Current Affairs for OAS Prelims 2020: Science and Technology

October 2020

  • World Space Week (WSW) is observed from October 4 to 10 every year to celebrate science and technology, and their contribution towards the betterment of the human condition. The 2020 theme is “Satellites Improve Life.”
  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has launched the Northrop Grumman Cygnus resupply spacecraft named “SS Kalpana Chawla” after its astronaut Kalpana Chawla.
  • The Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC) will be commissioning India’s largest HPC-AI supercomputer ‘PARAM Siddhi – AI’. This initiative will place India among the top countries in global AI supercomputing research and innovation. The initiative was headed by Abhishek Das, Scientist and Program Director (HPC-AI Infrastructure Development) at C-DAC, who conceived the idea and designed the architecture for the largest HPC-AI infrastructure in India.
  • Nokia has been selected by NASA to build the first cellular network on the moon. NASA aims to return humans to the moon by 2024 and dig in for a longterm presence there under its Artemis programme. The first wireless broadband communications system in space would be built on the lunar surface in late 2022.
  • The researchers at IIT Kharagpur have developed ‘COVIRAP,’ the Covid-19 diagnostic test technology, which is fairly easy to conduct and affordable as well and can produce results within one hour. This COVIRAP technology has been successfully validated for its efficacy in COVID-19 detection by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and been granted certification, after rigorous testing with patient samples by an authorized ICMR laboratory.
  • Two new studies published in Nature Astronomy suggest there could be much more water than previously thought, including ice stored in permanently shadowed “cold traps” at lunar polar regions. Using data from the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) Airborne Telescope, researchers scanned the lunar surface at a more precise wavelength than had been used before — six microns instead of three. This allowed them to distinguish the spectral fingerprint of molecular water.