IASbaba's Daily Current Affairs (Prelims + Mains
Focus)- 17th August 2018
Animal in news: Humboldt penguin
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains III – Environment and Biodiversity; Animal conservation
Mumbai’s Byculla zoo gives India its first baby penguin (Humboldt penguin).
Humboldt penguin is a South American penguin that breeds in coastal Chile and Peru.
The penguin is named after the cold water current (Humboldt current) it swims in.
IUCN status: Vulnerable
Turkey Crisis and its impact
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II and III – International Relations; Indian Economy
Trade wars between Turkey and USA has lead to a currency crisis for Turkish Lira.
Why crisis in Turkey?
US has doubled steel and aluminium tariffs on Turkey, as US has been pushing for the release of Pastor Andrew Brunson, who was being held by Turkey on terrorism charges.
Turkey retaliated by increasing import taxes on US goods, such as automobiles by 120 per cent, alcohol by 140 per cent and tariffs on coal, cosmetics and rice.
The Turkish currency, lira has fell steep (depreciating around 80 percent against the US dollar so far in 2018) – This has rattled investors globally, with the currencies of other emerging markets too coming under pressure.
High debt - Turkey's economy is grappling with high levels of debt in the private sector and significant foreign funding in the banking system.
Indian markets along with some Asian markets have seen some volatility due to the Lira crisis.
This is typical as foreign investors will fear higher risk assets in emerging markets and will dump the local currency for US Dollars.
In other words, the foreign funds that freely flowed into emerging markets may dry up.
India is less vulnerable relative to other emerging markets (EMs) in terms of external debt and current account deficit. But if the crisis continues, it could hurt India.
India’s exports would slow down if the global situation deteriorates.
Impact of falling Indian currency
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains III – Indian Economy and related issues
We read why rupee falls and also meanings of terms – appreciation, depreciation, devaluation, revaluation and conversion rate etc. (Why is the rupee falling continuously?)
Rupee fall inflates crude purchase cost - India’s crude oil import bill is likely to jump as the rupee’s drop to a record low.
This will in turn lead to an increase in the retail selling price of petrol, diesel and cooking gas (LPG).
Rupee depreciation will result in higher earnings for exporters.
Steel imports from Japan, South Korea surge
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains III – Indian Economy and related issues
India’s steel imports from South Korea rose 31% from a year earlier, while those from Japan climbed 30%. (esp. after US imposed tariffs of 25% on steel and 10% on aluminium imports)
The flood of imports is so big that the government in New Delhi is considering measures to control imports. (impose safeguards)
Under World Trade Organization rules, safeguards are temporary restrictions on imports of a product to protect a domestic industry.
Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO) project
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains III – Science and Technology; Space Programmes
Gravitational wave observatory, LIGO - may come up in Maharashtra’s Hingoli district
A new gravitational wave detector to measure ripples in the fabric of space and time is set to be built in India by 2025
Environment Ministry has allowed scientists to test the suitability of land in Maharashtra’s Hingoli district to host the LIGO project.
The new Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) detector will add to the two already operational in the US.
Do you know?
Three American physicists Rainer Weiss, Kip Thorne and Barry Barish won the Nobel Prize for their contribution towards Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory, or LIGO, experiment.
Currently LIGO operates three gravitational wave detectors-One is at Livingston in Louisiana and other two are at Hanford in Washington and the detectors are located about 3,000 km apart in L shape. The overall project is funded by National science foundation.
It is a large scale physics experiment observatory established in 2002 to detect gravitational waves.
The present telescopes could detect objects which emit electromagnetic radiations like X-ray, gamma rays etc. However, merger of black holes and many other cataclysmic events do not emit electromagnetic waves rather gravitational waves.
Thus, LIGO was established to unfold the many unknown phenomenon in universe through the gravitational waves detection.
India and LIGO
Indian participation in the LIGO Scientific Collaboration, was done under the umbrella Initiative –IndIGO, which is a consortium of Indian gravitational-wave physicists.
Bala Iyer of the Raman Research Institute has made immense contribution towards setting up of this consortium.
The consortium especially under Bala Iyer facilitated international collaborations in gravitational-wave- physics and astronomy and initiating a strong experimental gravitational-wave research program in India.
Hosting such a detector in India, scientists have said, will improve the odds of detecting more such phenomena.
The proposed LIGO-India project aims to move one Advanced LIGO detector from Hanford to India. The LIGO-India project is an international collaboration between the LIGO Laboratory and three lead institutions in the LIGO-India consortium: Institute of Plasma Research, Gandhinagar; IUCAA, Pune; and Raja Ramanna Centre for Advanced Technology, Indore.
The project, piloted by the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) and Department of Science and Technology (DST), reportedly costs ₹1,200 crore and is expected to be ready by 2025.
(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)
TOPIC: General Studies 3
Indigenization of technology and developing new technology
Gaganyaan: Indian into space by 2022
With Prime Minister Narendra Modi announcing that an Indian astronaut would go into space by 2022, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has finally got a definitive timeline for a project it has been working on for the last 15 years.
Background and Timeline: From an idea to a plan
Preparations have been going on since 2004, when the manned space mission was first endorsed by the ISRO Policy Planning Committee; there was lack of clarity on when exactly the mission would be launched, the target initially in was 2015.
2004: ISRO Policy Planning Committee recommends manned space mission
2006: National committee comprising 80 scientists and technocrats endorses proposal
2007: First public announcement of the human space programme
2009: Another experts' committee, discusses the desirability and feasibility of the programme and expresses support
2010: Failure of GSLV-D3 and Failure of GSLV-F06
2014: Successful testing of experimental flight of GSLV Mk-III; this also successfully tests an experimental crew module, demonstrating re-entry capability
June 2017: First ‘developmental’ flight of GSLV Mk-III
July 2018: First successful flight of the crew escape system or “pad abort” test.
