NASA-ISRO partnership’s satellite all set to arrive in India: What is NISAR and its mission?
- The Earth-observation satellite called NISAR (NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar) is Jointly developed by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).
- NISAR has been built by space agencies of the US and India under a partnership agreement signed in 2014.
- Once launched into space, NISAR will observe subtle changes in Earth’s surfaces, helping researchers better understand the causes and consequences of such phenomena. It will spot warning signs of natural disasters, such as volcanic eruptions, earthquakes and landslides.
- The satellite will also measure groundwater levels, track flow rates of glaciers and ice sheets, and monitor the planet’s forest and agricultural regions, which can improve our understanding of carbon exchange
- Recently, the Kamioka Liquid Scintillator Antineutrino Detector (KamLAND), operated by physicists in Japan, revealed that after reviewing two years worth of data, they were unable to detect any indications that neutrinos might be their own anti-particles.
About the Experiment
- KamLAND looks for an event called neutrinoless double beta-decay.
- In normal double beta-decay, two neutrons in an atom turn into two protons by emitting two electrons and two anti-neutrinos.
- In neutrinoless double beta-decay, the anti-neutrinos aren’t emitted, which can happen only if anti-neutrinos are just different kinds of neutrinos.
About the Neutrino
- Neutrinos are the second most abundant particles in the cosmos after the photon. Because they are so ubiquitous, their properties have an important influence on the structure of the universe.
- Sources of neutrinos include a variety of radioactive decays, atomic collisions caused by cosmic radiation, supernovae, and other events.
About the Anti-Particles
- Every elementary atom has a corresponding antiparticle. When the two collide, they will annihilate each other in a burst of energy.
- Positron is the antiparticle of electron. Anti-neutrinos are similar to neutrinos.
- However, due to their opposing charges, an electron and a positron can be distinguished from one another.
- Neither neutrinos nor anti-neutrinos have an electric charge or any other distinguishing characteristics.
- Subatomic particles can be classified as substance particles or force-carrying particles. Neutrinos are matter particles known as fermions. Fermions are further classified as Dirac fermions or Majorana fermions. Dirac fermions do not have their own anti-particles, whereas Majorana fermions do.
- The Atacama Large Millimetre/submillimetre Array (ALMA), a radio telescope comprising 66 antennas located in the Atacama Desert of northern Chile, is set to get software and hardware upgrades
About the ALMA Telescope
- ALMA is a state-of-the-art telescope that studies celestial objects at millimeter and submillimetre wavelengths.
- They can penetrate through dust clouds and help astronomers examine dim and distant galaxies and stars out there.
- It also has extraordinary sensitivity, which allows it to detect even extremely faint radio signals.
- The telescope consists of 66 high-precision antennas, spread over a distance of up to 16 km.
Why is ALMA located in Chile’s Atacama Desert?
- ALMA is situated at an altitude of 16,570 feet (5,050 meters) above sea level on the Chajnantor plateau in Chile’s Atacama Desert as the millimeter and submillimetre waves observed by it are very susceptible to atmospheric water vapour absorption on Earth.
- Moreover, the desert is the driest place in the world, meaning most of the nights here are clear of clouds and free of light-distorting moisture, making it a perfect location for examining the universe.
Notable discoveries by ALMA Telescope
- In 2013 ALMA Telescope discovered starburst galaxies
- In 2015, the telescope helped scientists observe a phenomenon known as the Einstein ring, which occurs when light from a galaxy or star passes by a massive object en route to the Earth, in extraordinary detail.
- ALMA Telescope was a part of the Event Horizon Telescope project, a large telescope array consisting of a global network of radio telescopes,
- It provided the first image of the supermassive black hole at the center of our own Milky Way galaxy.
- The image was unveiled by scientists in May 2022.
What are microLED displays, and why is Apple shifting to it?
- Apple’s shift to microLED display technology is reportedly under process. Considered as the next big transition in display technology, microLEDs are self-illuminating diodes that have brighter and better color reproduction than Organic Light Emitting Diode (OLED) display technology.
What is microLED display technology?
- The basis of microLED technology are sapphires. A sapphire can shine on its own forever. A microLED screen is filled with such small but strong light. The picture in a microLED screen is generated by several individual light-emitting diodes.
