1. Aurorae in High Latitude Countries
The Sun lights up aurorae in high-latitude countries. A solar flare that occurred on the Sun triggered a magnetic storm causing spectacular displays of aurora in the high-latitude and polar regions. These observations are taken at Lagrange Point L1.
- A solar flare is a sudden flash of increased brightness on the Sun, usually observed near its surface and near a sunspot group. Powerful flares are often, but not always, accompanied by a coronal mass ejection.
- In a solar flare, energy stored in the sun's magnetic structures is converted into light and heat energy. This causes the emission of high energy x-ray radiation and highly accelerated charged particles to leave the sun's surface.
- Solar flares affect all layers of the solar atmosphere (photosphere, chromosphere, and corona).
- Flares occur in active regions around sunspots, where intense magnetic fields penetrate the photosphere to link the corona to the solar interior.
- Flares are powered by the sudden release of magnetic energy stored in the corona.
Solar Flares and Coronal Mass Ejections (CMES)
- CMEs and Solar flares are both explosions that occur on the sun. Sometimes they occur together, but they are not the same thing - they emit different things, they look and travel differently, and they have different effects near planets.
- Both eruptions are created when the motion of the sun’s interior contorts its own magnetic fields. Both originate from corona.
- Solar flares are giant burst of X-rays and energy which travel at the speed of light in all directions.
- CME are giant cloud of particles (mostly protons and electrons and powerful magnetic fields) hurled into eight minutes. the space, in particular direction. CMEs take one to three days to reach the earth. Flares only takes
- Flares and CMEs have different effects on Earth as well. The energy from a flare can disrupt the area of the atmosphere through which radio waves travel. This can lead to degradation and, at worst, temporary blackouts in navigation and communications signals. On the other hand, CMEs can funnel particles into near-Earth space. A CME can jostle Earth’s magnetic fields creating currents that drive particles down toward Earth's poles.
- When these react with oxygen and nitrogen, they help create the aurora, also known as the Northern and Southern Lights. Solar winds constantly occur due to the corona of the sun continually expanding. The solar wind is a stream of charged particles consisting of electrons, protons and alpha particles with kinetic energy between 0.5 and 10 keV. The composition of the solar wind plasma also includes a mixture of materials found in the solar plasma: trace amounts of heavy ions and atomic nuclei C, N, O, Ne, Mg, Si, S, and Fe.
Solar Energetic Particles (SEP)
- They are high-energy particles coming from the Sun.
- They were first observed in the early 1940s. many GeV.
- They consist of protons, electrons and high-energy nuclei with
- They are of particular interest and importance because they can endanger life in outer space (especially particles above 40 MeV). But their onset is extraordinarily hard to predict, in part because we still don’t know exactly where on the Sun they come from.
- For reasons still not fully understood, SEPs contain a different mix of particles than the other solar material streaming off the Sun in the solar wind – fewer carbon, sulphur, and phosphorus ions, for instance.
- Many scientists thought Solar Energetic Particles would be found at the edges of the active region where the magnetic field is already open and material can escape directly. But the fingerprint matched only in regions where the magnetic field is still closed.
- The SEPs had somehow broken free from strong magnetic loops connected to the Sun at both ends. and coronal mass ejections erupt. These loops trap material near the top of the chromosphere, one layer below where solar flares.
- An Aurora is a display of light in the sky predominantly seen in the high latitude regions (Arctic and Antarctic). It is also known as a Polar light.
- They commonly occur at high northern and southern latitudes, less frequent at mid-latitudes, and seldom seen near the equator.
- While usually a milky greenish colour, auroras can also show red, blue, violet, pink, and white. These colours appear in a variety of continuously changing shapes.
- Auroras are caused by the interaction of energetic particles (electrons and protons) of the solar wind with atoms of the upper atmosphere occurring primarily in high latitudes of both hemispheres.
- Auroras are not just something that happens on Earth. If a planet has an atmosphere and magnetic field, they probably have auroras.
