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April 2020 - Science & Technology

  • SpaceX released a User’s guide for its Starship rocket
    SpaceX released a Users Guide for its giant Starship rocket. The document will provide a short overview of the rocket that is designed to transport people, payloads, satellites, and cargo to a variety of orbits and Earth, Lunar, or Martian landing sites.

    Users Guide for Starship rocket:
    The guide gives a brief overview of SpaceX and about the program itself.

    The guide gives information about payload configurations and mechanical interfaces.

    It contains a comparison that is drawn between crewed and uncrewed configurations.

    In its current configuration, Starship can transport up to 100 people from Earth into Low Earth Orbit (LEO) and on to the Moon and Mars.

    SpaceX is to develop cargo and crewed variants of Starship which can accommodate 100 passengers.

    The guide also laid out some specifications, including details about payload capacity, launch, and landing.

  • IISc scientists develop indigenous ventilator prototype using local parts
    Indian Institute of Science (IISc) scientists have developed a high-quality indigenous ventilator. The idea is to circumvent is to provide assistance to the escalating COVID-19 crisis.

    IISc's ventilator:
    The indigenously developed ventilators make use of sensors and parts sourced from the local automotive and RO water filter industries.

    The prototype makes use of materials that are readily available and in large numbers such as pressure sensors used in cars and solenoid filter valves in Reverse Osmosis (RO) water filters.

    The ventilator uses a pressurized mixture of medical-grade oxygen and compressed air which is mixed using food-grade containers and tubing used in domestic RO water filters.

    A Raspberry Pi computer and a programmable logic controller (PLC) board will control the air pressure, the oxygen composition and flow characteristics.

    The ventilator will be developed by Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL).

  • CSIR-NBRI scientist develops herbal decongestant spray on mask to protect from suffocation
    Scientists at CSIR-National Botanical Research Institute (NBRI), Lucknow, have developed a herbal decongestant spray. This comes when the need for face masks rises to prevent corona infection. The spray will address breathing and congestion in the respiratory system which is caused by wearing a mask for a long time.

    Breathing problem due to wearing a face mask:
    The main reason for the problem is the accumulation of carbon dioxide and humidity in the inner cavity of the mask. When a person breathes in, this goes back to the lungs again. Repetition of this process over a period of time causes discomfort in breathing and congestion;

    Herbal decongestant spray:
    Herbal decongestant spray is a fine blend of four plant-based oils.
    The product is developed based on the principles of Ayurveda and contains ingredients reported in traditional scriptures.

    This formulation helps in clearing the windpipe and congestion by removing the mucus or cough leading to ease of breathing.

    It also reduces stress due to excessive use of masks and decongestion.

    The spray will provide relief to people who are wearing masks for a long time.
    This spray has been prepared as per the guidelines of the Ministry of AYUSH.

  • INST scientists develops nanomaterial to disinfect garments under visible light exposure
    Researchers at the Institute of Nano Science and Technology (INST) have developed carbon nitride quantum dots (g-CNQDs), a low-cost metal-free nanomaterial for visible light microbial disinfection. It can be an alternative to silver and other metal-based materials.

    The researchers have tested g-CNQDs for visible-light-driven antibacterial activity and found it to be efficient. It was also biocompatible with mammalian cells.
    The material can be a viable anti bacterial alternative to metal/non-metal semiconductors and expensive silver. It is cost-effective.

    The newly developed nanomaterial possesses enhanced biocidal activity attributed to the larger surface area of g-CNQDs having more reactive sites and optical absorption both in the ultraviolet (UV) and visible region.

    The g-CNQDs have the ability to generate reactive oxygen species (ROS) which can rapidly interact and damage the immediately available biological macromolecules such as lipids present on the cell membrane or envelope and proteins present on the cellular surface, towards inactivation of the microorganism.
    This technology will be explored for antiviral efficiency considering its relevance to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • Hubble Space Telescope celebrates 30th anniversary
    Hubble Space Telescope celebrates the 30th anniversary on 24 April 2020. The unique design of the telescope has allowed being repaired and upgraded with advanced technology by astronauts.

    The telescope is one of NASA's longest-living and most valuable observatories. It has beamed transformational astronomical images to Earth for decades.

    Hubble is expected to sustain through the 2020s. Also, a second-generation space telescope named "James Webb Space Telescope" has been scheduled to launch in 2021.

    Hubble Space Telescope:
    Hubble was named after astronomer Edwin Hubble who confirmed the Universe was expanding, among other findings.

    The space telescope was launched into space aboard the space shuttle Discovery on 24 April 1990. The idea of an orbiting telescope was first conceived by Lyman Spitzer in 1946.

    Hubble has allowed the astronomers to measure the acceleration of the universe. It has provided evidence of dark matter and observed atmospheres around exoplanets. So far, the telescope has made 1.4 million observations with data used in more than 17,000 peer-reviewed papers.

  • SCTIMST develops Chitra Magna, an innovative RNA extraction kit
    Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology (SCTIMST) has developed Chitra Magna, an innovative RNA extraction kit, innovative technology for isolating RNA from swabs for COVID-19 tests.

    Chitra Magna:
    SARS-COV-2, the causative virus of COVID-19 pandemic, is an RNA virus. It is a long single-stranded polymeric substance present in all living cells that carries the genetic information of the organism necessary for life. One of the critical steps in detecting this virus is by confirming the presence of the RNA of the virus in the sample taken from the throat or nose. The sample collected is transported under specified conditions in a viral transport medium to the testing laboratory.

    The protocol for the kit uses magnetic nanoparticles to capture and concentrate the RNA from the patient sample. The magnetic nanoparticle beads bind to the viral RNA and, when exposed to a magnetic field, give a highly purified and concentrated level of RNA. The yield of the PCR or LAMP test is dependent on getting an adequate quantity of viral RNA. Hence the innovation will enhance the chances of identifying positive cases. The Institute has filed for a patent for this technology, which is simpler than in imported kits.

