A Large Area Soft X-ray Spectrometer (CLASS), a payload on-board Chandrayaan-2 Orbiter, has detected solar proton events which significantly increase the radiation exposure to humans in space, the Indian Space Research Organisation has said.
The instrument on January 18 also recorded coronal mass ejections (CMEs), a powerful stream of ionised material and magnetic fields, which reach the Earth a few days later, leading to geomagnetic storms and lighting up the polar sky with auroras, the ISRO said on Wednesday.
"Such multi-point observations help us understand the propagation and its impact on different planetary systems," it said.
When the sun is active, spectacular eruptions called solar flares occur that sometimes also spew out energetic particles (called solar proton events or SPEs) into interplanetary space.
Most of these are high energy protons that impact space systems and significantly increase radiation exposure to humans in space. They can cause ionisation on large scales in the earth's middle atmosphere, the space agency said.
Many intense solar flares are accompanied by CMEs, a powerful stream of ionised material and magnetic fields, which reach the earth a few days later, leading to geomagnetic storms and lighting up the polar sky with auroras.
Solar flares are classified according to their strength. The smallest ones are A-class, followed by B, C, M and X. Each letter represents a 10-fold increase in energy output. This means that an M class flare is 10 times more intense than C-class flare and 100 times intense than B-class flare, the ISRO said.
Within each letter class there is a finer scale from 1 to 9 - a M2 flare is twice the strength of M1 flare.
"Recently, there were two M-class solar flares. One flare (M5.5) spewed out energetic particles into interplanetary space and the other flare (M1.5) was accompanied by a CME," the space agency said.
The SPE event was seen by NASA's Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) orbiting around the Earth. However, the CME event was not detected by GOES.
"Chandrayaan-2 Large Area Soft X-ray Spectrometer (CLASS) on-board Chandrayaan-2 Orbiter detected SPE due to an M5.5 class solar flare that occurred on January 20, 2022," the ISRO said.
"The CLASS instrument also detected a CME event as it passed through the moon due to an M1.5 class solar flare that occurred on January 18," it added.
Planned to land on the moon's south pole, Chandrayaan-2 was launched on July 22, 2019. However, the lander Vikram hard-landed on September 7, 2019, crashing India's dream to become the first nation to successfully land on the lunar surface in its maiden attempt.
The ISRO had then said the mission achieved 98 per cent success as the orbiter continues to share data with the ground station.
Marking the first launch mission of the year 2022, Indian Space Research Organisation's earth observation satellite EOS-04 and two small satellites were successfully placed into the intended orbit by the PSLV-C52 rocket on Monday, a feat described by the ISRO as a "marvellous accomplishment".
The space agency's workhorse launch vehicle, PSLV, placed the three satellites into the intended orbit, after blasting off at 5.59 am from here amid dark, early morning skies.
After a flight of about 19 minutes, the vehicle injected the satellites into its intended orbit, drawing instant cheers and applause from the scientists who were closely monitoring the year's maiden mission. ISRO, in a tweet, said EOS-04 was placed into an intended sun synchronous polar orbit of 529 km altitude at 6.17 am.
After first injecting EOS-04, the two small satellites INSPIREsat-1 and INS-2TD were also put into their orbits respectively.
"The mission of PSLV-C52/EOS-04 has been successfully accomplished. The primary satellite EOS-04 has been put into a very precise orbit by PSLV-C52, and along with that, co-passenger satellites INSPIREsat-1 and INS-2TD also have been placed into right orbit," ISRO Chairman S Somanath said after the successful launch.
Incidentally, today's launch also happens to be the first mission after Somanath took over as the Secretary, Department of Space and Chairman, Space Commission, recently.
Thanking everyone for making the mission possible, he said, "this spacecraft is going to be one of the biggest assets for us to serve the country."
Mission Director SR Biju said "what we have accomplished today is really marvellous."
Earlier, the 25.30-hour countdown for today's launch had commenced at 04:29 am on Sunday.
EOS-04, weighing 1,710 kg and with a mission life of ten years, is a Radar Imaging Satellite designed to provide high quality images under all weather conditions for applications such as Agriculture, Forestry and Plantations, Soil Moisture and Hydrology and Flood mapping.