Lagrange Point 1
- Lagrange Points, named after Italian French mathematician Josephy-Louis Lagrange, are positions in space where the gravitational forces of a two-body system (like the Sun and the Earth) produce enhanced regions of attraction and repulsion.
- L1 refers to Lagrange Point 1, one of 5 points in the orbital plane of the Earth-Sun system.
- The L1 point is about 1.5 million km from Earth, or about 1/100th of the way to the Sun.
- These can be used by spacecraft to reduce fuel consumption needed to remain in position. without any occultation/ eclipses.
- A Satellite placed in the halo orbit around L1 has the major advantage of continuously viewing the Sun.
- The L1 point is home to the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory Satellite (SOHO), an international collaboration project of NASA and the European Space Agency.
2. Double Asteroid Redirection Test (Dart) Mission
NASA will launch its first planetary defence test mission named the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) using SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.
About Dart Mission
- The Mission aims to test technology to respond to a situation in case an asteroid heads towards Earth in future. It will develop new technology that would allow a spacecraft to crash into an asteroid and change its course.
- DART will be the first demonstration of the kinetic impactor technique to change the motion of an asteroid in space.
- The target of the spacecraft is a small moonlet called Dimorphos which orbits a larger asteroid named Didymos.
- It is a suicide mission, and the spacecraft will be destroyed. The collision is expected to take place between 26th September and 1st October 2022.
- Images from DRACO will be sent to Earth in real-time and will help study the impact site and surface of Dimorphos (the target asteroid).
- DART will also carry a small satellite or CubeSat named LICIA Cube (Light Italian CubeSat for Imaging of Asteroids).
- LICIA Cube is expected to capture images of the impact and the impact crater formed because of the collision. Didymos is a perfect system for the test mission because it passes in front of the main asteroid. It is an eclipsing binary which means it has a moonlet that regularly orbits the asteroid and which can be seen orbiting Didymos.
3. Antimicrobial Resistance
During World Antimicrobial Awareness Week, the Ministry of Animal Husbandry and Dairying held a session on the National Action Plan to Combat Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR). The theme of WAAW this year was "Spread awareness, and resistance." During WAAW, the AMR tripartite organisations (World Health Organization, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, and World Organization for Animal Health) launched an international colour campaign, dubbed "Go Blue," to raise awareness of AMR.
About Antimicrobial Resistance
- Any microorganism (bacteria, viruses, fungi, parasites etc.) may develop resistance to antimicrobial medications (such as antibiotics, antifungals, antivirals, antimalarials, and anthelmintic) used to treat infections.
- Consequently, traditional therapies are rendered ineffective, illnesses persist, and the risk of spreading infection to others increases.
- Antimicrobial-resistant microorganisms are frequently referred to as "superbugs."
- AMR has been named one of the top ten global health hazards by the WHO.
Reasons For Spread of AMR
- Contamination in the vicinity of pharmaceutical production plants, when untreated waste releases enormous volumes of active antimicrobials into the environment.
- Overuse and abuse of pharmaceuticals in people, animals, and agriculture, as well as limited access to clean water, sanitation, and hygiene.
Concerns About AMR
- Healthcare costs will rise: AMR is currently responsible for up to 7,00,000 deaths each year. It also raises the expense of healthcare by requiring longer hospital stays, more testing, and the use of more costly medications.
- Incurable infections: AMR is undermining a century of medical progress; infections that were once treated and curable with our treatments have become (or are on the verge of becoming) incurable (as medicines are not working against infections).
- Infections and surgeries are growing more dangerous: Even ordinary infections are becoming more dangerous. Surgeries are growing more dangerous, and the root of the problem is human behaviour that misused or overused antimicrobials.
- Insufficient financial incentives for new antibiotics: In the previous three decades, no new classes of antibiotics have made it to market, owing to a lack of incentives for their research and manufacturing.
- Antibiotic apocalypse: Without immediate action, we are on the verge of an antibiotic apocalypse — a world without antibiotics, in which germs become entirely resistant to treatment, and in which routine diseases and small injuries may kill once again.
