Science & Technology: May 2021 Current Affair Current Affairs Notes | EduRev

Science & Technology for UPSC CSE

UPSC : Science & Technology: May 2021 Current Affair Current Affairs Notes | EduRev

 Page 1


	
72	 																																																																									
7.	SCIENCE	AND	TECHNOLOGY	
7.1.	NUCLEAR	TECHNOLOGY	IN	SPACE	MISSIONS	
Why in News? 
Recently, the UR Rao Satellite Centre 
(URSC) of Indian Space Research 
Organisation (ISRO) 
invited proposals for the three-phase 
development of a 100-Watt 
Radioisotope Thermoelectric 
Generator (RTG).																																																																																																																																																						 
More on the News 
• The centre envisions using 
Radioisotope Thermoelectric 
Generator (RTG) for power 
generation and thermal 
management of ISRO’s deep space 
missions. 
• RTG is a type of Nuclear-based 
power system that is generally used 
for power generation and thermal 
management of space missions. 
Types of Nuclear Power Systems (NPS) 
with application in Space missions 
• Radioisotope power systems 
(RPSs): They are a type of nuclear 
energy technology that uses heat 
(produced by the natural 
radioactive decay of plutonium-
238) to produce electric power for 
operating spacecraft systems and 
science instruments. There are two 
types of radioisotope power 
systems: 
o Radioisotope Heater Units (RHU): Small devices that provide heat to keep a spacecraft’s electronic 
instruments and mechanical systems operational in the cold temperatures of our solar system. This heat 
is transferred to spacecraft structures, systems, and instruments directly, without moving parts or 
intervening electronic components. 
o Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator (RTG): Flight-proven systems that provide power and heat to a 
spacecraft (see infographic). RTGs were first used in space during the Cold War in 1961 for the US’s 
Transit-4A Mission.  
• Nuclear Propulsion Systems: Nuclear power can be used for a rocket propulsion system. NASA is currently 
working on development of nuclear thermal propulsion (NTP) systems, which are powered by Nuclear 
Fission. 
o NTP systems work by pumping a liquid propellant, most likely hydrogen, through a reactor core. 
Uranium atoms split apart inside the core and release heat through fission.  
o This physical process heats up the propellant and converts it to a gas, which is expanded through a 
nozzle to produce thrust. 
o NTP systems are not designed to produce the amount of thrust needed to leave the Earth's surface. 
Instead, they will be launched into space by chemical rockets before they are turned on. 
 
Page 2


	
72	 																																																																									
7.	SCIENCE	AND	TECHNOLOGY	
7.1.	NUCLEAR	TECHNOLOGY	IN	SPACE	MISSIONS	
Why in News? 
Recently, the UR Rao Satellite Centre 
(URSC) of Indian Space Research 
Organisation (ISRO) 
invited proposals for the three-phase 
development of a 100-Watt 
Radioisotope Thermoelectric 
Generator (RTG).																																																																																																																																																						 
More on the News 
• The centre envisions using 
Radioisotope Thermoelectric 
Generator (RTG) for power 
generation and thermal 
management of ISRO’s deep space 
missions. 
• RTG is a type of Nuclear-based 
power system that is generally used 
for power generation and thermal 
management of space missions. 
Types of Nuclear Power Systems (NPS) 
with application in Space missions 
• Radioisotope power systems 
(RPSs): They are a type of nuclear 
energy technology that uses heat 
(produced by the natural 
radioactive decay of plutonium-
238) to produce electric power for 
operating spacecraft systems and 
science instruments. There are two 
types of radioisotope power 
systems: 
o Radioisotope Heater Units (RHU): Small devices that provide heat to keep a spacecraft’s electronic 
instruments and mechanical systems operational in the cold temperatures of our solar system. This heat 
is transferred to spacecraft structures, systems, and instruments directly, without moving parts or 
intervening electronic components. 
o Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator (RTG): Flight-proven systems that provide power and heat to a 
spacecraft (see infographic). RTGs were first used in space during the Cold War in 1961 for the US’s 
Transit-4A Mission.  
• Nuclear Propulsion Systems: Nuclear power can be used for a rocket propulsion system. NASA is currently 
working on development of nuclear thermal propulsion (NTP) systems, which are powered by Nuclear 
Fission. 
o NTP systems work by pumping a liquid propellant, most likely hydrogen, through a reactor core. 
Uranium atoms split apart inside the core and release heat through fission.  
o This physical process heats up the propellant and converts it to a gas, which is expanded through a 
nozzle to produce thrust. 
o NTP systems are not designed to produce the amount of thrust needed to leave the Earth's surface. 
Instead, they will be launched into space by chemical rockets before they are turned on. 
 