    Chitra Magna can be used to extract high purity RNA from patient samples not only for LAMP testing but also for the RT-PCR test. The first step of isolating high quality and high concentration of RNA without degradation is critical to the outcome of the PCR or LAMP test in which RNA is converted to DNA.

    This will overcome the non-availability of kits which has often become a severe bottleneck for RT-PCR testing in large numbers across the country.

  • Astronomers found 19 asteroids orbiting the sun between Jupiter and Neptune
    Astronomers found 19 asteroids that once belonged to a distant star system have been found orbiting the Sun between Jupiter and Neptune. The asteroids have been circling the sun for more than 4.5 billion years, since the very inception of the solar system.

    19 asteroids:
    These 19 asteroids from the Centaur family orbit the Sun on a plane that was perpendicular to planetary motion 4.5 billion years ago.

    The findings 2 years after astronomers spotted the first interstellar visitor, the asteroid known as Oumuamua.

    The asteroids belong to a group of objects called Centaurs. The Centaur family of asteroids roam the space between the two gas giants. Even the computer models can't predict where they'll be headed next.

    The origin of Centaurs remains a mystery to astronomers since the first member of the group, called Chiron, was recognized in 1977.

    Asteroid: An asteroid is a large chunk of rock left over from collisions or the early solar system. Most of the asteroids are located between Mars and Jupiter in the Main Belt.

  • Researchers develop organic-Inorganic hybrid nanocoatings for disposable masks
    Dr. Viswanatha R from Jyothy Institute of Technology, Bengaluru under the DST Nano Mission has developed organic-inorganic hybrid nanocoatings for disposable masks. The Department of Science and Technology (DST) has approved the large-scale production of the mask.

    Why nano-coating is needed?
    The N95 masks are capable of filtering out all types of particles, including viruses and bacteria. These masks are expensive and need prior training as standard practice before using it.

    Inexpensive disposable masks have several limitations. These often get wet through salivary droplets, body fluids, and sweat. The wet masks attract the microorganisms and act as a breeding ground for those organisms to multiply in number. This will affect the person wearing it and get easily infected. Being disposable, these medical masks, when discarded, generate medical waste.

    Also, the wearer of the mask is prone to touch the surface of the mask frequently to adjust his mask or to scratch the itch which contaminates the mask. It is expected that the Nano-coatings on the mask will address the problem by offering a hydrophobic coating on the surface of the masks, preventing it from wetting.
    It will disinfect the pathogens that come in contact with the nanocoated surface. The nanocoating will be easily scalable, safe, and economical and is highly effective against the COVID-19.

    The sol-gel nanotechnology developed a functionalized organic-inorganic hybrid nanocoating based on silica nanoparticles. It is then coupled with a polymer matrix that is hydrophobic and disinfects the pathogenic virus associated with COVID-19 that comes in contact with the surface of the mask.

    The medical masks include developed nanocoating and viral disinfection ability and prepare a plan of action for the transfer of technology to industries.

    Functionalization of nanoparticles using the sol-gel technology will make the nano-coating hydrophobic.

  • CSIR begins anti-leprosy drug trial
    The Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has started the trial of Mycobacterium w (Mw), an anti-leprosy drug.

    The information was passed by the Director of CSIR Shekhar Mande.

    Mycobacterium w (Mw):

    Under this one particular formulation, called "Mycobacterium w (Mw)", a heat-killed bacteria will be tried on different COVID-19 patients.

    CSIR has been granted approval to conduct the trial from the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI). The trial has begun.

    CSIR is also trying phytopharmaceuticals and approaching the Drug Controller General of India for approval. Phytopharmaceuticals are some extracts from plants.

    What is Mycobacterium w (Mw)?

    M. w is an attenuated strain of Mycobacterium w, a non-pathogenic, rapidly growing, atypical mycobacterium, with non-specific immunopotentiating properties.
    In addition to sharing a number of common B and T cell determinants with Mycobacterium leprae and Mycobacterium tuberculosis, Mw also shares an immunogenic determinant with prostate-specific antigen (PSA).

    In vivo and in vitro studies have shown that heat-killed Mw can induce significant T-cell responses. It may induce host T-cell responses against tumor cells expressing PSA.

  • CMERI develops HCARD to assist frontline COVID-19 healthcare warriors
    CSIR-Central Mechanical Engineering Research Institute (CMERI) has developed HCARD (Hospital Care Assistive Robotic Device). The device can help frontline healthcare workers in maintaining physical distance from those infected by a coronavirus.

    The device is equipped with various technologies and works both in automatic as well as manual modes of navigation.

    The robotic device can be controlled and monitored by a nursing booth with a control station having such features as navigation, drawer activation for providing medicines and food to patients, sample collection, and audio-visual communication.
    The cost of the device is less than Rs.5 lakh and the weight is less than 80 kg.

  • JNCASR scientists develop Ber-D, a natural product based Alzheimer inhibitor
    Scientists from Jawaharlal Nehru Centre For Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASR) have modified the structure of Berberine into Ber-D to use as an Alzheimer's inhibitor. Berberine is a natural and cheap product similar to curcumin, available commercially.


    The scientist selected isoquinoline natural product berberine found in India and China and used in traditional medicine and other applications.

    Because of berberine's poor solubility and toxicity to cells, it was modified into Ber-D.

    Ber-D is soluble (aqueous), antioxidant.

    It is a multifunctional inhibitor of multifaceted amyloid toxicity of Alzheimer's disease.

    Ber-D prevents the generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and rescues biomacromolecules from oxidative damage.

    Ber-D inhibits aggregations of metal-dependent and independent Amyloid beta (Aß). These are the peptides of amino acids crucially involved in Alzheimer's disease as the main component of the amyloid plaques found in the brains of people with Alzheimer's disease.

  • CSIR transferred Electrostatic Disinfection Technology for Commercialization
    CSIR-Central Scientific Instruments Organisation (CSIR-CSIO), Chandigarh, has designed and developed Electrostatic Disinfection Machine, an innovative technology for effective disinfection and sanitization to fight against COVID-19 pandemic.