AMR in india
- With a huge population, growing wages that promote the purchase of antibiotics, a high burden of infectious illnesses, and simple over-the-counter access to antibiotics, India is a key breeding ground for resistance genes (such genes help bacteria in surviving on being exposed to antibiotics).
- New Delhi Metallo-beta-lactamase-1 (NDM-1) is a multi-drug resistance determinant that originated in India and has since spread around the world.
- Multidrug-resistant typhoid, which originated in South Asia, has also spread to Africa, Europe, and other regions of Asia.
- In India, microbes resistant to first-line antibiotics cause about 56,000 neonatal fatalities each year owing to sepsis.
Measures Taken For AMR
- The Surveillance Network has been reinforced by the establishment of laboratories in State Medical College as part of the National Programme on AMR Containment.
- The National Action Plan on Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) focuses on a One Health strategy with the goal of incorporating many stakeholder ministries/ departments.
- The AMR Surveillance and Research Network (AMRSN) was established in 2013 with the goal of gathering data and identifying trends and patterns in drug resistant illnesses throughout the nation.
- Antibiotic Stewardship Program: The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has launched an antibiotic stewardship programme (AMSP) as a pilot initiative throughout India to prevent antibiotic abuse and overuse in hospital wards and intensive care units.
- Integrated One Health Surveillance Network for AMR: Assessing Indian Veterinary Laboratories' readiness to participate in an integrated AMR surveillance network.
- India has launched several initiatives, such as Mission Indradhanush, to address poor vaccine coverage, increased micro-planning, and added monitoring and accountability measures.
- AMR is one of the top ten goals for the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare's (MoHFW) joint effort with the World Health Organization (WHO).
- Detecting and preventing the sale of counterfeit medications, especially in Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities.
- Measurement of bioavailability at pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics, enforcement of antibiotic regulations through prescription databases, and pharmacy auditing are all things that are done on a regular basis.
- The study of the time course of medication absorption, distribution, metabolism, and excretion is known as pharmacokinetics.
- GST (Goods and Services Tax) tracking/matching of e-prescriptions is used to keep track of medicine sales.
- Use of modern technology such as imaging and bioinformatics, as well as geographic information systems, to move away from a syndromic approach to diagnostic therapy.
- Observance of the WASH strategy, antibiotic-free animal feed and antibiotics supplied to animals that are not the same as those ingested by people (e.g., marked by different colour schemes).
4. 5g Leap for Tomorrow
The fifth-generation mobile network, or 5G, is the next level of mobile network that will shape the Fourth Industrial Revolution or Industrial Revolution 4.0, quality of service delivery, innovation, etc. by facilitating smarter and developing societies. Commercial 5G networks began to be deployed in 2020 and are expected to reach 12% of world mobile connections (1.1 billion) and generate revenues up to U.S.$1.3 trillion by 2025 for operators. The technology that 5G uses will improve data transfer speed at unexpected higher levels — almost 100 times more — and reduce latency times helping mission-critical services. Thus, 5G is essential but India needs to look if it is ready for the deployment of the technology.
- 5G has the transformative potential to provide a range of benefits to the Indian economy, which when enhanced with artificial intelligence provides a new dimension to connected and autonomous systems.
- Socio-economic Benefits: This may allow citizens and communities to get socio-economic benefits and comforts delivered by a well-advanced, more data intensive, digital economy, educate and empower citizens and businesses & transform existing cities into smart and innovative cities.
Benefits of 5G
- Encompass enhanced outdoor and indoor broadband
- Internet of things
- Smart cities
- Smart agriculture
- Energy monitoring
- Remote monitoring
- Smart grids
- Industrial automation
- Remote patient monitoring
- Industrial automation
- There is great potential for India to move to an advanced digital revolution.
Issues Associated With 5g
- India as a Late Adopter: India is late in adopting 5G technology, hence, will get insignificant revenue from the service.
- Lesser Government Subsidies: A low likelihood of government subsidies is expected, given high reserve prices set by the government for spectrum auctions amid ongoing fiscal deficits. This will increase the cost of access to 5G by end consumers.