INSPIREsat-1 is from Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology (IIST) in association with Laboratory of Atmospheric and Space Physics at University of Colorado Boulder, while INS-2TD is a technology demonstrator satellite from ISRO. This is a precursor to the India-Bhutan Joint Satellite (INS-2B).
Two scientific payloads on INSPIREsat-1, with a mass of 8.1 kg and mission life of one year, are aimed at improving the understanding of ionosphere dynamics and the sun's coronal heating processes.
INS-2TD, with a mass of 17.5 kg, has a mission life of six months.
Having a thermal imaging camera as its payload, the satellite benefits the assessment of land surface temperature, water surface temperature of wetland or lakes, delineation of vegetation (crops and forest) andcthermal inertia (day and night).
Monday's was the 54th flight of PSLV and 23rd mission using PSLV-XL configuration with six PSOM-XLs (strap-on motors).
MP agri varsity develops new varieties of oats, wheat, rice
A state-run agricultural university in Madhya Pradesh's Jabalpur has developed new varieties of oats, wheat, rice and niger crop, which are suitable for production in other states as well, an official said on Saturday. The Jawaharlal Nehru Krishi Vishwavidyalaya (JNKVV) has developed two varieties each of oats and wheat, one type of rice and three varieties of niger, which have been notified by the Centre as being suitable for production, the university's vice-chancellor Dr P K Bisen said.
The Union Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers' Welfare had issued a gazette notification on January 3 in this regard, he said.
"Seeds of these new crop varieties will be made available to farmers shortly. This will ensure quality production of crops and generate more income," Bisen said.
The new varieties were tested over a period of three years in various agro-climatic conditions in specific crop-growing areas of various states, said Dr G K Koutu, director of research services at the JNKVV.
These new crops possess a combination of several desirable traits such as high-grain yield, resistance to diseases, good grain quality and short duration harvest, he said.
Of the two new varieties of oats, JO 05-304 is suitable for production in Maharashtra, Gujarat, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, while JO 10-506 can be produced in Odisha, Bihar, Jharkhand, eastern region of Uttar Pradesh, Assam and Manipur, he said.
The new varieties of wheat - MP 1323 and MP 1358 and rice JR 10 - can be grown in specific areas of Madhya Pradesh, he said.
Three varieties of niger (ramtil) - JNS 521, JNS 2015-9 and JNS 2016-1115 - are suitable for irrigated and non-irrigated areas of Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, Dr Koutu added.
Molnupiravir, the first Covid-19 antiviral drug to get emergency use authorisation (EUA) on Tuesday, is set to hit the market in a week or two as more than a dozen Indian drug makers are in a race to launch the drug.
Union health minister Mansukh Mandaviya said 13 companies in India will manufacture the drug approved for restricted use under emergency situation for treatment of adult patients who have high risk of progression of Covid-19.
Six companies - Dr Reddy's, Cipla, Sun Pharma, Emcure, Torrent Pharma and Viatris (earlier called as Mylan) - have formed a consortium to conduct a five-month collaborative trial to test the safety and efficacy of the drug.
All these companies have entered into non-exclusive voluntary licensing agreement with Merck, Sharpe Dohme (MSD) to manufacture and supply molnupiravir in India and to over 100 low and middle-income countries (LMICs).
Hetero Labs, Optimus Pharma, and Strides Pharma are among other companies that have got necessary approvals to make molnupiravir. Most these firms said the drug will be available in the market in a couple of weeks.
Dr Reddy's and Cipla said they will soon launch 200 mg molnupiravir capsules across the country under the brand names Molflu and Cipmolnu, respectively.
The recommended dose of the Covid drug is 800 mg twice a day for five days.
Minister of state for science and technology Jitendra Singh said on Saturday three scientists will be sent at a depth of 5,000 metres (5 kilometres) in the sea to find hidden mineral deposits.
Minister of state for science and technology Jitendra Singh said on Saturday three scientists will be sent at a depth of 5,000 metres (5 kilometres) in the sea to find hidden mineral deposits.
The mission, which has been called Samudrayan, was launched by the Centre in October this year.
"With the launch of this Unique Ocean Mission, India joins the elite club of nations such as the USA, Russia, Japan, France and China to have such underwater vehicles for carrying out subsea activities," Singh said at the launch event in Chennai on October 30.
