Current Affairs for OAS Prelims 2017: Science and Technology

1. India becomes an associate member of the Geneva-based CERN, the European Organisation for Nuclear Research.

India and European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) signed an agreement making India an Associate Member State of CERN. CERN is the world’s largest nuclear and particle physics laboratory, where scientists and engineers are probing the fundamental structure of the Universe by using the most sophisticated scientific instruments and advanced computing systems. CERN is based in Geneva on the French-Swiss border. Presently CERN has 22 member states, four associate member states, and the observer status is given to four states and three International Organizations. Participation in CERN programmes is a success story of scientific collaborations and cooperation where researchers from large number of national Institutes and Universities from India work together in forming active collaborations in the pursuit of fundamental knowledge, achieving scientific and engineering breakthrough as well as training the next generation of scientists. In fact, the participation of Indian scientists dates back to early 1960s, which has become much stronger and closer for the last quarter of a century with the support of Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) and Department of Science and Technology (DST). In 1991, DAE had signed a formal agreement with CERN, which continues till today. In recognition of most significant contributions, in 2003, India was awarded the Observer status of CERN, and subsequently invited to join CERN as an Associate Member. Last year, the Indian Cabinet gave its approval following which the CERN Council has accepted India as an Associate member.

As an Associate Member of CERN, India will be a part of the huge scientific and technological endeavor. The India-CERN association as a whole is interdisciplinary in nature and the involvement of physicists, electronics hardware and software engineers will pave the path for overall knowledge development in the best possible way. India has been putting efforts to design, develop and utilize various types of electron and proton accelerators for scientific, industrial and societal use. Becoming Associate Member of CERN will enhance participation of young scientists and engineers in various CERN projects and bring back knowledge for deployment in the domestic programmes. It will also open opportunities for Indian industries to participate directly in the CERN project. Through the Teachers programme, teachers teaching in the higher secondary schools would also be able to participate in the programme and pass on the knowledge and quest for high-end science to their students, thereby encouraging large number of students to pursue their career in science.

2. ISRO’s workhorse PSLV places a record 104 spacecraft in their desired orbits, in a single mission from Sriharikota. 

Space agency ISRO today scripted history by successfully launching a record 104 satellites, including India’s earth observation satellite, on a single rocket from the spaceport here. This is the highest number of satellites ever launched in a single mission. Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle PSLV-C37 blasted off at 9.28 am from the first launch pad at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre and first injected Cartosat-2 series satellite into orbit followed by the other 103 nano satellites, including 96 from the US, in a gap of about 30 minutes.

3. Navy decommissioned INS Virat, the world’s oldest aircraft carrier in service, at a ceremony in Mumbai.

India’s oldest serving aircraft carrier INS Viraat retired from service . The carrier has served the Indian Navy over the course of nearly 3 decades and will be towed from Kochi to Mumbai where the decommissioning process will be concluded. The carrier arrived at Kochi docks in July last year for dry docking and essential repairs which were completed by 4, September. Here is all you want to know about the great INS Viraat:

1. INS Viraat (R-22) was commissioned by the British Royal Navy as HMS Hermes (R-12) on November 18, 1959. It is the last of the conventional Centaur class aircraft carriers. It was one of four strike carriers in the Royal Navy at the time and its area of operation was primarily the Indian Ocean. It also had a notable role to play in the falklands wars. It was decommissioned after serving 27 years in the Royal Navy in 1984.

2. It also served the purpose of anti-submarine support ship, a commando carrier and a jump jet carrier. HMS Hermes was fitted with ski jumps for the Harrier vertical/short takeoff and landing.

3. India chose to induct HMS Hermes into her fleet and submitted a request to purchase. The request was approved in 1986. The decision of the carrier’s purchase was announced in the Indian parliament on 24 April, 1986.

4. The ship was refitted at HMNB Devonport Dockyard, one of three operational naval bases for the Royal Navy in UK. It was then sold to India for $465 million and it was rechristened before being inducted in the Indian Navy as INS Viraat.

5. INS Viraat was inducted into the Indian Navy on 12 May, 1987 at the port town of Plymouth in UK and by then British High Commissioner to India P.C. Alexander. The operational birds on the carrier were Sea Harrier — (White Tigers-fighter aircraft), Speaking 42B (Harpoons- Anti-Submarine helicopters) & Speaking 42C (Commando Carrier helicopters) and Chetak (Angles- SAR helicopter).

6. INS Viraat was initially meant to be decommissioned in 2009. However, due to delays in refurbishing of the Soviet-built aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya (R-33), INS Viraat had to be refitted for service till 2016 when it completed 57 years of service life. It has already passed the service life of the oldest serving aircraft carrier in the US Naval fleet USS Enterprise (CVN-65) which is 50 years old.

