Current Affairs Analysis

15th July 2020 Current Affairs Analysis – IASToppers

Carmel; Arad; Draft Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Rules, 2020; Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019; World Youth Skills Day; Skill India; Afghanistan–Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement; Bhanu Jayanti; Acharya Bhanubhakta; Supercapacitor; Seawater as Electrolyte; UAE's first mission to Mars delayed; Hope Mission; Ingenuity Mars Helicopter; Viking Link; Anamol Bhandari vs. Delhi Technological University case; Constitutional mechanism for upliftment of SC/ST; Disabled people in India; Initiatives for Disabled in India; PRAGYATA Guidelines on Digital Education; Non-personal data; Saharan Air Layer (SAL); Sahara Desert; etc.
By IASToppers
July 15, 2020

Contents

Polity & Governance

  • Disabled are entitled to same benefits of SC/ST quota: SC
  • Draft Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Rules, 2020

Government Schemes & Policies

  • PRAGYATA Guidelines on Digital Education
  • Draft Non-Personal Data Governance Framework

Issues related to Health & Education

  • World Youth Skills Day

Bilateral & International Relations

  • Pakistan to allow Afghan exports to India through Wagah border

Defence & Security Issues

  • Carmel and Arad

Art & Culture

  • Bhanu Jayanti

Geophysical Phenomena

  • Largest Sahara dust across Atlantic

Science & Technology

  • Supercapacitor from industrial waste cotton
  • UAE’s first mission to Mars, delayed.
  • Ingenuity Mars Helicopter

Key Facts for Prelims

  • Viking Link

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Polity & Governance

Disabled are entitled to same benefits of SC/ST quota: SC

The Supreme Court said that persons suffering from disabilities are also socially backward and entitled to the same benefits of relaxation as Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe candidates in public employment and education.

About the case

  • The decision came on a petition filed by Aryan Raj, a special needs person against the Government College of Arts, Chandigarh.
  • The college denied Mr. Raj relaxation in minimum qualifying marks in the Painting and Applied Art course.
  • The college insisted that disabled persons too need to meet the general qualifying standard of 40% in the aptitude test, whereas SC/ST candidates were given a relaxation to 35%.

Background:

  • In Anamol Bhandari vs. Delhi Technological University (2012), Delhi high court held that people suffering from disabilities are also socially backward, and are therefore entitled to the same benefits as given to the Scheduled Caste/ Scheduled Tribe candidates.
  • Court also said that new academic courses should be crafted to specifically cater to the needs of intellectually disabled persons. It stressed on the fact mentally challenged persons have certain limitations, which are not there in physically challenged persons.

Constitutional mechanism for upliftment of SC/ST

Article 15(4) empowers State to make any special provision for the advancement of any socially and educationally backward classes of citizens or for the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes. (i.e., providing fee concession in admission to any educational institution, building hostels for SCs/STs.)

Article 15(5): empowers state to make reservations with regard to admissions into educational institutions both privately run and those that are aided or not aided by the government.

  • Only the minority run institutions such as the Madarsas are exempted as per Article 30 (1).

Article 46: require State to promote the educational and economic interests of the weaker sections, and, in particular, of the SC/ST, and to protect them from social injustice and all forms of exploitation.

Article 338: provides for a National Commission for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes with duties to investigate and monitor all matters relating to safeguards provided for them.

Article 330 & 332: provide for reservation of seats in favour of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes in the House of the People and in the legislative assemblies of the States.

Disabled people in India:

  • As per Census 2011, there are 2.68 crore (2.21 % of the total population of the Country) disabled people (visual, hearing & speech disability, mental illness, multiple disabilities etc.)