Samudrayan has been undertaken by the National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT). It will be a part of the Deep Ocean Mission, which will be implemented at a total budget ₹4,077 crore for five years.
The preliminary design of the manned submersible MATSYA 6000 under the Samudrayan project, has already been completed.
The MATSYA 6000 can carry three people in a titanium alloy personnel sphere of a 2.1-metre diameter enclosed space with an endurance of 12 hours and an additional 96 hours in case of an emergency situation.
Union minister Singh said in October sea trials of 500 metre rated shallow water version of the manned submersible are expected to take place in the last quarter of 2022, adding, the MATSYA 6000 will be ready for trials by the second quarter of 2024.
Besides working on the first manned mission to the ocean, India will also launch its maiden human space mission "Gaganyaan" in 2023. With Gaganyaan's launch, India will be the fourth country after the United States, Russia and China to launch a human space flight mission.
Singh told Parliament on Tuesday the objective of Gaganyaan is to demonstrate the capability to send humans to low earth orbit (LEO) onboard an Indian Launch Vehicle and bring them back to earth safely.
Zero budget natural farming (ZBNF) is back on top of the Government's agenda with Prime Minister Narendra Modi set to highlight it at a national conclave in Gujarat later this week.
Despite the lack of scientific studies providing evidence of the impact of the method, which largely depends on replacing chemical pesticides and fertilizers with concoctions using the dung and urine of indigenous cows, the Centre has sanctioned support for converting four lakh hectares in eight States to ZBNF methods this year, Agriculture Secretary Sanjay Agrawal told journalists on Monday. He said the committee to discuss minimum support price guarantees is also expected to take up ZBNF promotion, and would be set up "very soon".
On mission mode
"The Prime Minister has announced this [committee]. It has to be taken up on mission mode and zero budget natural farming also. Very soon, in the near future, it will be set up," he said, refusing to answer further queries on the composition, mandate or timeline of the committee.
The committee is part of the Government's agreement made with farm unions under the banner of the Samyukt Kisan Morcha, which called off their year-long agitation on the borders of Delhi last week. A legal guarantee for MSP was among their key demands.
The Ministry, however, is more focussed on the ZBNF aspect for now. A national summit on agro and food processing, with a focus on natural farming, will be held from December 14 to 16 in Anand, Gujarat, with the PM expected to address 5,000 farmers in the valedictory session.
No large-scale scientific study
Mr. Agrawal said though no large-scale scientific study has yet provided proof of ZBNF's effectiveness, the increasing number of farmers adopting the method especially in Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh indicated that they had experienced its benefits. "Because it is unproven does not mean it is not good. Scientific studies have not been completed, but in the field it is being proven. It is the farmers' own practices which are showcasing this," he said.
Of the eight States which have submitted proposals for support under the Centre's Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana scheme, Andhra Pradesh has the biggest ambition to bring one lakh additional hectares of land under ZBNF, followed by Chhattisgarh and Gujarat.
The ZBNF method is meant to reduce input costs by eliminating the need for expensive fertilizers and pesticides, and also protect soil health and conserve water resources. However, some early adopters in Maharashtra complained about a drop in yields, productivity and income over time, and subsequently abandoned the experiment to return to conventional agricultural methods.
Senior agricultural scientists had also expressed concern about a wholesale shift to unproven methods. The Indian Council for Agricultural Research is conducting ongoing studies on the impact of ZBNF methods on productivity, economics and soil health at multiple locations in the grain basket States of north-western India, but has yet to release any results.
Centre proposes law to control distribution, price, quality of fertilisers
The Centre has proposed a law that empowers it to fix the maximum selling price of fertilisers and control its quality as well as distribution. The Department of Fertilizers has sought comments from all stakeholders on the draft Integrated Plant Nutrition Management Bill, 2022, by February 26.
It also seeks to establish an 'Integrated Plant Nutrition Management Authority of India'.
"It is hereby declared that it is expedient in the public interest that the Union should take under its control the distribution, price and quality of standards of fertilisers," said the draft document posted on the department's website.
The proposed law is aimed at promoting the development and sustainable use of balanced fertilisers, including bio-fertilisers, bio-stimulates, nano-fertilisers and organic fertilisers.
It seeks to simplify the process for the manufacture, production, distribution and price management of fertilisers in India, which will, in turn, improve the ease of doing business.
