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September 8, 2018 (Bengaluru)
Taiwan's space agency NSPO has sought collaboration with the ISRO, especially in the areas of the outer space and tracking extreme weather events, its officials have said.
Chen-Joe-Fong, the system lead of FORMOSAT-7 programme of the National Space Organisation (NSPO), said they are seeking a collaboration in tracking extreme weather events like cyclones.
On the sidelines of Bengaluru Space Expo 2018, a meeting was also held between the officials of the NSPO and the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) in which the Taiwanese side pitched for greater cooperation.
"Taiwan is prone to typhoons while India faces cyclones. We have Formosat-5 earth observation satellite. We are looking to collaborate with Antrix (the space arm of the ISRO) on this," Chen said.
Formosat-5, a 450-kg Earth observation satellite was launched in August last year. Plans are on to launch Formosat-7 an advance version, Chen said.
Chen said Taiwan was also looking to collaborate with India in the area of outer space, alluding to India's first inter-planetary mission - Mars Orbiter Mission - and Chandrayaan-1.
India also has plans to further explore Mars and undertake exploration programme for Venus.
Taiwan was a part of the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer-02 mission, a particle physics detector on the International Space Station, with a purpose to search outer space for antimatter and dark matter as part of an investigation into the origin of the universe.
"The meeting was very good and we are looking forward for collaboration with the ISRO," Prof Henry H Chen, Counsellor and Director, Science and Technology, at the Taipei Economic and Cultural Centre in New Delhi said.
Requesting anonymity, an ISRO official confirmed the meeting took place.
The official added that the Taiwanese side were looking for a collaboration in launch services. The ISRO is known for providing cheaper launch options.
Taiwan has had active cooperation with the US in the area of space and is now looking at diversifying its ties with other space agencies.
September 6, 2018 (Bengaluru)
The national human space mission 'Gaganyaan' will get French support in the form of life support and medicine for the Indian crew.
The French space agency CNES head Jean-Yves LeGall announced that an enabling agreement would be signed on Wednesday with his ISRO counterpart K. Sivan.
He was at the bi-annual Bengaluru Space Expo BSX 2018 which opened here on Thursday.
ISRO wants industry to drive the production of routine launch vehicles in two years, Dr. Sivan said on Thursday. "We are not satisfied with the current level of industry participation in the space programme. Our missions are growing at a fast pace, to almost two launches a month, from the current seven-odd a year," he said, urging industry to take up bigger and independent roles in making satellites and launchers.
Giving a sense of the monetary returns to home industry, he said that of the ₹10,400 crore worth of launch vehicles approved a few months back, about ₹9000 crore will go to supplier industries in the coming years. Industry must gauge the benefits of investing in space in a big way, Dr. Sivan said.
As many as 59 satellites are due in three years. ISRO needs over a dozen light-lifting PSLV rockets to launch them - and wants industry to step in and relieve ISRO of this load, he said.
ISRO's commercial arm Antrix Corporation's CMD Rakesh Sasibhushan said the space industry was growing in double digits.
Mr. Le Gall said the two countries will add new applications such as drinking water resources to their old tie-up for climate satellite missions. Next year, CNES would have its Argos payload again on Oceansat-3. The 3-day BSX is hosted by ISRO, Antrix and CII.
September 8, 2018 (Tarnaka)
At the behest of Dr. S Chandrasekhar, director, Indian Institute of Chemical Technology (IICT), the membrane group led by Dr S Sridhar, senior principal scientist, installed ultra-filtration systems of 700 lit/hr capacity each in Wayanad district as well as the badly-affected Kuttanad district of flood ravaged Kerala.
Some of the affected villages covered include Panamaram and Thakazhi with around 500 families benefiting from IICT's efforts. Dr. Sridhar also indicated that more such installations would be completed in Kuttanad, Trivandrum and Kottayam districts during the next one week to lend further helping hand to locals.
The technology involves the application of hollow fiber membranes that remove turbidity and pathogens from flood water. A hand pump is used to create the pressure difference across the membrane for purifying the water, as electricity is not available in remote areas during floods. A smart chlorine cartridge is provided to eliminate any secondary contamination by harmful disease-causing microbes. The IICT director also arranged to send a cheque to Chief Minister of Kerala for an amount of Rs. 14,65,027 contributed towards the "Chief Ministers' Distress Relief Fund" by the staff members and students of the institute.
