Science and Technology July 2013
Science and Technology
India’s advanced meteorological satellite INSAT-3D was
successfully launched by an European rocket from the spaceport of
Kourou in French Guiana early today (i.e. on 26th July) giving a
boost to weather forecasting and disaster warning
services. European space consortium Arianespace’s Ariane 5 rocket
launched INSAT-3D and Alphasat satellites. Alphasat is Europe’s largest
telecommunication satellite-ever manufactured and results from a large-
scale public-private partnership between the European Space Agency and
The workhorse vehicle lifted off exactly on schedule at 1.23 am IST from
the Spaceport’s ELA-3 launch zone in French Guiana for a nearly 33-
minute flight. This launch provided an excellent view of the flight’s initial
trajectory, as the Ariane 5 began its vertical ascent, then rotated East,
arching over the Spaceport’s main base area as it progressed downrange.
The flight path was visible between scattered cloud layers and the clear
meteorological conditions enabled an excellent view of the launch’s first
phase, including separation of the two solid propellant boosters at an
altitude of 67 km.
Alphasat was deployed first in the flight sequence, nearly 28 minutes after
the liftoff. Some five minutes later, Ariane 5 completed its mission with
the successful separation of INSAT-3D, which carries a six-channel imager
and 19-channel sounder, as well as a data relay transponder for satellite-
aided search and rescue operations. “I am happy to inform you that the
Master Control Facility at Hassan in India has already received signals
from INSAT-3D”, Chairman of Indian Space Research Organisation K.
Radhakrishnan said minutes after the launch.
The imaging system of INSAT-3D has significant improvements over that
of KALPANA and INSAT-3A, the space agency said. INSAT-3D will provide
continuity to earlier missions and further augment the capability to
provide various meteorological as well as search and rescue services.
INSAT-3D had a lift-off mass of 2,060 kg.
Biological E (BioE) and European biotech company Valneva SE said
the World Health Organization (WHO) has pre-qualified its
Japanese Encephalitis vaccine for global use in adults on 22nd
July. The company expects that the pediatric indication will also be
prequalified by the end of 2013.The WHO prequalification was a key step
for distribution of the vaccine in developing countries. “We are happy that
our JE vaccine is the first ever WHO prequalified vaccine. It is an
extremely important achievement for the vaccines community as our
vaccine’s prequalification is well in time to support GAVI’s plans of
introducing the JE vaccine in several developing countries,” said Mahima
Datla, MD, BioE. BioE and Valneva have joined hands in partnership in
2005 for the development and commercialization of a Japanese
Encephalitis vaccine for endemic regions, based on Valneva’s JEV
technology. The vaccine is being marketed in India under the trade-name
JEEV and commercialization in other JE-endemic countries is planned.
Scientists of the CSIR-Indian Institute of Chemical Technology
(IICT) Hyderabad developed a software tool that can control and
reduce the outbreak of Mosquito-borne diseases by data mining
(Knowledge Discovering). This IT tool has been validated by the
Central Government and taken up for implementation by health
authorities in five States of States Gujarat, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur,
Assam and Mizoram in the initial phase which will be extended to all other
States in a phased manner. This technology has been developed by Dr.
U.S.N. Murthy, Chief Scientist, Biology Division at the IICT and his team
by improvising and customizing Self Organizing Map (SOM), a cluster
technique in data mining.
SOM technology would enable health officials to prioritize control
parameters in endemic zones at village level and initiate measures to
minimize morbidity and mortality, caused by the onset of vector-borne
diseases. SOM technology can help to alert health authorities to take up
larval and adult spraying before the transmission of parasite by the
mosquito. Mosquito-borne diseases like malaria, Japanese encephalitis
and dengue are posing a serious public health problem in India and other
South-East Asian Countries, with some of them were occurring in an
epidemic form on a periodical basis. The North East of India parts account
for about 10.5 per cent of malaria cases and 20 per cent of the deaths.
The technology works on two ways -one relating to the names of the
villages and the second focusing on mosquito density, infection, infectivity
and parasitic load. Based on these parameters, a complete mapping of the
villages could be done in terms of prioritizing control parameters.
US lawmakers are pushing a plan to establish a new national park
that would quite literally be out of this world - on the Moon. A new
bill introduced into the US Congress on 14 July, would create the Apollo
Lunar Landing Sites National Historical Park on the Moon. Called the
Apollo Lunar Landing Legacy Act, the bill (House Resolution
2617) was referred to the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology,
and in addition to the House Committee on Natural Resources.