	
73	 																																																																												
Associated Benefits with use of Nuclear Technology in Space 
• RTGs are highly reliable and maintenance-free: The absence of moving parts in thermocouples reduces the 
chances of failure and wear out. 
• Enable deep space and 
interplanetary travel: 
Nuclear-propelled rockets 
are more fuel efficient and 
lighter than chemical 
rockets. Hence, they would 
travel further, are faster, 
and would shorten the trip 
time. 
o This would also prove 
beneficial for human 
space travel as the 
astronauts’ exposure 
to harmful space 
radiations would be 
lessened, thereby, 
decreasing the 
mission’s overall risk.  
o Also, it would make 
interplanetary travel 
easier. First generation 
NTP systems could cut 
total mission duration in half, while still leaving adequate time for Mars surface exploration. 
• RTGs as an alternative to solar power: Solar power is not an option for space objects meant to operate on 
the dark sides of celestial objects where sunlight is obscured or those sent to far off missions away from the 
sun. For example, Saturn is about ten times farther from the sun than Earth, and the available sunlight there 
is only one percent, of what we receive at Earth.   
• Flexible launch windows: RTGs are independent of solar proximity and planetary alignment. This 
characteristic would help in minimising constraints like the ‘launch windows’ that the scientists have to 
operate within. 
• Continuous operation over long-duration space missions: RPS function largely independent of changes in 
sunlight, temperature, charged particle radiation, or surface conditions like thick clouds or dust. 
Way forward 
• Maintaining highest standards of safety— keeping in mind both humans and the environment—can 
minimise contamination risks. For instance, a Seattle-based company, Ultra Safe Nuclear Technologies 
(USNC-Tech), claims to have designed an NTP engine that could protect the crew from being exposed to 
radioactive particles during the flight. 
• Maturing technologies associated with fuel production, fuel element manufacturing and testing. NASA is 
presently looking at systems that use low-enriched uranium as using low-enriched uranium could be less 
impactful on budget and schedule due to the reduction of handling and security regulations. 
• Pursuing multiple study paths to evaluate the cost/benefits and route to execute a NTP Flight 
Demonstration Project along with detailed cost analysis. 
• Establishing international cooperation and collaboration: An efficient way to facilitate space nuclear power 
development is to organize international programmes that use the best achievements of the participating 
countries.  
o Possible international cooperative efforts include a nuclear-powered probe for missions to the outer 
planets of the solar system and a manned mission to Mars. 
Conclusion 
With plans of setting up a space station, and launching the first Indian human space flight mission, Gaganyaan; 
the first Indian solar observatory, Aditya L-1; the second Indian space telescope XPoSat; Mangalyaan-2 to Mars; 
Page 3


	
72	 																																																																									
7.	SCIENCE	AND	TECHNOLOGY	
7.1.	NUCLEAR	TECHNOLOGY	IN	SPACE	MISSIONS	
Why in News? 
Recently, the UR Rao Satellite Centre 
(URSC) of Indian Space Research 
Organisation (ISRO) 
invited proposals for the three-phase 
development of a 100-Watt 
Radioisotope Thermoelectric 
Generator (RTG).																																																																																																																																																						 
More on the News 
• The centre envisions using 
Radioisotope Thermoelectric 
Generator (RTG) for power 
generation and thermal 
management of ISRO’s deep space 
missions. 
• RTG is a type of Nuclear-based 
power system that is generally used 
for power generation and thermal 
management of space missions. 
Types of Nuclear Power Systems (NPS) 
with application in Space missions 
• Radioisotope power systems 
(RPSs): They are a type of nuclear 
energy technology that uses heat 
(produced by the natural 
radioactive decay of plutonium-
238) to produce electric power for 
operating spacecraft systems and 
science instruments. There are two 
types of radioisotope power 
systems: 
o Radioisotope Heater Units (RHU): Small devices that provide heat to keep a spacecraft’s electronic 
instruments and mechanical systems operational in the cold temperatures of our solar system. This heat 
is transferred to spacecraft structures, systems, and instruments directly, without moving parts or 
intervening electronic components. 
o Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator (RTG): Flight-proven systems that provide power and heat to a 
spacecraft (see infographic). RTGs were first used in space during the Cold War in 1961 for the US’s 
Transit-4A Mission.  
• Nuclear Propulsion Systems: Nuclear power can be used for a rocket propulsion system. NASA is currently 
working on development of nuclear thermal propulsion (NTP) systems, which are powered by Nuclear 
Fission. 
o NTP systems work by pumping a liquid propellant, most likely hydrogen, through a reactor core. 
Uranium atoms split apart inside the core and release heat through fission.  
o This physical process heats up the propellant and converts it to a gas, which is expanded through a 
nozzle to produce thrust. 
o NTP systems are not designed to produce the amount of thrust needed to leave the Earth's surface. 
Instead, they will be launched into space by chemical rockets before they are turned on. 
 
