Special Current Affair for IBPS Exams : Science & Technology Part - 9

Special Current Affair for IBPS Exam

Topic: Science & Technology Part-9

  • Advanced Meteorological Satellite of India Launched Successfully

  • World’s 1st IVF baby born

  • Genetic basis of Cholera Resistance Found

  • India’s First Hydrogen-Powered Fuel Cell Bus Developed

  • ISRO to improve Transponder Allocation Norms

  • What is Transponder?

  • Scientists created World’s Fastest Electrical Switch

Advanced Meteorological Satellite of India Launched Successfully

INSAT-3D, the advanced meteorological satellite of India was launched successfully by the European rocket, Arianespace’s Ariane 5 rocket, from the spaceport of Kourou in French Guiana on 26 July 2013. The satellite will give a push to the weather forecasting as well as help in facilitating disaster warning services. Arianespace’s Ariane 5 rocket of European space consortium launched the Alphasat satellites as well as INSAT-3D. Alphasat is the largest-ever telecommunication satellite of Europe. This satellite is the result of large-scale public-private partnership between Inmarsat as well as European Space Agency.

Features of INSAT-3D

  • The new satellite, INSAT-3D will be operational for next seven years, i.e., up to 2020.

  • The aim of the satellite is to make a crucial difference to the disaster warning systems as well as weather forecasting of India.

  • INSAT-3D will also provide monitoring of the ocean as well as land areas, apart from providing meteorological observation.

  • INSAT-3D will facilitate new dimension to the weather monitoring because of its atmospheric sounding system. The atmospheric sounding system provides the vertical profiles of integrated ozone, humidity as well as temperature, from top of the atmosphere.

  • It is important to note that the i system and mechanism of INSAT-3D has a lot of improvement in comparison to INSAT-3A as well as KALPANA.

  • The satellite has the lift-off mass of 2060 kg.

  • It will facilitate continuity to the previous missions as well as also help in increasing the capability of providing meteorological and search and rescue services.

  • INSAT-3D carries the newly developed 19 channel sounder, which is the first payload of this kind to be flown to the ISRO satellite mission.

  • INSAT-3D has the facility of Search and Rescue payload which catches as well as relays the alert signals that originate from distress signal of maritime, aviation and land based users to the Indian Mission Control Centre located at ISRO Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network in Bangalore.

The primary users of the Satellite Aided Search and Rescue service in India include Directorate General of Shipping, Defence Services, fishermen, Indian Coast Guard as well as Airports Authority of India. The alert services include a wide area of Indian Ocean region, as well as covers Sri Lanka, Tanzania, India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Seychelles, Bhutan and Maldives. The information of oceanographic, hydrological as well as meteorological data from the uninhabited locations over the coverage area from Data Collection Platforms (DCPs) such as Agro Met Stations, Automatic Rain Gauge and Automatic Weather Station, as well as remote locations will be collected by the Data Relay Transponder (DRT). The ISRO as well as India Meteorological Department have already established over 1800 DCPs.

World’s 1st IVF baby born

World’s 1st IVF baby is born in US in June 2013 thus becoming the world’s first test tube baby to be born using a new low cost “next-generation sequencing” IVF technique. The method, through which the baby was born, uses the latest DNA sequencing a technique which aims to increase in-vitro fertilisation success rates while being more reasonable for couples and lowering the risk of miscarriages. The birth of baby using IVF sets an example to show next-generation sequencing can be used to pick the embryos created by IVF that are most likely to lead to successful pregnancies.

Use of New Embryo Screening Technique

  • The approach can identify embryos with the correct number of chromosomes and may cut hundreds of pounds off the cost of embryo screening.

  • The majority of embryos produced by IVF aren’t able to lead to successful pregnancies, and through embryo screening techniques scientists have sought to find ways of identifying the embryos that should be implanted to give the greatest chance of success.

  • Having an incorrect number of chromosomes usually prevents embryos from producing a pregnancy. Until recently, such abnormalities have been hard to detect as they do not affect the appearance of embryos under the microscope. But through IVF, the desired abnormalities rate is quite low.

  • Many of the embryos produced during infertility treatments have no chance of becoming a baby because they carry lethal genetic abnormalities.

  • Next-generation sequencing improves our ability to detect these abnormalities and helps us identify the embryos with the best chances of producing a viable pregnancy. Potentially, this should lead to improved IVF success rates and a lower risk of miscarriage.

  • Recently, a number of trials of various chromosome screening methods have shown that they can improve IVF success rates by around 30 per cent.

  • Results from randomised clinical trials carried out during the last year have suggested that most IVF patients would benefit from embryo chromosome screening. However, the costs of these genetic tests are relatively high, putting them beyond the reach of many patients.

  • Next-generation sequencing could make chromosome testing more widely available, improving access by cutting the costs.

  • The researchers’ approach involves sequencing DNA from multiple embryos all at the same time. Short DNA tags or ‘barcodes’ added to the genetic material from each individual embryo mean that the results could be identified uniquely and mapped back to the right embryo.

  • In the future, it should be possible to use the approach to check for chromosomal abnormalities and any serious inherited disorders at the same time.

About In Vitro Fertilisation

In vitro fertilisation (IVF) is a process by which an egg is fertilised by sperm outside the body: in vitro. IVF is a major treatment for infertility when other methods of assisted reproductive technology have failed. The process basically involves monitoring a woman’s ovulatory process, removing ovum or ova (egg or eggs) from the woman’s ovaries and letting sperm fertilise them in a fluid medium in a laboratory. When a woman’s natural cycle is monitored to collect a naturally selected ovum (egg) for fertilisation, it is known as natural cycle IVF.