- Samsung, the pioneer in microLED technology explained in a video that a microLED is as small as cutting a centimeter of hair into 200 smaller pieces. Each of these microLEDs are semiconductors that receive electrical signals.
- Once these microLEDs are gathered, they form a module. Several modules are then combined to form screens.
Benefits over other displays:
- MicroLED displays are brighter, have better color reproduction and provide better viewing angles. They make images appear as if they were painted on top of the device’s glass and are quite the technological feat. Thanks to the long life and ultra-low power consumption, they can be left on all of the time.
- MicroLEDs have limitless scalability, as they are resolution-free, bezel-free, ratiofree, and even size-free.
- The screen can be freely resized in any form for practical usage. In addition to being self-emissive, MicroLEDs also individually produce red, green, and blue colors without needing the same backlighting or color filters as conventional displays.
- Organic Light Emitting Diodes (OLEDs) are used to create digital display in many devices. What are the advantages of OLED displays over Liquid Crystal displays?
- OLED displays can be fabricated on flexible plastic substrates.
- Roll-up displays embedded in clothing can be made using OLEDs.
- Transparent displays are possible using OLEDs.
Select the correct answer using the code given below:
[A] 1 and 3 only
[B] 2 only
[C] 1, 2 and 3
[D] None of the above statements is correct
- Recently, A new natural source of quasicrystals has been found by scientists, bringing the total number of known natural sources to three.
- Quasicrystals are matter that lies between amorphous solids and crystals, having an irregular yet predictable atomic arrangement.
- The atoms in quasicrystals repeat themselves at varying intervals in a distinct pattern.
- Quasicrystals were first discovered in a lab by Dan Shechtman in 1982.
- The first natural occurrence of quasicrystals was in microscopic grains found in the Khatyrka meteorite in Russia’s Koryak mountains.
- Natural quasicrystals were later discovered in the remains of the Trinity test of the Manhattan Project.
- Recently, scientists found a rare dodecagonal quasicrystal in silicate glass in the Sand Hills dunes of northern Nebraska.
Applications of Quasicrystals
- Quasicrystals have various applications, such as surgical instruments, LED lights, and non-stick frying pans.
- They are good insulators due to their poor heat conductivity.
- Quasicrystals can also be used as selective solar absorbers and broad-wavelength reflectors.
- They have potential in bone repair and prostheses due to their biocompatibility, low friction, and corrosion resistance.
Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI)
- Recently, the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) is using in-house artificial intelligence (AI) technology to improve the robustness of fingerprint authentication.
About the UIDAI
- The Unified Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) is a statutory authority established by the Indian government in 2009.
- UIDAI is responsible for implementing and managing the Aadhaar program.
- The Aadhaar program is India’s national identification system, which assigns a 12-digit unique identification number to residents of India.
- The UIDAI is responsible for enrolling residents into the Aadhaar program and maintaining a database of Aadhaar numbers and related information.
- The agency also verifies and authenticates identity information to ensure accuracy and prevent fraud.
How is India addressing sickle cell anemia ?
- Sickle cell anemia (SCA), a genetic blood disorder, found mention in the Budget this year. The government will work in “mission mode” to eliminate the condition by 2047.
- India is the second-worst affected country in terms of predicted births with SCA — i.e. chances of being born with the condition
Sickle cell anemia:
- Haemoglobin, which is tasked with carrying oxygen to all parts of the body, has four protein subunits — two alpha and two beta. In some people, mutations in the gene that creates the beta subunits impact the shape of the blood cell and distorts it to look like a sickle.
- A round red blood cell can move easily through blood vessels because of its shape but sickle red blood cells end up slowing, and even blocking, the blood flow.
- Moreover, sickle cells die early, resulting in a shortage of red blood cells that deprive the body of oxygen.
- These obstructions and shortages may cause chronic anemia, pain, fatigue, acute chest syndrome, stroke, and a host of other serious health complications.
- Without treatment, quality of life is compromised and severe cases can become fatal in the initial years of life.
Does SCA only affect some:
- Research and screening programmes have found that the prevalence of haemoglobinopathies — disorders of the blood — is more common among tribal populations than non-tribal communities in India.