	
73	 																																																																												
Associated Benefits with use of Nuclear Technology in Space 
• RTGs are highly reliable and maintenance-free: The absence of moving parts in thermocouples reduces the 
chances of failure and wear out. 
• Enable deep space and 
interplanetary travel: 
Nuclear-propelled rockets 
are more fuel efficient and 
lighter than chemical 
rockets. Hence, they would 
travel further, are faster, 
and would shorten the trip 
time. 
o This would also prove 
beneficial for human 
space travel as the 
astronauts’ exposure 
to harmful space 
radiations would be 
lessened, thereby, 
decreasing the 
mission’s overall risk.  
o Also, it would make 
interplanetary travel 
easier. First generation 
NTP systems could cut 
total mission duration in half, while still leaving adequate time for Mars surface exploration. 
• RTGs as an alternative to solar power: Solar power is not an option for space objects meant to operate on 
the dark sides of celestial objects where sunlight is obscured or those sent to far off missions away from the 
sun. For example, Saturn is about ten times farther from the sun than Earth, and the available sunlight there 
is only one percent, of what we receive at Earth.   
• Flexible launch windows: RTGs are independent of solar proximity and planetary alignment. This 
characteristic would help in minimising constraints like the ‘launch windows’ that the scientists have to 
operate within. 
• Continuous operation over long-duration space missions: RPS function largely independent of changes in 
sunlight, temperature, charged particle radiation, or surface conditions like thick clouds or dust. 
Way forward 
• Maintaining highest standards of safety— keeping in mind both humans and the environment—can 
minimise contamination risks. For instance, a Seattle-based company, Ultra Safe Nuclear Technologies 
(USNC-Tech), claims to have designed an NTP engine that could protect the crew from being exposed to 
radioactive particles during the flight. 
• Maturing technologies associated with fuel production, fuel element manufacturing and testing. NASA is 
presently looking at systems that use low-enriched uranium as using low-enriched uranium could be less 
impactful on budget and schedule due to the reduction of handling and security regulations. 
• Pursuing multiple study paths to evaluate the cost/benefits and route to execute a NTP Flight 
Demonstration Project along with detailed cost analysis. 
• Establishing international cooperation and collaboration: An efficient way to facilitate space nuclear power 
development is to organize international programmes that use the best achievements of the participating 
countries.  
o Possible international cooperative efforts include a nuclear-powered probe for missions to the outer 
planets of the solar system and a manned mission to Mars. 
Conclusion 
With plans of setting up a space station, and launching the first Indian human space flight mission, Gaganyaan; 
the first Indian solar observatory, Aditya L-1; the second Indian space telescope XPoSat; Mangalyaan-2 to Mars; 
	
74	 																																																																												
Chandrayaan-3 as a reattempt to land on the Moon; and the Venus orbiter mission Shukrayaan; ISRO has 
embarked on a monumental journey of exploring remote and challenging environments. Against this backdrop, 
the decision to invest in RTG and nuclear thermal propulsion (NTP) appears inevitable.  
7.2.	ARTEMIS	ACCORDS	
Why in news 
Recently, New Zealand became the 11
th
 Country 
to sign the Artemis accords.  
About the Artemis Accords 
• It was announced by NASA (National 
Aeronautics and Space Administration), the 
U.S. civil space agency, in 2020.  
• It is a set of guidelines surrounding the 
Artemis Program for crewed exploration of 
the Moon. This agreement is for lunar 
exploration and beyond, with participation 
of both international partners and 
commercial players.  
• The accords describe a shared vision for 
principles, grounded in the Outer Space Treaty of 1967 to create a safe and transparent environment. 
• Signatories: US, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, the Republic of Korea, the United 
Kingdom, the United Arab Emirates, and Ukraine.  
• Major space players like India, Russia, China, France and Germany are not a signatory of the accord.  The 
European Space Agency (ESA) as an organisation has not signed on to the accords either, but a number of 
ESA member states have. 
	
Factors that may prompt India to sign the Artemis Accords 
• Enhanced space cooperation among Quad countries: The US, Japan and Australia are already signatories of 
the accords. Thus, accords could be considered as a natural extension of the Quad’s Critical and Emerging 
Technologies Working Group. India’s addition to the accords would provide a framework for space 
cooperation among these Quad countries. 
o India is also collaborating with Japan on a future lunar mission, called LUPEX, to the Moon’s surface.  
• Attracting more investments: By being a part of the accords, India’s space companies could become part of 
a global supply chain. This would also help attract investment capital towards Indian space startups. 
• Opportunities to learn about interplanetary missions and human spaceflight: In the 1960s and 1970s, India 
took help from western countries such as the US and the UK to better understand sounding-rocket and 
satellite technologies. The Artemis Accords provide a similar opportunity to learn about interplanetary 
missions and human spaceflight.  
Challenges that India faces in signing the Artemis accords 
• Reinforcing US Hegemony: The US promotion of the accords outside of the “normal” channels of 
international space law is a cause of consternation for some Countries.  
Related Information 
The Artemis Programme 
• It is the latest endeavor in boosting human space 
exploration by NASA.  
• The mission will see the arrival of the first woman and next 
man to the surface of the Moon in 2024. 
International principles governing the exploration of the Moon 
• The Outer Space Treaty 1967 laid down the foundational 
principles for human space exploration which facilitates 
exploration, science, and commercial activities for all of 
humanity to enjoy. India ratified the treaty in 1982. 
• The Moon Agreement of 1979 attempted to prevent 
commercial exploitation of outer-space resources.  Only 18 
countries signed the agreement, including India and France. 
o US, Russia and China have not signed the agreement. 
Page 4


