Science & Technology - 2019 March

March 1

India’s first indigenous 4G/5G semiconductor chips unveiled by SIGNALCHIP
According to Secretary, Telecom, Mrs. ArunaSundararajan, Data Security is the paramount concern in the World and India cannot remain secure in terms of data, unless it manufactures its own chips.
India’s first Indigenous Semiconductor Chips by Bengaluru based semiconductor company “SIGNALCHIP” for 4G/LTE and 5G NR MODEMs in NewDelhi.
India is just breaking into the elite club of the world and this will have huge implications for India’s data security and data sovereignty, besides the positive economic implications.
Methane Hydrate Discovered in K-G Basin off Andhra Pradesh Coast
Researchers have discovered ‘methanehydrates’ - a potential fuel of the future - just two meters below the sea floor in the Krishna-Godavari (K-G) basin off the coast of AndhraPradesh in the Bay of Bengal.
The discovery has been reported by a team of scientists from the National Institute of Oceanography in Goa and the National Geophysical Research Institute in Hyderabad.
This is the first report on the discovery of an active methane seepage site and the occurrence of shallow methane hydrate deposits in India's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
Methane hydrate, which is formed at low temperature and high pressure, is a solid crystal structure of water within which a large amount of methane gas is trapped.
‘Banglar Shiksha’ web portal launched by West Bengal Government
West Bengal Education Minister Partha Chatterjeeinaugurated a web portal, which is set to provide real-time data on state-run and aided schools.
The portal, ''Banglar Shiksha'' (, will be up and running in two months.
The system will enable the headmaster and class teacher to access the academic performance of a student. Parents, too, can access the information by downloading the ''Banglar Shiksha'' app.
The school principals and headmasters will play a vital role in supplying information. They should be the first ones to receive training on how to operate the web platform.
The portal will address many issues, including attendance of students and teachers. A class teacher will also have to be present in the school to fill in data pertaining to academic and co-curricular activities of every student.

March 2

IRCTC iPay: IRCTC’s own payment aggregator launched
The Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) has finally launched its own payment aggregator system, the "IRCTC iPay”.
The e-ticketing arm of the Indian Railways launched the much-awaited payment aggregator system in a bid to boost digital transactions on the platform and eliminate the need for third-party payment platforms.
IRCTC will have full control of the payment system because of its direct relationship with acquiring banks, card networks and other partners.
This will help reduce the gap between IRCTC and banks which will eventually lead to substantial reduction in payment failures.
Moreover, in case an online transaction is unsuccessful or some other error occurs, IRCTC can directly get in touch with the bank instead of relying on an intermediate source which usually delays the process.
‘Rice Knowledge Bank- Assam’ launched under World Bank funded project APART
Rice Knowledge Bank - Assam’, an agriculture web portal dedicated to enhancing knowledge on rice production techniques and technologies, best production practices and state agriculture facts, was launched as part of the World Bank funded project- Assam Agri-business and Rural Transformation (APART).
According to an official communiqué the portal is the result of efforts of Assam Rural Infrastructure and Agricultural Services Society (ARIAS, Autonomous body of Govt of Assam); Assam Agricultural University (AAU); with technical assistance from International Rice Research Institute (IRRI).

March 3

DotBook: India’s first Braille laptop created by IIT-Delhi Scientists.
The alumnus and researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Delhi have created a laptop for visually-impaired.
In what they claim to be a first in the country, the laptop has an interface in form of dots or Braile instead of a visual one. The researchers have named it ‘DotBook’.
The laptop comes with 4 GB internal storage and is expandable up to 64 GB. It is built in Linux.
The laptop can be connected with mobile phones and other laptops to provide a visual display for sighted persons.
SpaceX launched 1st unmanned Crew Dragon test capsule to space station
SpaceX launched its CrewDragon capsule into space for the first time, in a key test flight to prove to NASA that astronauts will be safe on future flights.
The capsule did not consist of any humans on board, only a dummy called ‘Ripley’. Ripley’s name belongs to the main character in the 1979 movie “Alien” and it consists of sensors help SpaceXvisualize the journey to and from the International Space Station (ISS).
NASA’s Commercial Crew program consists of two test flights- Demo-1and Demo-2. Demo-2 which is going to be the first crewed flight will be launched in July.
Called Demo-1, the launch was key to showing NASA that astronauts will be safe on future flights.
Crew Dragon is slated to autonomously dock to the International Space Station at approximately 6:00 a.m. EST on March 3. It is carrying about 400 pounds supplies and equipment to the space station.