Initiatives for Disabled people in India

Educational upliftment

  • Under Rights of Person with Disabilities Act, 2016, persons with disabilities are provided reservation of seats in government higher educational institutions (at least 5%) and government jobs (at least 4%).
  • National Fellowship for Students with Disabilities (RGMF).
  • 6 types of Scholarship For The Persons With Disabilities (As per Section 31 of Rights of person with disability act, every disabled child between 6 to 18 years have right to free education)

Economic empowerment

  • National action plan for skill training of Divyangjan (financial assistance is provided for skill training for persons with disabilities)
  • National Handicapped and Financial Development Corporation (set up in 1997 to assist the disabled persons by providing concessional loan for economic and educational empowerment.)

Social empowerment and rehabilitation

  • Accessible India Campaign (set up in 2015 to make a barrier-free and conducive environment for Divyangjans (i.e, disabled-friendly buildings))
  • DeenDayal Disabled Rehabilitation Scheme (DDRS) (promote Voluntary Action for Persons with Disabilities)
  • Assistance to Disabled Persons for Purchase/fitting of Aids and Appliances (ADIP) (assist the needy disabled persons in procuring durable, sophisticated and scientifically manufactured, modern, standard aids and appliances)
  • Schemes of the National Trust for the Welfare of Persons with Autism, Cerebral Palsy

UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

  • It is an international human rights treaty of the United Nations to protect the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities.
  • It entered into force on 3 May 2008. India signed this treaty in 2007.
  • It was the first comprehensive human rights treaty of the 21st century.
  • Put three obligation on each state party: 1) Implementation of the provision of convention ii) Harmonization of the country law with convention and iii) Preparation of country report
[Ref: The Hindu]

Draft Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Rules, 2020

The draft Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Rules, 2020 issued recently, stated that a District Magistrate would issue a transgender identity certificate and card based on an affidavit by the applicant, but without any medical examination.

Earlier draft of the rules had mandated a report from a psychologist along with the affidavit for the application.

These rules were framed under the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019.

The Government has also proposed a series of welfare schemes, including making at least one hospital in each State equipped to provide safe and free gender affirming surgery, counselling and hormone replacement therapy; providing medical insurance cards; giving scholarships to trans persons; facilitating accommodation and schooling for trans, gender non-conforming and intersex children at government-run schools and colleges; and universal access to food security.

About Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019

  • The Act aims to end discrimination against transgender persons in accessing education, employment and healthcare.
  • It also recognises the right to self-perceived gender identity and provides for certification from a District Magistrate.
  • In case, a transgender person has had a gender-change surgery, the law says they can obtain a certificate from the medical facility where they had the operation and apply for a change in their certificate.

Key features of the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2019:

Definition of a transgender person:

  • The act defines a transgender person as one whose gender does not match the gender assigned at birth. It includes trans-men and trans-women, persons with intersex variations, gender-queers, and persons with socio-cultural identities, such as kinnar, hijra, aravani, and jogta.
  • Intersex variations is defined to mean a person who at birth shows variation in his or her primary sexual characteristics, external genitalia or hormones from the normative standard of male or female body.

Prohibition against discrimination:

  • The act prohibits the discrimination against a transgender person, including denial of service or unfair treatment in relation to education, employment, to reside, rent, or otherwise occupy property, opportunity to hold public or private office etc.

Right to choose:

  • Going by the act, a person would have the right to choose to be identified as a man, woman or transgender, irrespective of sex reassignment surgery and hormonal therapy.

Right of residence:

  • Every transgender person shall have a right to reside and be included in his household.
  • If the immediate family is unable to care for the transgender person, the person may be placed in a rehabilitation centre, on the orders of a competent court.

Health care:

  • The government must take steps to provide health facilities to transgender persons including separate HIV surveillance centres, and sex reassignment surgeries.
  • The government shall review medical curriculum to address health issues of transgender persons, and provide comprehensive medical insurance schemes for them.

Certificate of identity for a transgender person:

  • A transgender person may make an application to the District Magistrate for a certificate of identity, indicating the gender as ‘transgender’.
  • A revised certificate may be obtained only if the individual undergoes surgery to change their gender either as a male or a female.