	
72	 																																																																									
7.	SCIENCE	AND	TECHNOLOGY	
7.1.	NUCLEAR	TECHNOLOGY	IN	SPACE	MISSIONS	
Why in News? 
Recently, the UR Rao Satellite Centre 
(URSC) of Indian Space Research 
Organisation (ISRO) 
invited proposals for the three-phase 
development of a 100-Watt 
Radioisotope Thermoelectric 
Generator (RTG).																																																																																																																																																						 
More on the News 
• The centre envisions using 
Radioisotope Thermoelectric 
Generator (RTG) for power 
generation and thermal 
management of ISRO’s deep space 
missions. 
• RTG is a type of Nuclear-based 
power system that is generally used 
for power generation and thermal 
management of space missions. 
Types of Nuclear Power Systems (NPS) 
with application in Space missions 
• Radioisotope power systems 
(RPSs): They are a type of nuclear 
energy technology that uses heat 
(produced by the natural 
radioactive decay of plutonium-
238) to produce electric power for 
operating spacecraft systems and 
science instruments. There are two 
types of radioisotope power 
systems: 
o Radioisotope Heater Units (RHU): Small devices that provide heat to keep a spacecraft’s electronic 
instruments and mechanical systems operational in the cold temperatures of our solar system. This heat 
is transferred to spacecraft structures, systems, and instruments directly, without moving parts or 
intervening electronic components. 
o Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator (RTG): Flight-proven systems that provide power and heat to a 
spacecraft (see infographic). RTGs were first used in space during the Cold War in 1961 for the US’s 
Transit-4A Mission.  
• Nuclear Propulsion Systems: Nuclear power can be used for a rocket propulsion system. NASA is currently 
working on development of nuclear thermal propulsion (NTP) systems, which are powered by Nuclear 
Fission. 
o NTP systems work by pumping a liquid propellant, most likely hydrogen, through a reactor core. 
Uranium atoms split apart inside the core and release heat through fission.  
o This physical process heats up the propellant and converts it to a gas, which is expanded through a 
nozzle to produce thrust. 
o NTP systems are not designed to produce the amount of thrust needed to leave the Earth's surface. 
Instead, they will be launched into space by chemical rockets before they are turned on. 
 
	
73	 																																																																												
Associated Benefits with use of Nuclear Technology in Space 
• RTGs are highly reliable and maintenance-free: The absence of moving parts in thermocouples reduces the 
chances of failure and wear out. 
• Enable deep space and 
interplanetary travel: 
Nuclear-propelled rockets 
are more fuel efficient and 
lighter than chemical 
rockets. Hence, they would 
travel further, are faster, 
and would shorten the trip 
time. 
o This would also prove 
beneficial for human 
space travel as the 
astronauts’ exposure 
to harmful space 
radiations would be 
lessened, thereby, 
decreasing the 
mission’s overall risk.  
o Also, it would make 
interplanetary travel 
easier. First generation 
NTP systems could cut 
total mission duration in half, while still leaving adequate time for Mars surface exploration. 
• RTGs as an alternative to solar power: Solar power is not an option for space objects meant to operate on 
the dark sides of celestial objects where sunlight is obscured or those sent to far off missions away from the 
sun. For example, Saturn is about ten times farther from the sun than Earth, and the available sunlight there 
is only one percent, of what we receive at Earth.   
• Flexible launch windows: RTGs are independent of solar proximity and planetary alignment. This 
characteristic would help in minimising constraints like the ‘launch windows’ that the scientists have to 
operate within. 
• Continuous operation over long-duration space missions: RPS function largely independent of changes in 
sunlight, temperature, charged particle radiation, or surface conditions like thick clouds or dust. 
Way forward 
• Maintaining highest standards of safety— keeping in mind both humans and the environment—can 
minimise contamination risks. For instance, a Seattle-based company, Ultra Safe Nuclear Technologies 
(USNC-Tech), claims to have designed an NTP engine that could protect the crew from being exposed to 
radioactive particles during the flight. 
• Maturing technologies associated with fuel production, fuel element manufacturing and testing. NASA is 
presently looking at systems that use low-enriched uranium as using low-enriched uranium could be less 
impactful on budget and schedule due to the reduction of handling and security regulations. 
• Pursuing multiple study paths to evaluate the cost/benefits and route to execute a NTP Flight 
Demonstration Project along with detailed cost analysis. 
• Establishing international cooperation and collaboration: An efficient way to facilitate space nuclear power 
development is to organize international programmes that use the best achievements of the participating 
countries.  
o Possible international cooperative efforts include a nuclear-powered probe for missions to the outer 
planets of the solar system and a manned mission to Mars. 
Conclusion 
With plans of setting up a space station, and launching the first Indian human space flight mission, Gaganyaan; 
the first Indian solar observatory, Aditya L-1; the second Indian space telescope XPoSat; Mangalyaan-2 to Mars; 
	
74	 																																																																												
Chandrayaan-3 as a reattempt to land on the Moon; and the Venus orbiter mission Shukrayaan; ISRO has 
embarked on a monumental journey of exploring remote and challenging environments. Against this backdrop, 
the decision to invest in RTG and nuclear thermal propulsion (NTP) appears inevitable.  
7.2.	ARTEMIS	ACCORDS	
Why in news 
Recently, New Zealand became the 11
th
 Country 
to sign the Artemis accords.  
About the Artemis Accords 
• It was announced by NASA (National 
Aeronautics and Space Administration), the 
U.S. civil space agency, in 2020.  
• It is a set of guidelines surrounding the 
Artemis Program for crewed exploration of 
the Moon. This agreement is for lunar 
exploration and beyond, with participation 
of both international partners and 
commercial players.  
• The accords describe a shared vision for 
principles, grounded in the Outer Space Treaty of 1967 to create a safe and transparent environment. 
• Signatories: US, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, the Republic of Korea, the United 
Kingdom, the United Arab Emirates, and Ukraine.  
• Major space players like India, Russia, China, France and Germany are not a signatory of the accord.  The 
European Space Agency (ESA) as an organisation has not signed on to the accords either, but a number of 
ESA member states have. 
	