March 4

NASA created a deep ocean conditions in lab to study origins of life
Scientists from NASA, the U.S. space agency, have reproduced deep ocean conditions in the lab to re-create a life that could have formed on the sea floor four billion years ago.
The study focuses on how the building blocks of life form in hydrothermal vents on the ocean floor. It could offer clues to how life started on Earth.
Hydrothermal vents are places on the seafloor where warm water from under the Earth’s crust mixes with near-freezing seawater. These vents form natural chimneys, which play host to all kinds of ocean life.
The team at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in California made their own miniature sea floors by filling beakers with mixtures that mimic Earth’s primordial ocean.

Utah State University's Atmospheric Waves Experiment chosen by NASA for mission to study space weather
Utah State University’s AtmosphericWavesExperiment (AWE) has been chosen by NASA for a mission to study space weather from the International Space Station.
Objective of AWE is to study and focus on airglow, colorful bands of light in Earth’s atmosphere to determine what combination of forces drive space weather in upper atmosphere.
It will be the first such experiment to obtain global observations of important driver of space weather in dynamic region of Earth’s upper atmosphere that can cause interference with radio and GPS communications.
AWE is a Mission of Opportunity under NASA’s Heliophysics Explorers Program, which conducts focused scientific research and develops instrumentation to fill the scientific gaps between the agency’s larger missions.

March 5

Tamil Nadu is the first State in the country to introduce Transcatheter Aortic Valve Implantation (TAVI).
Tamil Nadu became first state in the country to introduce Transcatheter Aortic Valve Implantation (TAVI) in the government hospitals and launched at the Tamil Nadu Government Multi Super Specialty Hospital (TNGMSSH).
TAVI is performed on old-age heart patients who cannot undergo an open-heart surgery and involves replacement of valve through a keyhole procedure.
Tamil Nadu State government entered into a MoU with HeartTeam India to perform the procedure for patients at the TNGMSSH for free of cost.

March 6

ISRO launches Young Scientists programme to train students in space technology
The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) announced the launch of the Young Scientist programme, which will train class 9 students in space science and technology.
ISRO has launched the special programme for school children 'Yuva Vigyani Karyakram' (Young Scientist programme) to impart basic knowledge on space technology, space science and applications to the young ones to arouse their interest in space activities.
The Young Scientists Programmewill be a two-week residential training programme held each year during summer holidays for students from across the country who have completed class 8 and are studying in class 9.

The Geological Survey of India (GSI) launched 22 permanent Global Positioning System (GPS) stations across India to identify seismically hazardous zones and encourage mapping activities.
22 GPS permanent stations have been set up and another 13 stations will be operational by March 2020.
The main functions of GSI attached to the Ministry of Mines is to create and update of national geoscientific information and mineral resource assessment through ground surveys, airborne and marine surveys, mineral prospecting and investigations.

March 7

Google launches ‘Bolo’ to tutor children to read Hindi, English.
Tech giant Google unveiled a new app Bolo that aims to help children in primary school learningto read in Hindi and English.
The free applaunched in India first, uses Google’s speech recognition and text-to-speech technology.
The app features an animated character ‘Diya’, who encourages children to read stories aloud and helps if the child is unable to pronounce a word.
It also lauds the reader when he/she completes the reading.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) astronauts to carry out first all-female spacewalk.
NASA astronauts Anne McClain and Christina Koch will conduct an all-female spacewalk for the first time in history.
NASA astronauts McClain and Koch will carry out the spacewalk on March 29.

