GS Paper I- History and Geography of the World and Society.

Nasa Find First Alien Solar System With As Many Planets As Our Own.

Background-

  • Scientists on Nasa’s Kepler mission have spotted an eighth planet around a distant star, making it the first alien solar system known to host as many planets as Earth.
  • The newfound world orbits a star named Kepler 90 which is larger and hotter than the sun and lies 2,500 light years from Earth in the constellation of Draco.
  • Known as Kepler 90i, the freshly-discovered world is smallest of the eight now known to circle the star, and while it is probably rocky, it is a third larger than Earth and searingly hot at more than 420C.

 

Highlights Of The Development–

  • Researchers on the Kepler planet-hunting telescope discovered Kepler 90i when they teamed up with artificial intelligence specialists at Google to analyse data collected by the space-based observatory.
  • The Kepler telescope hunts for alien worlds by detecting the shadows planets cast as they orbit their parent stars. When a planet passes in front of its star, the telescope detects a minuscule dimming in light, which for an Earth-sized planet circling a sun-like star, can mean a fall in luminosity of a mere 0.01%.
  • Kepler has observed 150,000 stars to date and already discovered more than 4,000 candidate planets, of which about 2,300 have been confirmed. Astronomers now suspect at least one planet orbits every star in the sky.
  • For all their success with Kepler, Nasa scientists knew that more planets lay hidden in the telescope’s observations, but the signals were so weak they were difficult to spot. This is where Google’s AI researchers came in. By training a neural network to learn what bona fide signals of distant planets looked like, Christopher Shallue, a Google researcher, helped Nasa to scour Kepler’s observations of 670 stars for planets that had previously been missed.
  • The search turned up two new planets around different stars, Kepler 90i, and another world named Kepler 80g, the sixth planet now known to orbit its star.
  • The scientists now plan to search Kepler’s data on all 150,000 stars for other missed planets. A research paper on the findings will be published by the Astronomical Journal.
  • Earlier this year, Kepler scientists announced the discovery of 219 more candidate planets, of which 10 appeared to be about the same size and temperature as Earth.

Sources- The Guardian.

 

GS Paper II- Governance.

Cabinet Approves India’s First National Rail And Transportation University At Vadodara.

Background

  • The Union Cabinet on 20th December, 2017 approved the Ministry of Railways’ initiative to set up the first ever National Rail and Transport University (NRTU) in Vadodara to skill its human resources and build capability. This idea, according to a statement from the union government, will be a catalyst for transformation of rail and transport sector towards New India.
  • The National Rail and Transportation University will be set up as a Deemed to Be University under de novo category as per the UGC [Institutions Deemed to be Universities] Regulations, 2016.
  • Government is working towards completing all approvals by April 2018 and to launch the first academic program in July 2018.

 

Highlights Of The Development-

  • A not-for-profit Company under Section 8 of the Companies Act, 2013 will be created by the Ministry of Railways which shall be the Managing Company of the proposed university. The company will provide financial and infrastructural support to the university, and appoint Chancellor and Pro-Chancellor of the university. Board of Management, comprising professionals and academics, shall be independent of the Managing Company with full autonomy to perform its academic and administrative responsibilities.
  • Existing land and infrastructure at National Academy of Indian Railways (NAIR) at Vadodara, Gujarat will be utilized, and suitably modified and modernized for the purpose of the university. In its full enrolment, it is expected to have 3000 full time students. The funding of the new University/Institute is to entirely come from Ministry of Railways.
  • This university will set Indian Railways on the path of modernisation and help India become a global leader in transport sector by enhancing productivity and promoting ‘Make in India’,” the statement said.
  • The government also said the university will create a resource pool of skilled manpower and leverage state-of-the-art technology to provide better safety, speed and service in Indian Railways.
  • It will support ‘Startup India’ and ‘Skill India’ by channeling technology and delivering knowhow, and foster entrepreneurship, generating large scale employment opportunities.
  • This will lead to transformation of railway and transportation sector and enable faster movement of people and goods. Through global partnerships and accessing cutting edge technologies India will emerge as a global centre of expertise, according to government.

Sources- NDTV.

 

GS Paper III- Bio-Diversity.

Scientists Discover New Frog Species In Arunachal.

Background

  • Scientists have discovered a new frog species from its home in the fast flowing streams in Arunachal Pradesh s Lower Subansiri district, one of the five discovered in India in the recent times and the 59th in the world.
  • The new species discovered from Talle Valley Wildlife Sanctuary (WLS) has been named as Odorrana arunachalensis, after the state where it was discovered.
  • According to a publication in the Journal of Biosciences, a science journal of Arunachal Pradesh-based Rajiv Gandhi University, the species is sighted during the wet season, from April to September. They are not seen in the dry seasons.

Highlights Of The Development-

  • Odorrana (commonly known as the odorous frog) is a genus of true frogs (Ranidae) from East Asia and surrounding regions including India.
  • The medium-sized green frog adapted for a life in torrential waters of the state was discovered by a team of scientists from the Zoological Survey of India led by Bhaskar Saikia, Bikramjit Sinha and Ilona Jacinta Kharkongor.
  • This new species inhabits moss and fern covered rocky stratum along hill streams in mixed wet tropical forest type. Currently, they are reported from within and outskirts of the Talley Valley WLS but are expected to be found in a wider range due to the availability of similar habitats of this species in other parts of the state.
  • There are over 50 species of frogs belonging to the genus Odorrana with many species exhibiting overlapping morphological characters, making their identification in the field difficult. But in the case of Odorrana arunachalensis, the presence of a black band-like mark between the eyes is a distinguishing character that separates it from all the other frog species of this genus.

Sources- Eastern Mirror.