Factors that may prompt India to sign the Artemis Accords 
• Enhanced space cooperation among Quad countries: The US, Japan and Australia are already signatories of 
the accords. Thus, accords could be considered as a natural extension of the Quad’s Critical and Emerging 
Technologies Working Group. India’s addition to the accords would provide a framework for space 
cooperation among these Quad countries. 
o India is also collaborating with Japan on a future lunar mission, called LUPEX, to the Moon’s surface.  
• Attracting more investments: By being a part of the accords, India’s space companies could become part of 
a global supply chain. This would also help attract investment capital towards Indian space startups. 
• Opportunities to learn about interplanetary missions and human spaceflight: In the 1960s and 1970s, India 
took help from western countries such as the US and the UK to better understand sounding-rocket and 
satellite technologies. The Artemis Accords provide a similar opportunity to learn about interplanetary 
missions and human spaceflight.  
Challenges that India faces in signing the Artemis accords 
• Reinforcing US Hegemony: The US promotion of the accords outside of the “normal” channels of 
international space law is a cause of consternation for some Countries.  
Related Information 
The Artemis Programme 
• It is the latest endeavor in boosting human space 
exploration by NASA.  
• The mission will see the arrival of the first woman and next 
man to the surface of the Moon in 2024. 
International principles governing the exploration of the Moon 
• The Outer Space Treaty 1967 laid down the foundational 
principles for human space exploration which facilitates 
exploration, science, and commercial activities for all of 
humanity to enjoy. India ratified the treaty in 1982. 
• The Moon Agreement of 1979 attempted to prevent 
commercial exploitation of outer-space resources.  Only 18 
countries signed the agreement, including India and France. 
o US, Russia and China have not signed the agreement. 
	
75	 																																																																											
Initiatives taken to eradicate NTDs 
• WHO’s new road map for 2021–2030 calls for three strategic shifts to 
end NTDs: 
o From measuring process to measuring impact. 
o From disease-specific planning and programming to collaborative 
work across sectors. 
o From externally driven agendas reliant to programmes that are 
country-owned and country-financed. 
• WHO’s first road map for the prevention and control of NTDs was 
published in 2012. 
• WHO recommends five public-health interventions to accelerate the 
prevention, control, elimination and eradication of NTDs: 
o Preventive chemotherapy – the large-scale delivery of free and 
safe, single-dose, quality-assured medicines, either alone or in 
combination, at regular intervals to treat selected diseases; 
o Innovative and intensified disease management – the management 
of diseases that are difficult to diagnose and treat and which can, in 
most cases, trigger severe clinical manifestations and complications; 
o Vector control and pesticide management – the safe and judicious 
management of public-health pesticides to achieve vector control 
through integrated vector management; 
o Safe drinking-water, basic sanitation and hygiene services, and 
education – the prioritization of improved sanitation combined with 
delivering preventive chemotherapy and health education to sustain 
reductions in prevalence of many of these diseases; 
o Zoonotic disease management – the application of veterinary 
sciences and interventions to protect and improve human health. 
• END7, an international public awareness campaign with a mission to 
see the end of seven neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) by 2020. 
o Seven NTDs are lymphatic filariasis (elephantiasis), river blindness 
(onchocerciasis), snail fever (schistosomiasis), trachoma, hookworm, 
whipworm (trichuriasis) and roundworm (ascaraisis) which account 
for 90% of the global NTD burden. 
• Bangladesh, India, and Nepal launched an initiative to eliminate kala-
azar as a public health problem in 2005. 
• Harbinger of change in space governance: The accords are bilateral agreements and not binding 
instruments of international law. But, by establishing practice in the area, they could have a significant 
influence on any subsequent governance framework for human settlements on Mars and beyond. 
• Diplomatic challenges: India has had a traditional partnership with Russia, which recently partnered with 
China in its International Lunar Research Station (ILRS) initiative. Russia might invite India to join, but on the 
other hand, growing assertiveness of China is likely to prevent any meaningful association of India with ILRS.  
• Focus on indigenous programmes may be compromised: There are fears about what might happen to the 
indigenous programme if India were to participate in the Artemis Accords.  
Way ahead: India’s decision to sign the Artemis accords, or for that matter any other bilateral space 
agreements, should completely be based on the merits of the proposal i.e. whether proposals meet 
India’s expectations or not. All such decisions could be complemented with following initiatives 
• Confidence building with the US: Working together on the Chandrayaan-1 and NASA-ISRO Synthetic 
Aperture Radar (NISAR) missions have helped to build confidence in each other. These could be the stepping 
stones for India to sign the accords themselves. 
• Strategic balance with Russia: India’s signing up for the accords must not be equated to severing ties with 
Russia. India has maintained a balanced relationship with the US as well as Russia in other strategic areas 
and the same could apply for space after India signs the accords as well. 
• Pursuing Indigenous programmes: India should encourage the involvement of the private sector in 
communications and Earth-observation satellites construction and launch and should also outline its 
priorities for interplanetary and human spaceflight missions and actively pursue them.  
7.3.	 NEGLECTED	
TROPICAL	DISEASES		
Why in News? 
Accepting the proposal of the United 
Arab Emirates (UAE), 74th World 
Health Assembly declared January 
30 as ‘World Neglected Tropical 
Diseases (NTD) Day’ 
About Neglected Tropical Diseases 
(NTD) 
• NTD are communicable diseases 
that prevail in tropical and 
subtropical countries and affect 
more than one billion people.  
• Populations living in poverty, 
without adequate sanitation 
and in close contact with 
infectious vectors and domestic 
animals and livestock are those 
worst affected. 
o Worldwide, 149 countries 
and territories are affected 
by at least one neglected 
tropical disease. 
• India experiences the world’s 
largest absolute burden of at 
least 11 major NTD (2018), 
though India has already 
eliminated several NTDs, 
including guinea worm, 
trachoma, and yaws. 
Page 5


