing for re-induction of TU142M Long Range Maritime Patrol aircraft after 29 years of dedicated service to the nation. The aircraft would be formally de-inducted by Admiral Sunil Lanba, Chief of the Naval Staff at a ceremony to be held at INS Rajali, Tamil Nadu. 

    According to the Defence Minister the aircraft has done the Indian Navy proud by participating in all major naval exercises and operations with distinction. The aircraft saw action during operation ‘Cactus’ in Maldives and participated in operational missions off Sri Lanka to provide airborne surveillance. 


  • Navy successfully test-fires surface-to-air missile from INS Vikramaditya
    In a boost to India's maritime prowess, the Navy has successfully conducted the maiden trial firing of newly installed surface-to-air Barak missile system from its aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya. The missile marks a significant milestone in providing air interception and defence capabilities and enhanced operational capabilities of the Navy's aircraft carrier and the fleet. 


  • World's Biggest Dinosaur Footprint Discovered In 'Australia's Own Jurassic Park
    More than 100 million years ago, on a muddy stretch of land that is now Australia, nearly two-dozen species of dinosaur once roamed. The footprint assemblage which contains evidence of 21 species, is the most diverse in the world, researchers reported in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology. 

    One of those tracks is the largest dinosaur print ever recorded: a 5-foot-9-inch print from a sauropod, or long-necked dinosaur. The tracks also provide the first evidence that spiky tailed stegosaurs lived in the land down under. 


  • Indian Navy de-inducts long-range patrol aircraft TU 142M after 29 years
    The Indian Navy has de-inducted the legendary long range reconnaissance aircraft TU 142 M from service after about 29 years of seamless operation. 


  • SpaceX launches its first recycled rocket
    SpaceX has launched its first recycled rocket, a move that drive down costs and speed up flights. The Falcon 9 blasted off from Florida's Kennedy Space Center, hoisting a broadcasting satellite into the early evening clear sky on the historic rocket re-flight. It was the first time SpaceX founder Elon Musk tried to fly a booster that soared before on an orbital mission. 


  • Experts says Pluto should regain its planet status
    Pluto should be defined as a planet, along with over 100 celestial bodies in the solar system, including the moons of Jupiter and Earth, according to scientists who argue that the icy dwarf had been wrongly demoted. The definition approved by the International Astronomical Union (IAU) in 2006, demoted Pluto to "non-planet," dropping the number of planets in our solar system from nine to eight. 

    Researchers argue for a definition of planet that focuses on the intrinsic qualities of the body itself, rather than external factors such as its orbit or other objects around it. 

    They define a planet as "a sub-stellar mass body that has never undergone nuclear fusion," that has enough gravitational heft to maintain a roughly round shape, even if it bulges at the equator because of a three-way squeeze of forces created by its gravity and the influence of both the sun and a nearby larger planet. 

    This definition differs from the three-element IAU definition in that it makes no reference to the celestial body's surroundings. The portion which required that a planet and its satellites move alone through their orbit excluded Pluto. Otherwise, Pluto fit the IAU definition: it orbits the Sun and it is massive enough that the forces of gravity have made it round. 

    Researchers have argued in the past that the IAU definition also excludes Earth, Mars, Jupiter and Neptune, which share their orbits with asteroids. 


  • UK’s Newcastle University gets license for 3-parent technique
    The Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority (HFEA) of the United Kingdom on 16 March 2017 granted a license to the Newcastle University to create babies using the 3-parent technique. 

    With this, the Newcastle University has become the first organisation to receive a license since the unveiling of the ‘3-parent baby policy’ by the HEFA in December 2016. The 3-parent baby technique involves in vitro fertilization of both the mother's egg and a donor's egg with the father's sperm. 


  • Trump signs bill authorising NASA funding, Mars exploration
    US President Donald Trump signed a bill authorising 19.5 billion US dollar funding for the NASA programmes and setting a new goal to send humans to Mars. The law, known as the NASA Transition Authorization Act, gives the space agency the funding for fiscal year 2018. 

    It also asks the agency to create a plan to send a "crewed mission to Mars in the 2030s." Opening a new vista to human exploration of the space, Mr. Trump signed the bill in his Oval Office of the White House in the presence of the Vice President Mike Pence. 


  • Large dinosaur tracks found
    Dinosaur tracks have been found in Northeast China's Jilin Province, according to a joint announcement by scientists from China, South Korea and the US, the Xinhua News Agency reported on 11th March. The tracks were found on a rural mountain road in Longjing in the Korean Autonomous Prefecture of Yanbian, Jilin Province in August 2015. 

    The tracks include footprints of hadrosaurs that are 55 centimeters long. The trackmaker's body could have reached seven meters long. The discovery will help researchers to understand the region's landscape during the Cretaceous period. The fossil site was first found by Japanese scientists 20 years ago. 

    Several tracks of carnivorous dinosaurs were also discovered with various footprint sizes ranging from 21 to 43 centimeters. Some 100 million years ago, in the Cretaceous period, this area might have been a shallow lake, where a large number of dinosaurs played and searched for food. 


  • Bangladesh commissions first ever submarines
    Bangladesh military on 12th March inducted "Nabajatra" and "Joyjatra", its first ever submarines. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina officially commissioned the two Chinese submarines, reports the Dhaka Tribune. The submarines, also known as Ming-class, are a class of diesel-electric submarines of the People's Liberation Army Navy. 

    The submarines were handed over to Bangladesh on November 14 last year. A ship brought the submarines to Chittagong Port from China on December 22, said a statement issued by Inter Services Press Relation office. The Type 035G-class submarines, for which Bangladesh paid approximately USD 203 million, were reportedly assembled at Chinese state-owned Liaonan shipyard in the Dalian state. 

