1.SunRISE Mission.

Why in the News?
  • Recently, NASA announced the Sun Radio Interferometer Space Experiment (SunRISE) mission. For the mission, NASA has awarded $62.6 million to design, build and launch SunRISE no earlier than July 1, 2023.
SunRISE Mission:
  • The mission will look into how Sun generates and releases the giant weather storms, known as the solar particle storms, into Space.
  • The mission will also help in greater understanding of the solar system.
  • The findings would help safeguard astronauts from solar storms while they travel to Mars or the Moon.
Key Highlights:
  • SunRISE contains six CubeSats which will work together as a large radio telescope.
  • Together, these will simultaneously observe radio images of low-frequency emission from solar activity and share them via NASA’s Deep Space Network.
  • This would be used to create 3D maps to locate the origin place of a solar particle storm on the Sun and how they evolve as they expand outward into space.
  • This, in turn, will help determine what initiates and accelerates these giant jets of radiation. The six individual spacecraft will also work together to map, for the first time, the pattern of magnetic field lines reaching from the Sun out into Interplanetary Space.

2.Coronavirus and Humidity

Context:
  • A study by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the United States has recently found that regions experiencing a monsoon might see a slowdown in transmission of the coronavirus as a result of moderate levels of Humidity.
Highlights:
  • The regions inundated by COVID-19 infections comprised the United States and several European countries. These regions had an average humidity range of 3-9 gram per cubic metre (g/m3).
  • It shows that 90% of the novel coronavirus transmissions have occurred in regions with temperatures between 3 and 17 degrees Celsius.
  • It provides comparatively fewer infections in warmer and humid countries such as Singapore, Australia, Taiwan and Qatar.
  • It is also possible that warmer temperatures retarded the spread of the virus.
  • After series of experimental studies, it is found that the Coronaviruses are sensitive to humidity and are less likely to thrive at moderate levels of humidity.
  • In 2018 study in the peer-reviewed Applied and Environmental Microbiology concluded that Coronaviruses thrived when the Relative Humidity (RH) (the proportion of water vapour in the air compared to what’s the maximum possible) exceeded 85% or dipped below 60%. There is a significant decrease in infectivity at mid-range RHs (60 to 85%).
  • It is found that the ability of viruses to survive on stainless steel surfaces, at 4°C, infectious viruses persisted for as long as 28 days, the lowest level of inactivation occurred at 20% RH, inactivation was quicker at 20°C than at 4°C at all humidity levels, the slowest inactivation occurred at low levels of RH.

3.‘Stranded in India’ Portal

Why in News?
  • Recently, the Ministry of Tourism has launched a portal ‘Stranded in India’ to extend support to the foreign tourists.
About ‘Stranded in India’ Portal:
  • It aims to act as a support network for foreign tourists stuck in various parts of the country.
  • It provides Comprehensive information around COVID-19 helpline numbers or call-centers that the foreign tourists can reach out to for help.
  • It gives variety of information around the Ministry of External Affairs control centers along with their contact information.
  • It also provides information around state-based/regional tourism support infrastructure.
  • Its Help Support section to extend help to the ones in need of further information and connect foreign tourists to concerned authorities.
  • Its website will be featured on the Tourism Website and prominent Ministry of Tourism channels.

4.COVID-19 virus: Three types of quasi sub-species of Circulation in India

Why in News?
  • A mixture of three quasi-subspecies of SARS-CoV-2 is in circulation in India, according to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).
Highlights:
  • These imported variants showed no differences from how they behaved in the place of origin.
  • Scientists are yet to classify a SARS-Cov-2 variant as an Indian strain.
  • India’s COVID-19 cases were mainly from people with travel history and their immediate contacts, which is to say that this virus was brought in from outside.
  • There is no variation from what is being seen on how this strain is behaving around the world. So, there is no difference in its severity.
  • The progression in terms of cases could not be compared with any other country as of now and people should be looking at the risk of exposure and adherence to physical distancing.
  • ’strain’ is a sub-type of a virus, characterised by different cell surface proteins, eliciting a different immune response from other strains.
  • A mutation, however, is very minor genetic errors in genome sequences made during replication that doesn’t fundamentally change the nature or behaviour of the virus.
  • The novel coronavirus’s genome is made up of 30,000 base pairs, while a human genome contains over 3 billion.  The small numbers make it easy for scientists to track changes and new lineages as they evolve.
  • If a virus mutates too fast, vaccines being developed now will potentially become useless, and pharmaceuticals will have to constantly keep up with the mutations by developing new vaccines all the time, a financially unviable prospect.