	
72	 																																																																									
7.	SCIENCE	AND	TECHNOLOGY	
7.1.	NUCLEAR	TECHNOLOGY	IN	SPACE	MISSIONS	
Why in News? 
Recently, the UR Rao Satellite Centre 
(URSC) of Indian Space Research 
Organisation (ISRO) 
invited proposals for the three-phase 
development of a 100-Watt 
Radioisotope Thermoelectric 
Generator (RTG).																																																																																																																																																						 
More on the News 
• The centre envisions using 
Radioisotope Thermoelectric 
Generator (RTG) for power 
generation and thermal 
management of ISRO’s deep space 
missions. 
• RTG is a type of Nuclear-based 
power system that is generally used 
for power generation and thermal 
management of space missions. 
Types of Nuclear Power Systems (NPS) 
with application in Space missions 
• Radioisotope power systems 
(RPSs): They are a type of nuclear 
energy technology that uses heat 
(produced by the natural 
radioactive decay of plutonium-
238) to produce electric power for 
operating spacecraft systems and 
science instruments. There are two 
types of radioisotope power 
systems: 
o Radioisotope Heater Units (RHU): Small devices that provide heat to keep a spacecraft’s electronic 
instruments and mechanical systems operational in the cold temperatures of our solar system. This heat 
is transferred to spacecraft structures, systems, and instruments directly, without moving parts or 
intervening electronic components. 
o Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator (RTG): Flight-proven systems that provide power and heat to a 
spacecraft (see infographic). RTGs were first used in space during the Cold War in 1961 for the US’s 
Transit-4A Mission.  
• Nuclear Propulsion Systems: Nuclear power can be used for a rocket propulsion system. NASA is currently 
working on development of nuclear thermal propulsion (NTP) systems, which are powered by Nuclear 
Fission. 
o NTP systems work by pumping a liquid propellant, most likely hydrogen, through a reactor core. 
Uranium atoms split apart inside the core and release heat through fission.  
o This physical process heats up the propellant and converts it to a gas, which is expanded through a 
nozzle to produce thrust. 
o NTP systems are not designed to produce the amount of thrust needed to leave the Earth's surface. 
Instead, they will be launched into space by chemical rockets before they are turned on. 
 
	
73	 																																																																												
Associated Benefits with use of Nuclear Technology in Space 
• RTGs are highly reliable and maintenance-free: The absence of moving parts in thermocouples reduces the 
chances of failure and wear out. 
• Enable deep space and 
interplanetary travel: 
Nuclear-propelled rockets 
are more fuel efficient and 
lighter than chemical 
rockets. Hence, they would 
travel further, are faster, 
and would shorten the trip 
time. 
o This would also prove 
beneficial for human 
space travel as the 
astronauts’ exposure 
to harmful space 
radiations would be 
lessened, thereby, 
decreasing the 
mission’s overall risk.  
o Also, it would make 
interplanetary travel 
easier. First generation 
NTP systems could cut 
total mission duration in half, while still leaving adequate time for Mars surface exploration. 
• RTGs as an alternative to solar power: Solar power is not an option for space objects meant to operate on 
the dark sides of celestial objects where sunlight is obscured or those sent to far off missions away from the 
sun. For example, Saturn is about ten times farther from the sun than Earth, and the available sunlight there 
is only one percent, of what we receive at Earth.   
• Flexible launch windows: RTGs are independent of solar proximity and planetary alignment. This 
characteristic would help in minimising constraints like the ‘launch windows’ that the scientists have to 
operate within. 
• Continuous operation over long-duration space missions: RPS function largely independent of changes in 
sunlight, temperature, charged particle radiation, or surface conditions like thick clouds or dust. 
Way forward 
• Maintaining highest standards of safety— keeping in mind both humans and the environment—can 
minimise contamination risks. For instance, a Seattle-based company, Ultra Safe Nuclear Technologies 
(USNC-Tech), claims to have designed an NTP engine that could protect the crew from being exposed to 
radioactive particles during the flight. 
• Maturing technologies associated with fuel production, fuel element manufacturing and testing. NASA is 
presently looking at systems that use low-enriched uranium as using low-enriched uranium could be less 
impactful on budget and schedule due to the reduction of handling and security regulations. 
• Pursuing multiple study paths to evaluate the cost/benefits and route to execute a NTP Flight 
Demonstration Project along with detailed cost analysis. 
• Establishing international cooperation and collaboration: An efficient way to facilitate space nuclear power 
development is to organize international programmes that use the best achievements of the participating 
countries.  
o Possible international cooperative efforts include a nuclear-powered probe for missions to the outer 
planets of the solar system and a manned mission to Mars. 
Conclusion 
With plans of setting up a space station, and launching the first Indian human space flight mission, Gaganyaan; 
the first Indian solar observatory, Aditya L-1; the second Indian space telescope XPoSat; Mangalyaan-2 to Mars; 
	
