TRAPPIST-1:

TRAPPIST-1:

  • It is an ultra-cool dwarf star about 40 light years away, located in the constellation Aquarius.
  • It is named after the telescope that discovered this system – TRAPPIST (Transiting Planets and Planetesimals Small Telescop) in Chile.
  • The planets have sizes and masses comparable to the Earth and Venus.
  • It is an ultra-cool star (unlike our sun). Therefore, liquid water could survive on planets very close to it as well.
  • All 7 planetary orbits are closer to their host star than Mercury is to our sun. The planets are very close to each other.
  • Based on their densities, the planets of this system are likely to be rocky.
  • The TRAPPIST-1 star is quite old: between 5.4 and 9.8 billion years. This is up to twice as old as our own solar system, which formed some 4.5 billion years ago.
  • Since it is a low mass star, the temperature and brightness almost remains constant. Therefore, it is expected to live 900 times longer than the current age of the universe – 13.7 billion years.
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Dhruv:

Dhruv:

  • Dhruv has been indigenously designed and developed by the HAL, and is powered by the Shakti engine jointly developed with Turbomeca of France.
  • It is a twin engine, multi-role, multi-mission new generation helicopter.
  • It is superior to the other helicopters used by the Army such as Cheetah and Chetak, both of which have single engine.
  • It has been exported to several countries in the region.
  • As a part of military diplomacy, India has offered it to several friendly countries in the neighbourhood and South-East Asia.

Biofilms

Biofilms:

  • A biofilm is an assemblage of microbial cells that is irreversibly associated (not removed by gentle rinsing) with a surface and enclosed in a matrix of primarily polysaccharide material.
  • Van Leeuwenhoek, using his simple microscopes, first observed microorganisms on tooth surfaces and can be credited with the discovery of microbial biofilms.
  • Microorganisms that form biofilms include bacteria, fungi and protists.
  • Noncellular materials such as mineral crystals, corrosion particles, clay or silt particles, or blood components, depending on the environment in which the biofilm has developed, may also be found in the biofilm matrix.

Can form on many types of surfaces:

  • Biofilms may form on a wide variety of surfaces, including living tissues, indwelling medical devices (devices in the body like catheters, heart valves), industrial or potable water system piping, or natural aquatic systems.
  • As they attach to each other and to the surfaces, they are capable to act as barriers to antibiotics.

Biofilms Formation:

  • Biofilm formation begins when free-floating microorganisms such as bacteria come in contact with an appropriate surface and begin to put down roots.
  • This first step of attachment occurs when the microorganisms produce a gooey substance known as an extracellular polymeric substance (EPS).
  • An EPS is a network of sugars, proteins and nucleic acids (such as DNA).
  • It enables the microorganisms in a biofilm to stick together.
  • Attachment is followed by a period of growth.
  • Further layers of microorganisms and EPS build upon the first layers.

Solar storms:

Solar storms:

It could refer to the following:

  • Coronal mass ejection: Corona, the outer solar atmosphere, is structured by strong magnetic fields. Where these fields are closed, often above sunspot groups, the confined solar atmosphere can suddenly and violently release bubbles of gas and magnetic fields called coronal mass ejections.
  • Solar flares: These are intense burst of radiations coming from the release of magnetic energy associated with sun spots.
  • (Sun spots: These are the dark areas on the solar surface, contain strong magnetic fields that are constantly shifting. They are as large as the Earth. Sunspots form and dissipate over periods of days or weeks.)

Relationship of solar storms to magnetic shifts on Earth:

  • The solar storms contain large amounts of charged particles and radiation.
  • When they hit the Earth’s upper atmosphere, they produce the spectacular displays of the polar lights over the Arctic.
  • This is the region with the most geomagnetic disruption on Earth.
  • This way, the original magnetic field of the Earth gets distorted and this results in magnetic shifts.
  • The most powerful storms can also damage communications systems and satellites.
  • They can also impact the navigating abilities of birds and bees.

How will NSG membership help India? 

How will NSG membership help India? 

Clean energy push:

  • India is a growing country with massive energy needs.
  • It has set for itself an ambitious goal of sourcing 40% of its power from non-fossil sources and here is where nuclear energy comes into play.
  • India will need latest technology and NSG membership will come in handy.
  • Though it got a one-time NSG waiver in 2008, the country needs constant access to global markets and a stable trading framework.
  • Being a member of the NSG will also mean that India will have far greater access to uranium than it does currently under its 2008 agreement with the US. For example, Namibia is the fourth-largest producer of uranium and it agreed to sell the nuclear fuel to India in 2009.
  • However, that hasn’t happened, as Namibia has since cited a 2009 African version of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, the Pelindaba Treaty, which essentially controls the supply of uranium from Africa to the rest of the world.
  • If India joins the NSG, such reservations from Namibia are expected to melt away.

It helps domestic firms:

  • A place on the nuclear trading table will help Indian companies such as the Walchandnar Industries Limited (WIL) and L&T to expand business.
  • India has a robust indigenous nuclear industry that worked mostly in isolation as international sanctions were slapped every time a nuclear test was conducted.
  • An NSG membership will make these companies comply with international norms and make it easier for them to ply their trade abroad.

Make in India:

  • New Delhi and Moscow have announced a plan to build reactors in India to sell them to other countries, a move expected to give a push to the Modi government’s Make in India initiative.
  • It will not only generate jobs but also help in technology development.
  • As an NSG member, India will be better placed to implement the initiative.

End of the nuclear winter:

  • One of the objectives of the 2008 nuclear deal was that the US would help India get into export-control regimes such as the NSG, the MTCR (missile technology control regime), Australia Group and Wassenar Arrangement.
  • As a member of these groupings, India will have access to defence, space and nuclear technologies.
  • The MTCR is done, of the remaining, the NSG is most crucial.
  • Admission to the MTCR will open the way for India to buy high-end missile technology and surveillance drones such as Predator.

Hyperloop

Hyperloop:

  • It is a system where magnetically levitating capsules are sent at high speeds through low-pressure tubes.
  • It was entrepreneur Elon Musk who came up with the idea for a hyperloop.
  • The Hyperloop project is being pegged as a mode of transport different from rail, mainly due to following reasons:
    • It is said to be two-to-three times faster than the fastest high-speed rail, and in India, it would be possible for the pods (like cabins) to reach the peak speed of 1,100 km per hour on certain routes.
    • Hyperloop departures could happen with a low frequency of a pod every 20 seconds.
    • Hyperloop is estimated to have a smaller civil engineering footprint, with no direct emissions or noise

International Treaties fro Hazardous Substance Management

Hazardous Substance Management

To promote safe management and use of hazardous substance in order to avoid damage to the health and env.

International conventions

  • Basel convention – control the transboundary mvmt of hazardous waste
    • Non binding agreement
    • Reduce the movement of hazardous waste between nations
    • Prevent transfer of hazardous waste from developed to less developed country
    • USA, UK dumping e-waste in India, Pak and China
  • Rotterdam convention – Prior Informed Consent (PIC) Procedure for certain chemicals and pests in intl trade
    • Legally binding
    • Shared responsibility in relation to importation of hazardous chemicals
    • Like using proper labelling, directions on safe handling etc.
  • Stockholm convention – Persistent Organic pollutants (POP)
    • Legally binding
    • Under aegis of UNEP
    • POPs are chemical substances that persist in the environment, bio accumulate through the food web and pose a risk of causing adverse effects to human health and the environment
  • Minamata convention on mercury