1. SPACE TECHNOLOGY

Content

Joint Lunar Polar Exploration (LPE)

Moon’s South Pole

MARS MISSIONS

Mars moons: Phobos and Deimos

Elysium

Light Detection And Ranging (LiDAR or LADAR)

Quantum Technology

Micius, 2016

Quantum Key Distribution (QKD)

Lithium in Stars

Extreme Helium Star (EHe)

Coronal seismology or magneto seismology

South Atlantic Anomaly (SAA)

IN-SPACe

India’s First In- orbit Space Debris Monitoring and Tracking System

Moon is more metallic than thought before

ASTHROS: a telescope in balloon

Lunar Gateway, NASA

Comet NEOWISE (C/2020 F3)

Potentially Hazardous Asteroids (PHAs)

Ceres given status of an “ocean world”

Andromeda Galaxy (or Messier 31, M31)

Space bricks for lunar habitation

SPT0418-47 galaxy

AEHF 6 satellites, USA: Advanced Extremely High Frequency

Arktika-M satellites, Russia

Xingyun-2, China

DART Mission, NASA

SunRise Mission, NASA

DEMO-1 mission, SpaceX

DEMO-2 Mission, NASA

Artemis, NASA

Cislunar space

Artemis Accords for Responsible Space Exploration

OSIRIS-Rex, 2016 – NASA

Cassini mission

ANITA, NASA

rtemis, NASA

rtemis, NASA

 

Joint Lunar Polar Exploration (LPE)

• Joint mission between Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and ISRO in 2017.
• To put a lander and a rover on the Moon’s surface.
• It will be launched after 2023.
• Target: constantly sunlit region near Moon’s South Pole.

Moon’s South Pole

• Its craters are untouched by sunlight.
• The permanently shadowed craters hold millions of tons water.
• Offers an undisturbed record of solar system’s origins.
• It has an untapped source of resources.

MARS MISSIONS

NASA’s missions to Mars

• Mars Pathfinder Mission (1997)
• Spirit and Opportunity (2003)
• Curiosity (2012)
• Mars 2020
o Perseverance rover: It will land in Jezero Crater on Mars.
o MOXIE or Mars Oxygen ISRU Experiment instrument: for the        first time, it will manufacture molecular oxygen on Mars.
o Ingenuity Mars Helicopter: first aircraft to attempt         controlled flight on another planet.

Tianwen 1 or Quest for Heavenly Truth 1

• China’s first Mars probe
• Orbiter: for comprehensive observation
• Lander: on Martian soil
• Rover to roam the landing site.
• Yinghuo-1, 2011: China’s failed attempt of an exploratory probe to Mars called, in a Russian spacecraft.
• US, Russia, EU and India have so far succeeded in sending missions to Mars.
• India is the first country to enter the Martian orbit in its first attempt.

Mars moons: Phobos and Deimos

• Phobos, the closest and biggest moon of Mars.
• Craters on Phobos- Stickney, Shklovsky, Roche & Grildrig.

 

Elysium

• A large volcanic province on Mars.

Light Detection And Ranging (LiDAR or LADAR)

• It is a method for measuring distances (ranging) by illuminating the target with laser light and measuring the reflection with a sensor.
• A lidar instrument consists of a laser, a scanner, and a specialized GPS receiver.
• It is similar to radar and sonar, that uses radio and sound waves, respectively.
• Lidar is also called 3-D laser scanning, a special combination of a 3-D scanning and laser scanning.
• Differences in laser return times and wavelengths can then be used to make digital 3-D representations of the target.

Quantum Technology

• Quantum technology uses laws of quantum physics.
• It describes the behaviour of matter and energy at atomic and subatomic level.
• It is based on properties of quantum mechanics, especially quantum entanglement, quantum superposition and quantum tunnelling.
• According to John von Neumann, quantum technology is different from the deterministic classical mechanics, which holds that the state is determined by values of two variables.
o Quantum technology is determined by probabilities. and this explanation has been used to justify the technology’s superiority.
o This is unlike classical physics, where an object can exist at one place at one time.
o E.g. classical computers operate using binary physical state, meaning its operations are based on one of two positions (1 or 0).
• Superposition: each qubit can represent both a 1 and a 0 at the same time.
• Quantum entanglement: subatomic particles are inextricably linked or entangled in such a way that any change in one disturbs the other, irrespective of their distances.
• Quantum tunnelling: A quantum mechanical phenomenon where a wavefunction can propagate through a potential barrier.

Quantum Supremacy

• A quantum computer can do a mathematical calculation that is beyond the reach of even the most powerful supercomputer.
• Sycamore: Google’s quantum computer. It performed a calculation in 200 seconds.
• Summit: world’s fastest supercomputer. It can do same calculation in 10,000 years.

 

Micius, 2016

• China’s quantum satellite. It is world’s first quantum-enabled satellite.
• Also known as Quantum Experiments at Space Scale (QUESS), which is Chinese research project in quantum physics.
• Micius sent first totally secure long-range message using Quantum Key Distribution (QKD).
• Hacking is not possible: Quantum Satellite produces pairs of entangled photons, twinned light particles whose properties remain intertwined irrespective of their distance.

