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February 2020 Science & Technology

  • The Hyderabad-based Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS) launched three new technological support and alert systems on 25 February. The technology aims to significantly reduce damage and losses to fishermen, offshore oil exploration industries and coastal population during extreme weather and oceanic events.

  • The Government of India (GoI) has announced that it is to organize the mega event "Responsible AI for Social Empowerment 2020" (RAISE 2020). It will be India's first Artificial Intelligence (AI) summit. The event will be held from 11-12 April, 2020 in New Delhi. 

    RAISE 2020:
    1.) The summit aims to exchange ideas and charter a course to use AI for social empowerment, inclusion, and transformation in key areas like Healthcare, Agriculture, Education and Smart Mobility amongst other sectors of great minds.

    2.) The meeting will leverage responsible AI practices for enabling the masses.

    3.) It aims to utilize the power of AI to responsibly transform the social landscape for a better tomorrow.

    4.) RAISE 2020 focuses on facilitating an exchange of ideas to further create mass awareness about the need to ethically develop and practice AI in the digital era.

    5.) The summit is expected to witness robust participation from global industry leaders, key opinion makers, Government representatives, and academia.

  • Xiaomi has collaborated with ISRO to bring the space agency's Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System "NavIC technology" to its smart phones. 

    The announcement was made by Xiaomi Global VP and MD Manu Jain. Xiaomi is the only smartphone brand to have worked with ISRO to bring tech that has been developed in the country to the fore, so far. 

    NavIC technology in Xiaomi : 
    1.) Many of the smartphones Xiaomi that are to be launched across multiple price points will support Navigation with Indian Constellation (NavIC) technology. Navic was initially supported only on some Snapdragon chipsets.
    2.) The capability has been currently enabled by Qualcomm Technologies on several of its Qualcomm Snapdragon mobile platforms.
    3.) This facility will be made available across multiple Xiaomi smart phones in India in 2020.
    4.) The move by Xiaomi is a step further towards the Make in India initiative. Xiaomi India has enabled the usage of NavIC technology across several of its devices in 2020.

    Navigation with Indian Constellation (NavIC) :
    1.) NacIC technology is a regional geo-positioning system designed by ISRO to provide accurate positioning in India and 1,500km around the Indian mainland.
    2.) The system comprises of 7 satellites, three of which are in a geostationary orbit over the Indian Ocean and four that are in a geosynchronous orbit.
    3.) The NavIC will be accurate up to 5m, which much more efficient than GPS, which is said to be accurate up to 20 to 30 meters.

  • Researchers at Tel Aviv University have discovered a unique organism that doesn't need to breathe. Henneguya salminicola, the tiny parasite, is the first known multicellular animal that can survive without oxygen. It lives in an anaerobic environment. 

    The parasite lives in salmon tissue and evolved so that it doesn't need oxygen to produce energy. The researchers made the discovery accidentally while sequencing the Henneguya genome.

  • The Indian Government has launched a new Market Intelligence and Early Warning System (MIEWS) portal to monitor the prices of TOP crops – Tomato, Onion and Potato. The system was launched by Union Minister of Food Processing Industries Harsimrat Kaur Badal in Delhi on February 26, 2020. 

    The MIEWS system will generate early alerts in case there is going to be a major change in the prices of these crops. This will help in planning and timely intervention for price stabilization. The portal can be accessed at this link-

  • Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV-F10) will launch Geo Imaging Satellite (GISAT-1) from the Second Launch Pad of Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) SHAR, Sriharikota. The launch is tentatively scheduled at 1743 Hrs IST on March 05, 2020, subject to weather conditions.

  • Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has launched ‘5G Hackathon’ in association with government, academia and industry stakeholders. 
    1.) Aimed at shortlisting India's focused cutting edge ideas that can be converted into workable 5G products and solutions, the Hackathon will be spread across three phases beginning from February 21, 2020. 
    2.) The event will culminate in a grand felicitation ceremony at India Mobile Congress on the 16th of October this year. 
    3.) Winners of the various phases will share a total prize pool of 2.5 crore rupees. 
    4.) The 5G technology provides quantum leap over 4G in terms of speed, peak data rate, latency, spectrum efficiency and connection density. 
    5.) The Hackathon will convert innovating ideas into products and solutions in different verticals and develop India specific use cases around 5G. 
    6.) The 5G Hackathon is open to developers, students, start-ups, SMEs, academic institutions and registered companies in India and NRIs. Stakeholders can participate as individuals or as a team to present use cases for the 5G network in the Indian context.

