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Science & Technology Current Affairs January 4th Week 2019

 1. US Spy satellite launched into orbit from California 

A US spy satellite has been launched into orbit from California.
A powerful Delta 4 Heavy rocket carrying the National Reconnaissance Office satellite blasted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base.
The Delta 4 Heavy stands 71 metres tall. Other details of the mission, dubbed NROL-71, were not released.
The National Reconnaissance Office is responsible for launch of US intelligence satellites. 

Science & Technology Current Affairs January 3rd Week 2019

 1. Iran launches satellite which failed to reach orbit in final stage

Iran launched a satellite this morning, however, it failed to reach the orbit in the final stage. Quoting country`s Telecommunications Minister Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi, State television said, the Payam satellite was successfully launched with the Basir satellite carrier. 
Mr Jahromi said, the satellite and its carrier had gone through successful testing of its first and second stages.
But in the actual launch, the satellite failed to reach the required speed on detachment from the rocket in the third stage. 
He said, Iran still plans to launch another low Earth orbit satellite, Doosti which mean Friendship in Persian. 
President Hassan Rouhani had said that both Payam and Doosti were intended to gather information on environmental change in Iran.
Earlier this month, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said launch of satellites by Iran into orbit would violate the UN Security Council resolution that endorsed a landmark 2015 nuclear deal between major powers and Tehran. However, Iran denied the planned launch was a violation of Resolution 2231. 
2. Earth’s magnetic North Pole is moving
The WMM is also part of map applications in smartphones, including the Google Maps App.
Researchers from the U.S.’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) maintain the WMM.
Researchers say Earth’s magnetic North Pole is ‘skittering’ away from Canada, towards Siberia.
The problem has got so bad, researchers around the world are scrambling to update a global model of the fields. Called the World Magnetic Model, it underlies all modern navigation, from the systems that steer ships at sea to Google Maps on smartphones.
The problem lies partly with the moving pole and partly with other shifts deep within the planet.
Liquid churning in Earth’s core generates most of the magnetic field, which varies over time as the deep flows change.
In 2016, for instance, part of the magnetic field temporarily accelerated deep under northern South America and the eastern Pacific Ocean. Satellites such as the European Space Agency’s Swarm mission tracked the shift.
The charts, known as the World Magnetic Model (WMM), are used to convert between compass measurements of magnetic north and true north and can be found in the navigation systems of ships and airplanes as well as geological applications (such as drilling and mining).
The WMM is also part of map applications in smartphones, including the Google Maps App.
Researchers from the U.S.’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) maintain the WMM.

Science & Technology Current Affairs January 2nd Week 2019

 1. China announces Chang`e-4 mission

China announced that the Chang`e-4 mission, the first-ever probe to land on the moon`s dark side, was a complete success. 
China National Space Administration (CNSA) said, the scientific instruments aboard the probe worked well, and the images taken by it have been sent back to ground control. Images from the moon`s far side show it is surrounded by lots of craters of different sizes.
The CNSA also released a video of the landing process of the Chang`e-4, which was produced by processing more than 4,700 pictures taken by a camera on the probe. 
The video, lasting about 12 minutes, shows the probe adjusted its altitude, hovered and avoided obstacles during the descent process.
This is the first time an attempt was made to explore the far side of the moon. Since the moon`s revolution cycle is the same as its rotation cycle, the same side always faces Earth. 
The other face, most of which cannot be seen from Earth, is called the far side or "dark side" of the moon, not because it is dark, but because most of it is uncharted.
2. Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (Tess)
Nasa which launched Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (Tess) for searching exoplanets in April, 2018 has discovered a third small planet outside our solar system.
The new planet is named HD 21749b. The newly discovered planet orbits a bright and nearby star which is about 53 light years away in the constellation Reticulum. HD 21749b appears to have the longest orbital period of the three planets so far identified by Tess. The surface of the new planet is hotter than 100 degrees Celsius.
The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) is a NASA mission that will look for planets orbiting the brightest stars in Earth’s sky. It was led by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with seed funding from Google.
3. Lead and MSG in noodles
The Supreme Court of India has lifted a stay on criminal proceedings against Nestle over the alleged presence of lead and MSG or monosodium glutamate in popular noodles.
National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) will now go-ahead with a class action suit brought against Maggi noodle makers Nestle.
The apex court had allowed the case against Nestle to reopen after the Swiss food giant had admitted the presence of toxic ingredients in its noodles during a court hearing.
Nestle’s lawyers have admitted that toxic elements like lead and MSG are found in its sample tests conducted by CFTRI (Central Food Technological Research Institute), Mysuru. However, the company has argued that the lead was within the permissible limit.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), lead is a cumulative toxicant that affects multiple body systems, including your liver and kidneys in particular.
It is especially harmful to infant and pregnant women as it can cause damage to the central nervous system in children.
Since lead is a heavy metal it can get stored in the teeth and bones, where it accumulates over time. In pregnant women, prolonged exposure to lead can result in miscarriage, prematurity, low birth weight, etc.
MSG, short for Monosodium glutamate, is an amino acid found in your body and most foods. It is a flavour enhancer commonly added to Chinese food, canned vegetables, soups, and processed meats.
When consumed in excess, it can cause several health issues, including a headache, nausea, sweating, weakness, chest pain, tingling or burning in the face as well as neck and other areas. It is claimed that MSG can cause asthma and even brain damage.
MSG may cause adverse symptoms in some people, including a condition called Chinese restaurant syndrome or MSG symptom complex. However, there is no definitive evidence that MSG is solely responsible for causing these symptoms.
Section 21 of Consumer Protection Act, 1986 posits that the National Consumer shall have jurisdiction to entertain a complaint valued more than one crore and also have Appellate and Revisional jurisdiction from the orders of State Commissions or the District fora as the case may be.
Section 23 of Consumer Protection Act, 1986, provides that any person aggrieved by an order of NCDRC, may prefer an Appeal against such order to Supreme Court of India within a period of 30 days.

