OCTOBER 2018 (16-31)

Zika cases touch 80 in Rajasthan
As the number of people infected with the Zika virus rose to 80 in Rajasthan, the Union Health Ministry directed the National Centre for Disease Control to monitor cases on a daily basis while urging people not to panic. While 80 cases have been reported from the State, 330 teams have already been deployed in the affected wards and a population of over 4 lakh brought under surveillance.
Health workers undertook onthespot source reduction and treated containers with temiphose during the survey besides carrying out focal spray and fogging in the affected areas.
National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) : India’s National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) assists Indian states with infectious disease control through assistance with multidisciplinary outbreak investigations, communicable disease surveillance, networking of public health labs, and capacity building. NCDC’s goal is to expand to national surveillance of vaccine-preventable diseases, animal health/human health interface, and to build capacity through short-term training programs and long-term programs.
NCDC was established to function as a national centre of excellence for control of communicable diseases.

CSIR has developed an affordable Water Disinfection System “OneerTM”. The device will go a long way in meeting the requirements of potable water in rural and urban areas.
“OneerTM”: Use: It is useful for continuous treatment of water and eliminates all disease causing pathogens such as virus, bacteria, fungi, protozoa and cyst to provide safe drinking water to domestic and communities settings as per National and International standards prescribed for potable water (BIS, WHO etc.).
According to the World Health Organization, “access to safe drinking-water is essential to health, a basic human right and a component of effective policy for health protection”. However, currently, a large proportion of India’s rural community is consuming water that does not meet the WHO drinking water quality standards. And infection through drinking water results in an increase in morbidity and mortality particularly amongst children. Oneer developed by CSIR-IITR, will provide access to safe and clean drinking water at a cost of just 2 Paise / Ltr. The Community level model is of 450 LPH capacity which can be scaled up to 5000 to 1 lakh L/day; and is also maintenance and membrane free. The technology will be helpful especially for rural people since it can be solar powered.

Galaxy proto-supercluster — Hyperion
A team of scientists at the European Southern Observatory (ESO) have cited the most massive structure in the early universe known to date. The galaxy proto-supercluster found has been named Hyperion.
The galaxy has been found using new measurements made by the visible multi-object spectrograph of ESO’s Very Large Telescope and pouring over vast arrays of archive data. Hyperion’s unimaginably enormous mass is estimated to be a million billion times that of our own Sun (which is approximately 1,048 Jupiters, or 333,000 Earths). Hyperion is an adolescent in astronomy terms. Its distance from earth means astronomers are viewing it as it was created just over 2 billion years after the Big Bang, which gave rise to the universe about 13.8 billion years ago. The Milky Way galaxy, which hosts our Solar System, is about 13.6 billion years old.
Understanding Hyperion and how it compares to similar recent structures can give insights into how the universe developed in the past and will evolve into the future, and allows us the opportunity to challenge some models of supercluster formation. Unearthing this cosmic titan helps uncover the history of these large-scale structures. This is the first time that such a large structure has been identified at such a high redshift, just over two billion years after the Big Bang. Normally, these kinds of structures are known at lower redshifts, which means when the universe has had much more time to evolve and construct such huge things.
visible multi-object spectrograph: The VIMOS, an instrument that measures objects at a distance of billions of light years away, in practice allows experts to see what the early universe was like in the distant cosmic past. The spectrograph is hosted by the Chile-based Very Large Telescope.
VLT: The Very Large Telescope (VLT) is a telescope facility operated by the European Southern Observatory on Cerro Paranal in the Atacama Desert of northern Chile.
The VLT consists of four individual telescopes, each with a primary mirror 8.2 m across, which are generally used separately but can be used together to achieve very high angular resolution. The four separate optical telescopes are known as Antu, Kueyen, Melipal and Yepun, which are all words for astronomical objects in the Mapuche language.
The VLT operates at visible and infrared wavelengths. Each individual telescope can detect objects roughly four billion times fainter than can be detected with the naked eye, and when all the telescopes are combined, the facility can achieve an angular resolution of about 0.001 arc-second. This is equivalent to roughly 2 meters resolution at the distance of the Moon.
The VLT is the most productive ground-based facility for astronomy, with only the Hubble Space Telescope generating more scientific papers among facilities operating at visible wavelengths.