Welfare measures by the government:

  • The act states that the relevant government will take measures to ensure the full inclusion and participation of transgender persons in society.
  • It must also take steps for their rescue and rehabilitation, vocational training etc.

National Council for Transgender persons (NCT):

  • It also proposes to Set up a National Council for Transgender persons to advise the central government on policies and legislation related to transgender persons as well as redress the grievances of transgender persons.

District Screening Committee:

  • The act also requires transgender persons to go through a district magistrate and “district screening committee” to get certified as a transperson.
  • The committee would comprise a medical officer, a psychologist or psychiatrist, a district welfare officer, a government official, and a transgender person.
[Ref: The Hindu, IASToppers.com]

Government Schemes & Policies

PRAGYATA Guidelines on Digital Education

Human Resource Development Ministry released PRAGYATA Guidelines on Digital Education.

  • These guidelines, prepared by the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT), are only advisory in nature, and State governments have been asked to build on them and formulate their own rules, based on local needs.

Key Highlights of the guidelines

Categories: Acknowledging the fact each students has different facilities, it categorizes students in 6 categories: i) those who have computers or smartphones with 4G internet access as well as with Television/DTH, ii) those who have computers or smartphones with 4G internet access iii) those with smartphone but limited or no internet access, iv) those with television with cable or DTH, v) those with a radio set or a basic mobile phone with FM radio, and vi) those with no communication devices at all.

8 Steps: it include eight steps of online/ digital learning:

Plan: State department has to plan for providing textbooks every year, creates an annual calendar, assessment plan etc. and schools have to make a timetable, plan on how to complete their syllabus etc.

  • Factors such as Number of students in each class, availability of digital services, competencies of teachers in handling digital classes, Physiological (age, class, physical disability), Psychological (motivation, learning style) and Sociological factors (parental support, language of the students etc.) must be counted in planning.

Review: Take review after deciding different modes for different sets of students. This include review in terms of time, quality of resources, scope of assignments, methods of assessment etc.

Arrange: Proper arrangement of all the reviewed information on daily/weekly or monthly basis.

Guide: Teachers need to inform parents or students about the topics to be learnt by the students, guide students on how they will do their assignment and Pedagogy process using different modes like instant messaging, SMS etc.

Yak (Talk): Teachers must ensure that discussion must happen among the members of the groups (created among students) so that students take an interest in studying.

Assign: teachers can give some interesting assignments to the children.

Track: Teachers need to track progress either on social media like WhatsApp or by calling them and asking them to show what they have done.

Appreciate: On every completed task, teachers must compliment children by sending messages, calling them and appreciating them.

Other key Highlights: 

It also outlines suggestions for administrators, school heads, teachers, parents and students on the following areas:

  • Need assessment
  • Concerns while planning online education like duration, screen time, balanced online and offline activities etc.
  • Modalities of intervention including resource curation, level wise delivery etc.
  • Physical, mental health and wellbeing during digital education
  • Cyber safety and ethical practices including precautions for maintaining cyber safety
  • Collaboration and convergence with various initiatives

Significance

  • Guidelines for physical health and mental wellness is stressed across the guidelines for all stakeholders measures so that children do not get overly stretched or get affected negatively (postural defects, ophthalmic issues, and other physical problems) owing to prolonged use of digital devices.
  • Also it provides sufficient Do’s and Don’ts regarding ergonomics and cyber safety.
  • The Guidelines also emphasize the need to unify all efforts related to digital/ online/on-air education, benefitting school going children across the country. The initiative includes DIKSHA, SWAYAM Prabha, SWAYAM MOOCS, CBSE Shiksha Vani podcast, Special content for children with special needs and ITPAL.
[Ref: PIB, The Hindu]

Draft Non-Personal Data Governance Framework

A government committee headed by Infosys co-founder Kris Gopalakrishnan, in a Draft NonPersonal Data Governance Framework, has suggested that non-personal data generated in the country be allowed to be harnessed by various domestic companies and entities.