74	 																																																																												
Chandrayaan-3 as a reattempt to land on the Moon; and the Venus orbiter mission Shukrayaan; ISRO has 
embarked on a monumental journey of exploring remote and challenging environments. Against this backdrop, 
the decision to invest in RTG and nuclear thermal propulsion (NTP) appears inevitable.  
7.2.	ARTEMIS	ACCORDS	
Why in news 
Recently, New Zealand became the 11
th
 Country 
to sign the Artemis accords.  
About the Artemis Accords 
• It was announced by NASA (National 
Aeronautics and Space Administration), the 
U.S. civil space agency, in 2020.  
• It is a set of guidelines surrounding the 
Artemis Program for crewed exploration of 
the Moon. This agreement is for lunar 
exploration and beyond, with participation 
of both international partners and 
commercial players.  
• The accords describe a shared vision for 
principles, grounded in the Outer Space Treaty of 1967 to create a safe and transparent environment. 
• Signatories: US, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, the Republic of Korea, the United 
Kingdom, the United Arab Emirates, and Ukraine.  
• Major space players like India, Russia, China, France and Germany are not a signatory of the accord.  The 
European Space Agency (ESA) as an organisation has not signed on to the accords either, but a number of 
ESA member states have. 
	
Factors that may prompt India to sign the Artemis Accords 
• Enhanced space cooperation among Quad countries: The US, Japan and Australia are already signatories of 
the accords. Thus, accords could be considered as a natural extension of the Quad’s Critical and Emerging 
Technologies Working Group. India’s addition to the accords would provide a framework for space 
cooperation among these Quad countries. 
o India is also collaborating with Japan on a future lunar mission, called LUPEX, to the Moon’s surface.  
• Attracting more investments: By being a part of the accords, India’s space companies could become part of 
a global supply chain. This would also help attract investment capital towards Indian space startups. 
• Opportunities to learn about interplanetary missions and human spaceflight: In the 1960s and 1970s, India 
took help from western countries such as the US and the UK to better understand sounding-rocket and 
satellite technologies. The Artemis Accords provide a similar opportunity to learn about interplanetary 
missions and human spaceflight.  
Challenges that India faces in signing the Artemis accords 
• Reinforcing US Hegemony: The US promotion of the accords outside of the “normal” channels of 
international space law is a cause of consternation for some Countries.  
Related Information 
The Artemis Programme 
• It is the latest endeavor in boosting human space 
exploration by NASA.  
• The mission will see the arrival of the first woman and next 
man to the surface of the Moon in 2024. 
International principles governing the exploration of the Moon 
• The Outer Space Treaty 1967 laid down the foundational 
principles for human space exploration which facilitates 
exploration, science, and commercial activities for all of 
humanity to enjoy. India ratified the treaty in 1982. 
• The Moon Agreement of 1979 attempted to prevent 
commercial exploitation of outer-space resources.  Only 18 
countries signed the agreement, including India and France. 
o US, Russia and China have not signed the agreement. 
	