August 15, 2018: Prime Minister announces manned mission to take place before 2022
A manned space mission is very different from all other missions that ISRO has so far completed.
In terms of complexity and ambition, even the missions to the Moon (Chandrayaan) and Mars (Mangalyaan) are nowhere in comparison.
For a manned mission, the key distinguishing capabilities that ISRO has had to develop the ability to bring the spacecraft back to Earth after flight, and to build a spacecraft in which astronauts can live in Earth-like conditions in space.
Over the years, ISRO has successfully tested many of the technologies that are required, but many others are still to be developed and tested.
The rocket: GSLV Mk-III
The spacecraft carrying human beings, called crew module, is likely to weigh in excess of 5 to 6 tonnes.
ISRO’s main launch vehicle, the PSLV (Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle), which carried the Chandrayaan and Mangalyaan missions too, can carry payloads that are barely up to 2 tonnes, and that too only to orbits at about 600 km altitude from the Earth’s surface.
That is why the development of GSLV Mk-III, a launch vehicle with capabilities to deliver much heavier payloads much deeper into space, was necessary.
After three decades of efforts, mainly concentrated at developing an indigenous cryogenic engine to power the rocket, ISRO successfully tested GSLV Mk-III, now called LVM-3 (Launch Vehicle Mark-3), in an experimental flight in December 2014.
June 2017, ISRO successfully launched the first “developmental” flight of LVM-3, which carried the GSAT-19 satellite into space.
The LVM-3 is the declared launch vehicle for taking the manned crew module into space. Over the next few years, many more flights of GSLV are scheduled.
Re-entry & recovery tech
The satellites launched by ISRO including Chandrayaan and Mangalyaan, normally meant to remain in space, even when their life is over.
Any manned spacecraft, however, needs to come back. This involves mastering of the highly complicated and dangerous re-entry and recovery ability.
While re-entering Earth’s atmosphere, the spacecraft needs to withstand very high temperatures, which is created due to friction.
Also, the spacecraft needs to renter the atmosphere at a very precise speed and angle, and even the slightest deviation could end in disaster.
The first successful experimental flight of GSLV Mk-III on December 18, 2014, also involved the successful testing of an experimental crew module that came back to Earth after being taken to an altitude of 126 km into space.
The Crew module Atmospheric Re-entry Experiment (CARE) spacecraft re-entered the atmosphere at about 80 km altitude and landed in the sea near the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
Crew Escape System
This is a crucial safety technology, involving an emergency escape mechanism for the astronauts in case of a faulty launch.
The mechanism ensures the crew module gets an advance warning of anything going wrong with the rocket, and pulls it away to a safe distance, after which it can be landed either on sea or on land with the help of attached parachutes.
Recently, ISRO completed the first successful flight of the crew escape system. A simulated crew module weighing about 3.5 tonnes was launched from Sriharikota.
The Environmental Control & Life Support System (ECLSS) is meant to ensure that conditions inside the crew module are suitable for humans to live comfortably.
The inside of the crew module is a twin-walled sealed structure that will recreate Earth-like conditions for the astronauts.
The ECLSS maintains a steady cabin pressure and air composition, removes carbon dioxide and other harmful gases, controls temperature and humidity, and manages parameters like fire detection and suppression, food and water management, and emergency support.
While the design and configuration of the ECLSS and the inside of the crew module has been finalised, other components and systems are in the process of being tested.
Ground testing will have to be followed by tests in the space orbit while simulating zero gravity and deep vacuum.
In the early part of the planning, a proposal for setting up an astronaut training centre in Bangalore was floated. Initially targeted by 2012, it is yet to take off.
While ISRO still plans to set up a permanent facility, the selected candidates for the first manned mission will most likely train at a foreign facility.
Candidates will need to train for at least two years in living in zero gravity and dealing with a variety of unexpected experiences of living in space.
Some training would also be imparted at the Institute of Aerospace Medicine of the Indian Air Force at Bengaluru.
During the early years of planning, the cost of India’s first manned space mission was estimated at about Rs 12,400 crore. But that was for a mission to be launched in 2015.
The mission would now be completed for less than Rs 10,000 crore.
Recently, the government approved the funding for the next 10 flights of GSLV Mk-III at an estimated cost of Rs 4,338.2 crore. This was supposed to take care of GSLV Mk-III missions till 2024.
If India does launch the Gaganyaan mission, it will be the fourth nation to do so after the United States, Russia and China.
These developments will help ISRO in perfecting the cryogenic technology for sending up heavier and heavier payloads and will reduce India’s dependency on other countries to launch heavier satellites.
Connecting the dots
India has achieved remarkable successes in unmanned space missions including the Chandrayaan and Mars Obiter Mission (MOM), but she is yet to succeed in manned space mission. What are the challenges, both in terms of technology and logistics, in front of ISRO?
(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)
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Q.1) What is the purpose of ‘evolved Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (eLISA)’ project?
To detect neutrinos
To detect gravitational waves
To detect the effectiveness of missile defence system
To study the effect of solar flares on our communication systems
Q.2) The Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO)-India is a planned advanced gravitational-wave observatory to be located in India as part of the worldwide network. Where is it going to be located?
Q.3) Consider the following statements:
Assertion (A) – Devaluation of money will decrease the exports of a country.
Reason (R) – Price of country’s products will fall due to devaluation in the international market.
Select the code from following:
A is wrong but R is correct
A is correct but R is wrong
Both A and R are incorrect
Both A and R are correct and R is the correct explanation of A
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