 

Quantum Key Distribution (QKD)

• It allows secure encrypting and decrypting messages.
• In traditional cryptography, security is usually based on a mathematics.
• QKD secures by the laws of quantum physics – superposition and entanglement.

Lithium in Stars

• In process of evolution, stars destroy lithium as they evolve into red giants.
• Planets have more lithium than their stars. Eg. Earth-Sun pair.
• However, some stars are lithium-rich.
• Lithium in the universe is only four times the original Big Bang value. Other elements grew millions of times.
• Helium flash: occurs at late stage of a star’s evolution.
o Helium accumulates at its core. It causes temperature and pressure to rise. This stage is known as Red Clump stage.
o when stars grow beyond their Red Giant stage into the Red Clump stage, they produce lithium in what is known as a Helium Flash

.• News: Recently, Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA), under the Department of Science and Technology discovered hundreds of Lithium (Li) rich giant stars.
Note:
• A red giant star is a dying star in the last stages of stellar evolution.
• Lithium is one of the three primordial elements produced in the Big Bang Nucleosynthesis. Others are Hydrogen and Helium.

Extreme Helium Star (EHe)

• An EHe or a PV Telescopii Variable, is a low-mass supergiant that is almost devoid of hydrogen, the most common chemical element of the Universe.
• It has abundance of surface helium.
• Majority of stars contain 70% hydrogen by mass.
• These are much larger and hotter than Sun.
• There are no known conditions where stars devoid of hydrogen can be formed from molecular clouds, it is postulated that they are product of the mergers of helium-core and carbon-oxygen core white dwarfs.

Coronal seismology or magneto seismology

• Used to measure the magnetic field of Sun’s corona for the first time.
• This method uses magnetic waves or Alfven waves, that can travel along with the magnetic fields.
• Till now, solar magnetic fields were measured only at Sun’s surface (photosphere).
• Note: Corona is the outermost layer of the Sun’s atmosphere, consisting of hot, diffuse, and highly ionized plasma.

 

South Atlantic Anomaly (SAA)

• Also called as ‘dent’ in Earth’s Magnetic Field.
• It is an unusually weak spot in the Earth’s Magnetic Field
• SAA is the near-Earth region where the Earth’s magnetic field is weakest relative to an idealized Earth-centered dipole field.
• Causes of formation: tilt of earth’s magnetic axis, and flow of molten metals within earth’s outer core.
• SAA allows charged particles from Sun to dip closer to the Earth’s surface.

News:
• Recent data from NASA shows splitting of South Atlantic Anomaly.
• SAA is expanding westward and splitting into two lobes which can result in weakening of magnetic field.
• Low-Earth orbit satellites travel through SAA. Solar particles can hit them and create short circuit.

 

IN-SPACe

Indian National Space Promotion and Authorization Centre (IN- SPACe)
• Aim: to boost private sector participation in entire range of space activities.
• It is the new entity of the Department of Space
• To act as an interface between ISRO and private parties
• It will be autonomous, and parallel to ISRO.
• It is the second space organisation created in last two years.
o New Space India Limited (NSIL) was announced in 2019 Budget.

 

India’s First In- orbit Space Debris Monitoring and Tracking System

• To provide real-time earth coverage by deploying a constellation of cost-efficient nanosatellites in Low Earth Orbit.
• Developed by Digantara, India’s first air and space surveillance company.

Moon is more metallic than thought before

• Study by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO)
• Moon’s subsurface might have more metals such as iron and titanium.
• This may mean Earth’s crust has lesser amounts of iron oxide than the Moon.
• This questions most popular theory about the Moon’s creation
o A Mars-sized protoplanet collided with newly formed Earth
o Breaking off a piece of our planet
o It went on to become its satellite.

ASTHROS: a telescope in balloon

Astrophysics Stratospheric Telescope for High Spectral Resolution Observations at Submillimeter- wavelengths
• NASA’s mission to send a balloon telescope into stratosphere
• To observe wavelengths of light invisible from the Earth.
• To be launched in 2023 from Antarctica.

Evolution of emission norms

  • Mass emission norms were introduced for petrol vehicles in 1991 and in 1992 for diesel vehicles.
  • 2000: Euro I equivalent India 2000 norms (Bharat Stage – BS) for passenger cars and commercial vehicles.
  • Bharat Stage Norms: CPCB standards to regulate the output of air pollutants from internal combustion engines and spark-ignition engine equipment, including motor vehicles.
  • The exhaust gases now covered: CO, HCs, NOx and PM.
  • In 2016, India decided to skip BS-V norms and to adopt BS-VI norms by 2020.

Major standards under BS VI

  • BS VI requires both automobile manufacturers and oil marketing companies (OMCs) to tweak the products.
  • A BS-VI compliant vehicle engine will require BS-VI fuel.

How is BS-VI better than BS- IV?