August 29, 2018 (N. Delhi)
In its 5th Executive Committee meeting held in New Delhi yesterday, the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) approved projects worth nearly Rs 150 crores in Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal under the Namami Gange programme. These projects include I&D works where small rivers, rivulets and drains are intercepted before they empty into the main river, and are diverted to Sewage Treatment Plants (STP), so that the water that finally drains into the main river is clean and totally devoid of any pollutants. The projects also include STPs and development of Ghats. The state wise details of the projects are as follows:
An Interception and Diversion (I&D) projects was approved for Rispana & Bindal Rivers in Dehradun at an estimated cost of Rs 60 crores. The wastewater from these rivers ultimately meets Ganga between Haridwar and Rishikesh through river Song. Once executed, this project will tap 117 naalas/drains now carrying untreated wastewater. It is proposed to build a Sewage Treatment Plant (STP) with 1 Million Litre Per day (MLD) capacity to treat some of this wastewater while 28 MLD will be treated at the existing STPs.
The development of Ghats in Mirzapur was approved at an estimated cost of Rs.27.41 crore under the Clean Ganga Fund. The project includes the renovation, extension and widening of the Ghats as well as provision of amenities, landscaping and embankment construction. Further, the project also includes refurbishment of Ram Gaya crematorium and construction of two new crematoriums.
The Committee approved a 3.5 MLD capacity Sewage Treatment Plant (STP) and its ancillary works, along with Interception and Diversion (I&D) of sewer lines in Sonepur in Bihar at an estimated cost of Rs.30.92 crore. The Project includes the cost of operations and maintenance (O&M) for 15 years. Once completed, the STP will treat all the 5 drains of the city including RN Tagore School Drain, Ward 3-4 boundary, Grave yard ward 18, Meena Bazaar which are presently carrying untreated sewage into the river Mahe which discharges into river Gandak and finally into the Ganga.
The Committee also approved the river front development project in Sonepur at an estimated cost of Rs.22.92 Crore. This includes construction of a connecting promenade, embankment protection, provision of amenities as well as landscaping along the ghats. In addition, 8 ghats are under construction under the Namami Gange programme at an estimated cost of 20 crores.
The Eexcutive Committee also gave go-ahead to the upgradation/renovation of Ghats and Crematoria at Katwa, Kalna, Agradwip and Dainhat in West Bengal. These projects will be taken up under Clean Ganga Fund. The combined cost of these projects is Rs. 8.58 crores and includes embankment protection, provision of basic amenities at the Ghats, landscaping, electrical and allied works, renovation of existing structures etc at the various ghats.
Documentation of Cultural Heritage along River Ganga
The Eexcutive Committee also accorded approval to a proposal to document the cultural heritage of River Ganga from Gaumukh to Gangasagar through INTACH. The proposal seeks to develop an appreciation of the river as a cultural stream embedded in the soul of India, by documenting its associated cultural narrative, including features like an annual calendar of events and rituals. This would cover archaeological heritage, intangible cultural heritage and environmental heritage.
NMCG is fully committed to cleaning and sustaining the cleanliness of the river Ganga. The Mission is making all out efforts to achieve this task and meet the timelines of the Namami Gange programme.
August 28, 2018 (N. Delhi)
The central government on Tuesday constituted a new 21-member advisory panel on science, technology and innovation under the chairmanship of Principal Scientific Advisor, K VijayRaghavan, that will also co-ordinate the implementation of programmes through various bodies.
"This gives a fresh direction to the country's science and technology sector. The council will advise the PM on science, technology, as well as innovation, but also coordinate the implementation of the PMs vision," said VijayRaghavan.
The council must "actively aid in the formulation and timely implementation of major science and technology missions" and "evolve interdisciplinary technology development programmes," the government order announcing its formation said.
The new council has nine members, including Dr VK Saraswat, member of NITI Aayog and former director general of Defence Research and Development Organisation, Dr AS Kiran Kumar, former chairman of Indian Space Research Organisation, and Maj Gen Madhuri Kanitkar, dean of Armed Forces Medical College, Pune.
Manjul Bhargava, professor at Princeton University and a Fields medal winner, Subhash Kak, a professor at Oklahoma State University, and Baba Kalyani, the managing director of Bharat Forge, an Indian multinational corporation are also members of the council.
Apart from the nine members, the council will also have twelve special invitees-eleven ex officio secretaries of various departments including health research, atomic energy and higher education and one member invited by the chair.
