Science & Technology - 2018 MAY

May 1

NASA to launch its first mission to study deep interior of Mars
NASA’s first-ever mission to study the deep interior of Mars is on schedule to launch this week. The Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport (InSight) is the first planetary mission to take off from the West Coast of US. Most of US’ interplanetary missions take off from the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida, located on the East Coast of the country.
Launching on the same rocket is a separate NASA technology experiment known as Mars Cube One (MarCO). MarCO consists of two mini-spacecraft and will be the first test of CubeSat technology in deep space. They are designed to test new communications and navigation capabilities for future missions and may aid InSight communications.
InSight is targeted to launch from Space Launch Complex-3 at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California aboard a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket. The lander will study the deep interior of Mars to learn how all rocky planets formed, including Earth and its Moon.

May 2

Blue Origin Launches New Shepard Space Capsule
Rocket Company Blue Origin completed its eighth successful test mission, April 29, taking the New Shepard capsule to its highest altitude to date.
Owned by Amazon boss Jeff Bezos, Blue Origin launched its reusable sub-orbital rocket from its spaceport in the west Texas desert, with the ascent taking the capsule to 351,000 feet (66 miles, 107 kilometers) above the surface of Earth - some four miles higher than previous launches.
Following the pattern of previous tests, the capsule separated from the top of the rocket at an altitude of just under 50 miles, with the capsule continuing on to its record altitude. Both returned safely to terra firma a short while later - the capsule using parachutes, the rocket using its boosters for a perfect touchdown. The entire event, from launch to landing, took just over 10 minutes.
Blue Origin’s Ariane Cornell described the launch and landings as ''another spectacular test mission''.
This was the second outing for Blue Origin’s latest crew capsule 2.0, following a flawless debut mission in December last year.
The company’s short-term goal is to offer high-paying tourists once-in-a-lifetime trips to the edge of space, where they’ll be able to view the curvature of Earth while floating around in a weightless environment for up to five minutes.

May 4

China launches satellite to provide transmission across Asia-Pacific region
China launched a new communication satellite "APSTAR-6C" at the southwestern Xichang Satellite Launch Center.
The satellite was sent into orbit by the Long March-3B carrier rocket. This was the 273rd mission of the Long March rocket series.
Both the satellite and the rocket were developed by the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation.
The user of the satellite is Hong Kong-based APT Satellite Co. Ltd. The satellite will provide TV transmission, communication, Internet and multimedia services to customers across the Asia-Pacific region.

May 5

Dakota DC-3 VP 905 aircraft joins IAF again
A restored Dakota joined the Indian Air Force in an induction ceremony at Hindan air force station, more than four decades after the aircraft fleet was phased out following an illustrious service record.
The Dakota DC-3 VP 905 was formally inducted into the IAF at a grand ceremony at Hindan where a key was received by the Chief of Air Staff Air Marshal B S Dhanoa from Air Commodore (retd) M.K. Chandrasekhar whose son and Rajya Sabha MP Rajeev Chandrasekhar bought and restored the aircraft.
The Dakota was accepted by the Chief of Air Staff from the Rajya Sabha MP Rajeev Chandrasekhar.
The aircraft was bought by the MP from "scrap" and got restored in the UK.
The restored Dakota rechristened as 'Parashuram' will join the 'Vintage Fly' of one each of Tiger Moth and Howard raised at Hindan air force station.

May 6

NASA launches InSight spacecraft to Mars to study Red Planet’s quakes
NASA blasted off its latest Mars lander, InSight, designed to perch on the surface and listen for “Marsquakes” ahead of eventual human missions to explore the Red Planet.
The spacecraft launched on a dark, foggy morning atop an Atlas V rocket at 4.05 a.m. Pacific time (4.35 p.m. IST) from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, marking NASA’s first interplanetary launch from the U.S. west coast.
The $993 million project aims to expand human knowledge of interior conditions on Mars, inform efforts to send human explorers, and reveal how rocky planets like the Earth formed billions of years ago. If all goes as planned, the lander should settle on the Red Planet on November 26. Its name, InSight, is short for Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport.
InSight aims to be the first NASA spacecraft to land on Mars since the Curiosity rover in 2012.

May 7

ISRO develops desi atomic clock, to be used in navigation satellites
In a significant development, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has developed an atomic clock that will be used in navigation satellites to measure precise location data. The space agency currently imports atomic clocks from European aerospace manufacturer Astrium for its navigation satellites.
With the development of the desi atomic clock, ISRO has become one of the few space organisations in the world which have gained the capability to develop this highly sophisticated technology.
All seven navigation satellites launched earlier as part of Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS) or NaVIC have three imported Rubdium atomic clocks each.

