Renaming of Jharsuguda Airport in Odisha
The Union Cabinet has approved renaming of Jharsuguda Airport in Odisha as “Veer Surendra Sai Airport, Jharsuguda”.
Veer Surendra Sai who is well-known freedom fighter and a tribal leader of Odisha.
Born in 1809 in Khinda in Sambalpur, he was direct descendant of Madhukar Sai and was legally entitled to be crowned as king of Sambalpur after demise of king Maharaja Sai in 1827. But he was not acceptable to British power and ignored his claim for succession.
He revolted against the British for throne after it allowed widow of Madhukar Sai Rani Mohan Kumari to succeed him and then followed by succession of Narayan Singh, a descendant of royal family but born of low caste as king of Sambalpur.
The aim of Surendra Sai’s revolt was to drive the British out of Sambalpur. His revolution against the British commenced from 1827 when he was only 18 years of age and continued till 1862 when he surrendered and even after that, until he was finally arrested in 1864.
Location tracking devices, emergency buttons mandatory for new public service vehicles
The Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has notified that all new public service vehicles, except auto rickshaws and e-Rickshaws, registered on and after January 1, 2019 will have to be mandatorily equipped with Vehicle Location Tracking (VLT) and Emergency Buttons.
In case of older public service vehicles, registered up to December 31, 2018, the respective State Governments will notify the date by which these vehicles have to install Vehicle Location Tracking Device and Panic Buttons.
Operational procedure for implementation of VLT cum Emergency buttons:
The States are required to ensure execution of this order and check fitment and functional status of the VLT device in the public service vehicles at the time of checking of the vehicles for fitness certification.
Command and Control Centres will be setup by the State or VLT manufacturers or any other agency authorised by the State Government.
These centres will provide interface such as state emergency response centre, the transport department or Regional Transport Offices and its designated agencies.
These centres will also provide feed to the ‘VAHAN’ data base or the relevant data base of the State with regard to the over speeding device ‘healthstatus’.
The details of each VLT device will be uploaded on the VAHAN database by the VLT device manufacturer using its secured authenticated access.
Roles of various stakeholders involved:
The VLT device manufacturers or their authorised dealers will install the VLT devices in public service vehicles and register the devices along with details of vehicle on the corresponding backend systems in real-time.
The public service vehicle owners have to ensure that the VLT devices installed in their vehicles are in working condition and regularly send required data to the corresponding backend system.
VLT device manufacturers will get their devices tested for conformity of production every year after the first certification from the testing agencies referred to in Rule126 of the Central Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989.
The testing agencies will upload the details of the VLT devices certified by them on the VAHAN database.
The State or Union Territories will publish Internet Protocol address (IP address) and Short Message Service Gateway (SMS gateway) details of their respective emergency response system where VLT devices will send the emergency alerts on press of emergency button.
VAHAN is a highly flexible and comprehensive system that takes care of all the activities of Vehicle Registration, leaving the Transport Department to deal with more important business issues. The software enables the processes at RTO/DTO/MLO/SDM involving vehicle registration, fitness, taxes, permits and enforcement to get computerised.
World’s first sovereign Blue Bond by Seychelles
The Republic of Seychelles has launched the world’s first Sovereign Blue Bond, a financial instrument designed to support sustainable marine and fisheries projects. With this, Seychelles became the first nation to pioneer such a novel financing instrument.
The bond raised USD 15 million from international investors. The bond demonstrates the potential for countries to harness capital markets for financing the sustainable use of marine resources.
Key features and uses of the Blue Bond:
The Blue Bond is a part of an initiative that combines public and private investment to mobilise resources for empowering local communities and businesses. It will greatly assist Seychelles in achieving a transition to sustainable fisheries and safeguarding oceans.
The Seychelles blue bond is partially guaranteed by a USD 5 million guarantee from the World Bank (IBRD) and is further supported by a USD 5 million concessional loan from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) which will partially cover interest payments for the bond.
Proceeds from the bond will be utilised for the expansion of marine protected areas, improved governance of priority fisheries and the development of the Seychelles’ blue economy.