    A total of 12 were built and commissioned between 1990 and 1999. They are 76 metres in length and 7.6 metres in width. The primary weaponry for Type 035G is the Yu-3 torpedo. It uses French-made sonar DUUX-5 unit. 


  • World’s oldest algae fossil found in India
    Scientists in India have uncovered a pair of 1.6 billion-year-old fossils that appear to contain red algae, which may be the oldest plant-like life discovered on Earth. Until now, the oldest known red algae was 1.2 billion years old, said the paper in the journal PLOS Biology. 

    Scientists often debate the question of when complex life began on Earth, but they generally agree that large multi-cellular organisms became common about 600 million years ago. This discovery could lead experts to rewrite the tree of life, said lead author Stefan Bengtson, Professor Emeritus of palaeo-zoology at the Swedish Museum of Natural History. 


  • Scientists developed blood test to accurately predict ASD
    Scientists in the United States have developed a blood test to accurately predict whether a child has autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The advancement opens the door to early diagnosis and potential future development of therapeutics. The study has been published in the journal PLOS Computational Biology. 


  • Reason for Pandas black and white marks found
    The giant panda's distinct black-and-white markings have two functions: camouflage and communication, a new study has found. 

    The study suggests that this dual colouration stems from its poor diet of bamboo and inability to digest a broader variety of plants. The scientists, who earlier uncovered why zebras have black and white stripes, took the colouration question to giant pandas in the latest study. 


  • Oldest serving aircraft carrier INS Viraat gets decommissioned
    The longest serving warship of the world, INS Viraat was decommissioned by the Indian Navy 6th March at Mumbai's Naval Dockyard. According to Admiral Lanba a new aircraft carrier will be inducted anytime between 2018 and 2020. 

    The Guinness Record Holder for being the longest serving warship of the world, INS Viraat had served for 30 years in the Indian Navy and 27 years in the Royal Navy. Under the Indian Flag, the ship was instrumental during Operation Parakram between India and Pakistan; apart from Sri Lankan Peace Keeping operation. 


  • India's 1st lunar probe Chandrayaan 1 spacecraft still orbiting Moon: NASA
    India's first lunar probe - the Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft - which was considered lost is still orbiting the Moon. NASA scientists have found the satellite, using a new ground-based radar technique. 

    Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) lost contact with Chandrayaan-1 in August 2009, almost a year after it was launched in October, 2008. Now, scientists at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in California have successfully located the spacecraft still circling some 200 kilometres above the lunar surface. 


  • INS Tillanchang commissioned at Karwar
    INS Tillanchang, a Water Jet Fast Attack Craft (WJFAC) was commissioned into the Indian Navy, at Karwar on 9 March 2017. Tillanchang is the third ship of four follow-on WJFAC built by the Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers (GRSE) Kolkata. The ship has been indigenously designed and built and is an upgrade from the Chetlat class of Fast Attack Craft that the Indian Navy possesses. 

    The first two ships of the class, INS Tihayu and INS Tarmugli, were commissioned in 2016 and are based at Visakhapatnam. During the speed trail, INS Tillanchang was able to achieve the fastest speeds among all WJFACs. 


  • India successfully test-fires new BrahMos supersonic cruise missile
    India on 11th March successfully test-fired an extended range BrahMos supersonic cruise missile from the Chandipur Integrated Test Range, off the Odisha coast. 

    This is the first test of the missile after its strike range was extended following India’s entry in Missile Technology Control Regime. DRDO sources said the strike range of the new BrahMos missile has been enhanced from 290 to 450 km. 

    The test was aimed at gauging the efficiency of the weapon system’s superior version which is incorporated with advanced seeker software having target discriminating capabilities. 


  • World's longest-serving warship INS Viraat to bow out of service
    INS Viraat, the second aircraft carrier in the Indian naval fleet, will be decommissioned on March 6. INS Viraat is the second centaur class aircraft carrier in service which has spent 30 years in the Indian Navy and before that 27 years in the Royal Navy of UK. 

    The next aircraft carrier is under construction at Cochin. It will be named Vikrant. As per the contract with the Cochin Shipyard, the ship will commence trials by end-2018 or early 2019. 

    There is a proposal for converting the ship (INS Viraat) into a maritime museum. The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) will look at issues like whether the MRH can be developed on a strategic partnership model, he noted. 


  • India successfully test-fires supersonic interceptor missile
    India on 1st March successfully carried out an interceptor missile test, validating the reliability of its two layered Ballistic Missile Defence. The indigenously developed supersonic interceptor missile is capable of destroying any incoming enemy ballistic missile at low altitude. 

    The interceptor is a 7.5-meter long single stage solid rocket propelled guided missile equipped with a navigation system, a hi-tech computer and an electro-mechanical activator. India is the fourth country in the world to have a ballistic missile defence programme. 

    Other countries which have developed a ballistic missile defence system include the US, Russia and Israel. It is critical to protect the country from the long range ballistic missiles proliferating in the neighborhood. 


  • Indian Navy successfully conducts maiden firing of Anti-Ship missile
    The Indian Navy on 2nd March successfully test-fired an anti-ship missile for the first time from an indigenously built Kalvari class submarine in the Arabian Sea. The weapon was fired from the submarine, the first of India's six Scorpene-class submarines which are being built under the Project 75. 

    The missile successfully hit the surface target at extended ranges during the trial firing held on 2nd March. These missiles will provide the submarines the ability to neutralise surface threats at extended ranges. The submarines, designed by French naval defence and energy company DCNS, are being built by Mazagon Dock Limited in Mumbai.

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