"The Central Government may, with a view to regulating the equitable distribution of fertilisers and making fertilisers available at fair prices, by notification in the Official Gazette, fix the maximum prices or rates at which any fertiliser may be sold by a dealer, manufacturer, importer or a fertiliser marketing entity," the draft stated.
It also aims to empower the Centre to fix different prices or rates for fertilisers having different periods of storage or for different areas or for different classes of consumers.
"No dealer, manufacturer importer or fertiliser marketing entity shall sell or offer for sale any fertiliser at a price exceeding the maximum price," the draft said.
JICA green signal for Pune's Rs 1,000-crore river clean-up project
February 23, 2022
Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has green signalled the tendering process for a Rs 1,000-crore project for cleaning up Pune's rivers, Mula, Mutha and Mula-Mutha (confluence of both rivers). The pollution abatement of river Mula-Mutha had been delayed with issues of land acquisition, re-tendering and objection to the project.
The Mula and Mutha rivers are heavily polluted with the city's sewage being dumped into the rivers. The project was aimed at improving the water quality by augmenting sewage collection systems and sewage treatment facilities in Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) area.
JICA's assistance of Rs 1,000 crore would be for mitigation of pollution of Mula, Mutha and Mula-Mutha and also improving the sanitation and living conditions in the city and in the watershed of the downstream area.
The funding would go in for construction of sewer lines, pumping stations and treatment plants for treatment of the sewage before its discharge into Mula, Mutha and Mula-Mutha rivers.
Murlidhar Mohol, Pune city mayor, said the project implemented would involve 55 km trunk lines and adding 11 new sewage treatment plants (STP). These 11 new STPs would together have a capacity of 396 million litres per day (MLD). Work orders would be issued soon by the civic body soon, the mayor said.
The population of Pune is estimated to reach 5.7 million by 2027 and 8.4 million by 2047 and increase the requirement for sewerage proportionately. A total of 744 MLD of sewage is generated in PMC limit and currently about 476 MLD that is treated in nine STPs and discharged into the water.
This expanded network is expected to cater to the sewage generation up to the year 2027. Apart from the 11 STPs, JICA's assistance will cover sewer network of over 113 km, four sewage pumping stations and 24 community toilets. The original agreement for official development assistance for Rs 1,00 crore was signed in January 2016 by the then Union environment minister, Prakash Javadekar, and Kenji Hiramatsu, who was ambassador of Japan to India. It was scheduled for completion by 2021.
Government plans 'Heal by India' for positioning India as global source for health sector
February 19, 2022 (N. Delhi)
The government of India is looking to promote 'Heal by India' for strengthening the country's educational institutions in the health sector and enhancing education to churn out quality human resources in health, thus helping them become eligible to work anywhere in the world.
The Union Health Ministry recently organised a Chintan Shivir -- 'Heal by India' for two days.
One of the senior health officials, who attended the event, said that four major points were discussed including training and skills, quality education, employment opportunities and working on providing required amenities like advanced technology to make India's health sector a global source.
"The two-day Chintan Shivir included positioning India as a global source for quality talent for international employers, facilitating gateways for global employment for resident human resources for health and attracting global talent to receive quality education from our educational institutions in the health sector," said an official from Union Health Ministry.
To achieve the objectives under 'Heal by India', the official from the Ministry said that the government of India is also working on assets like well-qualified faculty, no language barrier, availability of advanced technology, positive government policies etc.
A senior official, who attended the Chintan Shivir, said that the 'Heal by India' initiative is meant to generate job opportunities abroad for our trained professionals in the health sector.
"Especially for those that have high demand outside India. It includes almost 50-60 streams like dieticians, nurses, lab technicians, paramedics, OT (operation theatre) attendants, physiotherapists, OT technicians, medical attendants for old age patients care etc. They will be trained under the Skill India programme," the official added.
The officials further informed that another discussion in the Chintan Shivir included a shortage of doctors across the globe and giving aspiring doctors opportunities to study in India.
"We have a shortage of doctors. We can't encourage them to go abroad but we can give them some seats in the developing countries and can open doors for the students from those countries to get medical training in India at top private and government medical colleges of country like twenty AIIMS and other best medical colleges," he said.
Some of the nursing councils have already signed MoU with countries like Japan, Nigeria, Ethiopia etc.