Proceeds from the bond will also contribute to the World Bank’s South West Indian Ocean Fisheries Governance and Shared Growth Program, which supports countries in the region to sustainably manage their fisheries and increase economic benefits from their fisheries sectors.
Grants will be provided through the Blue Grants Fund and will be managed by the Seychelles’ Conservation and Climate Adaptation Trust (SeyCCAT).
Loans will be provided through the Blue Investment Fund and will be managed by the Development Bank of Seychelles (DBS).
Facts for Prelims:
The Seychelles is an archipelagic nation consisting of 115 granite and coral islands in the Indian Ocean, off East Africa.
As one of the world’s biodiversity hotspots, Seychelles is balancing the need to develop economically and protect its natural resources.
After tourism, the fisheries sector is the most important industry in the country, contributing significantly to annual GDP and employing 17 percent of the population. Fish products make up around 95% of the total value of domestic exports.
Source: The Hindu
India has successfully conducted the night trial of the indigenously developed nuclear capable Agni-I ballistic missile off the Odisha coast. The surface-to-surface missile test was test-fired as part of a user-trial from the Abdul Kalam Island off Odisha coast.
About Agni –I:
Agni-I is a short-range ballistic missile developed by DRDO of India under the Integrated Guided Missile Development Program.
Agni-I missile has a specialised navigation system which ensures it reaches the target with a high degree of accuracy and precision.
It is sleek single-stage missile, powered by solid propellants developed after the Kargil War to fill the gap between 250 km range of Prithvi-II and 2,500 km range of Agni-II.
Agni-I was developed by advanced systems laboratory, the premier missile development laboratory of the DRDO.
The 15-metre-long Agni-I, which can carry payloads up to 1000 kg, has already been inducted into the Indian Army.
Earth BioGenome Project
International biologists have launched Earth BioGenome Project (EBP)- an ambitious project to read all the DNA in each of the world’s known animal, plant and fungal species over the next 10 years, sequencing 1.5m different genomes at an estimated cost of $4.7bn.
About the Earth BioGenome Project (EBP):
The Earth BioGenome Project plans to record the genomes — the DNA blueprint of life — of 1.5 million species of animal, plant, protozoa and fungi within a decade.
So far, 19 research institutions around the world have signed up to take part in the EBP and more plan to join.
They expect to read the full DNA sequence of all the world’s eukaryotic species — organisms whose cells have a nucleus enclosed by membranes. These are animals, plants, fungi and protozoa, which encompass all of life except simple microbes (bacteria and archaea).
Participating institutions aim to raise the required funds from governments, foundations and charities. The project’s first phase — producing a reference genome for each of the 9,000 taxonomic families of eukaryotic life — will require $600m, of which about one-third has already been provided.
UK participants, led by the Wellcome Sanger Institute, will sequence the genetic codes of all 66,000 species known to inhabit Britain in a £100m national effort called the Darwin Tree of Life, as well as helping the broader international project.
The target of 1.5m genomes represents all eukaryotic species known and catalogued by science. Biologists say that many more remain undiscovered, with the real total estimated at 10m to 15m species. But they are disappearing fast as a result of human activity, in what scientists are calling Earth’s sixth great extinction; the fifth was the asteroid impact that wiped out dinosaurs 65m years ago.
The blueprints for all living species will be a tremendous resource for new discoveries, understanding the rules of life, how evolution works, new approaches for the conservation of rare and endangered species, and provide new resources for researchers in agricultural and medical fields.
So far, only 3,300 eukaryotic species have had their DNA fully sequenced, 0.2% of the target. With strong international co-ordination, adequate funding and continuing rapid technological progress, 1.5m genomes could be achieved by 2028.
Source: The Hindu
NASA’s Dawn asteroid mission
Dawn, a NASA spacecraft that launched 11 years ago and studied two of the largest objects in the asteroid belt, has ended its mission after running out of fuel.