5.The US Defense Production Act

Why in News?
  • US President Donald Trump invoked the Defense (defence) Production Act in order to boost the production of ventilators as part of efforts to deal with the coronavirus outbreak.
Highlights:
  • According to a WHO report, based on an analysis of over 55,000 laboratory-confirmed patients, 18.6 per cent of the patients with COVID-19 experienced shortness of breath.
  • The Defense Production Act, 1950 gives the President the power to mobilise domestic industry so that the supply of essential materials and services is maintained for purposes of national defence.
  • By invoking this Act, the President can require persons, including businesses and corporations, to undertake government contracts so that production and supply are maintained.
  • In the present situation, by invoking the Act, Trump has mandated General Motors to manufacture ventilators, considered crucial for those patients who develop breathing difficulties as a result of COVID-19.
  • Amid the coronavirus pandemic, the demand for ventilators has shot up in many countries. Ventilators, also described as “life support”, are not required for all COVID-19 patients. But in some patients who develop breathing difficulties due to the infection, their breathing needs to be supported by ventilators.
  • However, this is only a temporary measure in most cases, used to treat patients if they suffer from illnesses such as pneumonia, which some COVID-19 patients may develop. By using a ventilator, air is pumped into the lungs of the patients, which allows their body to rest and Recover.

6.Section 269 and 270 of IPC

Why in News?
  • Earlier an individual, who failed to disclose travel history following return from Dubai, and who later tested positive for COVID-19, was booked under Section 270 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
Highlights:
  • Police had booked Bollywood singer Kanika Kapoor under the same Section, as well as Sections 269 and 188 IPC, after she attended at least three gatherings in Lucknow, including a party where political leaders were present, and tested positive for the new coronavirus.
  • There have been other instances across the country where Sections 269 and 270 have been used to book persons defying quarantine orders for containing the spread of the pandemic.
  • Sections 269 (negligent act likely to spread infection of disease dangerous to life) and 270 (malignant act likely to spread infection of disease dangerous to life) come under Chapter XIV of the Indian Penal Code–‘Of Offences Affecting The Public Health, Safety, Convenience, Decency and Morals’.
  • While Section 269 provides for a jail term of six months and/or fine, Section 270 provides for a jail term of two years and/or fine.
  • In Section 270, the word ‘malignantly’ indicates a deliberate intention on the part of the accused. During the coronavirus outbreak, penal provisions, such as Sections 188, 269 and 270 of the IPC, are being invoked to enforce the lockdown orders in various states.
  • Both Sections have been used for over a century to punish those disobeying orders issued for containing epidemics.
  • The Sections were similarly enforced by colonial authorities during outbreaks of diseases such as smallpox and bubonic plague.
  • Recent instances of invocation include one on March 2018, when the Health Ministry said that failure by clinical establishments to notify a tuberculosis patient to the nodal officer and local public health staff can be punished under Section 269 and 270.

7.Core Sector Registers Growth at 5.5%

Why in News?
  • As per the recent data released by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, the eight core sector industries recorded a growth of 5.5% in February, 2020 which is highest in 11-months.
Highlights:
  • This spike is because of growth in refinery products, electricity, fertiliser, cement and coal production. This was the fourth consecutive month when the index of eight core industries reported growth.
  • However, crude oil, natural gas, and steel recorded negative growth rate.
  • The outlook may not be very bright for March 2020, as the lockdown to check the spread of Covid-19 has disrupted the production process in the country and globally.
Core Sector Industries:
  • The eight core sector industries include coal, crude oil, natural gas, refinery products, fertilizer, steel, cement and electricity
  • The eight core industries comprise 40.27% of the weight of items included in the Index of Industrial Production (IIP).
  • The eight Core Industries in decreasing order of their weightage in the IIP are as: Refinery Products> Electricity> Steel> Coal> Crude Oil> Natural Gas> Cement> Fertilizers.
What is Index of Industrial Production?
  • The Index of Industrial Production (IIP) is an index which details out the growth of various sectors in an economy such as mineral mining, electricity, manufacturing, etc.
  • The Base Year of the Index of Eight Core Industries is 2011-12.
  • It is compiled and published monthly by the Central Statistical Organisation (CSO), Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation six weeks after the reference month ends, i.e a lag of six weeks.
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