Third Pole
Scientists conducting research in the third pole area have warned of disturbing global warming trends, and how, if they continue, they could affect the lives of 1.3 billion people. The glacier has lost 60% of its mass and shrunk 250 m since 1982. The Hindu Kush-Himalayan region spans an area of more than 4.3 million square kilometres in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Myanmar, Nepal, and Pakistan. The region stores more snow and ice than anywhere else in the world outside the polar regions, giving its name: ’The Third Pole‘. The Third Pole contains the world’s highest mountains, including all 14 peaks above 8,000 metres, is the source of 10 major rivers, and forms a formidable global ecological buffer. The Third Pole region has enormous socioeconomic and cultural diversity; it is home to many different ethnic communities speaking more than 600 languages and many more dialects. It is endowed with rich natural resources and contains all or part of four global biodiversity hotspots. The mountain resources provide a wide range of ecosystem services and the basis for the livelihoods to the 210 million people living in the region, as well as indirectly to the 1.3 billion people — one fifth of the worlds’ population — living in the downstream river basins. More than 3 billion people benefit from the food and energy produced in these river basins that have their origin in the mountains.
The Third Pole and Climate Change: Climate change has become a major concern in the Third Pole. Mountain systems are particularly sensitive to climate change and the Third Pole region is home to some of the people most vulnerable to these changes in the world. Changes in the river systems and their basins have impacted directly on the wellbeing of millions of people. The rate of warming in the Third Pole region is significantly higher than the global average, and the rate is higher at higher altitude, suggesting a greater vulnerability of the cryosphere environment to climate change. This trend is expected to continue. Climate change projections suggest that all areas of South Asia are likely to warm by at least 1°C by the end of the century, while in some areas the warming could be as high as 3.5-4°C. The life and livelihoods of the people in the Third Pole region is challenged due to climate change, and the stability and prosperity of the region affected by the Third Pole is at risk, which will have implications for all of Asia and for the world. however, there is still little knowledge of this situation, and its potential implications, outside the immediate vicinity; a special effort is needed to raise awareness of the fragility of the mountain social-ecological system. The melting of glaciers of the Third Pole could affect the lives of 1.3 billion people because of its proximity to densely populated and industrialised regions. And the continuous melting of glaciers will be catastrophic for the people who depend on water from the Third Pole. The Third Pole Environment (TPE): TPE, an international research program, was launched in 2009 and focuses on the Tibetan Plateau and surrounding mountain ranges.

Earth’s inner core is softer, a study reveals
Contrary to the fact the Earth’s inner core is solid, researchers from Australian National University (ANU) have found that it is comparatively softer.
Facts about the inner core of the Earth:
Radius: 1,220 kilometres (760 miles) i.e. 70 per cent of the Moon’s radius.
Composed of: Nickel-iron alloy.
Temperature: 5,700 K (5,430 °C) or 9806 °F, which is almost the temperature of Sun.
What is inner core made of? The inner core is made up of two layers outer and inner. Outer core is 1,355 miles (2,180 km) thick.
Why is the radius of inner core unknown? There is no estimated radius of the inner core; however, it plays a distinct role in making Earth’s magnetic field. The inner core is measured by shear waves, a seismology term, which so tiny and feeble that it can’t be observed directly. In fact, detecting them has been considered the ‘Holy Grail’ of global seismology since scientists first predicted the inner core was solid in the 1930s and 40s.
Purpose of the Earth’s inner core: When charged particles from the solar wind collide with air molecules above Earth’s magnetic poles, it causes the air molecules to glow, causing the auroras – the northern and southern lights.
How has it been discovered?
Researchers came up with a way to detect shear waves, or “J waves” in the inner core – a type of wave which can only travel through solid objects. According to the research published by the university, the wavefield method looks at the similarities between the signals at two receivers after a major earthquake, rather than the direct wave arrivals. The study shows these results can then be used to demonstrate the existence of J waves and infer the shear wave speed in the inner core. It has been found that the inner core shares some similar elastic properties with gold and platinum. The understanding of the Earth’s inner core has direct consequences for the generation and maintenance of the geomagnetic field, and without that geomagnetic field there would be no life on the Earth’s surface.