Scientists have known for about a month that Dawn was essentially out of hydrazine, the fuel that kept the spacecraft’s antennae oriented toward Earth and helped turn its solar panels to the Sun to recharge.
Dawn became the only spacecraft ever to orbit a cosmic body in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter in 2011 when it began circling the asteroid Vesta.
Then it moved on to the dwarf planet Ceres in 2015, becoming the first spacecraft to visit a dwarf planet and the only spacecraft to orbit one.
The unmanned spacecraft has travelled 4.3 billion miles (6.9 billion kilometers) since its launch in 2007. It is expected to remain in orbit around Ceres for decades, but will no longer be able to communicate with Earth.
About the Dawn Mission:
NASA’s Dawn mission will study the asteroid Vesta and dwarf planet Ceres, celestial bodies believed to have accreted early in the history of the solar system. The mission will characterize the early solar system and the processes that dominated its formation.
Dawn is the only mission ever to orbit two extraterrestrial targets. It orbited giant asteroid Vesta for 14 months from 2011 to 2012, then continued on to Ceres, where it has been in orbit since March 2015.
Source: The Hindu
Indian astrophysicists have discovered large ultraviolet lobes and jets, hurled out from a dying star- NGC 6302, popularly called the Butterfly Nebula, using data from AstroSat, the space observatory launched by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) in 2015.
A planetary nebula is formed when a star like our Sun – or a few times heavier – is in its dying days. The term, a misnomer now, was coined by astronomers in the 19th century since the nebula looked like planets through their telescopes.
When hydrogen and helium fuel that kept the star shining gets exhausted, the star expands in size and becomes a red giant star. Such stars shed most of their outer layers which expands outwards, and the inner core, made of carbon and oxygen, shrinks further and becomes hotter. This hot core shines brightly in the ultraviolet, and ionises the expanding gas. This glowing ionised gas is what is seen as a planetary nebula.
ASTROSAT is India’s first dedicated multi wavelength space observatory. This scientific satellite mission endeavours for a more detailed understanding of our universe.
ASTROSAT is designed to observe the universe in the Visible, Ultraviolet, low and high energy X-ray regions of the electromagnetic spectrum simultaneously with the help of its five payloads.
Astrosat aims at understanding the high energy processes in binary star systems containing neutron stars and black holes, to estimate magnetic fields of neutron stars, to study star birth regions and high energy processes in star systems lying beyond the Milky Way galaxy.
This mission has put ISRO in a very exclusive club of nations that have space-based observatories. Only the United States, European Space Agency, Japan and Russia have such observatories in space.
Source: The Hindu
Oceans heating faster: study
Scientists from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) have released their assessment on the health of world oceans.
Highlights of the study:
For each of the last 25 years, oceans had absorbed heat energy equivalent to 150 times the amount of electricity mankind produces annually. That is 60% higher than what previous studies showed.
The world’s oceans have absorbed 90% of the temperature rise caused by man-made carbon emissions.
Oceans cover more than two thirds of the planet’s surface and play a vital role in sustaining life on Earth.
How was it measured?
Scientists focussed on two gases found naturally in the atmosphere — Oxygen and carbon dioxide. Both gases are soluble in water, but the rate at which water absorbs them decreases as it warms. By measuring atmospheric oxygen and CO2 for each year, scientists were able to more accurately estimate how much heat oceans had absorbed on a global scale.
Mankind must once again revise down its carbon footprint, with emissions needing to fall 25% compared to previous estimates. The result significantly increases the confidence we can place in estimates of ocean warming and therefore helps reduce uncertainty.
Source: The Hindu
Government to set up National Sports Stadium for differently-abled in Meghalaya
The centre has announced that a stadium of international standard for differently-abled persons will be set up in Meghalaya.
World’s longest DNA sequence decoded
A team of UK scientists have claimed the record for decoding the world’s longest DNA sequence. The new holder of the trophy for world’s longest DNA read is a team led by Matt Loose at Nottingham University.
The scientists produced a DNA read that is about 10,000 times longer than normal, and twice as large as a previous record holder, from Australia.
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