Genetic basis of  Cholera Resistance Found

Believe it or not, there is a hereditary component that determines whether a person is susceptibility to cholera or not. At least in the case of those of Bengali ethnicity in Dhaka, Bangladesh, there appears sufficient proof to say so. According to a paper published today (July 4) inScience Translational Medicine , this population has resistance to infection caused by Vibrio cholerae , the bacterium that causes cholera, and is hence less susceptible. According to the paper, cholera has an ancient origin, high prevalence, and high fatality rate in the Ganges River Delta region. So high is the prevalence that by age 15, more than half the population shows evidence of cholera infection. At 5-10 per cent, the mortality rate is high even today; it was once more than 50 per cent.

The three factors — ancient origin, high prevalence and high mortality — turned out to be the prime drivers in inducing a strong selection pressure. While many died, those who had genetic resistance to cholera survived the bacteria’s onslaught. These people in turn passed on the useful, protective genes to their children. Over the years, a large number of people in the population inherited the protective genes.

India’s First Hydrogen-Powered Fuel Cell Bus Developed

Tata Motors Limited (TML) and Indian Space Research Organisation, in collaboration, developed the first Hydrogen-powered automobile bus of India, after various years of research. The first hydrogen fuel-fitted bus of India was put on demonstration at the ISRO facility- Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre in Mahendragiri in Tamil Nadu on 28 July 2013.

Primary features of the Hydrogen-powered automobile bus

  • The Hydrogen-powered automobile bus is the CNG kind of a bus.

  • Atop the bus, the Hydrogen in bottles at high pressure is stored, which would lead to zero pollution.

  • These hydrogen bottles or cells were a by-product of the cryogenic technology and ISRO had been working on the development of this since past few years.

  • The technology used in Hydrogen-powered automobile bus is not exactly like the cryogenic technology. It is actually the liquid hydrogen handling, where ISRO has expertise.

  • The bus would lead to zero pollution because the product of cold combustion would be just water.

Since past 30 years, ISRO has had rich technology in production, storage as well as handling of the gaseous and liquid hydrogen. The team at ISRO generated technical specifications for various elements as well as general specifications of this bus. It is important to note that ISRO and TML had signed a Memorandum of Understanding in the year 2006 in order to design as well as develop the automobile bus which uses hydrogen as the fuel through the fuel cell route. The entire project is a team work of Tata Motors and ISRO specialists along with the contribution from PESO (Petroleum and Explosive Safety Organisation) and DSIR (Department of Scientific and Industrial Research).

ISRO to improve Transponder Allocation Norms

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has planned to revisit the SatCom Policy 2000 to improve the guidelines related to allocation and pricing of satellite transponders for public and non-government users. A revisit to the allocation norms has been increasingly felt in recent years as ISRO’s user groups have far outgrown, both in public and private sector. By improving the guidelines of SatCom Policy 2000, ISRO will be able to allocate to different users by percentages and charge, for capacity on its INSAT/GSAT satellites in a much more rational way than present procedure. From the 2007 onwards, the space agency was surprised by the increased demand of commercial DTH, high-definition (HD) TV broadcasters and VSAT operators. ISRO is the sole provider of transponders for broadcasters and other public and private users of space applications in the country.

About INSAT Coordination Committee (ICC)

  • The ICC allocates satellite transponders to user groups depending on their availability and urgency of use.

  • INSAT Co-ordination Committee (ICC) chaired by Department of Space Secretary was constituted by Government of India on 2 November 1977 for the co-ordination and monitoring of the implementation of the INSAT-1 system and for planning future developments.

  • The committee includes Secretaries of the departments of I&B, Telecom, IT, Science & Technology, Economic Affairs, Defence, Planning Commission and a representative of the Telecom Regulatory Authority.

What is Transponder?

Transponders are wireless communications device usually attached to a satellite. A transponder receives and transmits radio signals at a prescribed frequency range. After receiving the signal a transponder will at the same time broadcast the signal at a different frequency.

The term is a combination of the words transmitter and responder. Transponders are used in satellite communications and in location, identification and navigation systems.

Scientists created World’s Fastest Electrical Switch

US department of energy’s (DOE) SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory invented the fastest electrical switching in magnetite- a naturally magnetic mineral. This scientific finding will enable faster, more powerful computing devices. Scientists used SLAC’s Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS) X-ray laser to find that it takes only 1 trillionth of a second to flip the on-off electrical switch in samples of magnetite, which is thousands of times faster than the electrical switch used in transistors. This scientific finding will throw new light on the electronic properties of magnetite. We already know the basic magnetic properties of magnetite. In fact, for the first time the speed limit for electrical switching in magnetite was revealed by this scientific breakthrough.

Scientists hit magnetite with a visiblelight laser, which resulted into the fragmentation of the material’s electronic structure at an atomic scale, rearranging it to form the islands. The laser blast was followed by an ultra bright, ultra short X-ray pulse. It allowed researchers to study the timing and details of changes in the sample excited by the initial laser strike. After adjusting the interval of the X-ray pulses, the scientists measured the time duration of the material to shift from a non-conducting to an electrically conducting state and observed the structural changes during this switch. The magnetite was needed to be cooled to minus 190 degrees Celsius to lock its electrical charges in place.