March 8

First exoplanet Kepler-1658b confirmed by NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope
Ten years after its launch, NASA’s Kepler Mission has discovered and received confirmation for its first exoplanet Kepler-1658 b andit is recognized as hot Jupiterdue to very high temperature.
Characteristics of Kepler-1658 b:
Very high-temperature.
Thrice as large and 1.5 times as massive as the Sun.
Orbits at a distance of only twice diameter of the Sun.

Nine science & technology missions across India set by a new PM advisory panel
Ahigh-powered advisory panel formed by the Modi government has identified nine national missions, including applications of artificial intelligence, that aim to address major scientific challenges to ensure India's sustainable development.
The Prime Minister's Science, Technology and Innovation Advisory Council (PM-STIAC) aims to facilitate, through its missions, collaboration to solve complex problems.
The Nine Missions are:
Natural Language Translation
Quantum Frontier
Artificial Intelligence
National Biodiversity Mission
Electric Vehicles
Bioscience for Human Health
Waste to Wealth
Deep Ocean Exploration

March 9

ISRO, French Space Agency CNES Seal Agreement on Maritime Security
K.Sivan, Director of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), and Jean-Yves Le Gall, President of CNES of France, signed the agreement in Bengaluru.
The two nations will explore putting up a constellation of low-Earth orbiting satellites that will identify and track movement of ships globally – and in particular those moving in the Indian Ocean region where France has its Reunion Islands.
Before that, they will initially share data from their present space systems and develop new algorithms to analyze them, according to the Paris based National Centre for Space Studies.

400-year-old Japan temple unveils robot avatar of Buddhist Goddess
A 400-year-old Kyoto-based temple has unveiled a robotic avatar of the Buddhist Goddess of Mercy, Kannon, in an attempt to keep the younger generation connected with Buddhism.
Named 'Mindar', the robot can join its hands and move its eyes and torso while delivering 25-minute-long sermons to worshippers.
As per the robot designers, the avatar has been made in a gender-neutral form.

March 10

China launches new communications satellite 'ChinaSat 6C'.
The 'ChinaSat 6C' satellite was launched from Xichang Satellite Launch Center in Sichuan province to provide high-quality radio, television transmission services and strengthen broadband communication system.
China marked 300th launch of the Long March carrier rocket series, which was developed by the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation and will be operated by China Satellite Communications Co. Ltd.
The satellite will cover China, Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific Island Countries and nearly 97% of China’s total launch missions were on Long March rocket series.

IIT Kharagpur Students Devise Solution to Detect Fake Notes at Smart India Hackathon 2019.
Students from IIT Kharagpur have devised unique solution to detect counterfeit currency through wearable sensors at the recently concluded nationwide competition, Smart India Hackathon 2019.
A group of six students from the Dept. of Computer Science and Engineering IIT Kharagpur have developed a code for a Smartphone application to address the problem of detecting fake Indian currency.
Smart India Hackathon is a nationwide initiative to provide students a platform to solve some of pressing problems we face in our daily lives, and thus inculcate a culture of product innovation and a mindset of problem solving.

March 11

IIT-Madras signs MoU with Teerthaa for device NERO to make water from air.
The Indian Institute of Technology - Madras (IIT-M), has signed a memorandum of understanding with Teerthaa, a sustainable technology company, to develop a device that can generate potable water from atmospheric air.
The device named ‘NERO’, which will be powered by solar thermal energy, will produce 4 to 5 liters of potable water per day.
The MoU was signed by Professor Ravindra Gettu, Dean, IIT Madras, and Durga Das, Chief Executive Officer of Teerthaa in the presence of MP Maiya, refrigeration and air-conditioning laboratory, Department of Mechanical Engineering, IIT Madras.

March 12

Guided Pinaka successfully test fired by Defence Organization at Pokhran Ranges.
Defence Research and Defence Organization (DRDO) successfully test fired the Guided Pinaka weapons system from Pokhran ranges in Rajasthan.
The weapon system is equipped with state-of-the-art guidance kit comprising of an advanced navigation and control system.
The weapon systems impacted the intended targets with high precision and achieved desired accuracies.