    ElectrosTatic Disinfection Technology:
    Electrostatic Disinfection Machine will be very efficient and effective to stop the spread of coronavirus and pathogens.

    CSIR-CSIO has transferred this technology to a Nagpur-based company, Rite Water Solutions Pvt. Ltd., for commercialization and large-scale production.

    The machine is developed based on the electrostatic principle.

    It produces a uniform and fine spray droplets of disinfectants in the size range of 10-20 micrometer to kill microorganisms and viruses.

    Due to the small size of droplets, the surface area of spray droplets increases thereby enhancing the interaction with harmful microorganisms and coronavirus.
    The machine uses very less disinfection material as compared to conventional methods. This will help to save natural resources with a negligible increase of chemical waste in the environment.

    The innovative concept of electrostatic spraying for disinfection and sanitization of public places especially hospitals, poultry, trains and buses, airports and airplanes, offices, classrooms, and hotels.

    It will contribute to a healthy lifestyle and healthcare for the masses and is directly linked to the Swasth Bharat Mission of the Government of India.

  • IIG develops new simulation code to study electric field structure in Earth’s Magnetosphere
    Scientists at the Indian Institute of Geomagnetism (IIG) an autonomous institution of the Department of Science and Technology (DST) developed a generalized one-dimensional fluid simulation code capable of studying a wide spectrum of coherent electric field structures in near-earth plasma environment or earth's magnetosphere.

    New simulation code:

    The new simulation code can be useful in planning future space missions.
    It can also lead to precisely controlled fusion laboratory experiments for ever-expanding energy needs of humanity.

    The study was focused on the coherent electric field structures that are observed in the high-resolution electric field waveform data and can be seen as isolated pulses of various forms.

    The complex and nonlinear wave phenomena in the magnetosphere studied by the IIG team will help advance the knowledge of plasma waves, instabilities, and coherent effects.

  • DIAT develop sterilizer ATULYA to disintegrate coronavirus
    Defence Institute of Advanced Technology (DIAT), Pune, supported by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has developed a microwave sterilizer named "ATULYA". The sterilizer will disintegrate coronavirus

    The sterilizer will disintegrate the coronavirus by differential heating in the range of 560 to 600 Celsius temperatures.
    The product is a cost-effective solution.
    ATULYA can be operated in portable or fixed installations.
    This system was tested for human and operator safety and has been found to be safe.
    Depending upon the size and shape of various objects, the time of sterilization is from 30 seconds to one minute.
    Approximate weight of the system is 3 Kg and it can be used for non-metallic objects only.

  • SNBNCBS develops Nanomedicine to alter oxidative stress to treat viral infections including coronavirus
    Scientists at S.N. Bose National Centre for Basic Sciences, Kolkata (SNBNCBS) developed a nanomedicine that promises the treatment of a number of diseases by altering oxidative stress in the body. The research will support India in its fight against COVID-19.


    The nanomedicine can decrease or increase reactive oxygen species (ROS) in the human body, depending on the situation and cure the disease.
    The newly developed nanomedicine is safe and cost-effective.
    The ability of the research for controlled enhancement of ROS in mammals controls virus infections, including COVID-19.
    Animal trial for the Reduction & Oxidation processes (Redox) healing of several diseases has been completed, and now the institute is looking for sponsors to start clinical trials on humans.

  • CSIR and NAL develop personal protective coverall suit for health workers
    CSIR National Aerospace Laboratories (CSIR-NAL) with MAF Clothing, Bengaluru developed the protective coverall suit. This suit can be used by doctors to protect from COVID 19. It is a polypropylene spun laminated multi-layered non-woven fabric-based coverall suit. That suit can be used to ensure the safety of doctors, nurses, paramedical staff, and healthcare workers.

    CSIR-NAL and MAF have plans to augment the production capacity to about 30,000 units per day within four weeks’ time. The efforts of the NAL, MAF Clothing and SITRA team who have worked round the clock for this national cause by accelerating the development and certification process.

  • Scientists develop electrocatalysts for rechargeable metal-air battery from Fish gills
    Scientists from the Institute of Nano Science and Technology (INST), Mohali, have developed an efficient, low-cost electro-catalyst from fish gills.

    The catalyst can help develop environmentally friendly renewable energy conversion and storage technologies.

    The bio-inspired carbon nanostructure will overcome the bottleneck in the realization of several renewable energy conversion and storage technologies such as fuel cell, biofuel cell, and metal-air battery.

    The strategy will enrich a route to bioinspiredelectrocatalyst that is better than commercial Platinum on carbon (Pt/C) catalysts.

    It can be utilized as next-generation nonprecious carbon-based electrocatalyst for energy conversion and storage applications.

    In this method, the air is used as a catalyst along with a rechargeable Zn-air battery (ZAB).

    With careful selection of transition metals, the synthesis protocol can pave a new way for low-cost electrocatalysts for efficient and environmentally friendly energy conversion devices.

  • IIG develops model to predict ionospheric electron density can help communication
    Researchers from the Indian Institute of Geomagnetism (IIG), Navi Mumbai, have developed a new Artificial Neural Networks based global Ionospheric Model (ANNIM), a global model to predict the ionospheric electron density with larger data coverage which is a crucial need for communication and navigation.

    The new ANNIM uses long-term ionospheric observations to predict the ionospheric electron density and the peak parameters.

    Generally, ANNs replicate the processes in the human brain or biological neurons to solve problems like pattern recognition, classification, clustering, generalization, linear and nonlinear data fitting, and time series prediction.

    So far, only a very few attempts have been made to model the global ionosphere variability using ANNs. The ionospheric variability is greatly influenced by both solar originated processes and the neutral atmosphere origin, therefore, difficult to model.

    The researchers developed a neural network-based global ionospheric model by using an extensive database consisting of nearly two decades of global Digisonde, Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) radio occultation, and topside sounders observations. The data was trained with the ANNs using a high-performance computer at IIG to develop the ANNIM.