  • In a first, Canadian doctors have used a robot to perform a surgery to treat brain aneurysm. The medical condition is a weakness in a blood vessel in the brain that balloons and fills with blood. The experimental procedure was described at the International Stroke Conference-2020, held in the United States. 

    The surgery was performed on a 64-year-old female patient. The researches said, the ability to deliver rapid care through remote robotics for time-critical procedures such as stroke could have a huge impact on improving patient outcomes. It will also allow surgeons to deliver cutting-edge care to patients everywhere, regardless of geography.

  • London police has started using facial recognition cameras from Feb 11 to automatically scan for wanted people. Surveillance cameras mounted on a blue police van monitored people coming out of a shopping center in Stratford, in east London. 

    London's system uses technology from Japan's NEC to scan faces in the crowds to see if they matched any on a “watchlist” of 5,000 faces created specifically for the operation. The new technology has been used, despite warnings from rights groups, lawmakers and independent experts about a lack of accuracy and bias in the system and the erosion of privacy.

  • NASA sends a Solar Orbiter probe to map poles of the sun. The aim is to help researchers grasp how the sun's vast bubble of energy affects Earth and humans in space. The Solar Orbiter was launched on the top of an Atlas 5 rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida. The satellite deployed an array of solar panels and antennas before setting off on its 10-year voyage to the Sun. 

    It has been designed to use the gravitational influence from Earth and Venus to whip itself as close as 26 million miles from the Sun or 95% of the distance between the sun and Earth. The probe will map the sun's poles, which could allow scientists for the first time to observe the concentrated source of solar wind that permeates our solar system.

  • Scientists in the US have developed an interactive map of the novel coronavirus spread, that allows users to see the number of cases worldwide, recoveries and deaths, as well as trends in real time. The map is updated every few hours with data from the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization (WHO), Chinese and other government agencies, including those in Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan.

  • NASA's astronaut Christina Koch returned from space to Earth safely on February 6, 2020. Koch returned after an 11-month mission, breaking the world record for the most time spent by a woman in space. Koch has spent 328 days on International Space Station ISS, surpassing the previous record of 289 days held by fellow American Peggy Whitson. Koch's medical data will be especially valuable to NASA scientists as the agency draws up plans for a long-duration manned mission to Mars.

  • Madhya Pradesh state government has decided to use drones for mapping villages. So far, land survey work is being done either manually or with the help of satellite images in Madhya Pradesh. 55,000 villages of the state have been selected for mapping. Now, the map of the population area will be made on a scale of 1: 500, which will give a clearer picture of the population area. The state revenue department has entered into an agreement in this regard with Survey of India, the country's national mapping agency under the Ministry of Science and Technology.

  • The Indian Institute of Veterinary Research (IVRI) of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) developed a new vaccine to control classical swine fever. This vaccine will help to protect rabbits as currently lapinized CSF (Classical Swine Fever) vaccines are manufactured from rabbits. This new vaccine will provide two years of immunization capacity, while the existing vaccines only provide 3 to 6 months of immunization capacity. IVRI developed a cell culture vaccine to do away the sacrificing of rabbits. The new vaccine will be ready for commercial production within a year.

  • The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has announced that it is preparing low-cost satellite launch vehicles costing around 30-35 crores rupees each, which can put into orbit satellites weighing 500 kgs. The first such launch is expected to take place in the next four months from the country. 

    This capability will give ISRO a big commercial boost as it will be able to cater to micro, mini and medium segments of the market. ISRO has earmarked 1,600 million Dollars for launch vehicles of which 870 million Dollars will be for PSLV and the remaining for GSLV.

  • The government in its budget 2020 has announced a National Mission on Quantum Technologies & Applications (NM-QTA) with a total budget outlay of Rs 8000 Crore for a period of five years to be implemented by the Department of Science & Technology (DST). The range of quantum technologies is expected to be one of the major technology disruptions that will change entire paradigm of computation, communication and encryption. It is perceived that the countries who achieve an edge in this emerging field will have a greater advantage in garnering multifold economic growth and dominant leadership role. 

    The Mission will be able address the ever increasing technological requirements of the society, and take into account the international technology trends and road maps of leading countries for development of next generation technologies. Implementation of the mission would help develop and bring quantum computers, secured communications through fibre and free space, quantum encryption and crypt-analysis and associated technologies within reach in the country and help address India specific national and regional issues. The mission will help prepare next generation skilled manpower, boost translational research and also encourage entrepreneurship and start-up ecosystem development. By promoting advanced research in quantum science and technology, technology development and higher education in science, technology and engineering disciplines India can be brought at par with other advanced countries and can derive several direct and indirect benefits.

Last Updated on: 29/02/2020



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