Indian scientists discover new way of powering radio sources in universe.
The team of Indian astronomers has discovered some sources in the universe capable of emitting radio waves in a never-before-known mechanism, using the Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope (GMRT) located at Khodad in Junnar, about 80 km from Pune.
GMRT is highly sensitive and has a low range feature. Emissions were captured at frequencies around 150 MHz (megahertz).
They discovered a rare source called ‘Extremely Inverted Spectrum Extragalactic Radio Sources’.
The team is headed by Tata Institute of Fundamental Research-National Centre for Radio Astronomy (TIFR-NCRA) who is responsible for operating GMRT.

Google Doodle celebrates the 30th anniversary of the World Wide Web.
Google Doodle celebrating their thirtieth anniversary of the creation of the World Wide Web first proposed on March 11th, 1989 and invented by Tim Berners-Lee.
The World Wide Web (WWW), commonly known as the Web, is an information space where documents and other web resources are identified by Uniform Resource Locators (URLs), which may be interlinked by hypertext, and are accessible via the Internet.

March 13

AstroSat discovers new group of stars in globular cluster NGC 2808
Astronomers from Thiruvananthapuram and Mumbai have identified a new population of ultraviolet stars in the globular cluster NGC 2808 using the Indian multi-wavelength space observatory AstroSat, launched in September 2015.
NGC 2808 is one of the massive globular clusters and is located at a distance of 47,000 light years from us.
Globular clusters are collections of thousands to millions of stars, moving as one unit.
AstroSat is India’s dedicated multi-wavelength space observatory which endeavors for a more detailed understanding of our universe and it observes the universe in the optical, Ultraviolet, low and high energy X-ray regions of the electromagnetic spectrum.

Secretive new frog 'Starry dwarf frog' species from ancient lineage discovered in India.
A team of scientists led by SP Vijay kumar has been discovered the new species of frog known as ‘Starry Dwarf Frog’ in Western Ghats Mountain range, Kerala.
The features of the frog are:
Brown back covered with tiny spots which make it look like a starry sky
Camouflages well in wet leaf litter
The frog is named Astrobatrachus kurichiyana.

Defence labs developed a range of “Combat Casualty Drug” to reduce soldier’s casualties.
Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO)'s medical laboratory Institute of Nuclear Medicine and Allied Sciences (INMAS) has come up with a range of 'combat casualty drugs' that can extend the golden hour till the trooper is shifted to hospital.
Among the drugs developed is Glycerated saline, a battlefield intravenous fluid that does not freeze till -18 degrees Celsius and is useful in handling trauma cases in high altitude areas. Unlike normal saline, it also reduces inflammation.
INMAS has also developed a special medicated dressing material which is 200 times more absorptive than normal dressings during bleeding wounds.
These cellulose fiber-based dressings are more effective in stopping bleeding and keeping the wound clean and moreover, antiseptics, antibiotics and curcumin can be impregnated in the dressing which acts as a slow drug release system.

March 14

DRDO successfully test fires Indigenous Man Portable Anti-Tank Guided Missile.
Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) has successfully test-fired indigenously designed and developed Man Portable Anti-Tank Guided Missile (MPATGM) for second time in the deserts of Pokhran in Rajasthan.
MPATGM is incorporated with advanced features including state-of-the-art Imaging Infrared Radar (IIR) Seeker with integrated avionics.
The first test was conducted on 13th March 2019.

Pakistan successfully test-fires 'smart weapon' from JF-17 fighter jet.
Amidst tensions with India, Pakistan Air Force has announced successfully test-firing an indigenously developed "smart weapon" from a JF-17 Thunder fighter jet.
JF-17 was previously referred as FC-1 Xiaolong which is a single-engine multi-role light fighter was being jointly produced by Pakistan with China for several years with engines supplied by Russia.
JF-17 Thunder fighter jet will provide it a very potent day and night capability to engage a variety of targets with pinpoint accuracy.