    The model developed by IIG researchers may be utilized as a reference model in the ionospheric predictions and has potential applications in calculating GNSS positioning errors.

  • IIT-Mandi develops magnetic RAM to enable higher data storage, faster computation
    Researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Mandi, have developed a magnetic Random Access Memory (RAM) which is faster, more energy-efficient and capable of storing more information in a smaller volume than existing data storage technologies.

    The Spin-transfer torque (STT) based nanospintronic device is expected to put an end to computer data loss due to interruptions of power supply.

    It will have the capability to transform next-generation computers, smartphones, and other gadgets.

    In magnetic RAMs, data are represented as the spin of electrons. It promises better storage capabilities than conventional charge-based RAM.

    The device uses spintronic technology and utilizes the spin of the electrons to transmit and process information, unlike normal electronic devices that are driven by electron charges.

    It harnesses the spin of electrons and manipulates the magnetic state leads to what is known as Spin-Transfer Torque-Magnetic Random Access Memory (STT-MRAM).

    The existing semiconductor RAM cannot meet these massive demands of data storage. Indeed, experts in data science predict that the demand for memory capacity will outpace production by the end of 2020.

  • ARI researchers develop bug sniffer to rapidly detect bacteria
    Researchers at the Agharkar Research Institute (ARI), Pune have developed 'bug sniffer,' a sensitive and low-cost sensor to rapidly detect bacteria. The portable device can detect as low as ten bacterial cells from a sample size of 1 mm in just 30 minutes.

    The team is currently working on a method for simultaneous separation and detection of Escherichia coli and Salmonella typhimurium.

    The bug sniffer is a biosensor that uses synthetic peptides, magnetic nanoparticles, and quantum dots to detect the presence of bacteria.

    It will provide a cost and time-effective way of screening water and foodborne pathogens.

    The most common disease-causing bacteria Escherichia coli and Salmonella typhimurium. They can be detected individually and simultaneously using the in-house developed synthetic peptides, which act as a recognition element and provide the specificity to the detection. These peptides are highly specific to the bacteria to be detected and have extremely low cross-reactivity.

    When the external magnetic field is applied, the bacteria attached to the peptide will be isolated and immobilized. Finally, the peptide tagged with quantum dots will be passed through the microchannels to complete the sandwiched peptide assay.

    After capturing the bacteria, microchannels will exhibit strong and stable fluorescence due to the quantum-dot-tagged peptides.

    The bug sniffer is affordable, and the raw materials required for making it are readily available.

    The researchers also developed a chip consisting of microchannels made from copper wires and poly (dimethylsiloxane). The device can detect pathogens with a limit of detection of 10 cells per 1 mL within 30 minutes.

  • IIA researchers connect Li abundance in interstellar space to new Li-rich red giants
    Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA) researchers have discovered hundreds of Lithium (Li)-rich giant stars. This discovery proves Li is being produced in the stars and accounts for its abundance in the interstellar medium.

    Research Highlights:
    The researches have also associated such Li enhancement with central He-burning stars, also known as red clump giants which opened up new vistas in the evolution of the red giant stars.

    The team cracked the long-standing problem in stellar astrophysics.

    The researchers followed a two-fold strategy by increasing the sample by systematically searching for high Lithium among low mass evolved stars in the Galaxy and determining the exact evolutionary phase of these high Li abundance stars. By employing data from large scale ground and space missions, they discovered hundreds of Li-rich giants.

    The researchers determined the evolutionary phase of the giant-Li by analyzing relative positions of thousands of stars using their temperature and luminosity and also subjecting their independent data set to atmospheric oscillations analysis using data from Kepler Space Telescope, a NASA mission for discovering planets.

    The discovery will eliminate many proposed theories such as planet engulfment or nucleosynthesis during the red giant evolution in which helium at the center is not burning.

  • Iran successfully launched a military satellite into Orbit
    Iran successfully launched a military satellite and the first satellite of the Islamic Republic of Iran successfully launched into orbit by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps,

    About the Satellite
    Satellite reached an orbit of 425 kilometers (264 miles) above the

    Earth's surface. The two-stage launch took place in Iran's Central Desert, The satellite was sent into orbit using a Ghased, or "Messenger," satellite.

    Iran several failed attempts to launch satellites in the last months, most recently in February with the failed launch of the Zafar 1 communications satellite.It is the latest development in escalating military tensions between Iran and the US. Iran to allow UN inspectors to visit its sites.

    Iran to refrain from activity related to ballistic missiles capable of launching nuclear weapons. Over the past 10 years, Iran sent several short-lived satellites into orbit and in 2013 it launched a monkey into space. Revolutionary Guard launching its own satellite raising questions about that position.

    They marked its 41st anniversary on Wednesday, operates its own military infrastructure alongside the country’s regular armed forces. Military group announced that it had significantly upgraded the range of its anti-warship missiles.

  • ARI scientists develop microreactor that produces uniform size of nanoparticles
    Scientists from Agharkar Research Institute (ARI) have developed a microreactor that can produce large quantities of uniform size of nanoparticles. Producing a uniform size of nanoparticles has been a problem faced by the biomedical field. This discovery will serve as a major requirement in biomedical technology.

    The microreactor could synthesize metal, semiconductor, and polymer nanoparticles by continuous flow active microreactor.

    Microreactor has parameters such as the concentration of reactants, flow rate, agitation, reaction temperature, and time. It can determine the size of nanoparticles and their distribution.

    They further derived a mathematical equation using dimensional analysis to predict process parameters accurately for achieving true monodispersity.

    Using this method gold and silver, cadmium-telluride, chitosan, alginate and hyaluronic acid nanoparticles of any size with the coefficient of variation below 5% can be produced.

    The new approach to resolve the monodispersity paradox of the nanomaterial can be applied to other chemical reactions where stringent control on the reaction dynamics is vital.

  • Tianwen-1 - Chinas Mars exploration mission
    China named its first Mars exploration mission as Tianwen-1 as it celebrated Space Day on 24 April.

