Science & Technology Current
September 2011 Science and Technology
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September 2011

 A team of Scientists from Rutgers University in Brazil discovered a tiny plant that they say bows down and sows its own seeds. The plant has pink and white flowers. Scientists found the plant in rural northeastern Bahia, Brazil, one of the world’s most biologically diverse areas. The discovery was reported in Live Science. The team of scientists named the new species Spigelia genuflexa, because of the plant’s dexterity.

Surface to surface strategic PRITHVI (P-II) Missile developed by DRDO was successfully flight tested at on 26 September 2011, from Launch Complex-III, ITR, Chandipur, Balasore District in Orissa.PRITHVI-II, the first indigenous surface to surface strategic Missile and has a range of 350km and can carry a warhead weighing up to 500kg.
Nuclear-capable surface-to-surface medium range missile, Shaurya, was successfully test-fired from Chandipur-on-sea off the Orissa coast on 24 September 2011. The missile has a maximum range of 750 km. Shaurya is 10 metre in length and about half -a-metre in width. It is is a two stage, solid fueled weapon and can carry conventional as well as nuclear warheads. Shaurya can carry both nuclear and conventional warheads. It is the land version of the underwater-launched missile K-15 and was first fired in 2008 from the same test range. This missile can remain hidden and camouflaged in underground silos from enemy surveillance or satellites.
China on 29 September 2011 successfully launched its first unmanned space laboratory Tiangong-1 from a site in the Gobi Desert. Tiangong-1 means heavenly palace. This launch makes China the third country after Russia and USA to operate a permanent space station. The space lab launched by China is expected to be operational by 2020.The Tiangong-1 will orbit on its own for a month after which it will be joined by another spaceship, Shenzhou-8. Both will then carry out the first space docking. The Tiangong-1 will help China establish a manned space test platform capable of long-term unmanned operation in space with temporary human attendance.

 For the first time in India, the genome and coding parts of multi-utility neem plant, Azadirachta indica, was sequenced and analyzed. The process was disclosed in Bangalore on 29 September 2011. The project funded jointly by Government of India and Government of Karnataka, has helped bare most useful biological information of Indian neem varieties that has received prominence in our traditional medicines. Scientists informed that understanding the molecular architecture of neem genome and its various coding parts would enhance the knowledge of this wonder species further. 

NASA`s twin lunar Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) spacecraft lifted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida to study the moon in unprecedented detail. GRAIL-A is scheduled to reach the moon on 31 December 2011, while GRAIL-B will arrive on 1 January 2012. The two solar-powered spacecraft will fly in tandem orbits around the moon to measure its gravity field. GRAIL will answer longstanding questions about the moon and give scientists a better understanding of how Earth and other rocky planets in the solar system formed. 
Brazilian scientists believe they have located an underground river, an estimated 4000 meters below the Amazon River. Named after the head of the research team that located the river, the Hamza River stretches an estimated 6000 kilometers, emptying deep in the Atlantic Ocean. Like its famous above ground counterpart, the underground river is believed to flow from west to east, but at a much slower pace than the Amazon. Scientists recently said they believe the Hamza River may explain the low salinity of the Amazon. Brazil`s National Observatory hopes to confirm the existence of the river in the next several years.

 Lukoskin, a herbal product for Leucoderma developed by DRDO, was launched by Dr. W. Selvamurthy, Distinguished Scientist & Chief Controller Research & Development (Life Science & International Cooperation) in New Delhi on 7 September 2011. The product backed by extensive R&D work by the scientists of Defence Institute of Bio-energy Research (DIBER) will be a boon for the patients of Leucoderma. The product, Lukoskin, was developed under the leadership of Dr Narender Kumar, Ex Director DARL and his team. The herbal product will be available in the form of ointment and oral liquid.

Top government, business and civil society leaders from several countries, including India, has formed a unique alliance to deal with climate change. They have launched an ambitious programme to restore 150 million hectares of lost forests and degraded land by 2020. The alliance was formed at the two-day conference on climate change organised jointly by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and the German Ministry for Environment in the city of Bonn. The meet titled `Bonn Challenge on Forests, Climate Change and Bio-diversity` was aimed at securing a broad support from government, business and civil society leaders for forest conservation efforts and thereby making a contribution to reducing global warming. 
The US space agency NASA said ,the twin satellites blasted off aboard a Delta II rocket on September 10 from Cape Canaveral, Florida on a mission to unveil the inner secrets of the moon, “Trying to understand how the moon formed, and how it evolved over its history, is one of the things we’re trying to address with the Grail mission,” said researcher Maria Zuber of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.