"If we wanted to send our paramedical staff to Ukraine then it's important to know their language, cultural dimensions. A framework has been made to provide such courses," he said
The Union Health Ministry will be organising more Chintan Shivirs. The next Shivir will be based on 'Heal in India', during which the government is looking to promote medical tourism. Under this campaign, the government will focus on strengthening medical infrastructure, improving primary health care, tertiary health care, medical insurance etc will be discussed.
The committee present at Shivir will be further chaired by Dr VK Paul with Secretary (Health), Secretary (Ayush), representatives from NMC, PCR, INC, DCI Invest India, NSDC, MEA, FSSAI, specialists from the private sector as members. There would be 3-4 Sub-committees with specific terms of reference to achieve the goals. A five-year plan of action would be formulated within the timeline of two months.
Union Minister Dr. Jitendra Singh says, India emerging as world?s preferred Start-Up destination
February 18, 2022 (N. Delhi)
Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) Science & Technology; Minister of State (Independent Charge) Earth Sciences; MoS PMO, Personnel, Public Grievances, Pensions, Atomic Energy and Space, Dr Jitendra Singh today said, India is emerging as world's preferred Start-Up destination due to its vast unexplored potential coupled with ease of business and regulatory environment provided by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Dr Jitendra Singh was speaking as chief guest at "India First Tech Start-Up Conclave-2022" and Awards Summit here. He said, the robust ecosystem of Start-ups will play a critical role in ensuring that India achieves its goal of $5 trillion economy by 2025.
Dr Jitendra Singh said that in 2016 itself, Prime Minister Modi had announced from the ramparts of the Red Fort about the Start-Up initiative, followed by Stand-Up India and several such visionary initiatives. He said, due to various schemes, focus and support system provided by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, 10,000 Start-Ups got registered in India in 2021 alone. He said, India now has 50,000 plus start-Ups providing more than 2 lakh jobs in the country.
Dr Jitendra Singh said, the recent General Budget of 2022-23 is a "Futuristic Budget with scientific vision and Start-Up incentives". The Minister said that announcements of innovative new initiatives like Digital Rupee, Digital Banking units in 75 districts, Digital University and Start-Ups linked to Artificial Intelligence, Space Technology, and Drone Shakti are examples of digital push and innovative ecosystem that the government wants to promote. He said, exemption of tax for Start-Ups up to 2024 and other incentives for domestic and export sectors will enable India to take a lead in Start-Ups in the World.
Dr Jitendra Singh said, the growth of investment opportunities in tech start-ups in sectors such as state services, healthcare, agriculture, financial services, education, retail, and logistics can generate a huge number of job opportunities and contribute to India's economy. He, however, said that sectors like Dairy, Telemedicine and Deep Sea Ocean Mission must be fully tapped. He said, government is extending full support to promote domestic manufacturing, industry-led research, and the creation of a skilled workforce.
Dr Jitendra Singh said, India is fast becoming a breeding ground for innovations and future trends show opportunities for start-ups to disrupt and innovate with technologies like blockchain, the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning. The Minister also emphasised that the StartUp culture must spread to India's B-Towns, as this is now mostly confined to Bengaluru, Hyderabad and other big cities. He, however, felt satisfaction over the fact that cities like Delhi, Jaipur, Chandigarh, Chennai, and Jodhpur have also witnessed an increase in economic and start-up activities.
Dr Jitendra Singh said that no government in the world can provide salaried jobs to all its citizens and India is no exception to this. He said, on the other hand, Indian government promotes the culture of innovation and entrepreneurship by providing a platform for the generation and sharing of innovative ideas alongside an incubator to mentor and support innovators. He said, the government's commitment to ensuring that young Indians are prepared to compete in the labour market is reflected in the variety of skill-building programs it has made available.
Dwelling on the concept of "India First", Dr Jitendra Singh said, over the years, India has proven itself to be an agile technology adopter and developer, given the right circumstances. Pointing out to the emerging trends around digital, data, and technology disruptions around the industries in India, The Minister said, our country is empowering new innovative technology models for opening up a whole lot of technology-related opportunities.
Dr Jitendra Singh also gave away awards to successful Starts-Up on the occasion.