  • It has also suggested setting up of a new authority which would be empowered to monitor the use and mining of such non-personal data.
  • The development comes months after central government framed a draft personal data protection bill, which aims to build a framework to preserve the sanctity of consent in data sharing, and penalize those breaching privacy norms.

What is non-personal data?

  • It is any set of data which does not contain personally identifiable information. This in essence means that no individual or living person can be identified by looking at such data.
  • For example, while order details collected by a food delivery service will have the name, age, gender, and other contact information of an individual, it will become non-personal data if the identifiers such as name and contact information are taken out.

Three types of data

The government committee has classified non-personal data into three main categories, namely public non-personal data, community non-personal data and private non-personal data.

  • Public non-personal data: All the data collected by government and its agencies such as census, data collected by municipal corporations on the total tax receipts or any information collected during execution of all publicly funded works.
  • Community non-personal data: Any data identifiers about a set of people who have either the same geographic location, religion, job, or other common social interests.
    • For example, the metadata collected by ride-hailing apps, electricity distribution companies among others have been put under the community non-personal data category by the committee.
  • Private non-personal data: Produced by individuals which can be derived from application of proprietary software or knowledge.

Need:

  • India, with the second-largest smartphone userbase, is one of the largest data markets in the world.
  • A law that regulates the sharing, commercial use and privacy of non-personal data of users will ensure that big corporations don’t end up creating data monopolies which would invariably harm smaller businesses and tech startups. 

How sensitive can non-personal data be?

  • Sharing of non-personal data with private players could lead to the creation of economic value, as the data could be useful for Indian entrepreneurs to develop new and innovative services and products.
  • However, in certain categories such as data related to national security such as locations of government laboratories or research facilities, even if provided in anonymised form can be dangerous.
  • Similarly, even if the data is about the health of a community, though it may be in anonymised form, it can still be dangerous.
  • Therefore, as per the committee, the non-personal data arising from such sensitive personal data may be considered as sensitive non-personal data.

What are the global standards on non-personal data?

  • In May 2019, the European Union came out with a regulation framework for the free flow of non-personal data in the European Union, in which it suggested that member states of the union would cooperate with each other when it came to data sharing. However, the regulation, had not defined what non-personal data constituted of.
  • In several other countries across the world, there are no nationwide data protection laws, whether for personal or non-personal data.
[Ref: Indian Express]

Issues related to Health & Education

World Youth Skills Day

  • The Prime Minister of India will deliver a video address on the occasion of World Youth Skills Day. The day marks the 5th anniversary of the launch of Skill India Mission.
  • The event is organised by the Permanent Missions of Sri Lanka and Portugal to the UN, the Office of the Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth, UNESCO, and ILO.
  • The virtual event brings together young people, the UN Member States, TVET (Technical and Vocational Education and Training) institutions, the private sector, worker’s organisations, policymakers, and development partners.
  • The theme is Skills for a Resilient Youth.

Brief Background:

  • 15 July is declared as World Youth Skills Day by adopting a resolution by the United Nations General Assembly in December 2014.
  • The main aim of the day is to achieve better socio-economic conditions for today’s youth in terms of challenges of unemployment and under-employment.

About Skill India:

  • Skill India is an initiative of the Government of India which has been launched to empower the youth of the country with skill sets which make them more employable and more productive in their work environment.
  • Skill India offers courses across several sectors which are aligned to the standards recognised by both, the industry and the government under the National Skill Qualification Framework.
  • The courses help a person focus on practical delivery of work and help him enhance his technical expertise so that he is ready for day one of his job and companies don’t have to invest into training him for his job profile.