- Digital Divide: 5G will not bridge the digital divide among the rural and urban areas in the short term, rather increase it as the business case of 5G even in urban areas is limited. Therefore, it will not be easily available in rural areas too.
- 5G, A Niche Service: 5G will be a niche service unlike 3G and 4G which were pervasive services. It will get intensified over a comparatively longer period. The rollout of 5G technology will be different from the one seen in 4g; it will be introduced in specific sectors and areas.
- Inadequate Accessibility of Previous Technology: The consumers are still grappling with basic network issues like call drops and interrupted data services. There are still areas where 4G networks have not stabilised causing frequent disruptions in internet services. It is important to meet the quality-of-service parameters of existing 4G networks before embarking on a new 5G platform.
- Enabling Critical Infrastructures: 5G will require a fundamental change to the core architecture of the communication system. The major flaw of data transfer using 5G is that it can't carry data over longer distances. Hence, even 5G technology needs to be augmented to enable infrastructure.
- Financial Liability on Consumers: For transition from 4G to 5G technology, one must upgrade to the latest cellular technology, thereby creating financial liability on consumers.
- Analysis of Existing Infrastructure and Capacity: Priority for India will be in identifying end users and population to be covered, analysis of the existing network and operators, identification of cities for 5G roll out, working out an investment model, and minimisation of the digital risk and pricing based on the externalities and usage of various sectors.
- Cost Benefit Analysis: The deployment of 5G in India needs to be carefully planned after a cost benefit analysis by independent experts which will create a level-playing field through market mechanisms such as facilitating, simulating, auctioning, ensuring competition, functioning markets, etc.
- Sector-friendly Steps: As the deployment of 5G network is expensive, both the Central and State governments may need to consider measures which stimulate fibre investment, attract investment through public private partnerships (PPPs) and facilitate investment funds on a nominal interest basis. Allowing 100% foreign direct investment in the telecom sector under the automatic route along with other policy reforms augurs well for the sector to attract investment. Implementation of 5G requires huge investment and the relief package is a welcome step.
- Tax issues: The Government needs to address information asymmetry and negative externalities through laws and regulations/taxes and subsidies.
- The deployment of 5G technology will also need the right of access to government infrastructure such as traffic lights, lamp posts, etc. where wireless operators can deploy electronic small cell apparatus.
- At the same time, reasonable fees may be charged by State and local governments to operators for affordable deployment of 5G equipment.
- Further, removing the tax burden for deploying fibre networks reduces associated costs, thereby promoting investment as was done by the Singapore government, could help in the smooth deployment of fibre in India.
- Bridging the Rural-urban Gap: 5G can be deployed at different band spectrums and at the low band spectrum, the range is much longer which is helpful for the rural areas.
- Government’s Assistance: The government has complete control over the inputs. One of the key inputs of 5G is the band spectrum.
- By managing the design of the spectrum, the government can control the price to be paid by the people.
- The government shall support the telecom companies to roll out networks which are sustainable and affordable for the public.
- Tackling the Spectrum Pricing Issue: The government in recent times, has had two failed auctions. The current high reserve price needs to be reduced to conduct a successful auction. The pricing will have to be worked out keeping in mind the financial stress in the sector and affordability of services.
- Enabling the Manufacturing Sector in India: As 5G starts taking shape in India, it is important to strengthen its domestic telecommunication manufacturing market so that it is not only the users of 5G in India, but also the manufacturers and providers of these technologies who will be able to make a mark in the global arena
- Viable Technology from Consumers’ Perspective: For widespread 5G deployment, it needs to become financially viable otherwise rural integration will remain a pipe dream. 5G technology must be viable to the telecom operators too.
As India has already witnessed digital revolution even in its remotest areas due to cost-effective 4G technology, the use of 5G can play a vital role in enhancing this sector and facilitating India’s goal to emerge as a manufacturing and innovation hub. The negative implication of 5G is furthering the ‘digital divide’. Therefore, Government policies should also focus on affordable coverage too.
