GRAIL: Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory.
Navy gets stealth frigate Satpura
Continuing with its warship-building programme, India, on August 20, 2011, commissioned its second indigenous stealth frigate, INS Satpura, which is the biggest in its class in the world. The ship, which is 143m long, can tactically fire weapons even before the enemy detects it.
This one comes 15 months after the first such ship, the INS Shivalik, was commissioned and includes a provision to fit the deadly super cruise missile, the BrahMos, at a later stage. It carries some eight different types of radars and sensors to pick out activity at sea and form an anti-missile defence for its own protection besides coordinate the firing of on-board weapons. Two electronic warfare suites, other than a host of missiles, torpedoes and anti-submarine warfare capability are also on board.
Switch from coal to natural gas no boon to climate
Relying more on natural gas than on coal would not significantly slow down the effects of climate change, even though direct carbon dioxide emissions would be less, a new study has found.
Burning coal emits far more climate-warming carbon dioxide than natural gas does, but it also releases lots of sulfates and other particles that block incoming sunlight and help cool the Earth.
Using more natural gas for fuel could also produce leaks of methane, a heat-trapping greenhouse gas more than 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide, study author Tom Wigley said in a statement.
A global, partial shift from coal to natural gas would speed up global warming slightly through at least 2050, even with no methane leaks from natural gas operations. If there were substantial methane leaks, the acceleration of climate change would continue through as late as 2140, according to Wigley's computer simulations.
Kapoor, Shammi Kapoor
Hindi film actor Shammi Kapoor, who ruled the film industry in the 1950s and 1960s with his flamboyant, charismatic personality, died on August 14, 2011. He was 79. He was a prominent member of the Kapoor clan and the brother of Raj Kapoor and Shashi Kapoor.
Shammi, whose real name was Shamsher Raj Kapoor, was born on October 21, 1931, to Prithviraj Kapoor and Ramsarni Mehra. He entered the film industry as a junior artiste in 1948 and debuted as an actor in 1953 with film “Jeevan Jyoti”.
He carved a niche for himself with his rock ‘n’ roll dancing style in films like Nasir Hussain's “Tumsa Nahin Dekha” and “Dil Deke Dekho”. But it was the 1961 film “Junglee”, directed by Subodh Mukherjee, which gave him the image of “the yahoo yuppie”.
The Nasir-Shammi combination struck gold at the box-office with murder mystery “Teesri Manzil”, one of the unforgettable films in the actor's career.
Shammi never really bid adieu to the big screen, appearing in films time and again. He starred with Shah Rukh Khan in “Chamatkar” (1992) and played Salman Khan's grandfather in “Janam Samjha Karo” (1999).
His latest on-screen stint was a cameo in grand nephew Ranbir Kapoor's yet-to-be-released film “Rockstar”, directed by Imtiaz Ali.
A great computer buff, Shammi was one of the earliest stars from Hindi film industry to join micro-blogging website Twitter.
From a humble birth as one of the early settlements of the British East India Company in the 17th century, Chennai has grown into a vibrant metropolis retaining its cultural moorings. It celebrated its 372nd founding day on August 22, 2011.
It has been a long and eventful journey for the city which came into being on August 22, 1639, when the then British administrator Francis Day struck a deal with local Nayak rulers for a sliver of land where the Fort St George, the seat of power of the Tamil Nadu government, stands today.
Tracing Chennai's history is an interesting journey into the past. It was believed to have been first named Chennappanaikan, in memory of the father of the Nayaks who sold the land to British, and later came to be known as Chennapattinam from which the present name came about.
The original document relating to the building of Fort St George, a historic fort which was for a while the seat of power of East India Company, is said to have been signed at Chandragiri fort in the neighbouring Andhra Pradesh.
Robert Clive, founder of the British Empire in India, got married in a church inside the fort. His marriage certificate is still the prized possession of the museum in the fort.
Villages around temples like Parthasarathy in Triplicane and Kapaleeswarer temple in Mylapore near the southern coast and Marudheeswarer temple in Thiruvanmiyur existed for several centuries, long before the Europeans arrived here.
The first Europeans to reach the shores of Madras were the Portuguese. They built a church in Saint Thomas Mount enshrining the ‘Bleeding Cross’.
PowerGrid to launch India’s first 1,200-Kv station
India’s power sector witnessed a new era in the transmission segment with the launch a 1,200-Kv ultra-high voltage (UHV) test station along with experimental lines in Bina, Madhya Pradesh, by State-run Power Grid Corp. The investment for the project is estimated at Rs 800 crore.
As of now, the power is being transmitted on 765Kv /800Kv lines. The existing 400Kv line can transfer about 600 Mw power, 800Kv line can do between 1,200 Mw and 2,400 Mw and 1,200-Kv transfer 6,000-8,000 Mw.
With the government’s plan of adding over 100,000 Mw capacity in the coming 12th Plan, coupled with the challenges put up by environment hurdles, right of way and transmission losses, there is a need to develop a more sound transmission system. About 35 manufacturers, including BHEL, Areva, Siemens and Sterlite have joined hands with PowerGrid to establish the 1,200kV test station. The test line in Bina is being constructed with two 1200kV test bays in which the leading manufacturers are providing main equipment such as transformers, surge arresters, circuit breakers, transformers among others. These test bays and test lines shall be used for various field trials initially.