    The observation marks the 50th anniversary of the launch of the country's first satellite Dong Fang Hong-I in 1970. China's first Mars mission has been scheduled to launch in 2020.

    China's Mars Mission:
    China National Space Administration's (CNSA) Mars mission as "Tianwen." It means Heavenly Questions or Questions to Heaven, a poem written by China's well-known poet Qu Yuan (340-278 BC).

    CNSA stated that China's future planetary exploration missions will be named the Tianwen series. It signifies the Chinese nation's perseverance in pursuing truth and science and exploring nature and the universe.

    China's Mars mission includes complete orbiting, landing, and roving in one mission.

    With this mission, the country aims to catch up with India, the US, Russia, and the European Union who is already executing their Mars Mission.

    China in Space Mission:
    China in recent years has emerged as a major space power with manned space missions and landing a rover in the dark side of the moon. It is currently building a space station of its own. However, China's attempts to send an exploratory probe to Mars called Yinghuo-l, in a Russian spacecraft in 2011 failed as shortly after the launch and it was declared lost and later burnt during re-entry.

    The US, Russia, the EU besides India so far succeeded in sending missions to Mars regarded as the most complex space mission. India became the first Asian country to have successfully launched its Mars orbiter mission, Mangalyaan which has entered the orbit of the red planet in 2014. India also became the first country to have entered the Martian orbit in its first attempt.

  • Scientist to develop virucidal coating to prevent COVID transmission
    Researchers from Faridabad-based Regional Centre for Biotechnology (RCB) has initiated a study to engineer virucidal coatings to prevent the COVID-19 Transmission.

    The study is carried out in collaboration with the Translational Health Science and Technology Institute (THSTI) and Department of Textile Technology, Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi.

    The study includes antimicrobial molecules that can target the membranes of microorganisms selectively.

    The molecules that will target the membranes of COVID-19 viral particles selectively will be developed.

    These molecules will be used to develop different surfaces including glass, plastic, and textiles including cotton, nylon, and polyester to provide a virucidal coating that can potentially inhibit the viral transmission.

    Other measures:
    The researchers also initiated efforts to purify the Nonstructural protein 12 (nsp12) protein to develop high throughput plate assays. It can be used to identify different inhibitors of the protein. These inhibitors are serving as lead molecules for the development of drugs against the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

    Researchers are to identify possible inhibitors of two other proteins from the SARS-CoV-2 virus using computational tools. These include Nonstructural protein 14 (nsp14), which has a methyltransferase and exoribonuclease activity, and nsp13 which has an RNA helicase activity.

    The group of researchers is also analyzing the available genome sequences of SARS-CoV-2 to identify regions in the genome that may be structured and can be targeted using a small molecule to perturb translation or replication of the genome.

  • ARIES Scientists say Superluminous supernovae exploded rapidly and decayed slowly
    Researchers at the Aryabhatta Research Institute of Observational Sciences (ARIES) Nainital, under the Department of Science and Technology (DST) found that SN 2010kd, a super-luminous supernova stands out with the amount of mass and Nickel ejected during explosion. It is much more than seen in the case of normal core-collapse supernovae.

    What is Supernovae?
    Supernovae are a kind of energetic explosions where the core of massive stars goes to a catastrophic phase of explosion liberating huge amounts of energy. These massive stars are a few times to that of the mass of the Sun.

    The events are visible through very far away distances much beyond the solar system. Superluminous supernovae are a special type of stellar explosions having energy output 10 or more times higher than that of standard supernovae.

    SN 2010kd:
    SN 2010kd is approximately located at a distance of 1.5 Giga light-years. It was discovered by the Robotic Optical Transient Search Experiment (ROTSE-IIIb) telescope as a part of the ROTSE supernova verification project in the USA on 14 November 2010. It was embedded in a dwarf host galaxy towards the Leo constellation.

    The larger ejected mass of Superluminous supernovae SN 2010kd indicates that the related star evolution might be different from other possible progenitors of normal core-collapse supernovae with a different possible underlying physical mechanism responsible for producing such energetic supernovae with large ejected mass and Nickel.

    Observations by the scientist:
    The observations showed that various parameters like rotation and metallicity play a crucial role in stellar explosions. There are also many more types of possible progenitors existing in diverse environments in their host galaxies than previously known.

    Comparing the line velocities as obtained using spectral modeling, the scientists showed that SN 2010kd exploded with a larger velocity but decayed shower than other similar supernovae. The elected mass of the Oxygen and estimated values of the luminosity of other spectral lines were also found to be higher for SN 2010kd.

  • DST develops antiviral nano-coatings for making triple layer medical masks and N-95 respirator
    Department of Science and Technology (DST), Ministry of Science and Technology have approved support for upscaling antiviral nano-coatings as part of Nano Mission program.

    The antiviral nano-coating was developed by Professor Ashwini Kumar Agrawal of the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi.

    Antiviral nano-coatings:
    Antiviral nano-coatings will be used as an appropriate material for producing anti-COVID-19 Triple Layer Medical masks and N-95 respirators in large quantities.

    Under the nano mission project, N9 blue nanosilver was developed at SMITA Research Lab, IIT Delhi. Silver has a strong antimicrobial activity against bacteria, viruses, fungus, and so on.

    The N9 blue nanosilver is a highly potent antimicrobial agent. It will be further modified to form nanocomplexes with Zinc compounds to achieve a synergistic effect.

    Also, these newly developed nanomaterials will be applied as coatings on facemasks and other Personal protective equipment (PPEs) to improve their ability to protect the wearer from accidental contamination from COVID-19 virus droplets.

    The upscaling work of the project will be held in association with 2 industrial partners Resil Chemicals Pvt Ltd. Bangalore and Nanoclean Global Pvt Ltd., New Delhi.

    Resil chemicals will provide N9 blue nanosilver. Nanoclean Global will provide face masks and PPE materials for the application of nanocoating and will help in the design and fabrication of samples at their facilities.