5. Electric Vehicles
India has 9 of the 10 most polluted cities in the world. Vehicular pollution is one of the primary factors behind the worsening air quality of Indian cities. In this context, India is encouraging electric vehicles. In this context, India must prepare itself with better charging infrastructure, battery making factories and smart incentives for car companies and consumers to go electric.
Electric Vehicles (EVS)
- An EV operates on an electric motor instead of an internal combustion engine and has a battery instead of a fuel tank.
- EVs have low running costs as they have fewer moving parts and are also environmentally friendly.
- Fuel cost for an EV is approximately 80 paisa per kilometre which is very low compared to petrol, diesel or gas-based transportation.
- According to International Energy Agency (IEA), Electric Vehicle has
- Global growth rate ~ 75%.
- Global sale ~ 5.2 million (2018)
- Market share
- China ~ 2.4 million (IEA)
- India ~ 75, 000 (Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers) [60,000 vehicles are sold every day in India]
Benefits of Electric Vehicle
- Import bill reduction ~ $60 billion in diesel and petrol. (Niti Aayog)
- Environment sustainability of Vehicular emission is a major source of urban pollution.
- on Lower GHG emissions
- Energy intensity reduction on
- EV ~ 60% conversion of the grid energy
- ICE vehicles ~ 20% conversion of petrol energy
- Indigenization of technology
- Manufacturing hub
- Support to the power sector
Reasons For Underdeveloped EVS Market
- Absence of robust government policy – for a long time.
- High rate of GST on EVs (now reduced to 5% from 12%)
- Low participation of OEM
- Lack of enabling infrastructure like public charging stations (only 250 in India)
- High charging time o Fast charger ~30-45 mins o Slow charge ~ 8hrs
- Short range for a single battery charge
- India does not have any known reserves of lithium and cobalt, which makes it dependent on imports of lithium-ion batteries from Japan and China.
- Lack of stable fiscal policy support to the EV ecosystem.
- Underdeveloped ecosystem in India electronics
- As a member of Clean Energy Ministerial, India aims to achieve a 30 % EVs by 2030.
- The Union Budget 2019-20 has a vision of an era of electric mobility.
- National Electric Mobility Mission Plan – Target of 7 million sales EV by 2020.
- National Mission on Transformative mobility and Battery Storage – Production localization of batteries.
- FAME phase-II – Rs 10,000 crore outlay.
- Incentives o Income tax rebate on interest on EV loans.
- GST rate cut - 5% to 12%
- ‘Service status’ – to charging of batteries, to operate without licence.
- Solar powered public charging stations are being rolled out by Discoms like BHEL.
- Smart cities would also boost electric vehicles.
- Establishing strong linkage between sustainable development and Electric mobility.
- Framework to phase out ICE vehicles by 2030.
- R&D in battery technology.
- Acquiring lithium fields in Bolivia, Australia, and Chile
- Incentives: waiver of road tax and registration fees etc for EVs.
- Promotion of charging infrastructures (solar)
- Awareness of adverse impact of air pollution.
Cairn Oil & Gas has formed a joint venture with Halliburton, located in the United States, to begin shale exploration in the Lower Barmer Hill formation in Western Rajasthan. In collaboration with Halliburton, the corporation wants to boost the recoverable reserves of its offshore holdings by ten times manufacturing.
About Shale Oil
- Shale oil is an unconventional oil generated by pyrolysis, hydrogenation, or thermal dissolution from oil shale rock fragments.
- The organic substance inside the rock (kerogen) is converted into synthetic oil and gas via these procedures.
- The refined products may be utilised in the same ways as crude oil-derived goods can.
Shale Distribution in World
Shale Distribution in India
- According to the US EIA 2015 study, India possesses 96 trillion cubic feet of theoretically recoverable shale gas.
- The Cambay, Krishna – Godavari, Cauvery, Damodar Valley, Upper Assam, Pranhita – Godavari, Rajasthan, and Vindhya Basin have been recognised as having recoverable deposits.