"This is a good move because scientific advisory bodies had been defunct for a while now. These bodies have a great role to play and ideally all government decisions should be based on their advise. In my view, the composition of the council should be such that there are more practising scientists rather than bureaucrats and scientists who are now in administrative roles," said Soumitro Banerjee, General Secretary of the Breakthrough Science Society that organised March for Science in India.
The panel, called the Prime Minister's Science, Technology and Innovation Advisory Council (PM-STIAC) will replace the Scientific Advisory Committee to the Prime Minister and to the Cabinet.
These committees, which were first set up in 1999 under the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government, had a term running concurrently with the government's. In 2014 , the new NDA government decided not to constitute this committee. Earlier this year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi appointed VijayRaghavan as his scientific advisor.
"The new council will not go out with the current government. This council is concerned with the national effort and will remain in office till it is reconstituted," said VijayRaghavan.
August 25, 2018 (Roorkey)
Researchers at Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Roorkee have identified a protein (Hfq) in Acinetobacter baumannii bacteria that can be a potential drug target. The Hfq protein plays an important role in metabolism, drug resistance, stress tolerance and virulence. The protein stabilises the interaction of small RNA with its target mRNA molecules.
A. baumannii bacteria are resistant to several antibiotics. They also survive in dry, desiccated conditions for extended periods thus helping the bacteria spread.
While most Gram-negative bacteria have Hfq protein, the protein is particularly long in the case of A. baumannii. For instance, In E. coli, the length of the Hfq protein is only about 100 amino acids while there are 168 amino acids in the case of A. baumannii. The end of the Hfq protein, called the C-terminus is what is particularly long in A. baumannii. While another study had reported that the extra length of the C-terminus may not be significant in another bacteria belonging to the same family as A. baumannii, the team found evidence to the contrary.
The team led by Ranjana Pathania from the Institute's Department of Biotechnology found that when the Hfq gene was removed (knocked out), the bacteria became susceptible to environmental stress, showed stunted growth, survival under desiccation was compromised, and the ability to form biofilm was reduced. "But most importantly, the virulence of the bacteria was significantly reduced in mice model infected with the mutant bacteria," says Prof. Pathania. The results of the study were published in The Journal of Biological Chemistry.
To reconfirm the role of the extra length of Hfq protein, the researchers complemented or added the full length of the protein and also Hfq protein of different lengths (66, 72 and 92 amino acids). "While the full length of the complemented protein could restore all the functions and processes, including virulence, the Hfq protein lacking the C-terminus tail could not restore the functions of the protein. So it became apparent that the C-terminus tail is important," she says.
The resistance to two commonly used antibiotics reduced twofold when the bacteria lacked the Hfq gene, but the resistance increased nearly fourfold in the case of another antibiotic. "We are currently studying the mechanism by which the resistance increases in the case of the other drug (Meropenem)," she says.
More than the gene's role in altering drug resistance, the researchers are thrilled at how removing the Hfq gene causes the bacteria to lose its ability to cause disease and the growth getting compromised. "Targeting the virulence of the bacteria is a rather new concept which promises drugs that don't lead to rapid generation of resistance. Identification of Hfq as a virulence factor in the bacteria opens up a new opportunity to develop more effective drugs," says Prof. Pathania.
"Since the Hfq gene controls multiple pathways in the bacteria, it will be difficult for the bacteria to develop resistance against any drug that targets this gene," says Prof. Pathania.
August 16, 2018 (N. Delhi)
The Union Minister of Agriculture and Farmers' Welfare, Shri Radha Mohan Singh has written to the Director General, United Nations Food & Agriculture Organization (FAO) and proposed the declaration of an upcoming year as "International Year of Millets".
In a letter to Mr. Jose Graziano da Silva, Director-General, United Nations Food & Agriculture Organization, Shri Singh said that to garner wider global attention and action, India has mooted a proposal for declaration of an upcoming year as International Year of Millets.
The Union Agriculture Minister stated that India is celebrating 2018 as the National Year of Millets and is promoting cultivation by amending cropping pattern of areas which are especially susceptible to climate change. He further added that government under the leadership of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has been actively promoting millets. Millets are highly nutritious and useful in various lifestyle diseases, enhancing resilience and risk management in face of climate change especially for small and marginal farmers.
Shri Singh further added that the government recently increased the MSP of millets by more than 50 per cent of cost of production which is an important component of efforts to achieve the national commitment of doubling farmers' income by 2022.
This letter follows his earlier communication to the Secretary General of the UN in November 2017 in this regard. The Minister has requested the inclusion of this proposal in the agenda of the 26th session of the Committee on Agriculture (COAG) meeting, scheduled during October 1-5, 2018 in Rome.
