Insights Daily Current Affairs, 10 September 2016
Paper 3 Topic: Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.
NASA successfully launches OSIRIS-REx spacecraft
NASA has launched OSIRIS-REx spacecraft to collect samples from an asteroid 101955 Bennu and return to Earth.
About the mission:
OSIRIS-Rex stands for Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer.
- OSIRIS-REx is the third mission in NASA’s New Frontiers program, which previously sent the New Horizons spacecraft zooming by Pluto and the Juno spacecraft into orbit around Jupiter.
What will the OSIRIS-Rex do?
OSIRIS-REx will spend two years travelling towards Bennu, arriving at the asteroid in August 2018. The probe will orbit the asteroid for 3 years, conducting several scientific experiments, before returning to Earth, with the sample capsule expected to land in Utah, USA in September 2023.
Scientific Mission Goals:
- During its three year orbit of Bennu, OSIRIS-REx will be conducting a range of scientific experiments in order to better understand the asteroid.
- As part of this, the asteroid will be mapped using instruments on the probe, in order to select a suitable site for samples to be collected from.
- The aim of the mission is to collect a sample of regolith- the loose, soil-like material which covers the surface of the asteroid.
- In July 2020, the probe will move to within a few metres of Bennu, extending its robotic arm to touch the asteroid’s surface. The arm will make contact with the surface for just 5 seconds, during which a blast of nitrogen gas will be used to stir up the regolith, allowing it to be sucked into the sample collector.
- OSIRIS-REx has enough nitrogen on board for 3 sample collection attempts, and NASA are hoping to collect between 60 and 2000g of regolith material to bring back to Earth.
Why was Bennu chosen?
Bennu was selected for a the OSIRIS-REx mission from over 500,000 known asteroids, due to it fitting a number of key criteria. These include:
Proximity to Earth: In order for OSIRIS-REx to reach its destination in a reasonable timeframe, NASA needed to find an asteroid which had a similar orbit to Earth. Around 7000 asteroids are ‘Near-Earth Objects’ (NEOs), meaning they travel within around ~30million miles of the Earth. Out of these, just under 200 have orbits similar to Earth, with Bennu being one of these.
Size: Small asteroids, those less than 200m in diameter, typically spin much faster than larger asteroids, meaning the regolith material can be ejected into space. Bennu is around 500m in diameter, so rotates slowly enough to ensure that the regolith stays on its surface.
Composition: Bennu is a primitive asteroid, meaning it hasn’t significantly changed since the beginning of the Solar System (over 4 billion years ago). It is also very carbon-rich, meaning it may contain organic molecules, which could have been precursors to life on Earth.
Additionally, Bennu is of interest as it is a Potentially Hazardous Asteroid (PHA). Every 6 years, Bennu’s orbit brings it within 200,000 miles of the Earth, which means it has a high probability of impacting Earth in the late 22nd Century.
Paper 2 Topic: Structure, organization and functioning of the Executive and the Judiciary Ministries and Departments of the Government; pressure groups and formal/informal associations and their role in the Polity.
SC to lay down law on LG’s power
The Supreme Court has agreed to lay down the law on whether the Lieutenant Governor (LG) of Delhi can unilaterally administer the National Capital without being bound by the “aid and advice” of the elected government.
This decision was announced by the court in the context of prolonged Centre-Arvind Kejriwal turf war over who controls Delhi as an “extraordinary matter”.
The Supreme Court has refused to stay the HC judgment, despite submissions by Delhi government that the verdict “affects all future governments and all future relationships between the Centre and the State”. The HC had upheld the LG’s power not only over the police, land and public order but also in “services”. The judgment had effectively shrunk the Delhi Cabinet’s girth.
The 1996 judgment by the Supreme Court in North Delhi Municipal Corporation versus State of Punjab clearly terms Delhi as a Union Territory in a class by itself. The judgment observed that “the Union Territory of Delhi is in a class by itself but is certainly not a State”. Union territories are in different stages of evolution.
Union Territories are governed by Article 246 (4) of the constitution notwithstanding the differences in their respective set-ups.
