Current Affairs July 2016 - Technology

News 1 - China fits the final piece on the world's largest radio telescope

Radio Telescope

China has fitted the final piece on the 500meter-wide Aperture Spherical Telescope, or FAST. The telescope is set to be the world's largest radio telescope with a size of 30 football fields. It is due to begin operations in September.

The $180m (£135m) satellite project will be used to explore space and help look for extraterrestrial life. FAST will replace the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico, which is around 300m (984ft) in diameter, as the world's largest telescope.

News 2 - NASA Officially Extends the New Horizons Mission

Horizons Mission

NASA’s New Horizons mission has received the green light to fly onward to an object deeper in the Kuiper Belt, known as 2014 MU69. The spacecraft's planned meeting with the ancient object – considered one of the early building blocks of the solar system -- is on January 1, 2019.

The 2014 MU69 is estimated to have a diameter of 48 km — more than ten times larger than typical comets, but only 0.5 to 1% of the size of the dwarf planet Pluto. The spacecraft carries extra hydrazine fuel for a KBO flyby.

News 3 - NASA's Juno spacecraft successfully enters Jupiter's orbit


NASA's Juno spacecraft successfully entered Jupiter’s orbit after an almost five-year journey to the solar system’s largest planet. Juno will be the second spacecraft to orbit Jupiter, following the Galileo probe which orbited from 1995–2003.

Juno's principal goal is to understand the origin and evolution of Jupiter. Juno will investigate the existence of a solid planetary core, map Jupiter's intense magnetic field, measure the amount of water and ammonia in the deep atmosphere, and observe the planet's auroras.

News 4 - Spider named after Nobel laureate Gabriel Garcia Marquez


A new species of tarantula that has been found near the hometown of Gabriel García Márquez, a big hairy spider and named it as Kankuamo Marquezi, named after the Colombian novelist and 1982 Nobel Prize laureate Gabriel Garcia Marquez. This newly found hairy spider has a defence mechanism that includes releasing stinging hairs that dig into predators' eyes and people's skin.

This species was identified in large number in an isolated mountain range in Caribbean Colombia. It was discovered by a group of Uruguayan and Colombian scientists from the University of the Republic of Uruguay.

News 5 - SpaceX Cargo Ship arrives at the International Space Station


SpaceX’s unmanned Dragon Cargo Ship arrived at the International Space Station, carrying nearly 2.5 tons of gear and supplies for the astronauts living in orbit. SpaceX’s Dragon Cargo Craft was launched at 12:45 a.m. EDT on 18th July on a Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida with almost 5,000 pounds of cargo.

The US Space Agency astronauts Jeff Williams and Kate Rubins reached out and grabbed the spacecraft, using the space station’s 57.7-foot (17.5 meter) long robotic arm known as the Canadarm2.

News 6 - NASA announced the discovery of 104 new planets outside the Solar System

New Planets

NASA has announced the discovery of 104 new planets outside our solar system including four that could have Earth-like, rocky surfaces. Scientists discovered the exoplanets in Hawaii using Kepler space telescope.

The unmanned Kepler mission has been scanning 150,000 stars in the Cygnus constellation for signs of orbiting bodies, particularly those that might be able to support life. Evan Sinukoff, an astronomer at the University of Hawaii who contributed to the research, said the diversity of planets is astounding.

News 7 - The Genome of 6000-year-old barley grains sequenced for the first time


An international team of researchers, for the first time, have been successful in sequencing the genome of Chalcolithic barley grains. This is the oldest plant genome to be reconstructed to date. The 6,000-year-old seeds were retrieved from Yoram Cave in Israel, close to the Dead Sea.

Genetically, the prehistoric barley is very similar to present-day barley grown in the Southern Levant, supporting the existing hypothesis of barley domestication having occurred in the Upper Jordan Valley. The findings were published in the journal Nature Genetics on 18 July 2016.

News 8 - CSIR–CMERI develops Solar Power Tree for generation of electricity

Solar Power Tree

The Ministry for Science & Technology has come up with a ‘Solar Power Tree’. It is an innovative way to generate electricity using solar power in a limited space. The Solar Power Tree model is actually designed like a tree with branches made of steel to hold the photovoltaic panel.

It has been engineered by the Central Mechanical Engineering Research Institute (CMERI), a laboratory of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR). The solar power tree has a capacity to generate 5 KW with a battery backup for 2 hours when under full load.

News 9 - Scientists decide to launch field trials of the Oil Degrading Bacteria

Oil Degrading Bacteria

Malabar Botanical Garden and Institute of Plant Sciences (MBGIPS), Kozhikode and Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL), together will conduct field trails of three new strains of oil-degrading bacteria in Kochi, Kerala. It will pave the way for the development of Bioremediation Agents to clean up petroleum pollutants from the environment.

The three new strains isolated by MBGIPS include two species of Burkholderia and one species of Pseudomonas. Across the world, Bioremediation is evolving as a safer, environment friendly mechanism to clean up the contamination caused by leaks and accidental spills of petroleum products.

News 10 - Brazilian Scientists discover another type of Zika Transmitting Mosquito

Zika Transmitting Mosquito

Scientists at the Public Brazilian laboratory Fundacion Oswaldo Cruz (Fiocruz) have discovered another type of Zika Transmitting Mosquito. They have found the presence of the Culex Quinquefasciatus Mosquito infected by the Zika virus in three out of 80 groups of mosquitoes analyzed up until now. The Culex Quinquefasciatus Mosquito is known as the Domestic Mosquito in Brazil.

Up until now, transmission of the virus was only known through the Aedes Aegypti Mosquito, the same insect that spreads Dengue and Chikungunya.

News 11 - China Unveils the World’s Largest Amphibious Aircraft


China has unveiled the world’s largest amphibious aircraft, the AG600, to fight forest fires and perform marine rescue missions. The aircraft has a maximum takeoff weight of 53.5 tonnes, a maximum flight range of 4,500 kms, and it can collect 12 tonnes of water in 20 seconds.

It was made by the State Aircraft Maker the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC). An amphibious aircraft can take off and land on both land and water.

News 12 - CSIR laboratories develop an anti-diabetic herbal formulation

CSIR Laboratories

The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), through its constituent laboratories jointly developed scientifically validated herbal product NBRMAP-DB as antidiabetic, hypoglycemic formulation with hepato-protective and anti-oxidant properties. The knowhow for the product was licensed to M/s AIMIL Pharma Ltd., Delhi who are manufacturing and marketing it as BGR-34.

It has been reported by M/s AIMIL Pharma Ltd. that the product has shown consistent growth right from the initial promotional phase since Oct, 2015 with the total sales turnover being Rs. 25 crores and about approximately a million diabetic patients have benefited.