75	 																																																																											
Initiatives taken to eradicate NTDs 
• WHO’s new road map for 2021–2030 calls for three strategic shifts to 
end NTDs: 
o From measuring process to measuring impact. 
o From disease-specific planning and programming to collaborative 
work across sectors. 
o From externally driven agendas reliant to programmes that are 
country-owned and country-financed. 
• WHO’s first road map for the prevention and control of NTDs was 
published in 2012. 
• WHO recommends five public-health interventions to accelerate the 
prevention, control, elimination and eradication of NTDs: 
o Preventive chemotherapy – the large-scale delivery of free and 
safe, single-dose, quality-assured medicines, either alone or in 
combination, at regular intervals to treat selected diseases; 
o Innovative and intensified disease management – the management 
of diseases that are difficult to diagnose and treat and which can, in 
most cases, trigger severe clinical manifestations and complications; 
o Vector control and pesticide management – the safe and judicious 
management of public-health pesticides to achieve vector control 
through integrated vector management; 
o Safe drinking-water, basic sanitation and hygiene services, and 
education – the prioritization of improved sanitation combined with 
delivering preventive chemotherapy and health education to sustain 
reductions in prevalence of many of these diseases; 
o Zoonotic disease management – the application of veterinary 
sciences and interventions to protect and improve human health. 
• END7, an international public awareness campaign with a mission to 
see the end of seven neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) by 2020. 
o Seven NTDs are lymphatic filariasis (elephantiasis), river blindness 
(onchocerciasis), snail fever (schistosomiasis), trachoma, hookworm, 
whipworm (trichuriasis) and roundworm (ascaraisis) which account 
for 90% of the global NTD burden. 
• Bangladesh, India, and Nepal launched an initiative to eliminate kala-
azar as a public health problem in 2005. 
• Harbinger of change in space governance: The accords are bilateral agreements and not binding 
instruments of international law. But, by establishing practice in the area, they could have a significant 
influence on any subsequent governance framework for human settlements on Mars and beyond. 
• Diplomatic challenges: India has had a traditional partnership with Russia, which recently partnered with 
China in its International Lunar Research Station (ILRS) initiative. Russia might invite India to join, but on the 
other hand, growing assertiveness of China is likely to prevent any meaningful association of India with ILRS.  
• Focus on indigenous programmes may be compromised: There are fears about what might happen to the 
indigenous programme if India were to participate in the Artemis Accords.  
Way ahead: India’s decision to sign the Artemis accords, or for that matter any other bilateral space 
agreements, should completely be based on the merits of the proposal i.e. whether proposals meet 
India’s expectations or not. All such decisions could be complemented with following initiatives 
• Confidence building with the US: Working together on the Chandrayaan-1 and NASA-ISRO Synthetic 
Aperture Radar (NISAR) missions have helped to build confidence in each other. These could be the stepping 
stones for India to sign the accords themselves. 
• Strategic balance with Russia: India’s signing up for the accords must not be equated to severing ties with 
Russia. India has maintained a balanced relationship with the US as well as Russia in other strategic areas 
and the same could apply for space after India signs the accords as well. 
• Pursuing Indigenous programmes: India should encourage the involvement of the private sector in 
communications and Earth-observation satellites construction and launch and should also outline its 
priorities for interplanetary and human spaceflight missions and actively pursue them.  
7.3.	 NEGLECTED	
TROPICAL	DISEASES		
Why in News? 
Accepting the proposal of the United 
Arab Emirates (UAE), 74th World 
Health Assembly declared January 
30 as ‘World Neglected Tropical 
Diseases (NTD) Day’ 
About Neglected Tropical Diseases 
(NTD) 
• NTD are communicable diseases 
that prevail in tropical and 
subtropical countries and affect 
more than one billion people.  
• Populations living in poverty, 
without adequate sanitation 
and in close contact with 
infectious vectors and domestic 
animals and livestock are those 
worst affected. 
o Worldwide, 149 countries 
and territories are affected 
by at least one neglected 
tropical disease. 
• India experiences the world’s 
largest absolute burden of at 
least 11 major NTD (2018), 
though India has already 
eliminated several NTDs, 
including guinea worm, 
trachoma, and yaws. 
	
76	 																																																																												
Impact of NTDs 
• Affecting the world’s poorest people: NTDs 
overload already stretched health systems in 
developing countries, and some of them can 
lead to catastrophic expenditures and can 
reduce individual productivity. 
• On children’s health: Some disease impair 
physical and cognitive development 
amongst children as infection leads to 
malnutrition, cognitive impairment, stunted 
growth, and the inability to attend school. 
• On Women's Health: Some diseases with 
cutaneous manifestations are disfiguring, 
particularly for women, because they delay health-seeking behaviour, diagnosis and treatment. 
o They affect women's social health by promoting exclusion and stigma. And they affect women's 
economic health, by affecting women's ability to work. 
Challenges in tackling NTD 
• Lack of prioritized efforts: NTD, are referred to as “neglected” because 
they are characterized by little attention from policy-makers, lack of 
priority within health strategies, inadequate research, limited resource 
allocation and few interventions.	 
o These diseases generally receive less funding for research and 
treatment than malaises like tuberculosis, HIV-AIDS and malaria.  
• Non availability of treatments: For many NTDs, there are no vaccines or 
simple tests to ensure timely diagnosis and treatment, and treatments 
can be toxic, ineffective, and costly.  
• Prevalence of Social stigma: Preventing stigma and discrimination is a 
remaining challenge, along with the social displacement of people affected by NTDs.  
Way forward 
• Resource mobilization, public–private partnerships and community mobilization are important and must 
be prioritized. 
o If the global community could focus on India’s NTD problem and make inroads, it would substantially 
reduce the burden of NTD. 
• Effective surveillance and monitoring are urgently needed, together with an evaluation system for tracking 
progress on a regular basis. 
• Regular briefing of the media can increase community involvement in elimination programmes, reduce 
stigma and discrimination. 
• Development of community-based programmes for the rehabilitation of disabled persons and their 
reintegration into their communities. 
7.4.	MUCORMYCOSIS	
Why in News? 
As cases of Mucormycosis or Black Fungus cases have started rising some states declared it as epidemic under 
Epidemic Diseases Act 1897.    
About Mucormycosis 
• Mucormycosis, as defined by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), is a fungal infection that 
mainly affects people who are on medication for other health problems that reduces their ability to fight 
pathogens. 
• It has been commonly called as black fungus because it causes the tissue affected to necrose and turn into 
black. 
• Previously called zygomycosis, it is a serious but rare fungal infection caused by a group of molds called 
mucormycetes.   
Read More
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