  • Nitrogen oxide level reduced: for diesel engines (70%) and petrol engines (25%)
  • Particulate Matter (PM): Reduces by 80% for diesel vehicles and introduces PM limit for petrol
  • Regulations provide specifications for reference and commercial fuels.
  • Sulphur traces is five times lower (10 ppm).
  • Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF) and Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) are introduced with BS VI norms.
  • SCR converts harmful NOx to molecular nitrogen and oxygen, by reacting it with ammonia in presence of a catalyst.
  • Real Driving Emission (RDE) will be introduced in India for the first time. (It measures emission in real time conditions, and not in laboratory conditions).
  • Mandatory Onboard Diagnostics (OD): It will give the owner or repair technician access to the status of the various vehicle subsystems.

Black Carbon

  • It is a solid particle or aerosol (not a gas).
  • It results from incomplete combustion of fossil fuels and biomass.
  • They absorb light and energy, a million times more than CO2.
  • Second largest contributor to climate change after CO2.
  • It is short-lived and remains in the atmosphere only for days to weeks.
  • When it falls to earth, it darkens the surface of snow, reducing their albedo, warming the snow and increases melting.
  • It accelerates melting of glaciers in the Himalayas and Tibet.
    • Reasons: emissions from agriculture burning, forest fires, and long-range transport of pollutants in winter.

Note: Third Pole (TP): Himalaya-Hindu-Kush and Tibetan Plateau are collectively referred to as the Third Pole (TP).

Brown Carbon

  • Light-absorbing organic carbon, light brownish color.
  • It absorbs strongly in the ultraviolet wavelengths. It is less significant in the visible range.
  • tar materials from fires or coal combustion, breakdown products from biomass burning.
  • Black Carbon is emitted mainly by high temperature combustion processes (eg. diesel engines). Brown Carbon mainly by biomass combustion, soil or vegetation.

Uranium Contamination in Groundwater

  • First time detected in Bihar.
  • The permissible limit is 30 microgram per litre. – WHO
  • However, unlike arsenic and other toxic or heavy metals, there is no limit maintained for Uranium in BIS.
  • In many parts of India, aquifers are composed of sediment carried down from the Himalayas, or from uranium-rich granitic rocks.
  • Overuse of these aquifers reduces the water level and creates oxidising conditions. It enhances the uranium’s solubility in water.

Solutions

  • Ex situ Treatment of radioactive contaminants:
    • Adsorption or ion exchange: The water-soluble contaminants are captured on a solid material.
    • Precipitation: To raise the pH & precipitate the oxide or hydroxide.
  • In-situ treatment:
    • Redox Technologies: to manipulate oxidation reduction conditions of the subsurface to reduce uranium to uranous (uranium IV) forms.
    • Flushing Technologies.

Oil Spill

  • Oil usually spreads out rapidly across the water surface to form a thin layer that is generally referred as oil slick.
  • As the oil continues spreading, the layer becomes thinner and thinner, finally becomes a

 

Techniques for cleaning Oil spills

  • Booms: These are floating barriers to oil.
  • Skimmers: These are boats that skim (scoop) spilled oil.
  • Sorbents: These are big sponges.
    • Indian Coast Guard used it in form of Graphene oil absorbent pads called ‘Sorbene Pads’ to its clean-up the Maldives Oil Spill.
    • This operation was under National Oil Spill-Disaster Contingency Plan.
  • In situ burning: This is a method of burning freshly spilled oil.
  • Chemical dispersants and Biological agents: These break down the oil into its chemical constituents. Eg.
  • Bioremediation: Oil zapper bacteria, it feeds on hydrocarbon compounds present in crude

National Oil Spill-Disaster Contingency Plan (NOS- DCP), 1996

  • It brings together the combined resources of the centre, states; and shipping, ports, and oil
  • Under National Disaster Management

UNICEF report on Lead poisoning

  • One third of the world’s children, around 800 million, are affected by lead poisoning.
  • India accounts for around 275 million.
  • Informal and substandard recycling of lead-acid batteries: it is leading contributor to lead poisoning in developing countries.
  • Lead poisoning may lead to: lifelong neurological, cognitive and physical impairment.

 

Global e waste Monitor 2020 Report

  • By UNEP + International Telecommunication Union, Global E- waste Statistics Partnership, and International Solid Waste Association
  • India is the third largest electronic waste generator in the world after China and the USA.

Indigenous Air Unique Quality Monitoring (AUM) Photonic System

  • A system for real-time remote monitoring of air quality parameters.
  • Uses the principles of laser backscattering, statistical mechanics, optoelectronics, artificial intelligence, machine/deep learning, Internet of Things etc
  • Very high precision, sensitivity and accuracy.

Online waste exchange platform

  • Andhra Pradesh launched the country’s first online waste exchange.
  • for safe disposal of toxic wastes and promoting recycling and reuse.
  • Promoting 6Rs – reduce, reuse, recycle, refurbish, redesign and re- manufacturing.

COVID-19 Biomedical Waste Management

CPCB has released revised guidelines.

  • Hospitals must be made responsible for training waste handlers about infection prevention measures.
  • Maintain record of waste generated from COVID-19 isolation wards.
  • Report opening or operation of COVID-19 ward to SPCBs and respective CBWTF located in the