Shri Singh said that adoption of this proposal by FAO with the support of its Member Nations will enable it to be moved to the UNGA for declaration of an upcoming year as International Year of Millets. He said that the matter has received support of the member countries when placed in the Bureau meeting of the committee on agriculture held on July 5, 2018.
"It is highly desirable that global efforts are stepped up to bring these nutri-cereals back to the food basket of a wide range of consumers, rural and urban as well as rich and poor, for boosting their production as well, he added.
August 16, 2018 (Bengaluru)
The plan to put an Indian into space, on its own, for the first time by 2022 will create as many as 15,000 jobs, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) Chairman K Sivan said on Wednesday.
"We estimate that the human space mission will generate about 15,000 jobs over the next few years," Sivan told IANS here.
The ISRO wants to take up the manned spaceflight in collaboration with multiple state-run scientific institutions, academia, industry and start-ups. The space agency aims to take Indian astronauts into space to a height of 350-400 km above the earth and orbit around the planet for at least a week by 2022. The astronauts will also be conducting experiments in space, details of which are yet to be decided by ISRO.
"The human spaceflight will be a national project and not just ISRO's, as we will be collaborating with several institutions, academia and the industry," Sivan told reporters here.
Rakesh Sharma, a former Indian Air Force pilot, is the only Indian citizen to travel into space so far. He was part of the crew on Soyuz T-11 launched on April 2, 1984 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic, a part of the then Soviet Union. The ISRO will be working with the Institute of Aerospace Medicine in Bengaluru for training the crew and the Indian Air Force, which will select the crew, as well as with the private sector, which will be involved in research and development, Sivan said.
The ISRO Chairman addressed the press conference in this tech hub hours after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced in his Independence Day address in New Delhi the country's plan to put an Indian into space by 2022 on its own. Admitting that the space agency was "surprised" by the Prime Minister's human space mission announcement, Sivan said the technological preparations for the project were on track since 2004.
"The announcement came to us as a surprise. We were not expecting it," Sivan said, adding that ISRO, however, has been developing several critical technologies required for the mission like the crew module and the crew escape system. "It is not an unrealistic schedule. We are confident of achieving it even before 2022," Sivan said.
The opportunity of exploring space will enhance the country's science and technological capabilities, while inspiring the youth, he added. India's attempt to reach space by 2022 is about six decades after a Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first human to journey into outer space and orbit the earth in 1961. The US, Russia and China are the only three nations to have launched manned space flights.
The ISRO is yet to finalise the exact timeline of tests before a manned mission can take off, as it plans to have two unmanned test flights onboard a Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) Mk 3. In the run-up to the first manned mission, said to be the largest project undertaken by the Indian space agency, the ISRO will conduct the next unmanned test flight by 2020.
"There will be two unmanned flights before the manned mission, for which the astronaut suit is also being developed," said Sivan.
The ambitious human space mission is expected to cost about Rs 10,000 crore, in addition to the already spent Rs 300-crore in developing the technologies for the mission, like the crew module.
August 14, 2018 (Bengaluru)
Defence PSU Bharat Electronics Ltd (BEL), on Tuesday said it has signed a Technical Collaboration Agreement (TCA) with National Aerospace Laborotaries (NAL), under the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), for the design and engineering, production and commercialisation of Electronic Target System (ETS), a modern training aid meant for enhancing marksmanship of Defence and Paramilitary forces during live firing exercises on the field.
The agreement heralds a new beginning in the ties between BEL and CSIR labs for developing products targeting niche market segments.
"Designed by CSIR-NAL, ETS is a technically superior and cost-effective solution for police, paramilitary and defence personnel looking at acquiring sharp shooting skills in small firearms as well as honing their proficiency in tactical field firing. With this technology, BEL is targeting a market of about 1,500 lanes," BEL said in a statement.
Presently, after firing a shot, a shooter is unable to instantly gauge if he has hit or missed the target and by what margin, and, needs to move near the target to examine the results. ETS helps in instantly providing the hit location through a display, positioned beside him.
CSIR-NAL has developed two technologies for Electronic Target System-Detection and Hit Visualisation using Acoustic N-wave Identification (DHVANI) and Acoustic Based Hit Identification and Analysis System (ABHIAS)-using which the shooter can instantly see, after each shot, the result on an electronic display placed nearby. This enables the shooter to constantly self-monitor his progress and take remedial steps to improve his accuracy.