Lunar rock points to hidden water reserves on Moon
Scientists have found a mineral in a lunar meteorite that points to the presence of abundant hidden reserves of water ice under the surface of the Moon, which could be potentially useful for future human exploration.
A team from the Tohoku University in Japan found the mineral, called moganite, in a lunar meteorite discovered in a desert in northwest Africa.
Moganite, a crystal of silicon dioxide, is known to form on Earth in specific circumstances in sedimentary settings from alkaline fluids. It has never before been detected in samples of lunar rock.
Researchers believe the mineral formed on the surface of the Moon in the area called Procellarum Terrane, as water originally present in lunar dirt evaporated due to exposure to strong sunlight.

May 9

China launches new satellite to monitor air pollution
China successfully launched a hyperspectral imaging satellite for comprehensive observation of the atmosphere, including air pollution which is one of the country's major problems.
The Gaofen-5 satellite was launched off the back of a Long March 4C rocket from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center in northern Shanxi Province. It was the 274th flight mission by a Long March carrier rocket.
The satellite, launched as part of its high-resolution Earth observation project, was developed and produced by China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation can be used for comprehensive environmental monitoring. It has a designed life of eight years.
Gaofen-5 is able to obtain spectral information from ultraviolet to long-wave infrared radiation. It is the world's first full-spectrum hyperspectral satellite for comprehensive observation of the atmosphere and land.

Google officially launches Things, its IoT platform
As predicted by Internet of Business, Google is officially launching its Android Things platform for Internet of Things (IoT) devices, at its annual I/O developer’s conference.
Android Things is a managed operating system that provides developers with the SDKs to build every kind of Google-certified IoT device.
The company announced the concept in December 2016, as a comprehensive IoT platform to make it quicker and easier for software and hardware developers – including those working on smart displays, cash machines, kiosks, and digital signage to build IoT products using Android APIs.

Rajasthan institute comes up with new sheep insemination technique
Scientists at the Central Sheep and Wool Research Institute (CSWRI), Avikanagar, have come up with a new laparascope-assisted insemination technique for sheep, which has resolved the difficulties involved in freezing of semen and inability to transit the tortuous reproductive tract of the ruminant mammals kept as livestock.
The minor invasive laparascopic technique involves passing a rigid fibre-optic laparoscope into the abdomen through a small incision. The reproductive tract is located through camera and the frozen semen is deposited into the uterus.

May 10

Astronomers find first carbon-rich asteroid in Kuiper Belt
Astronomers have discovered an unusual carbon-rich asteroid in the Kuiper Belt - the first of its kind to be confirmed in the cold outer reaches of the solar system.
This object, designated 2004 EW95, likely formed in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter and has been flung billions of kilometres from its origin to its current home in the Kuiper Belt.
The researchers found that the asteroid's reflectance spectrum - the specific pattern of wavelengths of light reflected from an object - was different to that of similar small Kuiper Belt Objects (KBOs), which typically have uninteresting, featureless spectra that reveal little information about their composition.
"The reflectance spectrum of 2004 EW95 was clearly distinct from the other observed outer Solar System objects," explained lead author Tom Seccull of Queen's University Belfast in Britain.

Yahoo Squirrel Group Chat App Unveiled for Android and iOS
Yahoo has just entered the densely competitive market of messaging apps by releasing its own new group chat app named Squirrel. The app - currently still in testing - is now listed on Google Play and the App Store, and is invite-only for now. If you wish to start using the app, you need a friend who already has the app on their device to invite you into a group for you to be able to use it. Squirrel focuses mainly on group chats, and has many features that let you organise and streamline conversations with several people.
Judging by the features mentioned in the description on Google Play, Squirrel looks to compete with the likes of Discord and Slack, apart from of course regular messaging apps with group chat features, like WhatsApp and WeChat. The app will let you create rooms for specific people and topics, and there is one main room where the entire group can talk and make announcements. There's a mute switch that allows users to avoid notifications of rooms they wish to not participate in. The app should be useful in business organisations and companies, where multiple conversations are aplenty.

Ravi Shankar Prasad launches website of Digital India Internship Scheme
Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad yesterday launched the website of Digital India Internship Scheme in New Delhi. Under this scheme, 25 interns will be inducted for a period of three months. These interns will be paid a stipend of 10 thousand rupees per month.
The internship is an opportunity for a student to secure first hand and practical work experience under the guidance of qualified and experienced Supervisor and Mentor. It also aims at active participation in the learning process through experimentation and putting into practice the knowledge acquired in the classrooms.

May 11

U.S. cancels carbon monitoring project
A NASA programme that cost $10 million per year to track carbon and methane, key greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming, has been cancelled.
The end of the programme - called the Carbon Monitoring System (CMS) - which tracked sources and sinks for carbon and made high-resolution models of the planet’s flows of carbon - was first reported by the journal Science.

May 12

SpaceX launches Bangladesh’s first communications satellite
An updated version of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, tailored for eventual crewed missions for NASA, made its debut launch from Florida's Cape Canaveral carrying a communications satellite for Bangladesh into orbit.
The newly minted Block-5 edition of the Falcon 9 - equipped with about 100 upgrades for greater power, safety and reusability than its Block-4 predecessor - lifted off at 4:14 p.m. EDT (2014 GMT) from the Kennedy Space Center.