NREL for development of renewable energy, Small Hydro and Green Hydrogen Projects
February 18, 2022 (N. Delhi)
NHPC Limited has set up a new wholly owned subsidiary company namely "NHPC RENEWABLE ENERGY LIMITED" (NREL), for development of Renewable Energy, Small Hydro and Green Hydrogen based business of NHPC Ltd. The Subsidiary has been incorporated with the Registrar of Companies, NCT of Delhi & Haryana. Speaking on the occasion, Shri A.K. Singh, CMD, NHPC said that NHPC has envisaged to become a global leading organization for sustainable development of clean power. The incorporation of NHPC Renewable Energy Limited shows our deep commitment towards tapping Renewable Energy which helps in reduction of carbon emissions and in producing clean and green energy. The decision of setting up a subsidiary for renewable energy comes at a time when NHPC which is predominantly a Hydro player, plans to increase the share of renewable energy in its generation portfolio.
Earlier, the formation of the separate renewable energy unit got the nod of Department of Investment and Public Asset Management and NITI Aayog in December 2021. The Subsidiary Company shall develop Renewable Energy Projects either in Stand-alone mode or through formation of Special Purpose Vehicles with collaboration of other agencies.
Currently, NHPC's total installed generation capacity stands at 7071 mega-watt (MW) which includes 100 MW of Solar/ Wind energy-based plants. Another 5999 of Hydro and 105 MW of Solar Plants are under construction. NHPC Ltd. Is expanding its renewable energy portfolio and has taken up several projects under different modes, which are presently under tendering / development stage. Recently, NHPC signed Letter of Intent with Rajasthan Renewable Energy Corporation Limited (RRECL) for "Development of 10000 MW Renewable Energy Projects / Parks in Rajasthan"
NCRA, California varsity astronomers use GMRT for major fast radio burst breakthrough
February 18, 2022
Astronomers of National Centre of Radio Astrophysics (NCRA-TIFR) in Pune and the University of California in the United States of America have used the Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope (GMRT) to map the distribution of atomic hydrogen gas from the host galaxy of a fast radio burst (FRB) for the first time.
FRBs are extremely bright radio pulses from distant galaxies that last for only a few milliseconds, and though they were first detected fifteen years ago and over a thousand have been found so far, researchers still don't know what kind of astronomical objects can produce so much energy in so little time.
According to the researchers, the exercise has revealed exciting clues about the origin of the burst.
"The GMRT results indicate the FRB host galaxy has undergone a recent merger and that the FRB progenitor is most likely a massive star formed due to this merger event. This is the first case of direct evidence for a recent merger in an FRB host, a major step towards understanding the progenitors of FRBs," Balpreet Kaur, a PhD student at NCRA-TIFR and the lead author of the study, said.
"Observations of the gas and stars in the vicinity of FRBs and within their host galaxies are critical to understanding how the bursts were formed," JKaur said, adding that their target FRB (FRB20180916B) produces repeated very short bursts, and these have been found to arise in the outskirts of a spiral galaxy half a billion light-years away.
She said FRB20180916B is thus one of the closest known FRBs, an ideal candidate to study the local burst environment.
Professor Nissim Kanekar, who is co-author in the research, said GMRT was apt for conducting such studies as one can use different combinations of the 30 GMRT antennas to map the atomic hydrogen within the FRB host galaxy in detail as well as to search for hydrogen in nearby companion galaxies.
This is the first case of direct evidence for a recent merger in an FRB host and showcases the ability of the GMRT to identify such mergers via disturbances in the gas distribution, they said.
The authors plan to carry out similar studies of more FRB host galaxies to test whether merger events might be a common trigger for FRB formation.
Indian astronomers detect Earth-like habitable planets
February 09, 2022 (Bengaluru)
A team of Indian astronomers have identified a few planets that exhibit similar characteristics as Earth using an Artificial Intelligence-based algorithm. Using Earth as an anomaly among thousands of planets that do not support life, astronomers have zeroed in on a new approach for identifying potentially habitable planets with a high probability.
The AI-based method, named Multi-Stage Memetic Binary Tree Anomaly Identifier is based on the notion of a meme, which is an idea or knowledge that gets transferred from one person to another by imitation. Scientists said that memes indicate cross-cultural evolution in posterity and, therefore, can induce new learning mechanisms as generations pass.