Emphasizing that the Apollo lunar programme was one of the greatest
achievements in the US history, the bill notes that, as commercial
enterprises and foreign nations acquire the ability to land on the Moon, "it
is necessary to protect the Apollo lunar landing sites for posterity. "The
bill, in part, calls for no later than one year after the date of enactment of
the act, "there shall be established as a unit of the National Park System
the Apollo Lunar Landing Sites National Historical Park."Establishing such
a park will expand and enhance the protection and preservation of the
Apollo lunar landing sites, the bill states, "and provide for greater
recognition and public understanding of this singular achievement in
American history."The bill also spotlights the artifacts on the surface of
the Moon associated with the ill-fated Apollo 13 mission, "which had an
instrumentality crash land on the lunar surface April 14, 1970," it states.
NASA, the U.S. space agency announced the discovery of
Neptune’s 14th moon in July, 2013. The Hubble Space Telescope
captured the moon as a white dot in photos of the planet on the periphery
of our solar system. The new moon, Neptune’s tiniest at just 19.3 km
across, and is designated as S/2004 N 1.
The Neptune 14th moon was actually discovered by the SETI Institute’s
Mark Showalter while studying the segments of rings around Neptune
when he spotted the white dot popping out, 1,05,250 km from Neptune.
He tracked its movement in more than 150 pictures taken from 2004 to
2009. The method involved tracking the movement of a white dot that
appears over and over in more than 150 archival Neptune photographs
taken by Hubble from 2004 to 2009. The considerably bigger gas giant
Jupiter has four times as many moons, with 67.
A healthy baby boy in the US has become the world's first test
tube baby to be born using a new low cost "next-generation
sequencing" IVF technique that screens the embryo for genetic
defects, Oxford scientists announced on 8th July. The method,
through which the baby was born last month, uses the latest DNA
sequencing techniques and aims to increase in-vitro fertilization success
rates while being more affordable for couples and lowering the risk of
miscarriages, researchers say. The international team led by Dr Dagan
Wells of Oxford University showed how "next-generation sequencing" can
be used to pick the embryos created by IVF that are most likely to lead to
NASA has turned off a decade-old space telescope, a year after loaning
the orbiting instrument to a university that operated it with private
funding. The space agency decommissioned its Galaxy Evolution
Explorer spacecraft, or GALEX, on June 28, NASA officials said.
During its 10-year career, GALEX peered at hundreds of millions of
galaxies, helping researchers better understand how these huge
collections of stars grow and evolve.
"GALEX is a remarkable accomplishment," Jeff Hayes, NASA's GALEX
program executive in Washington, D.C., said in a statement. "This small
Explorer mission has mapped and studied galaxies in the ultraviolet, light
we cannot see with our own eyes, across most of the sky."The $150
million GALEX satellite launched in April 2003 on a 29-month
mission to study the history of star formation in the universe.
NASA extended GALEX but eventually stopped funding it in February
In May 2012, the agency made an unprecedented move, handing the
spacecraft's reins over to the California Institute of Technology (Caltech)
in Pasadena, which kept GALEX going with private funds. Some of the
mission's highlights include helping astronomers identify the largest
known spiral galaxy in the universe, a behemoth called NGC 6872;
catching a black hole in the act of gobbling up a star; and discovering a
missing link in galaxy evolution, a sort of "teenage stage" between young
ISRO’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, PSLV-C22, has successfully
launched IRNSS-1A, the first satellite in the Indian Regional
Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS) from Satish Dhawan Space
Centre, Sriharikota on 1 July. This is the 23rd consecutively
successful mission of PSLV. After a flight of 20 minutes 17 seconds,
the IRNSS-1A Satellite, weighing 1425 kg, was injected to the intended
elliptical orbit of 282.46 km X 20,625.37 km. ISRO’s Master Control
Facility (at Hassan, Karnataka) assumed the control of the
satellite.IRNSS-1A is the first of the seven satellites constituting
the space segment of the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite
System. IRNSS is an independent regional navigation satellite system
designed to provide position information in the Indian region and 1,500
km around the Indian mainland. IRNSS would provide two types of
services, namely, Standard Positioning Services (SPS) – provided to all
users – and Restricted Services (RS) provided only to authorised users. As
per ISRO the entire IRNSS constellation of seven satellites is planned to
completed by 2015-16.