- Research has shown that SCA is prevalent in communities residing in areas where malaria is endemic.
- Around the middle 1940s, doctors found that those with sickle red blood cells were more likely to survive malaria.
- Those with the trait in some African countries were found to be potentially resistant to lethal forms of malaria and had a survival advantage.
- The sickle cell trait thus gave an evolutionary advantage, offering immunity to some people during malaria epidemics.
- In India, States and UTs with tribal populations contribute a significant malaria case load. Additionally, the documented prevalence of SCA is higher in communities that practice endogamy, as the chances of having two parents with sickle cell trait is higher.
- Sickle cell anemia is a genetic disorder, making complete “elimination” a challenge that requires major scientific breakthroughs.
- The only cure comes in the form of gene therapy and stem cell transplants — both costly and still in developmental stages.
- Blood transfusion, wherein red blood cells are removed from donated blood and given to a patient, is also a trusted treatment in the absence of permanent cures.
- But challenges include a scarcity of donors, fears around safe supply of blood, risk of infection etc.
What has India done so far:
- The Indian Council of Medical Research and the National Rural Health Mission in different States are undertaking outreach programmes for better management and control of the disease.
- The Ministry of Tribal Affairs launched a portal wherein people can register themselves if they have the disease or the trait, in order to collate all information related to SCA among tribal groups.
- In the Budget, the Union Health Minister said the government plans to distribute “special cards” across tribal areas to people below the age of 40.
- “The cards will be divided into different categories based on the screening results..” The mission will receive funding under the National Health Mission.
US, China trade spying charges: Why are balloons usually sent into air, can they be used for surveillance?
- The United States and China are currently involved in an extraordinary standoff over allegations of espionage through high-altitude balloons.
- Balloons have been in frequent use for several decades now, though the first uses go back at least 200 years. They are used mainly for scientific purposes but increasingly for tourism and joy rides, surveillance, and disaster relief and rescue.
- Weather agencies routinely use balloons to make measurements – of air temperature, pressure, wind speed and direction, aerosol concentrations.
- Because of the high altitudes that today’s giant balloons can attain, they are considered useful for astrophysicists and even space agencies. These are relatively clear spaces, much above the heights at which airplanes fly and far below the nearest orbits, about 200 km from earth, where satellites are placed.
- Very often, they offer better opportunities to observe specific parts of the earth, and are also thousands of times cheaper than satellites.
- Moreover, because the balloons are brought down after their job is done, the instruments used are recoverable and reusable.
- High-altitude balloons are tempting vehicles for espionage operations.
- They can hover over an area for a prolonged time.
- Big balloons can carry a few thousand kilograms of payload, which means they can be packed with spying instruments.
- The biggest advantage is the greater prospect of their remaining undetected.
Quick Reaction Surface to Air Missile (QRSAM)
- The indigenous Quick Reaction Surface to Air Missile (QRSAM) being developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) is set to be tested again with some changes suggested by the Army.
- QRSAM is a Short-Range Surface to Air Missile system designed to protect moving armoured columns from aerial attacks.
- It was designed and developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).
- The entire weapon system is configured on highly mobile platforms and is capable of providing air defense on the move.
- Range ➔ 30 km
- It is propelled by a Single Stage Solid Rocket Motor.
- It can engage 6 targets simultaneously.
- INS Sindhukesari, an Indian Navy Kilo class conventional submarine, docked in Jakarta, Indonesia, for the first time from February 22 to 24, 2023, as part of the Indian Navy’s growing military collaboration with Southeast Asian nations.
- It passed through the Sunda Strait and made its first docking in Indonesia for Operational Turnaround (OTR).
About The INS Sindhukesari
- INS Sindhukesari is one of the Sindhughosh-class submarines built by Russia.
- The submarine was first commissioned by the Indian Navy in 1989 and was recently refitted.
- Sindhughosh class subs are diesel-electric submarines of the Kilo class. The subs are 3,000 tonnes in weight.
# UPSC PYQ-2016
- Which one of the following is the best description of ‘INS Astradharini’, that was in the news recently?
(a) Amphibious warfare ship (b) Nuclear-powered submarine
(c) Torpedo launch and recovery vessel
(d) Nuclear-powered aircraft carrierr