Some facts:

  • In the whole world, one in five people is NEET that is not in employment, education, and training. Three out of four young NEETs are women.
  • Between 1997 and 2017, the young population grew by 139 million and the population of the youth labour force shrank by 58.7 million.
  • Almost 2 out of 5 young workers in emerging and developing economies live on less than US$3.10 a day.
  • Before the current crisis, young people were 3 times as likely as adults (25 years and older) to be unemployed. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, currently, more than 1 in 6 young people are out of work.
[Ref: PIB]

Bilateral & International Relations

Pakistan to allow Afghan exports to India through Wagah border

Pakistan will allow Afghanistan to send goods to India using the Wagah border from July 15. The decision is part of Islamabad’s commitment under Pakistan-Afghanistan Transit Trade Agreement.

However, Pakistan is silent on the issue of trade from India to Afghanistan.

Expected Benefits:

  • India-Afghanistan trade is expected to grow.
  • Boost availability of Afghan fruit produce in India.

Afghanistan–Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement

  • The Afghanistan–Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement (APTTA) is a bilateral trade agreement between Pakistan and Afghanistan.
  • It was signed in 2010.
  • It seeks towards greater facilitation in the movement of goods amongst the two countries.
[Ref: The Hindu]

Defence & Security Issues

Carmel and Arad

Two new Israeli assault rifles Arad and Carmel now set to be manufactured in India

  • These will be produced under the ‘Make in India’ initiative in Madhya Pradesh, where a plant had been set up in 2017 by Israel Weapons System (IWI) in a joint venture called PLR Systems.

Carmel:

  • Carmel is a multi-purpose, modular, 5.56X45mm caliber assault rifle.
  • The rifle can be easily customised, depending on the operational needs, military or law enforcement tasks — vehicle patrol, CQB (close-quarters combat), undercover missions, short and medium combat engagement, diverse police operations, VIP protection, and more.

Arad

  • Arad is an M4-type Assault Rifle, intended for all kinds of combat scenarios with its ability to change calibers.
  • The rifle can be changed to shoot two different caliber bullets — 5.56 and 300 BLK.
[Ref: The Print]

Art & Culture

Bhanu Jayanti

Recently, the 206th birth anniversary of Nepali poet Acharya Bhanubhakta was celebrated in Darjeeling, West Bengal.

About Acharya Bhanubhakta:

  • Bhanubhakta Acharya was a Nepali poet, translator and writer. He was born in 1841 in Nepal.
  • His important works include the translation of the Ramayana into Nepali, Badhusiksha, Prashna Uttar, Bhaktamala.
  • He was titled Aadikavi (The First Poet) of the Nepali language.
  • His poems were later published by famous poet Motiram Bhatta.
[Ref: The Hindu, Wikipedia]

Geophysical Phenomena

Largest Sahara dust across Atlantic

The ESA’s (European Space Agency) Copernicus Sentinel and Aeolus satellites have tracked the largest Sahara dust, nick-named Godzilla.

  • Copernicus is the European Union’s Earth observation programme. The Sentinel spacecraft missions include imaging for land, ocean and atmospheric monitoring.
  • Aeolus satellite is the first satellite designed to acquire profiles of Earth’s winds on a global basis.

Saharan Air Layer (SAL)

  • SAL is an extremely hot dust-laden layer of the atmosphere that often overlies the cooler, more- air of the Atlantic Ocean.
  • They occur when high-velocity winds pick up tiny dry particles from the Earth’s surface and carry them long distances.
  • SAL activity typically ramps up in mid-June and peaks from late June to mid-August, with new outbreaks occurring every three to five days. During this peak period, it is common for SAL outbreaks to reach Central America (an 8,000 km journey)

Impacts

Extremely Dry Air: Saharan Air Layer’s dry, dusty air has about 50% less moisture than the typical tropical atmosphere. This extremely dry air can weaken a tropical cyclone or tropical disturbance by promoting downdrafts around the storm.