    The use of highly effective antimicrobial nanoparticles on PPEs, masks, etc is the need of the hour.

    The Antiviral nano-coatings will provide an extra layer of protection for the high-risk settings, such as for the medical workers.

    The antiviral properties of this compound against COVID-19 in association with AIIMS, New Delhi, and ILBS, New Delhi will be evaluated. The shelf life of the coatings will be evaluated and their efficacy with different storage conditions such as temperature, humidity, and time and prepare facemasks and PPEs and provide these for field trials.

  • IIT-Ropar develops UV germicidal irradiation technology-based device to sanitize grocery items, currency notes
    The Indian Institute of Technology Ropar (IIT-Ropar) has developed a trunk-shaped device fitted with ultraviolet (UV) germicidal irradiation technology. The device aims to aid the fight against COVID-19.

    UV germicidal irradiation technology:
    The device should be placed at doorsteps and all items brought from outside including grocery and currency notes must be put in it to sanitize them.

    The trunk will cost around or less than Rs.500.

    It will take 30 minutes for the device to sanitize the items. After sanitizing the items should be kept inside for a 10 minutes cooling-off period before one takes the items out.

    The device is based on UV germicidal irradiation technology which is used in water purifiers. People are advised not to look directly at the light inside the trunk as it can be harmful.

  • NIPER-G designs innovative 3D products to fight coronavirus spread
    Researchers at the National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research -Guwahati (NIPER-G) developed two products, namely 3D-printed hands-free object and 3D-printed antimicrobial face-shield in an effort to control the spread of novel coronavirus, to fight COVID-19 outbreak.

    3D-printed hands-free object:
    The 3D-printed hands-free object could be used to help open or close doors, windows, drawers, and refrigerator handle, or press elevator buttons, and laptop/desktop keyboards, including turning the switch buttons on/off.

    It is expected that it might play a key role in transmitting infection from one person to another through bare hand contacts or contaminated surface sources.

    3D-printed antimicrobial face-shield:
    The 3D-printed antimicrobial face-shield was designed after a thorough study to understand the spread of the virus through oral, ophthalmic, olfactory and other body cavities. It is also low cost, easy to wear, has good chemical stability, non-fragile and is easy to clean with the existing sanitizers or any alcoholic disinfectant.

  • NIF develops wormivet, a chemical method to treat worms
    National Innovation Foundation India (NIF) has developed "wormivet," an indigenous herbal medication (dewormer) in the form of commercial products for livestock owners. The product will be an alternative to the chemical method of treatment of worm.

    Wormivet is a medication to treat endoparasite (worm) infestation among livestock sent by Harshadbhai Patel, Gujarat.

    The medication in naturally infested helminthiasis was assessed. The results demonstrated the successful impact of this medication.

    The model had demonstrated an improvised engagement of formal institutions and orientation of research in developing, implementing products for needy locations, reassuring farming communities.

  • AarogyaSetu app became world’s fastest app to reach 50 million downloads
    The Central Government's mobile app, AarogyaSetu, has become the world's fastest app to reach 50 million downloads in just 13 days. The information was passed by the NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant on 15 April. The app was developed for tracking COVID-19 patients.

    The AarogyaSetu app alerts people if any known person or person in their vicinity has tested positive.

    District administration has asked all educational institutions, departments, etc to encourage downloading of the app.

    The app was developed under a committee set up by the Prime Minister’s Office with the active involvement of NITI Aayog and the Ministry of Electronics and IT (MeitY).

    Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) is working on testing and some of the other aspects.

    Tech Mahindra and the Mahindra group is currently working with the committee on the next version of the AarogyaSetu application and leverage next-generation technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI), machine learning, data science. It is also working on expanding the reach of AarogyaSetu on all types of phones. The current version of the AarogyaSetu app is fit for use on smartphones only.

  • IASST develops plasmonic semiconductor nanomaterials to remove toxic materials from water
    Institute of Advanced Study in Science and Technology (IASST), Assam is to develop plasmonic semiconductor nanomaterials for the removal of toxic organic compounds from water by harvesting solar light.

    Plasmonic semiconductor nanomaterials are metal-like materials with free electrons on the surface that oscillate collectively when hit by light.

    In this method, the solar light is utilized to increase the photocatalytic efficiency of nanomaterials to degrade pollutants and generate renewable Hydrogen.

    The researchers are trying to understand the science behind the photon accumulation and amplification of incident light by the plasmonic materials for this purpose.

    The materials that are being developed can easily adsorb toxic ions like arsenic and fluoride, which are often found in water in North East India and convert it to its non-toxic forms when they are exposed to sunlight.

    Plasmonic nanomaterials are used in the process for hydrogen energy generation which has shown high photon to hydrogen conversion efficiency under visible and near infra-red (IR) light.

    This method can remove the toxic contents in water to make the water suitable for drinking.

  • SCTIMST develops GeneLAMP-N makes confirmatory tests results of COVID-19 possible in 2 hours
    Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology (SCTIMST), Trivandrum, has developed a diagnostic test kit that can confirm COVID-19 in 2 hours at a low cost. The method is expected to be the world's first few methods.

    Confirmatory diagnostic test kit:
    The confirmatory diagnostic test detects the N Gene of SARS-COV2 virus using reverse transcriptase loop-mediated amplification of viral nucleic acid (RT-LAMP).

    The test kit is funded by the DST called Chitra GeneLAMP-N.

    The kit is highly specific for SARS-CoV-2 N-gene and can detect two regions of the gene. It will ensure that the test does not fail even if one region of the viral gene undergoes mutation during its current spread.

    The tests were authorized by ICMR and performed at the National Institute of Virology (NIV) Alappuzha. It showed that Chitra GeneLAMP- N has 100% accuracy and match with test results using Reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR).

    The testing facility can be easily set up even in the laboratories of district hospitals with limited facilities and trained laboratory technicians.

    The testing with the new device for LAMP testing and the test kit for 2 regions of N gene(including RNA extraction) will cost less than Rs.1000 per test for the laboratory.

