August 2019 - Science & Technology



  • North Korea has fired two short-range ballistic missiles into the sea off its east coast. The North launched what appeared to be two short-range ballistic missiles. A super-large multiple rocket launcher had been tested.

    According to South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff, the projectiles were launched from northeastern South Hamgyong province. They flew about 380 kilometres at the maximum altitude of 97 kilometres.


  • Insects that can walk on water, discovered. Scientists of the Zoological Survey of India have discovered seven species of water treaders, semi- aquatic insects that can walk or run on the surface of the water. They belong to the genus Mesovelia whose size ranges from 1.5 mm to 4.5 mm. The seven insect species are Mesovelia and amana, M. bispinosa and M. isiasi, M. occulta andM. tenuia and M. brevia and M. dilatata.


  • Russia's unmanned spacecraft carrying the first humanoid robot into orbit, on 27 August, 2019 docked at the International Space Station (ISS) following a failed attempt over the weekend. Copying human movements, the life-size robot named Fedor is due to stay on the ISS until 7th September. The unmanned Soyuz spaceship, with the robot, sat in the commander's seat, was blasted off from a Russian spaceport in southern Kazakhstan. Russia's Roscosmos space agency said, Fedor will eventually carry out dangerous operations such as spacewalks.


  • ISRO released a set of pictures showing the surface of the Moon using the Terrain Mapping Camera installed on Chandrayaan-2. The pictures shows craters such as Jackson, Mitra, Mach and Korolev. The Mitra crater was named after Professor Sisir Kumar Mitra, an Indian physicist and a Padma Bhushan recipient who was known for his pioneering work in the field of ionosphere and Radiophysics.


  • India will launch its advanced cartography satellite, Cartosat-3, towards the end of October or early November 2019. Cartosat-3 will be launched using the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) rocket. An earth observation or remote sensing satellite, Cartosat-3 is an advanced version with better spatial and spectral characteristics as compared to the Cartosat-2 series satellites.


  • The USFDA approved a new drug called Pretomanid. It is only the third new anti-TB drug approved for use by USFDA in over 40 years. Pretomanid is part of the same class of drugs as delamanid -- one of the other two TB drugs approved in the last half century, developed by pharmaceutical corporation Otsuka. The drug is used over a six-month period in concert with two other TB mediciations.


  • Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) finalised India's first National Essential Diagnostics List (NEDL). India has now become the first country to compile such a list. The move comes after the challenges faced by ICMR which decided that diagnostics serve a key role in improving health and quality of life.

    NEDL aims to bridge the current regulatory system’s gap. The current system does not cover all the medical devices and in-vitro diagnostic device (IVD). The newly-introduced system is equipped to manage only the few notified devices. The list would provide guidance to the government to decide the kind of diagnostic tests that different healthcare facilities in villages and remote areas require.


  • Indian Space Research Organisation targeting at launching Small Satellite Launch vehicle by December. This new space vehicle of ISRO is designed to inject small satellites weighing up to 500 Kilograms in low earth orbit. This is a new programme to be launched by ISRO to enable commercial use of small satellites at minimum cost and manpower. ISRO Chairman also spoke about the future launches to be taken up by the organization.


  • India’s second lunar craft Chandrayaan-2 has sent a picture of the moon’s surface to the earth. This is the first picture it has sent after reaching the lunar-bound orbit. The picture has been taken by the camera on-board the lander of Chandrayaan-2, from above 2650 kilometres above the lunar surface. It may be noted that the lunar craft earlier sent the pictures of the earth when it was revolving around it on the fourth of this month (04 August, 2019).


  • Cerebras Systems has unveiled the world’s largest single silicon- based processor named Cerebras Wafer Scale Engine(WSE). This chip has 1.2 trillion transistors, the basic on-off electronic switches that are the building blocks of silicon chips. The rectangular shape chip measures 21.5CM sq (8.5in sq), comes with 400,000 AI (Artificial Intelligence) cores and 18 gigabytes of on-chip memory.


  • Russia launched a rocket carrying life-sized robot to the International Space Station (ISS) from Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The robot, named Fedor is the first-ever sent into space by Russia. In order to test a new emergency rescue system, the robot was the Soyuz rocket's only passenger. During its 10 days at the ISS, Fedor will learn new skills such as connecting electric cables.


  • Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers (GRSE) launched a fifth Fast Patrol Vessel (FPV) for the Indian Coast Guard (ICG). Named Kanaklata Barua after a freedom fighter from Assam, the vessel is the last of the five FPVs built by GRSE for the Coast Guard. The vessel is 50 metres long and 7.5 metres wide with a displacement of around 308 tonnes. It is equipped with three main engines.


  • PM Modi featured in 'Man Vs. Wild'. PM Modi was featured in a special episode of the TV series 'Man Vs Wild' on Discovery channel on 12 August 2019. The show was hosted by adventurer Bear Grylls. Shot in a Jim Corbett National Park, the show will create awareness about environmental changes and wildlife conservation. The episode showcased in over 180 countries across the world on Discovery network of channels.


  • NASA demonstrated the first coordinated manoeuvre between 2 tissue box-sized water- powered spacecraft in the low Earth orbit. They were orbiting Earth about 9 km from one another. The two spacecraft established a radio frequency communication cross-link to talk with each other. One spacecraft issued a command to the second to activate its thrust era and close the gap between the two.


  • Researchers in the University of Sheffield in Britain recently developed a new technique that could make light-based cancer treatment more effective and safer for patients while reducing its cost.

    Light-based or photo-dynamic therapy is already a clinically-approved treatment, which uses drugs that only work when exposed to light to destroy cancer cells. However, many of these drugs are frequently toxic even without light, causing many side effects in patients and leading to treatment failure. Th University of Sheffield said, study carried out by Jose Ricardo Aguilar Cosme, a PhD student at the University of Sheffield and overseen by an interdisciplinary team of researchers from the Department of Materials Science and Engineering and Department of Oncology and Metabolism, has developed tiny carbon nanoparticles that can deliver cancer drugs to tumours.

    The researchers have sought to improve these drugs by using small carbon dots as a way to get the drug to the tumour. Carbon dots are fluorescent nanoparticles with very little toxicity, making them extremely useful for this application. Two different versions of the carbon dots were developed as part of the research, one with the drug bound on the surface and the other where the drug was inside the dot.


  • Researchers have discovered a new sensory organ in the skin that is able to detect painful mechanical damage, such as pricks and impacts, an advance that may help develop novel painkillers. Almost one person in every five experiences constant pain and there is a considerable need to find new painkilling drugs, according to research published in the journal Science.


  • NASA scientists are crossing Greenland on a mission to track melting ice. Greenland has been melting faster in the last decade and this summer, it has seen 2 of the biggest melts on record since 2012. Both warmer air and warmer water are eating away at Greenland, causing it to lose billions of tons of ice daily in the summer.


  • ISRO on 04 August, 2019 released the first set of pictures of the earth, captured by Chandrayaan 2, the country's second Moon mission launched a fortnight ago. The LI-4 camera onboard the lander Vikram of the spacecraft show the crystal clear and panoramic view of the earth, around which it is still revolving. It will move away from the earth’s sphere of influence on the 14th of this month and reach the moon’s orbit on the 20th.


  • India on 04 August, 2019 successfully test-fired its all weather tracked-chassis Quick Reaction Surface-to-Air Missile (QR-SAM) from a mobile launcher at launch complex III of the Integrated Test Range at Chandipur in Odisha. It was the second developmental trial of the missile in this year from the same test range.

    Earlier, the surface-to-air missile was tested successfully on Feb 26, 2019. It was test fired from a rotatable truck-based launch unit at Chandipur. Jointly developed by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Bharat Electronics Ltd, the QR-SAM weapon system is a quick reaction, network-centric missile system capable of search-on-the-move.

    QR-SAM system can also engage multiple targets within a range of around 25 to 30 km with two vehicle configuration for area air defence. It is a truck-mounted missile with a 360 degree rotatable, electro-mechanically operated, turret-based launch unit. The missile intended to defend Army formations operating in plains and semi-desert areas, was required to engage all kinds of targets, including aircraft at altitudes up to 9 kilometers, hovering helicopters, missiles up to 800 meters per second and low-flying targets, including those that suddenly appear at close range. The first test launch of the missile was conducted on June 4, 2017, from the same base.