The first 1,200kV system field was tested and commissioned in the former Soviet Union in 1985 after 12 years of research, which was discontinued after the disintegration of the Union. Then, Japan started developing a 1,000kV UHV system in 1978 and tests are still on. China started developmental work on a 1,100 kV UHV system in 2005 and a pilot project is presently under testing.
Cancer-fighting virus shown to target tumours alone
Researchers have shown for the first time that a single intravenous infusion of a genetically engineered virus can home in on cancer, killing tumour cells in patients without harming healthy tissue.
Scientists have been intrigued for decades with the idea of using viruses to alert the immune system to seek and destroy cancerous cells. That interest has taken off in recent years as advances in genetic engineering allow them to customize viruses that target tumours.
The field received a boost in January 2011, when bio-tech giant Amgen Inc agreed to pay up to $1 billion for BioVex, the developer of experimental cancer-fighting virus OncoVex. But the only “oncolytic virus” so far approved by a regulatory agency is for treatment of head and neck cancer in China.
In a study published in the journal Nature, scientists at , including the University of Ottawa and privately held bio-tech company Jennerex Inc, said a small, early-stage trial of experimental viral therapy JX-594 found that it consistently infected tumours with only minimal and temporary side effects.
The experimental virus will next be tested in a mid-stage trial of patients with liver cancer.
JX-594 is derived from a strain of the virus once commonly used to vaccinate children against smallpox. Because the Jennerex virus can be given intravenously, spreading throughout the body, it may hold promise for limiting the ability of cancer cells to metastasize and spread.
Space junk reaching "tipping point," report warns
The amount of debris orbiting the Earth has reached “a tipping point” for collisions, which would in turn generate more of the debris that threatens astronauts and satellites, according to a U.S. study.
NASA needs a new strategic plan for mitigating the hazards posed by spent rocket bodies, discarded satellites and thousands of other pieces of junk flying around the planet at speeds of 28,160 km per hour, the National Research Council said in the study.
The council is one of the private, non-profit U.S. national academies that provide expert advice on scientific problems.
Orbital debris poses a threat to the approximately 1,000 operational commercial, military and civilian satellites orbiting the Earth—part of a global industry that generated $168 billion in revenues in 2010, Satellite Industry Association figures show.
The world’s first space smash-up occurred in 2009 when a working Iridium communications satellite and a non-operational Russian satellite collided 788 km over Siberia, generating thousands of new pieces of orbital debris.
The crash followed China’s destruction in 2007 of one of its defunct weather satellites, as part of a widely condemned anti-satellite missile test.
The amount of orbital debris tracked by the U.S. Space Surveillance Network jumped from 9,949 catalogued objects in December 2006 to 16,094 in July 2011, with nearly 20 percent of the objects stemming from the destruction of the Chinese FENGYUN 1-C satellite.
The surveillance network tracks objects approximately 10 centimetres in diameter and larger.
Juno embarks on journey to Jupiter
On August 6, 2011, NASA launched the billion-dollar solar-powered spacecraft Juno on a five-year journey to Jupiter, aiming to discover what makes up the solar system's biggest planet.
The unmanned satellite observatory was propelled into space aboard a 60-mt-tall Atlas V rocket, blasting off from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
Once it arrives in July 2016, the spacecraft will orbit the poles of the gas giant, which has more than twice the mass of all planets in the solar system combined and is believed to be the first planet that took shape around the Sun.
Named after the wife of the Roman god Jupiter, the $1.1-billion spacecraft is NASA's first mission there since it launched Galileo in 1989. It aims for 30 orbits over a period of one year. Juno will get closer to Jupiter than any other NASA spacecraft.
China launches communication satellite for Pakistan
On August 12, 2011, China launched a communications satellite for Pakistan, as the two all-weather allies opened a “new platform” in space collaboration to further cement their strategic relationship.
PAKSAT-1R was launched from Xichang Satellite Launch Centre in China’s Sichuan Province.
The satellite, built and financed by China, will provide a range of services, including broadband Internet, telecom and broadcasting, besides defence applications. The satellite will be operated from Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (SUPARCO) Ground Stations in Lahore and Karachi.
The satellite is China’s first in-orbit delivery to Asian customers and also the first commercial satellite export to international users in 2011.
Pakistan’s first low-orbit satellite, BADR-A, was launched by China in 1990 with Long March 2E rocket.
NASA’s GRAIL mission around moon
NASA's GRAIL mission to study the moon from crust to core successfully lifted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station's Pad SLC-17B on September 9, 2011.
The straight-line distance from Earth to the moon is about 402,336 kilometres. It took NASA’s Apollo moon crews about three days to cover that distance. Each of the GRAIL twin satellites will be taking about 30 times that , and covering more than 4 million kilometres to get there. This low-energy, high-cruise time trajectory is beneficial for mission planners and controllers, as it allows more time for spacecraft checkout. The path also provides a vital component of the spacecraft's single science instrument, the Ultra Stable Oscillator, to be continuously powered for several months, allowing it to reach a stable operating temperature long before beginning the collection of science measurements in lunar orbit.
GRAIL-A will enter lunar orbit on December 31, 2011, and GRAIL-B will follow the next day. When science collection begins, the spacecraft will transmit radio signals precisely defining the distance between them as they orbit the moon. Regional gravitational differences on the moon are expected to expand and contract that distance. GRAIL scientists will use these accurate measurements to define the moon’s gravity field. The data will allow mission scientists to understand what goes on below the surface of our natural satellite.