March 15

Google shuts down instant messaging app ‘Allo’
Google Allo is a messaging app that was launched in 2016 and was Google’s attempt to compete with the likes of WhatsApp, LINE, Viber, and Telegram.
The app allows basic messaging, sending images and video, and was even the app that introduced Google Assistant to many users.
Along with Google Allo, the original Google Hangouts will also be shut down, with Google aiming to migrate that user base into Hangouts Meet and Hangouts Chat.
Google Hangouts is one of Google’s most well-known apps and has even featured in popular media such as films.

March 16

Election Commission introduces mobile app for observers
The Election Commission (EC) has started using a mobile application ‘Observer App’ for the first time will help poll observers to submit reports.
The officers, who are being deployed as general, police and expenditure observers will get all the important notifications, alerts, and urgent messages through the ‘Observer App’.
And also help them to get their deployment status, download the ID card and update their profile.
For citizens, The EC already launched a mobile app ‘Cvigil’ to report any violation of the model code of conduct during elections.
The present Chief Election Commissioner of India is Sunil Arora and Election Commissioners are Ashok Lavasa & Sushil Chandra.

Scientists at University of Texas developed solar-powered device that creates water from thin air
Researchers led by Guihua Yu, the University of Texas (USA) have developed a novel solar-powered harvesting system that absorbs moisture from the air and converts it into clean, usable water.
The researchers used hydrogels that are both highly water absorbent and can release water upon heating.
The device requires only solar power and can produce enough water to meet the daily needs of an average household.
The technology could be used in disaster situations, water crises or poverty-stricken areas and developing countries.

March 17

Astronomers discover 83 Supermassive Black Holes as big as Sun in universe
Astronomers from Japan, Taiwan and Princeton University have discovered 83 quasars powered by supermassive black holes 13 billion light-years away from the Earth.
A Supermassive black hole becomes visible when gas accretes onto it, causing it to shine as a quasar.
Using the massive Subaru Telescope, located at the Mauna Kea Observatory on Hawaii, the scientists focused their attention on objects located about 13 billion light years away from Earth.

IITs come together to map climate change danger in 12 Indian Himalayan states
Researchers from Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) - Guwahati, IIT - Mandi, Indian Institute of Science Bangalore, Department of Science (DST) along with the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) have collaborated to develop a climate change vulnerability assessment for the Indian Himalayan region using a common framework called as the National Mission for Sustaining the Himalayan Ecosystem (NMSHE).
For the first time, all 12 Himalayan states have used a common framework resulting in the production of comparable state-level and within the state, district-level vulnerability maps.
The 12 states are Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura, Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, hilly districts of West Bengal, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Jammu and Kashmir.

March 19

A Mobile app ‘Conquer Exam, Be a Warrior’ developed by Indian Institute of Public Health Gandhinagar, Gujarat, (IIPHG) to reduce the exam pressure
Indian Institute of Public Health Gandhinagar (IIPHG) - Gujarat joined hands with National Mental Health Program, Department of Health and Family Welfare, Government of Gujarat for developing a mobile application called as ‘Conquer Exam, Be a Warrior’ to reduce the exam pressure for the students.
This application creates awareness as well as help students to analyze their weak point and overcome from the exam pressure by providing assistance.
At present the app launched in English language only but in coming days it will incorporate with Hindi, Gujarat and Marathi language.

Russian Spacecraft Soyuz successfully placed astronauts in International Space Station
Russian Soyuz spacecraft carried NASA Astronauts Nick Hague & Christina Koch and Cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin successfully docked into International Space Station (ISS).
Soyuz Spacecraft is a Russian Spacecraft carries people and supplies to and from the space station.
Soyuz Spacecraft also function as lifeboats and one Soyuz spacecraft is always docked to the space station, so that in case of emergency the crew can return to earth through the spacecraft.
The International Space Station is a habitable artificial satellite in low Earth orbit.
The ISS programme is a joint project between five participating space agencies: NASA (United States), Roscosmos (Russia), JAXA (Japan), ESA (Europe) and CSA (Canada).