Sources: the hindu.
Paper 2 Topic: Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.
Road clear for Chandrayaan-2
With Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV-F05) mission’s recent success, ISRO has signalled the country’s readiness for Chandrayaan II mission, which will be India’s second mission to the moon.
Chandrayaan II is an advanced version of the previous Chandrayaan-1 mission. It consists of an orbiter, lander and rover configuration.
- It is planned to be launched as a composite stack into the earth parking orbit (EPO) of 170 X 18,500 km by GSLV-Mk II.
- The wheeled rover will move on the lunar surface and will pick up soil or rock samples for on-site chemical analysis. The data will be relayed to Earth through the Chandrayaan-2 orbiter.
Sources: the hindu.
Paper 3 Topic: Effects of liberalization on the economy, changes in industrial policy and their effects on industrial growth.
‘Microfinance sector could treble in 4 years’
According to an estimate by the ICRA, the country’s microfinance sector will grow nearly three-fold to reach up to Rs 4.3 trillion over the next three years on account of expansion into newer segments and enhanced average loan sizes.
- The estimate includes micro credit across self-help groups, microfinance institutions and banks.
Important observations made:
- If the ticket sizes were to double from the current levels over the next 3-4 years and MFIs were to increase their presence in under-penetrated areas, the microfinance market could reach Rs 3.3-4.3 trillion over the next 3 to 4 years. The assumption on the doubling of ticket sizes is based on improving income levels, inflation, higher eligibility of borrowers moving to higher loan cycles.
- The MFI sector, excluding Bandhan Bank and teh SFBs, will need external capital of Rs 16-47 billion over the next three to four years.
- While the business opportunity is exciting, there is a need for establishing a credit culture in the new geographies and strengthening the credit appraisal processes.
- The two operational credit bureaus have helped the sector maintain its asset quality. But there are a few issues yet to be addressed like limited coverage of SHG bank linkage programme data, issues related to multiple identity cards being used by borrowers for availing loans from more than two MFIs and interlinking of retail credit.
- The overall stress of credit which is due for more than a day stood at 0.35% as of March 31, 2016, helped by regulatory decisions like data sharing through credit bureaus, cap of Rs 1 lakh for overall borrowing and the stipulation for not more than two MFIs to lend to a single borrower. However, “communal and political” incidents in Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and Karnataka did lead to some pressure on asset quality.
- However, the sector remains vulnerable to asset quality shocks owing to the risks associated with unsecured lending business, political risks, and operational risks arising out of cash handling.
The Indian microfinance institution (MFI) sector grew 40% in 2015-16 to Rs 1.4 trillion as against a 38% growth in the previous fiscal, while the average ticket sizes were Rs 20-25,000.
Sources: the hindu.
Facts for Prelims:
- Majuli: It has become the first island district of India. It is the 35th district of Assam. Recently, Majuli entered the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s largest river island.
- Two world records by Indian Army: Two Indian Army soldiers have created world records for longest continuous motorcycle ride by standing on the seat and handle bar riding. Captain Manpreet Singh covered 75.2 km in two hours, 24 minutes and 12 seconds standing on a motorcycle seat. The previous world record of 32.3 km was achieved by Ratnesh Pandey in Indore on December 5, last year. The World Record for handle bar riding on a bike under fresh category was established by Havildar Sandeep Kumar, covering 46.9 km in 1 hour, 27 minutes and 31 seconds.
- Sarathi: It is an Indian Coast Guard Ship commissioned recently. It is the third ship in the series of six Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPV). ‘Sarathi’ meaning charioteer is a projection of Indian Coast Guard’s will and commitment ‘To serve and protect’ the maritime interest of the nation. It has been designed and built indigenously by GSL and is fitted with most advanced state-of-the-art navigation and communication equipment, sensors and machineries. The ship is designed to carry one twin engine Light Helicopter and five high speed boats including two Quick Reaction Inflatable Boats for swift boarding operations, search and rescue, law enforcement and maritime patrol. The ship is also capable of carrying pollution response equipment to contain oil spill at sea.