The team said that current estimates are that the number of planets in our galaxy alone runs into the billions, possibly a number greater than the number of stars itself. The question that naturally arises is whether there are other life-harboring planets and if there is a way to predict which exoplanet can potentially harbour life?
Astronomers from the Indian Institute of Astrophysics along with astronomers from BITS Pilani and Goa campus designed an anomaly detection method to identify potentially habitable planets based on the theory that Earth is an anomaly, with the possibility of the existence of a few other anomalies among thousands of potential candidates.
"Earth being the only habitable planet among thousands of planets is defined as an anomaly. We explored whether similar 'anomaly candidates' can be found using novel anomaly detection methods," they said in a statement. According to the study, there are 60 potentially habitable planets out of about 5000 confirmed, and nearly 8000 candidate planets proposed. These planets can be viewed as candidates for anomalous instances in a huge pool of 'non-habitable' exoplanets.
Using the concept of anomaly detection from industrial applications, the team explains that it applies equally well for habitable planet detection since, in both cases, the anomaly detector is dealing with "imbalanced" data. Under the supervision of Prof. Snehanshu Saha of BITS Pilani Goa Campus and Dr. Margarita Safonova of the Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA), team developed a new Artificial Intelligence-based algorithm to detect anomalies.
The study identified a few planets which exhibit similar anomalous characteristics as Earth via the proposed technique, which shows reasonably good results, in agreement with what astronomers believe.
The Ministry of Science & Technology in a statement said that this method resulted in similar results in terms of anomalous candidate detection when it did not use surface temperature as a feature, compared to when it actually did. This will make the future analysis of exoplanets much easier.
Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying Launches Fisheries Startup Grand Challenge
The Department of Fisheries, Government of India in association with Startup India, Ministry of Commerce and Industry inaugurated the "Fisheries Startup Grand Challenge" on 13th January 2022. The challenge has been launched with an objective to provide a platform to start-ups within the country to showcase their innovative solutions within the Fisheries and Aquaculture sector. The event was graced by the presence of Shri Parshottam Rupala, Hon'ble Minister of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying and Dr. L. Murugan, Minister of State, Hon'ble Minister of State of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying.
The event started by opening remarks from Shri Sagar Mehra, Hon'ble Joint Secretary (Inland Fisheries). In his address, he stressed upon ways to capitalize the young talent in the country for bringing in noble solutions in the fisheries sector. Dr. J. Balaji, Hon'ble Joint Secretary (Marine Fisheries) deliberated that the unrealised potential of the fisheries sector offers varied opportunities for bringing in scalable business solutions and maximizing the benefits for the fishermen and fish farmers.
Shri Jatinder Nath Swain, Hon'ble Secretary Department of Fisheries, articulated that fisheries is one of the fastest growing sectors amongst the primary producing sectors. However, in order to realize the true potential of the fisheries sector, technological breakthroughs are required for enhancing production, productivity and efficiency of the fisheries? value chain.
Hon'ble Minister of State, MoFAH&D emphasised that the fisheries sector plays a vital role in economic and overall development of the country. Referred to as the "sunrise sector", fisheries sector is poised to bring in immense potential through equitable and inclusive growth. The sector is recognized as a powerful engine for providing employment to ~14.5 million people and sustaining livelihood for ~28 million fishers and fishermen of the country. He urged that the young entrepreneurs of the country should thereby come forward and offer solutions to resolve on-ground challenges through technology interventions and innovative solutions.
Hon'ble Minister, MoFAH&D stressed upon the enormous potential of the fisheries and aquaculture sector and its significance to the national economy. He launched the Fisheries Startup Grand Challenge and urged the brilliant and enlightened young minds of India to use the Grand Challenge as a platform to showcase their solutions for resolving sectoral challenges. He also highlighted that the solutions should be devised for resolving issues across the fisheries value chain for increasing aquaculture productivity from the current national average of 3 tons to 5 tons per hectare, doubling exports earnings and reducing post-harvest losses from 25% to 10%.
"Fisheries Startup Challenge" launched today by Department of Fisheries, GoI will be live for 45 days for submission of applications on the Start-up India portal ? www.startupindia.gov.in. The following themes have been identified for submission of problem statements under the Fisheries Start-up Grand Challenge.