Harit Diwali-Swasth Diwali campaign
Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) has launched Harit Diwali-Swasth Diwali campaign. MOEFCC has merged this year’s campaign with “Green Good Deed” movement that has been initiated as social mobilization for conservation and protection of environment.
Aim: To reduce adverse environmental conditions especially pollution in the country after post Diwali celebrations due to excessive bursting of crackers which contributes significantly to air and noise pollution.
Harit Diwali-Swasth Diwali campaign: This campaign was initiated in 2017-18 to enlighten children about harmful fire crackers and motivate them to celebrate Diwali in environment-friendly manner and not to buy fire crackers, instead buy gift, food items, or sweets for poor and underprivileged children living in their locality. Under this campaign, the MoEFCC will undertake various activities for creating awareness among various stakeholders and encourage people to participate in combating air pollution. This campaign was extremely successful and the air quality had not deteriorated post Diwali in 2017 unlike what was experienced in 2016. Air pollution is a serious health issue in the country especially in the northern parts during winter seasons. It is attributed to dust, burning of crops in certain states, burning of garbage construction and prevailing climatic conditions. This air pollution has serious impacts on the health of children aged people and people suffering from respiratory ailments. Diwali which is a festival of lights falls during the same period. As a matter of practice people have been celebrating Diwali by bursting crackers. Crackers contains combustible chemicals that include potassium chlorate powdered aluminum, magnesium, salts of barium, copper, sodium, lithium, strontium etc. and emits smoke on combustion of these chemicals along with sound. This smoke and sound has health impacts on children, aged people and also animal and birds. Apart from these compounds large amount of waste is also generated after bursting of crackers.

India’s first engine-less train set to hit tracks
Train 18, India’s first engine-less train for inter-city travel is set to hit the tracks very soon.
Train 18: Train 18 is a flagship train set; the first prototype has been built by the Integral Coach Factory, Chennai, in a record time of 20 months. The train is a 100% ‘Make in India’ project and is claimed to be built at half the cost of a similar train set that is imported. T-18 is a self-propelled engine-less train (similar to the Metro trains) and is energy-efficient as its coaches will be fitted with LED lights. Coaches will have automatic doors and retractable footsteps, It will be inter-connected with fully sealed gangways along with a GPS-based Passenger Information System. It is provided with of Bio toilets. The full AC train is equipped to run at a speed of up to 160 kmph as against Shatabdi’s 130 kmph which will cut down travel time by 15%.

Parker solar probe
The Parker Solar Probe now holds the record for closest approach to the sun by a human-made object. The spacecraft – which launched on August 12, 2018 – passed the current record of 26.55 million miles (43 million km) from the sun’s surface October 29, 2018. The previous record for closest solar approach was set by the German-American Helios 2 spacecraft in April 1976.
As the Parker Solar Probe mission progresses, the spacecraft will repeatedly break its own records, with a final close approach of 3.83 million miles (6.2 million km) from the sun’s surface expected in 2024. Parker Solar Probe is also expected to break the record for fastest spacecraft traveling relative to the sun, also on October 29. The current record for heliocentric speed is 153,454 miles per hour, set by Helios 2 in April 1976.
What is it? NASA’s historic Parker Solar Probe mission will revolutionize our understanding of the sun, where changing conditions can propagate out into the solar system, affecting Earth and other worlds. Parker Solar Probe will travel through the sun’s atmosphere, closer to the surface than any spacecraft before it, facing brutal heat and radiation conditions — and ultimately providing humanity with the closest-ever observations of a star.
Journey: In order to unlock the mysteries of the sun’s atmosphere, Parker Solar Probe will use Venus’ gravity during seven flybys over nearly seven years to gradually bring its orbit closer to the sun. The spacecraft will fly through the sun’s atmosphere as close as 3.9 million miles to our star’s surface, well within the orbit of Mercury and more than seven times closer than any spacecraft has come before.
Goals: The primary science goals for the mission are to trace how energy and heat move through the solar corona and to explore what accelerates the solar wind as well as solar energetic particles.
Parker Solar Probe has three detailed science objectives:
Trace the flow of energy that heats and accelerates the solar corona and solar wind.
Determine the structure and dynamics of the plasma and magnetic fields at the sources of the solar wind.
Explore mechanisms that accelerate and transport energetic particles.
Why study corona?
The corona is hotter than the surface of the sun. The corona gives rise to the solar wind, a continuous flow of charged particles that permeates the solar system. Unpredictable solar winds cause disturbances in our planet’s magnetic field and can play havoc with communications technology on Earth. Nasa hopes the findings will enable scientists to forecast changes in Earth’s space environment.