Science & Technology Current Affairs January 1st Week 2019

 1. A paper sensor that can detect freshness of milk

Scientists at Indian Institute of Technology, Guwahati, have developed a simple paper kit that can test freshness of milk and tell how well it has been pasteurized. 
Aided with a smart phone app, the kit can help ensure that milk is consumed before it turns too sour.
A milk enzyme, Alkaline Phosphatase or ALP, is considered an indicator of milk quality because its presence even after pasteurization indicates presence of microbes that may not have been rendered inactive with pasteurization.
Researchers used ordinary filter paper to prepare the detector. The filter paper was cut into small discs and impregnated with chemical probes that preferentially react with ALP. The ‘probes’ used are antibodies that specifically bind to ALP. When ALP comes into contact with the probe, it turns white paper disc into a coloured one.
The colour change on paper discs is then photographed by a smartphone camera and images processed to obtain corresponding colour values. These values are then compared with standard data stored in the phone. Thus not only the presence of ALP could be detected but the amount of it in milk could also be measured.
2. First in history! China`s spacecraft nears landing on the far side of moon
China is trying to reach a milestone in space exploration: landing a vehicle on the far side of the moon for the first time in history.
The mission is one in a series that underscore the country’s ambitions to join — and even lead — the space race. The spacecraft is called Chang’e-4 after the moon goddess in Chinese mythology.
China landed another rover on the moon in 2013, joining the United States and the Soviet Union as the only nations to have carried out a “soft landing” there, but the Chang’e-4 would be the first to touch down on the side of the moon that perpetually faces away from the Earth.
The successful touch down was hailed as a major technical feat and is seen as a important step towards China’s wider ambitions in space.
The robotic probe Chang’e 4 landed in the unexplored South Pole-Aitken basin, the biggest known impact structure in the solar system, at about 2.30am GMT. 
Prior to confirmation of the landing and the release of the first close-up shots of the far lunar surface by the Chinese state broadcaster CCTV, many details of the mission, including the planned timing of the landing, had been kept secret.
During the final phases of the approach, however, Chang’e 4 was on its own and could not be operated remotely. Starting from an altitude of 15km, the craft used a rocket booster to decelerate.
3. ISRO launches Samwad with students to engage them on space science activities
Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has launched Samwad with Students as part of its outreach programme. 
The Indian Space agency will engage youngsters across the country in activities concerning space science under this programme. 
During the inauguration in Bengaluru yesterday, 40 students and 10 teachers from select schools interacted with ISRO Chairman Dr. K Sivan about the Indian Space Programme and their benefits to the common man.
The Chairman asked students to study science and mathematics with absolute seriousness which would enable them to take up challenging careers. During the three-hour stay at ISRO Head office, the students and teachers also interacted with scientists and engineers.
4. BeiDou Satellite System
China’s BeiDou Navigation Satellite System (BDS), touted as a rival to the widely-used American GPS, has started providing global services.
The positioning accuracy of the system has reached 10 metres globally and five metres in the Asia-Pacific region. Its velocity accuracy is 0.2 metres per second, while its timing accuracy stands at 20 nanoseconds.
Pakistan has become the first country to use the BeiDou system ending its reliance on the Global Positioning System (GPS).
It will be the fourth global satellite navigation system after the US GPS, Russia’s GLONASS and the European Union’s Galileo. Named after the Chinese term for Big Dipper, the BeiDou system started providing independent services over China in 2000. It is being projected by Beijing as a rival to the American Global Positioning System (GPS).
The full constellation is scheduled to comprise 35 satellites.
BeiDou has two separate constellations, BeiDou-1 and BeiDou-2. BeiDou-1 also known as first generation was a constellation of three satellites.
BeiDou-2, also known as COMPASS, is the second generation of the system. It became operational in the year 2011.
The four global GNSS systems are – GPS (US), GLONASS (Russia), Galileo (EU), BeiDou (China). Additionally, there are two regional systems – QZSS (Japan) and IRNSS or NavIC (India).