Science & Technology Current
November 2011 Science and Technology
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November 2011

 NASA on 26 November 2011, launched Rover, nicknamed Curiosity to explore the planet Mars. The rover was launched from Florida on an Atlas 5 rocket. The Rover will take eight and a half months to reach the Red Planet (Mars). The Rover will then scour Martian soils and rocks for any signs that could have supported microbial life on the planet. 

India`s most advanced long-range missile, Agni-IV was test fired successfully on 15 November 2011 from a road-mobile launcher from the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at Wheelers Island, off the coast of Orissa. The missile covered a range of more than 3,000 km in 20 minutes of fluent flight. The indigenous ring Laser Gyros based high accuracy INS (RINS) and Micro Navigation System (MINGS) was used in the launch for the first time. So far, this was India’s longest-range mission flown by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). Agni-IV opened a new era for India in the class of long-range missiles to carry strategic nuclear warheads for the armed forces. It is capable of providing deterrence; strategically Agni-IV is capable of covering the whole area of India’s border with China. Agni-IV is a two-stage missile. Agni-IV is capable of carrying nuclear warheads. Agni-IV was earlier called Agni-II Prime. The first flight of Agni-II Prime in December 2010 was a failure.
A team of six scientists at the Indian Institute of Petroleum (IIP) developed a new technology to convert plastic into petroleum products. After a decade long experiments, the scientists led by director Madhukar Omkarnath Garg managed to develop a combination of catalysts, which convert the plastic into either gasoline or diesel or aromatics along with LPG as a common byproduct.

 Russia successfully launched a manned spacecraft on 14 November in 2011. A Soyuz TMA-22 spaceship with two Russians cosmonauts and a US astronaut blasted off from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. This launch was the first manned flight to the ISS after the NASA shut down its space shuttle programme, leaving Russia responsible for the maintenance and supply of the space station. 16 nations are investing in the space station that relies solely on Russia to ferry crews. Crews rotate every six months.

Scientists discovered two sunken islands west of Australia, in the Indian Ocean, which once formed part of the last link between India and Australia. The two islands were about the size of Tasmania. They were once part of the supercontinent Gondwana and more than 1.5 kilometres underwater. The islands, called micro continents, were formed when India moved away from Australia, 130 million years ago during the Cretaceous period (when dinosaurs roamed the Earth). 
Indian scientists succeeded in decoding the genome of the arhar dal, which is also known as pigeon pea. This will help not only in developing new varieties but also in increasing the productivity. Indian Council of Agriculture Research and Banaras Hindu University (BHU) carried out the research. Professor Nagendra Kumar Singh spearheaded the project. In fact, 85 per cent of the world`s arhar dal is produced and consumed in India. Therefore, this discovery will help decrease the inflated cost of pulses in India.
China launched its unmanned spacecraft, Shenzhou-8 on 1 November 2011. Long March-2F rocket propelled the unmanned spacecraft into orbit in the next step towards China`s ambitious plans for a manned space station by 2020. Shenzhou-8 carried an experimental facility developed by German and Chinese scientists. Shenzhou 8 was launched from North Gobi desert in China that entered into the orbit successfully. The mission was considered China`s most important since its first manned space flight in 2003. In September 2008, the Shenzhou 7, piloted by three astronauts, carried out China`s first spacewalk.

 Australian senate on 8 November 2011 passed legislation that would impose a carbon tax on the nation’s 500 largest polluters. The government reasoned that it was necessary to control climate change. Australia`s largest polluters will now pay 23 Australian dollars for every metric ton of carbon gases they produce. Australia is one of the world`s worst greenhouse gas emitters per capita because of its heavy dependence on abundant reserves of coal to generate electricity.