Current Affairs Science & Technology

 The scientists of ARCI (Advanced Research for Powder Metallurgy and New Materials) recently developed PEMFC (Polymer Electrolyte Membrane Fuel Cells). The technology is to be used to manage Natural Disasters.
  • Highlights
The PEMFC is a system with 10 KW capacity. They have operational advantage to operate at low-temperature in decentralized systems of power generation. The technology was developed at Chennai centre of ARCI. The system is to be used to operate early warning systems using phones, ethernet, computers, FAX, etc.
  • Significance
The technology is to act as power house to Emergency Operation Centres. The Control Rooms that respond to disasters are now being altered as Emergency Operation Centres. Therefore, the technology has come in at the right time. It provides immediate support during Golden Hour. They operate using hydrogen gas and there is no necessity to use grid power.
  • Fuel Cells
The Fuel cell uses chemical energy to generate electricity. It consists of 2 electrodes called anode and cathode. It also holds an electrolyte that acts as catalyst to speed up reactions at electrodes. The main advantage of fuel cell is that it creates minimum waste (pollution).

 On March 5, 2020, the Department of Science of Technology operating under Ministry of Science and Technology organized an International Conference on Nano-Science and Nano Technology (ICONSAT) at Kolkata. The Conference is to be held between March 5, 2020 and March 7, 2020.
  • Highlights
The Conference highlighted the current need of India in the field of Nano-Science. It includes 5Ms namely Material, Mechanical, Manufacturing, Manpower and Machines. The Conference was attended by more than 450 scientists from all over the world.
  • Current Scenario
India started its journey of nanotechnology with the launch of “Nano Science and Technology Initiative” (NSTI) in 2001 for a span of 5 years. In 2007, it was renamed as “Nano Mission”. Nano Mission had wider objectives and larger funding of 250 million USD. This effort paid off well with Indian researchers publishing more than 23,000 papers in the field in next 5 years. In 2013, India ranked third in research paper publication in the field after China and USA. Also, the contribution of private firms on Nano Technology has also been minimal. India currently works towards producing 10,000 researchers in the field in the next 10 years as of 2017.

  Google Cloud announced its plans to open a Delhi Cloud Region. This will be the company’s second cloud region in India since it launched one in Mumbai three years ago in 2017. The new cloud region will expand Google’s existing network which stands at 8 regions in the Asia Pacific and 22 regions globally. Google cloud regions bring Google Cloud Platform services to global organisations in industries like media and entertainment, retail and manufacturing. The Delhi cloud region will have three zones to protect against service disruptions. The project to be launched in 2021. In combination with the existing Mumbai cloud region Mumbai, it will also enable in-country disaster recovery for the customers’ mission-critical applications.

 The International Advanced Research for Powder Metallurgy & New Materials (ARCI), Hyderabad has developed a fuel cell technology called Polymer Electrolyte Membrane fuel cells (PEMFC). The ARCI, Hyderabad is an autonomous R&D Centre of Department of Science and Technology (DST). It has developed an in-house PEMFC systems in the power range of 1 to 20 kiloWatt (kW) for Disaster Management.
  • About Polymer Electrolyte Membrane fuel cells:
The Polymer Electrolyte Membrane fuel cells has been developed by ARCI in the power range of 1 to 20 kiloWatt (kW). The in-house PEMFC system has operational capability at low-temperatures with applications in decentralised power generation systems. It has been observed that when an Emergency Operation Centres (EOC) would be backed with 10 kW system along with fuel cell stack, air moving sub systems, power control devices and control and monitoring system will perform as a natural disaster management measure. This system backing EOC is expected to provide immediate support during the Golden Hour of the disaster. The Fuel cell systems provides sustainable electricity using hydrogen gas without the need of grid power as required by conventional battery backup systems.