  • Scientists have developed an automated system that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to detect and capture fast radio bursts (FRBs) in real-time. FRBs are mysterious and powerful flashes of radio waves from space, thought to originate billions of light-years from the Earth. The system, described in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society has already identified 5 bursts.


  • World's thinnest '2D' gold.  Scientists have developed '2D' gold so fine that even a human fingernail is thicker in comparison. The scientists at the University of Leeds, have created the world's thinnest gold measuring two atoms thick or million times thinner than a fingernail. In its 2D form, gold becomes flexible that adds to its potential of being used more efficiently such as in bendable screens, etc.,


  • ISRO will launch Aditya L-1 solar mission by 2020. The Aditya L-1 solar program will be studying the Sun’s corona which is basically the outer layers. The mission will also try to understand and predict climate change on Earth. The Aditya L-1 satellite will be inserted in a halo orbit about 1.5 million km from Earth.


  • Global Tiger Day is being celebrated across the world on 29 July. This day is observed every year to create awareness about tiger conservation and protection of natural habitat of tigers. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will release the results of the fourth cycle of the All India Tiger Estimation in New Delhi. The Tiger Estimation exercise is believed to be the world’s largest wildlife survey effort in terms of coverage, intensity of sampling and quantum of camera trapping.

    India conducts the All India Tiger Estimation every four years. The Government and National Tiger Conservation Authority have also carried out an economic valuation of tigers in mitigating the adverse impact of climate change.

    Project Tiger was launched in 1973 with the initiative of conserving India's national animal.Tigers are one of the world’s most iconic species. Tigers are considered as an “umbrella species” as their conservation also conserves many other species in the same area. Despite conservation efforts since the 1970s, wild tiger populations showed a rapid decline. In 2010, during the St. Petersburg declaration, tiger range countries had resolved to double tiger numbers by 2022.

    Due to concerted efforts under Project Tiger, at present India has the distinction of having the maximum number of tigers in the world. From 9 tiger reserves since its formative years, the Project Tiger coverage has increased to 50 at present. The 2014 country level tiger assessment had shown a 30 per cent increase of tigers. From 1706 in 2010, tiger population has increased to 2226 in 2014.


  • Computer that can predict India's pollution. With the 'smog season' in just a few months away, US and Chinese scientists have developed a novel computer model that can help accurately predict air pollution levels in the region a season in advance. The statistical model, described in the journal Science Advances, uses certain climatic patterns related to the ocean which have a regulatory effect on the air pollution over northern India.


  • ISRO Technical Liason Unit approved at Moscow. The Union Cabinet approved the setting up of ISRO Technical Liaison Unit (ITLU) at Moscow, Russia. An average annual expenditure of about Rs. 1.50 crore per annum is anticipated to be incurred at ITLU in Moscow, Russia towards salary, office expenses, rent, taxes etc. ISRO will be able to collaborate with Space agencies in Russia and neighbouring countries for mutually synergetic outcomes.


  • The Union Cabinet approved to the MoU between India and Bolivia on Cooperation in the Exploration and Uses of Outer Space for Peaceful Purposes. The MoU was signed between ISRO and the Bolivian Space Agency on March 29, 2019 at Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia. It would lead to develop a joint activity in the field of application of space technologies for the benefit of humanity.


  • The Union Cabinet approved the MoU between India and Bahrain on Cooperation in the Exploration and Uses of Outer Space for Peaceful Purposes. The MoU was signed on March 11, 2019 at Bengaluru by India and on March 28, 2019 at Manama by Bahrain. It would lead to set up a Joint Working Group, drawing members from DOS/ISRO and the Bahrain National Space Science Agency (NSSA).


  • US scientists announce 3D heart printing. Scientists in US have successfully built functional heart parts out of collagen using a 3D bioprinter, a breakthrough they say could one day create entire organs. Their technique replicates the body's own complex biological scaffolds that provide the structure and biochemical signaling organs need to function. Collagen is an ideal biomaterial for the task.


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