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15th November Current Affairs

NASA’s DART mission

(GS-III: Awareness in space)

In News:

On November 24, at around 11.50 am (IST), NASA will launch the agency’s first planetary defense test mission named the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART).

Details:

The spacecraft will be launched on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California.

About DART Mission:

The main aim of the mission is to test the newly developed technology that would allow a spacecraft to crash into an asteroid and change its course.

DART is a low-cost spacecraft, weighing around 610 kg at launch and 550 kg during impact.

It also carries about 10 kg of xenon which will be used to demonstrate the agency’s new thrusters called NASA Evolutionary Xenon Thruster–Commercial (NEXT-C) in space.

The spacecraft carries a high-resolution imager called Didymos Reconnaissance and Asteroid Camera for Optical Navigation (DRACO). Images from DRACO will be sent to Earth in real-time and will help study the impact site and surface of Dimorphos.

DART will also carry a small satellite or CubeSat named LICIACube (Light Italian CubeSat for Imaging of Asteroids). LICIACube is expected to capture images of the impact and the impact crater formed as a result of the collision. It can also capture images of any dust cloud formed during the impact.

Which asteroid will be deflected?

The target of the spacecraft is a small moonlet called Dimorphos (Greek for “two forms”). It is about 160-metre in diameter and the spacecraft is expected to collide when it is 11 million kilometres away from Earth.

Dimorphos orbits a larger asteroid named Didymos (Greek for “twin”) which has a diameter of 780 metres.

The plan:

The spacecraft will navigate to the moonlet and intentionally collide with it at a speed of about 6.6 kilometres per second or 24,000 kilometres per hour. The collision is expected to take place between September 26 and October 1, 2022.

Landraces

(GS-III: Major crops cropping patterns in various parts of the country)

In News:

Among the winners of this year’s Padma awards: is Rahibai Popere, popularly known as Seedmother, from Akole taluka of Ahmednagar, Maharashtra.

Her Padma Shri is a recognition of her work that has helped save hundreds of landraces (wild varieties of commonly grown crops) at the village level.

What are landraces?

Landraces refer to naturally occurring variants of commonly cultivated crops. These are as opposed to commercially grown crops, which are developed by selective breeding (hybrids) or through genetic engineering to express a certain trait over others.

Impact of selection and breeding on landraces:

Biodiversity allows a natural mechanism for crops to develop traits to face challenging situations. However, given the large-scale human interference in crop selection, that ability is now lost in most commercial crops.

Crop improvement through selection and breeding over several decades has narrowed the genetic base of most crops.

Need for and significance of landraces:

Amid the threat of climate change, a challenge before scientists and policymakers is to develop varieties that can withstand both abiotic and biotic stresses.

Naturally occurring landraces have a large pool of still untapped genetic material, which can provide solutions.

Genetic diversity is nature’s survival mechanism. The wider the gene pool, the more the chance of developing a trait that can help in surviving extreme climate events.

Way ahead:

Much remains to be understood about the germplasms of the landraces. Research is in the early stages. It is necessary to understand how these landraces can contribute to climate-resilient agriculture; nutritional profiling too can hold the key to fighting deficiencies, as many landraces are richer in nutrients than commercially grown variants.

Norovirus

(GS-II: Issues related to Health)

In News:

At least 13 people have been found infected with Norovirus in Kerala’s Wayanad district. The state government has asked people to remain vigilant, and stepped up measures to prevent the spread of the virus.

What is Norovirus?

Norovirus is a bug similar to the diarrhoea-inducing rotavirus.

It is a group of viruses that causes gastrointestinal illness.

It is the most common pathogen implicated in outbreaks of gastrointestinal disease (inflammation of the stomach and intestines), according to the World Health Organization.

Symptoms:

Initial symptoms of Norovirus are vomiting and/or diarrhoea, which show up one or two days after exposure to the virus. Patients also feel nauseous, and suffer from abdominal pain, fever, headaches and bodyaches. In extreme cases, loss of fluids could lead to dehydration.

Spread:

Disease outbreaks typically occur aboard cruise ships, in nursing homes, dormitories, and other closed spaces.

Norovirus is highly contagious, and can be transmitted through contaminated food, water, and surfaces. The primary route is oral-faecal. One may get infected multiple times as the virus has different strains.

Norovirus is resistant to many disinfectants and can heat up to 60°C. Therefore, merely steaming food or chlorinating water does not kill the virus. The virus can also survive many common hand sanitisers.

What is the treatment for Norovirus?

The disease is self-limiting — the infection, even though it takes a lot out of the patient, normally lasts only two or three days, and most individuals who are not very young, very old, or malnourished can ride it out with sufficient rest and hydration.

Rani Kamlapati

(GS-I: Modern Indian history from about the middle of the eighteenth century until the present- significant events, personalities, issues)

In News:

The name of Bhopal’s Habibganj railway station has been changed to Rani Kamlapati station.

Details:

The station has been redeveloped at a cost of around Rs 100 crore with private participation — a first such large-scale PPP model in station redevelopment in India, in the works for the past few years.

Who was Rani Kamlapati?

Rani Kamlapati was the widow of Nizam Shah, whose Gond dynasty ruled the then Ginnorgarh, 55 km from Bhopal, in the 18th century.

Kampalati is known to have shown great bravery in facing aggressors during her reign after her husband was killed.

Kamlapati was the “last Hindu queen of Bhopal”, who did great work in the area of water management and set up parks and temples.

Who are Gonds?

The Gond are one of the largest tribal communities in India, spread across Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Bihar and Odisha.

Birsa Munda

(GS-I: The Freedom Struggle – its various stages and important contributors /contributions from different parts of the country)

In News:

Birth anniversary of Birsa Munda was observed on November 15th.

In recognition of his impact on the national movement, the state of Jharkhand was created on his birth anniversary in 2000.

Who was he?

Bisra Munda was a folk hero and a tribal freedom fighter hailing from the Munda tribe. He was a spearhead behind the Millenarian movement that arose in the Bihar and Jharkhand belt in the 19th century under British colonisation. He is also known as ‘Dharti Abba’ or the Earth Father.

Born on 15th November 1875.

Birsait:

Bisra wanted to reform the tribal society and so, he urged them to let go of beliefs in witchcraft and instead, stressed on the importance of prayer, staying away from alcohol, having faith in God and observing a code of conduct. Based on these, he started the faith of ‘Birsait’.

Achievements:

Bisra started a movement called ‘Ulgulan’, or ‘The Great Tumult’. His struggle against the exploitation and discrimination against tribals led to a big hit against the British government in the form of the Chotanagpur Tenancy Act being passed in 1908. The act restricted the passing on of land from the tribal people to non-tribals.

Munda Rebellion:

It is one of the most important tribal movements.

It was led by Birsa Munda in the south of Ranchi in 1899-1900.

The movement identified following forces as the cause of the misery the Mundas were suffering:

The land policies of the British were destroying their traditional land system.

Hindu landlords and moneylenders were taking over their land.

Missionaries were criticising their traditional culture.

Significance of Munda Rebellion:

It forced the colonial government to introduce laws so that the land of the tribals could not be easily taken over by dikus (Chotanagpur Tenancy Act, 1908).

It showed that the tribal people had the capacity to protest against injustice and express their anger against colonial rule.