  • CeNS develops portable sensor to detect heavy metal ions in water
    Centre for Nano and Soft Matter Sciences (CeNS) has developed a compact solid-state sensor that can detect the heavy metal ions in water.

    It was developed by a team of researchers led by Dr. Pralay K. Santra at the Centre for Nano and Soft Matter Sciences.

    Need for the sensor:
    Heavy metal ions like mercury, lead, and cadmium show severe potential threats to living beings. These metal ions can easily be accumulated in the human body. It cannot be detoxified by any chemical or biological processes.

    The health hazards associated with heavy metal ions in water demands the development of efficient and portable sensors for rapid onsite detection of these ions. This need led to the development of visual sensors, which can effectively detect heavy metal ions rapidly (within seconds) under ambient conditions.

    Compact solid-state sensor:
    Compact solid-state sensor is a portable device as the quantum dots can be excited with handheld UV light of 254 nm. It can help onsite detection in remote areas.

    The sensor can detect the heavy metal ions, for example, lead ions (Pb2+) down to 0.4 parts per billion (ppb) for efficient onsite detection.

    The sensor film was prepared by forming a composite between manganese doped zinc sulfide quantum dots and reduced graphene oxide on a glass substrate.

    These particular quantum dots are water-soluble and have high photoluminescence (~30 %) quantum yield, making them suitable for luminescence-based sensing.

    If a drop of water containing heavy metal ions such as mercury, lead, cadmium, etc. are added to the composite film, the emission of the film will be quenched within seconds.

    The team is currently developing strategies to improve the selectivity of the detection.

  • IIT-Roorkee launched Prana-Vayu, a low-cost portable ventilator
    Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT)-Roorkee in association with AIIMS-Rishikesh has developed 'Prana-Vayu,' a low-cost portable ventilator.

    The closed-loop ventilator can be manufactured for just Rs.25,000.

    Prana-Vayu is a closed-loop ventilator. It can deliver the required amount of air to the patient, with an automated process controlling the pressure and flow rates.

    The developers presented the machine to more than 450 companies and several have expressed interest in commercial production.

    It also has feedback that can control tidal volume and the number of breaths per minute.

    The ventilator can be used for a wide degree of congestions in the respiratory tract and is applicable for all age group patients, especially the elderly.

    The prototype has been tested successfully for normal and patient-specific breathing conditions. It does not require additional compressed air for functioning and can be especially useful in cases when hospital wards or open areas are converted into the Intensive Care Unit (ICUs).

    The low-cost ventilator will be highly useful for COVID-19 patients, especially amid the COVID-19 crisis.

  • DST supports Anti-Microbial coating developed by JNCASR
    The Department of Science & Technology (DST) has approved the anti-microbial coating which was developed by Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASR).

    It also supports the further development of the coating for India's combat against COVID-19.

    Anti-Microbial coating:
    When coated on different surfaces such as textiles, plastic and so on, the coating could kill a range of virus types including COVID-19.

    The covalent anti-microbial coating kills the influenza virus and resistant pathogenic bacteria and fungi, including methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and fluconazole-resistant C. Albicans spp.

    No covalent coating strategy has been developed to kill all viruses, bacteria, and fungi, so far.

    The antimicrobial coating can be fabricated on many types of surfaces. The robustness of the coating eliminates the necessity of skilled personnel for the procurement of the coating.

    Coronavirus, like influenza, is also an enveloped virus. It is expected that the coating may inactivate SARS-CoV-2 upon contact and prevent contamination if coated on various surfaces.

    The molecules have the ability to chemically cross-link with different surfaces upon Ultra Violet (UV) irradiation. The formation of the coating permeabilized the membranes of pathogens leading to their inactivation.

    The anti-microbial coating on the surfaces was evaluated for their antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral activity successfully.

  • NASA to set up Artemis, the first human base camp on south pole of Moon
    The American space agency NASA has announced that it is working on the Artemis program. NASA aims to land humans on the moon by 2024 through this program.

    NASA also submitted a report to the National Space Council on 2 April. The report focused on setting up the Artemis Base Camp at the South Pole of the moon.

    NASA's Artemis program:
    NASA's Artemis program plans to establish a base camp on the Moon by 2024.

    NASA has also revealed a plan that showed the US lunar presence after achieving the milestone.

    NASA plans to test technologies and secure resources on the surface of the Moon, before exploring Mars.

    NASA plan to conduct several operations on and around the moon and for that, they require Artemis Base Camp. It will be their first sustainable foothold on the lunar frontier.

    The lunar base camp will demonstrate the US's leadership in space and will eventually help them prepare to undertake humanity's first mission to Mars.

  • Biofortified carrot variety developed by farmer scientist benefits local farmers
    A biofortified carrot variety named 'Madhuban Gajar' was developed by Shri Vallabhhai Vasrambhai Marvaniya, a farmer scientist from Junagadh district, Gujarat. The carrot has high ß-carotene and iron content.

    Madhuban Gajar is benefitting more than 150 local farmers in the area. It is planted in an area of over 200 hectares in Junagadh. The average yield of the carrot is 40-50 tonnes per hectare (t/ha). It has become the main source of income for the local farmers.

    The variety is being cultivated in more than 1000 hectares of land in Gujarat, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh during the past three years.

    The MadhuvanGajar is a highly nutritious carrot variety developed through the selection method with higher ß-carotene content of 277.75 mg/kg and an iron content of 276.7 mg/kg dry basis.

    It biofortified crop can be used for various value-added products like juices, carrot chips, and pickles.

    The carrot variety holds a higher root yield of 74.2 t/ha and plant biomass of 275 gm per plant as compared to check variety.

    The validation trials for MadhubanGajar variety were done by the National Innovation Foundation (NIF), India at Rajasthan Agricultural Research Institute (RARI), Jaipur, between 2016 and 2017.

    The trial was conducted in different states like Gujarat, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Assam, Haryana, Punjab, and West Bengal.