Difference Between Shale Oil and Conventional Crude
- The primary distinction between shale oil and conventional crude is that the former, sometimes known as 'tight oil,' is discovered in smaller quantities and at greater depths than conventional crude deposits.
- Hydraulic fracking is a procedure that involves creating fissures in oil and gas-rich shale to liberate hydrocarbons.
- Drilling deep into the soil before directing a high-pressure water combination at the rock to liberate the gas within is known as fracking.
- Water, sand, and chemicals are pumped under high pressure into the rock, allowing the gas to flow out to the well's head.
- The operation may be carried either vertically or horizontally to the rock layer, which can be utilised to construct new paths for gas escape or to expand existing channels.
- The high-pressure combination fractures the rock, which is known as hydraulic fracturing.
Shale Production in The World
- Russia and the United States are two of the world's top shale oil producers.
- With a boom in shale oil output in the United States, the nation has gone from being a net importer of petroleum to becoming a net exporter in 2019.
- In India, there is currently no large-scale commercial production of shale oil and gas.
- Environmental concerns: large water needs for fracking and the possibility for ground water pollution.
7. Matosinhos Manifesto
The European Space Agency's (ESA) council has endorsed a manifesto to accelerate Europe's use of space "to address the critical and unprecedented social, economic, and security issues that Europe and its inhabitants confront." The Council of Ministers unanimously accepted this resolution during the Intermediate Ministerial Meeting in Matosinhos, Portugal, which puts forth a vision for the continent in terms of preserving and increasing its space operations.
About Matosinhos Manifesto
- The resolution sets forth a vision for the continent in terms of preserving and growing European space operations, was unanimously accepted by the Council of Ministers in Matosinhos.
- The manifesto identifies three "accelerators" to help Europe achieve its space goals.
- The first of these accelerators is for the European Space Agency to begin work on the "Space for a Green Future" initiative.
- The second accelerator is named "Rapid and Resilient Crisis Response," and it aims to help governments respond quickly to crises that affect Europe, such as floods and storms, as well as wildfires.
- The third accelerator, "Protection of Space Equipment," whose goal is to protect ESA personnel and assets against space debris and space weather.
European Space Agency
- The European Space Agency (ESA) is an international agency founded in 1975 with the goal of improving Europe's space capabilities.
- Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom are among the organization's 22 members.
- Associate Members include Slovenia, Latvia, and Lithuania.
8. Omicron Variant
A novel lineage of SARS-CoV-2, designated B.1.1.529, was discovered in samples sequenced and released in the public domain from Botswana, South Africa, and Hong Kong. The World Health Organization (WHO) has identified the variation as a Variant of Concern (VoC), and it has been given the name Omicron.
- WHO has been using Greek letters to refer to the most common coronavirus types, which have complex scientific names.
- Before the newest form appeared in South Africa, it has already utilized 12 letters from the Greek alphabet.
Novel Features of Omicron
- The Omicron variation has a substantial number of mutations when compared to other widely circulated variants.
- It has 32 spike protein mutations. Many of these mutations are found in the spike protein receptor binding domain, which is necessary for the protein to attach to human receptor proteins and gain access into the cell.
- It may therefore play a key role in the identification of antibodies produced because of a past infection or vaccination.
- Mutations in the spike protein have been linked to antibody resistance as well as enhanced transmission.
- It is possible that this variety will be more likely to infect persons who have established immunity to prior viral types.
- Because some of the first people infected with the variation were also vaccinated against COVID-19, the variant has the potential to produce vaccine breakthrough infections. (Breakthrough infections refers to a phenomenon when a fully infected person gets infected).
Preparation For Omicron
- More surveillance and genome sequencing efforts are required.
- Rapid sharing of the virus's genomic sequences and epidemiological data to publicly accessible databases.
- Existing public health and social interventions must be improved.
- Increasing vaccination coverage across diverse locations, as well as access to diagnostics, treatments, and support .
- Equitable access to vaccinations especially in the poorest parts of the world.