Design and develop technology / solutions for enhancing the productivity so that the fishers & fish farmers can achieve better price realization
Develop infrastructure and post-harvest management solutions that will enable fishers, fish farmers in creating value addition, value creation and value realization ensuring minimal wastage across the fisheries value chain.
Develop business solutions and outreach activities that will make fish and fish products easily accessible, acceptable and popular among the meat consuming population in the country
Develop sustainable solutions to reduce/stop soil erosion, siltation of the water bodies and develop eco-friendly solutions for costal fishers.
The challenge is expected to foster start-up culture within the sector and to establish a strong foundation of the entrepreneurial model, the Department of Fisheries has earmarked funds to the tune of Rs. 3.44 Crore for the challenge. The selected 12 winners of the challenge will be awarded a cash grant of Rs 2.00 Lakh each to 10 shortlisted start-ups for translating their 'Idea to PoC'. In the final round a grant up to INR 20.00 lakh (General category) and INR 30.00 Lakh (SC/ST/Women) will be provided to the winners for transforming their ideas into effective pilots which would further translate into commercialization.
The launch event was attended by various stakeholders including key start-ups, industry experts, entrepreneurs, investors, incubators and policy makers. The event culminated with vote of thanks by Shri Mukesh, Director (Fisheries Statistics, Department of Fisheries). He thanked all the distinguished guests and participants for their valuable time and wished for the grand success of the Fisheries Startup Grand Challenge.
At a macro level, through Fisheries Startup Grand Challenge and similar impactful activities, the Department envisages inclusive growth within the sector through collaborative and cumulative efforts from various stakeholders. Importantly, the Department aims to progressively contribute towards nation building by fulfilling the objective of making an 'Aatmanirbhar Bharat'.
Air pollutants & meteorological variables influence pollen concentration: study
December 29, 2021 (N. Delhi)
Scientists have found that air pollutants influence pollen concentration and different types of pollens have a unique response to weather conditions.
Pollens remain suspended in the air and form part of the air we breathe. When inhaled by humans, they put a strain on the upper respiratory system. They cause widespread upper respiratory tract and naso-bronchial allergy with manifestations like asthma, seasonal rhinitis, and bronchial irritation.
Airborne pollen varies in character from place to place due to diverse meteorological or environmental conditions. There is growing evidence that airborne pollen plays a crucial role in increasing allergic diseases in the urban environment. As pollen, climatic variables, and air pollutants coexist in nature, they have the potential to interact with one another and exacerbate their adverse effects on human health.
Considering this, Prof. Ravindra Khaiwal from Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER), Chandigarh, along with Dr. Suman Mor, Chairperson, Department of Environment Studies and Ms. Akshi Goyal, Ph.D. research scholar, studied the influence of meteorology and air pollutants on the airborne pollen of the city Chandigarh. The group explored the relationships of temperature, rainfall, relative humidity, wind speed, direction, and ambient air pollutants mainly, particulate matter and nitrogen oxide to the airborne pollen.
The study has been financially supported by the Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India, and is one of the first studies in India trying to understand the impact of air pollutants and meteorological variables on airborne pollen. The study is recently published in Science of the Total Environment, a journal by Elsevier.
The study suggests that each pollen type studied had a unique response to weather conditions and air pollutants. The majority of pollen types were reported in the spring and autumn flowering period. Distinct peaks of airborne pollen were observed during favorable weather conditions, like moderate temperature, low humidity, and low precipitation. It was observed that moderate temperature plays a significant role in flowering, inflorescence, maturation, pollen release, and dispersal. In contrast, pollen grains were eliminated from the atmosphere during precipitation and high relative humidity.
A complex and obscure relationship of airborne pollen was indicated with air pollutants. The scientists plan to examine long-term data sets to establish the trends in the relationship.
Prof. Ravindra Khaiwal highlighted that in terms of the climatic future, it is expected that the urban environment will significantly impact plant biological and phenological parameters.
Therefore, the study's findings generate useful hypotheses that air pollutants influence pollen concentration and can be further explored as the data set expands in the future.
The current study's findings could help to improve the understanding of complex interactions between airborne pollen, air pollutants, and climatic variables to aid in formulating suitable mitigation policies and minimizing the burden of pollinosis in the Indo-Gangetic Plain region. This region has been identified as a hotspot of air pollution, specifically during October and November months.