7. Viraat served as a lone carrier in the Indian Navy for several years and after its decommissioning, INS Vikramaditya will be the only serving aircraft carrier till the new carrier INS Vikrant is inducted.

8. Viraat’s first major operation was Operation Jupiter in 1989. It followed the breakdown of the Indian-Sri Lanka accord of 1986. The carrier was sent as part of India Peace Keeping Operations in Sri Lanka. Viraat’s last operational deployment was in 2016 when it took part in the International Fleet Review at Vishakhapatnam held between February 2 and February 16. A total 22,034 aircraft have taken off from the deck of Viraat since it was inducted in the Indian Navy. It has also taken part in international joint naval exercises like the Malabar exercise with the US Navy, Varuna with the French Navy and also Naseem-Al-Bahr with the Oman Navy. It was also a vital part of the yearly TROPEX exercise.

9. Many parts of the ship are pre-world war/world war 2 era built and according to officers who have served on the ship, the integral part of the vessel has remained unchanged. The temperatures inside the heart of the steam driven carrier reach up to 60 degrees Celsius during operations. In the decommissioning ceremony, 21 of its 22 previous commanders will be present.

10. The future of the ship is yet undecided. Admiral Sunil Lamba is reportedly considering scrapping the ship if the Nav doesn’t find a buyer. Other options include sinking the ship at one of the major tourist harbours in the country and turning it into a marine museum, making the ship a dive site. The Andhra Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation had reportedly received an in-principle nod from the Defence Ministry allowing it to convert Viraat into a museum and station it at the Kakinada port in the Bay of Bengal at India’s eastern shore. The plan is expected to cost around ?1,000 crore.

4. Supreme Court orders a freeze on the registration and sale of BS-III fuel complaint vehicles by “any manufacturer or dealer” on and from April 1.

The health of the citizen is more important than the commercial interests of the automobile industry, the Supreme Court ordered a freeze on the registration and sale of BS-III fuel compliant vehicles by “any manufacturer or dealer” on and from April 1, when the next level and environmentally friendly BS-IV fuel emission standards are scheduled to kick in. The court had pointed out that the new fuel was “cleaner” and the oil refineries had spent about ₹30,000 crore since 2010 to produce it.

5. ISRO launches the 2230 kg communication spacecraft, South Asia Satellite or GSAT-9 on board a GSLV-F09 rocket from Siharikota, Andhra Pradesh.

GSLV-F09 launches 2230 kg South Asia Satellite GSAT-9 into a Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO). GSLV-F09 mission is the eleventh flight of India’s Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) and its fourth consecutive flight with the indigenous Cryogenic Upper Stage (CUS).   The vehicle is designed to inject 2 – 2.5 ton class of satellites into GTO. The overall length of GSLV-F09 is 49.1 m. GSLV-F09 was launched on May 05, 2017 from the Second Launch Pad (SLP) at Satish Dhawan Space Centre SHAR (SDSC SHAR), Sriharikota, the space port of India. GSLV-F09 vehicle configuration including the CUS is similar to the ones successfully flown during the previous three missions – GSLV-D5, D6 and F05 – in January 2014, August 2015 and September 2016 respectively. GSLV-D5 and D6 successfully placed two communication satellites –GSAT-14 and GSAT-6, while GSLV-F05 placed India’s weather satellite INSAT-3DR, in the intended GTOs. S-band telemetry and C-band transponders enable GSLV-F09 performance monitoring, tracking, range safety/flight safety and Preliminary Orbit Determination (POD).

The South Asia Satellite program is a partnership between India and most of the other member nations of SAARC: Bangladesh, Bhutan, the Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka. Afghanistan has not yet signed up to the program, while Pakistan has opted out of it.

6. The Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee gives nod for GM Mustard.

A genetically-modified variety of mustard, developed by a Delhi-based institute, has been cleared for commercial cultivation by the country’s top regulator on genetically-engineered organisms. The GEAC, or Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee, a body that functions under the Environment Ministry, gave its recommendation to approve the long-pending application of the Centre for Genetic Manipulation of Crop Plants at Delhi University which had developed a transgenic mustard called DMH-11.


7. the ISRO presented the Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament and Development for the year 2014.

8. ISRO Launches its heaviest launch vehicle, the 640-tonne GSLV Mk III-D1 using indigenous crogenic engine technology and places in orbit the 3,316 kg GSAT-19, a communication satellite from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh.

9. The ISRO launches 31 satellites, including 29 nano satellites from 14 foreign nations on board the PSLV-C38 rocket from the Satis Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh.

10. ISRO’s 3477kg spacecraft GSAT-17, the heaviest built by it, is launched from the South American space port of Kourou aboard an Ariane-5 ECA rocket VA-238.


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