  • DST funds computer-based nanomaterials by INST Mohali
    Researchers from the Institute of Nano Science and Technology (INST), Mohali have made computer-based designs of nano-materials with superhigh piezoelectricity.

    It can be the building blocks of futuristic nano-electronics for many applications like ultrathin, next-generation nano-transistors.

    Super High piezoelectricity:
    The induction of superhigh out-of-plane piezoelectricity through stacking one monolayer over the other in the 2D nanostructure was demonstrated.

    The induction is based on two-dimensional van der Waals heterostructure (vdWH) consisting of 2D monolayers.

    Piezoelectricity is the generation of electricity in certain materials by applying pressure. The applications of piezoelectricity have eased the daily lives through the use of lighters, pressure gauges, sensors and so on.

    The research is funded by the Department of Science and Technology (DST) under Nanomission and Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).

    The research will meet the growing demand for superfast ultrathin nanodevices and nano transistors. It is expected to show the future of nano-electronics.

  • Study shows good results with plasma treatment for coronavirus
    A study suggested that the convalescent plasma could be a possible treatment methodology. Convalescent plasma refers to the plasma extracted from those who are recovering from coronavirus (COVID-19).

    The study was conducted at the infectious disease department, Shenzhen Third People’s Hospital in Shenzhen, China.

    Study Highlights:
    The study included five patients, critically ill with COVID-19. The preliminary results from the test were promising.

    The study stated that preliminary findings stated that the convalescent plasma transfusion may be helpful in the treatment of critically ill patients with COVID-19 and acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), but this approach requires evaluation in randomized clinical trials.

    After the plasma transfusion, body temperature normalized within 3 days in 4 of 5 patients, the Sequential Organ Failure Assessment score decreased, and the ratio that determines severity of ARDS increased within 12 days.

    Viral loads also decreased and became negative within 12 days after the transfusion.

  • China to launch Long March-5B carrier rocket in April
    China is planning to launch a Long March-5B carrier rocket, an experimental spacecraft, without a crew in April 2020.

    The mission is a part of a broader spaceflight program to shuttle astronauts to its future space station.

    The new-generation spacecraft has been scheduled to launch China's largest carrier rocket from the southern island province of Hainan.

    The launch has been set for mid to late April.

    The spacecraft was developed for the operation of China's space station and manned space exploration.

    The spacecraft will be reusable.

    China Manned Space Agency (CMSA) will be larger than China's current Shenzhou spacecraft.

  • Apple launched app for COVID-19 information
    Tech giant Apple has released a new dedicated app and website for users across the US. The app provides accurate and credible information to users about the COVID-19 pandemic.

    App features:
    The new COVID-19 app and website provide the needed guidance and latest information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

    The app has been made available on the App Store. The users can also use the new tools to answer questions around risk factors, recent exposure, and symptoms.

    The tool will provide guidance on social distancing and self-isolating based on risk level. Apple has also enabled Siri to provide guidance and resources from the CDC.

  • DheeYantra launched Virtual assistance to curb fake messages on Coronavirus
    DheeYantra, the pioneers in Indian languages NLP and conversational AI, has launched "Aham!", a virtual assistant.

    The chatbot was developed to provide answers to the concerns on the COVID-19 crisis.

    Aham! is released in 7 Indian languages namely Marathi, Malayalam, Kannada, Telugu, Hindi, and Tamil, in addition to English.

    Aham aims to combat the rise of fake news related to COVID-19 contagion across India and the world

    Aham will provide factual information curated from the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MHFW).

    Users can now visit and converse with Aham on and on Facebook messenger.

    Aham provides information about COVID-19, and the precautions one should take not to contract or contribute to the contagion.

    The bot will help people to perform self-diagnosis to identify their risk profile.

    A user can also get the statistics of the worldwide spread of the contagion, emergency numbers to contact, information about COVID-19 diagnostic and treatment centers designated by the Govt. etc.

    Thechatbot is built over the conversational AI platform Users can either speak to Aham using a microphone or type in their queries in their language of choice.

  • NASA to launch SunRISE mission to study Solar Particle Storms
    The US space agency, NASA selected the proposed Sun Radio Interferometer Space Experiment (SunRISE) mission to study how the Sun creates and releases Giant Solar Particle Storms.

    SunRISE Mission:
    The SunRISE mission will aid scientists to understand the working of the Solar System. The mission is believed to help protect future astronauts from Solar Storms while going to the Moon or Mars.

    As a part of the Explorers Program, SunRise mission was one of two missions selected by NASA in August 2017 for the Mission of Opportunity program.

    The mission initially conducted an 11-month concept study. It was extended for another year, for formulation study, by NASA in February 2019 for the program.

    The mission is led by Justin Kasper at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and managed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).

    In March 2020, the Mission was awarded $62.6 million to design, build, and launch the mission. The NET launch date of the SunRISE mission is 1 July 2023.

  • JNCASR develops a coating that may prevent transmission of infection
    Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASR) developed a one-step curable anti-microbial coating which can kill virus of any type.

    When coated on different surfaces such as textiles, plastic and so on, the coating could kill a range of virus types including COVID-19.

    Microbial coating:
    The covalent microbial coating has been found to completely kill the influenza virus and resistant pathogenic bacteria and fungi, including methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and fluconazole-resistant C. Albicans spp.

    Until now, there is no covalent coating strategy has been developed to. kill all viruses, bacteria, and fungi.

    The coating can be fabricated on a variety of surfaces, and its ease and robustness eliminate the necessity of skilled personnel for the procurement of the coating.

    Coronavirus, like influenza, is also an enveloped virus. Hence, it is anticipated that the coating may inactivate SARS-CoV-2 upon contact and can help prevent contamination if coated on various surfaces.

    The molecules developed have an ability to chemically cross-link with different surfaces upon UV irradiation. Upon the formation of the coating, it showed to permeabilize the membranes of pathogens leading to their inactivation.

    The microbial coating on the surfaces were evaluated for their antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral activity successfully.



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