Warm Temperatures: SAL’s warmth acts to stabilize the atmosphere, which can suppress the formation of clouds. The SAL’s suspended mineral dust also absorbs sunlight, which helps maintain its warmth as it crosses the Atlantic Ocean.

Nutrient source: The dust is also a nutrient source for phytoplankton, the tiny marine plants that float near the surface of the ocean. Phytoplankton is critical to the food web, providing food for animals higher up the food chain. Phytoplankton is also photosynthetic, creating oxygen for the biosphere.

Replenish nutrients in amazon: The dust plumes also replenish nutrients as far away as the Amazon rain forest. The heavy rains there can deplete essential nutrients. Without these plumes, the Amazon likely wouldn’t exhibit such biodiversity.

Health Impact

  • The haze can trigger air quality alerts, and can be a health risk, especially for people with underlying health conditions. That’s partly because the dust has travelled so far that many of the larger particles have fallen to the surface. What’s left is the smaller particles, which are most dangerous to people.

About Sahara Desert:

  • It is the world’s largest desert (8.54 million sq. km)
  • The Sahara Desert touches 11 countries: Algeria, Chad, Egypt, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Sudan, Tunisia and Western Sahara.
  • The Sahara is bordered in the west by the Atlantic Ocean, in the north by the Atlas Mountains and Mediterranean Sea, in the east by the Red Sea, and in the south by the Sahel—a semiarid region that forms a transitional zone between the Sahara and the belt of humid savannas.

Geography

  • The principal topographical features of the Sahara include shallow basins (chotts and dayas) and large oasis depressions; extensive gravel-covered plains (serirs); rock plateaus (hammadas); and sand sheets, dunes, and sand seas (ergs).
  • A prominent feature of the plains is the dark patina of ferromanganese compounds, called desert varnish, that forms on the surfaces of weathered rocks.
  • Highest point: Mount Koussi in Chad (3,415 m).
  • Lowest point: Qattara Depression of Egypt (133 m).

Great Green Wall of the Sahara and the Sahel initiative

  • It is Africa’s flagship initiative to combat the increasing desertification.
  • Led by the African Union in 2005, the initiative aims to plant drought-resistant native trees along the edges of the Sahara that would stretch across the African continent in order to halt further desertification.

Climate

  • The Sahara is dominated by two climatic regimes: a dry subtropical climate in the north and a dry tropical climate in the south.
  • The dry subtropical climate is characterized by high diurnal temperature ranges, cold winters and hot summers, and low rain. The dry tropical climate is characterized by a strong annual temperature cycle following mild winters; and variable summer rains.

Flora and Fauna

  • Vegetation in the Sahara Desert includes cactus, date palms and acacia. In some places there are oasis – green islands with date palms surrounding them. Various halophytes (salt-tolerant plants) are found in saline depressions.
    • The vegetation of the Sahara is noteworthy for its many unusual adaptations. Example: Many plants germinate within 3 days of adequate rainfall and sow their seeds within 10 or 15 days of germination (short lifespan).
  • Camels, hyenas, jackals, foxes, scorpions, many varieties of snakes and lizards are the prominent animal species living there.

People

  • Archaeological evidence suggests that the Sahara was increasingly inhabited by diverse populations. While the groups lived separately, the proximity of settlements suggests an increasing economic interdependence.
  • Bedouins and Tuaregs nomadic tribes live here.
  • They depends on livestock such as goats, sheep, camels and horses. They wear heavy robes as protection against dust storms and hot winds.
  • The oasis in the Sahara and the Nile Valley in Egypt supports settled population. Since water is available, the people grow date palms. Crops such as rice, wheat, barley and beans are also grown.
[Ref: Times of India]

Science & Technology

Supercapacitor from industrial waste cotton

Scientists at the International Advanced Research Centre for Powder Metallurgy and New Materials (ARCI), an autonomous organization of the Department of Science and Technology, Govt. of India have developed a simple, low-cost, environmentally friendly, and sustainable supercapacitor electrode derived from industrial waste cotton which can be used as an energy harvester storage device.