  The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has launched the ‘5G Hackathon’ in association with the government of India, academia and industry stakeholders. The aim of 5G Hackathon is shortlisting India’s focused cutting edge ideas that can be converted into workable 5G products and solutions. The Hackathon will be spread across three phases. The event will culminate in a grand felicitation ceremony at India Mobile Congress on 16 October 2020. Winners of the various phases of the 5G Hackathon will share a total prize pool of Rs. 2.5 crore.The 5G technology provides quantum leap over 4G in terms of speed, peak data rate, latency, spectrum efficiency, and connection density. The Hackathon will convert innovating ideas into products and solutions in different verticals and develop India specific use cases around 5G. The 5G Hackathon is open to developers, students, start-ups, SMEs, academic institutions and registered companies in India and Non-resident Indians (NRIs). All Stakeholders can participate as individuals or as a team to present use cases for the 5G network in the Indian context.

  On February 19, 2020, the Union Cabinet approved to set a technology group. The 12-member group will provide scientific advice on mapping of technologies, commercialization of dual use technologies and develop a road map on selected key technologies. The group will provide three major pillars of support namely Policy support, research and development proposals and procurement support.
  • Functions of the group
The group will help the GoI in achieving the following
  • To render advice on technology procurement strategy
  • To develop in-house expertise in developing merging technologies
  • To make sure the public sector technologies developed are sustainable.
  • Why was the group constituted?
The Group has been constituted as the GoI faced the following challenges
  • There was no mapping of technologies and their uses spread across the country
  • The Researches were not aligned to technology development
  • The dual use of technologies was not commercialized
  • The standards of technologies were not fixed. This led to sub-optimal industrial development
  • Silo-centric approaches to the development of technologies are being adopted

  The Indian Space Research Organisation has revealed in its annual report for 2019-20 that it will launch 10 Earth Observation Satellites in 2020-21. The 10 earth observation (EO) satellites will include categories such as the first Geo Imaging Satellite, GISAT-1 along with three communication satellites and two navigation satellites. The Indian Space Research Organisation’s annual report for 2019-20 plan also mentions 36 missions including satellites and their launchers.
  • About Earth Observation Satellites:
The Earth Observation Satellites (EO) are basically used for land and agriculture watch and also helps the military to keep an eye on the borders. The other satellites such as RISATs carries a synthetic aperture radar on them which provides all-weather, 24-hour information to security agencies.

 NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) of the United States and the ESA (European Space Agency) will send space probes to the sun to map its poles. The solar orbiter was launched on February 9, 2020.
  • Highlights
The probe will use gravitational influence of the Earth and Venus to position itself at 26 million miles from the sun. It is 95% of distance between the sun and the earth. The probe will map the poles for the first time. This will help scientists to observe the solar winds. The solar winds permeate the solar system.
  • Solar Winds
The solar winds are released from the upper atmosphere of the sun. These winds carry charged particles and magnetic clouds from the sun. These winds are capable of damaging life on the earth. Therefore, it is important to learn about these winds. They are now being filtered by the thick atmosphere around the earth. The winds are a reason for the planets including the earth to revolve around the sun.

  The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has announced that it is preparing low-cost satellite launch vehicles costing around 30-35 crores each. These low-cost launch vehicles can put into orbit satellites weighing 500 kgs. This capability will give ISRO a big commercial boost as it will be able to cater to micro, mini and medium segments of the market. The biggest advantage is that ISRO now can manufacture these vehicles in a turnaround time of just 3 weeks’ time.

  France will train Indian flight surgeons for the ambitious human space mission Gaganyaan. The training is a critical aspect of the Gaganyaan project that is aimed at sending three Indians to space by 2022. The flight surgeons, who will be Indian Air Force doctors specialising in aviation medicines and responsible for the health of astronauts before, during and after the flight. France has a well-established mechanism for space medicine. It also has the MEDES space clinic, a subsidiary of CNES, where space surgeons undergo training. The four shortlisted astronauts all test pilots from the Indian Air Force are currently in Russia for an 11-month training programme.


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