ARCI also explored natural seawater as an environmentally friendly, cost-effective, scalable, and alternative aqueous electrolyte, which may replace the existing aqueous-based electrolytes for the economic fabrication of supercapacitor.

Supercapacitor:

  • Scientists at ARCI have converted industrial waste cotton (Trash) into highly porous carbon fibers (Treasure) by activation process and then utilised the porous carbon fibers to make high-performance supercapacitor electrodes.
  • Supercapacitor is a next-generation energy storage device that has received extensive research attention owing to advantages such as high-power density, long durability, and ultrafast charging characteristic as compared to conventional capacitors and lithium-ion batteries (LIB).

Seawater as Electrolyte:

  • In the recent research published in Energy Technology, scientists at ARCI demonstrated the feasibility of using seawater as natural electrolyte for the fabrication of aqueous-based supercapacitor devices which shows great potential for practical implementation.
  • The study found that natural seawater-based supercapacitor exhibited maximum capacitances at a current density of 1 Ag-1. In addition, seawater-based supercapacitor shows very good durability upon 10,000 charge-discharge cycles with 99 % of capacitance retention and 99 % of Coulombic efficiency (efficiency with which charge is transferred in a system facilitating an electrochemical reaction).

Applications:

  • Facilitate implementation of an integrated solar cell with seawater-based supercapacitor as low cost, eco-friendly, efficient and self-powering device.
[Ref: PIB]

UAE’s first mission to Mars delayed

United Arab Emirates first launch to Mars has been delayed two days by poor weather conditions at the Japan`s Tanegashima Space Center.

Hope`s Mission:

  • The Emirates Mars Mission, or Hope is built by the United Arab Emirates. It is Arab region’s first foray into interplanetary space.
  • It is a $200 million spacecraft. The mission will orbit Mars and study the dynamics of the martian atmosphere and its interaction with outer space and the solar wind.
  • Hope is expected to spend about seven months traveling to Mars, arriving in early 2021. The spacecraft will orbit over the Red Planet’s equator for a full Mars year (nearly two Earth years) studying the planet’s weather and atmosphere.
  • The primary scientific objectives are to search for the connection between current martian weather and the ancient climate of Mars, study the loss mechanisms of Mars’ atmosphere to space by tracking the behavior and escape of hydrogen and oxygen, investigate how the lower and upper levels of the martian atmosphere are connected, and create a global picture of how the martian atmosphere varies throughout the day and year.

The other Mars Mission which will be launched in the near future are China’s Tianwen-1 lander and NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance rover.

[Ref: Indian Express, Space.com]

Ingenuity Mars Helicopter

Along with NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter will also be launched.

  • It will be the first aircraft to attempt controlled flight on another planet.

Features:

  • Ingenuity is a technology demonstration and weighs about 1.8 kilograms.
  • It features four specially made carbon-fiber blades, arranged into two rotors that spin in opposite directions at around 2,400 rpm.
  • It also has solar cells, batteries, and other components but not science instruments.
  • It will have a lot of autonomy to make its own decisions about how to fly to a waypoint and keep itself warm.
  • If successful, these technologies could enable other advanced robotic flying vehicles that might be included in future robotic and human missions to Mars.

Mars Environment:

  • Mars atmosphere is 99 percent less dense than Earth’s.
  • The temperatures at Jezero Crater where Perseverance will land can dip to minus 9090 degrees Celsius.
[Ref: Times of India]

Key Facts for Prelims

Viking Link

  • Work began on the Viking Link cable which will allow to share renewable energy between UK and Denmark.
  • It is a €2bn, 475-mile long cable. It is dubbed as the world’s longest subsea power cable.
  • It is a joint venture between National Grid in the UK and Denmark’s Energinet.
  • It would play a vital role in the UK’s net zero carbon ambitions.
[Ref: The Guardian]
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