1.AarogyaSetu App

Why in News?
  • Recently, The Government of India launched a mobile app developed in public-private partnership to bring the people of India together in a resolute fight against COVID-19.
About AarogyaSetu App:
  • It uses Bluetooth and GPS of a smart phone to inform the user if he is in a radius of 6 feet from a COVID-19 infected person.
  • It also provides information about the best practices and advisories regarding containment of the virus.
  • It is available in 11 languages. In order to keep the application running, one has to keep their GPS and Bluetooth ON always.
  • It asks for name, gender, profession, travel history and profession. The data extracted are to be shared only to Government of India according to the terms and conditions of the application.
  • It will help the Government take necessary timely steps for assessing risk of spread of COVID-19 infection, and ensuring isolation where Required.

2.Patriot Air Defence Missiles (MIM-104)

Context:
  • Recently, US has deployed Patriot Air Defence Missiles (MIM-104)to Iraq.
About Patriot Air Defence Missiles (MIM-104):
  • It is a long-range, all-altitude, all-weather air defence system to counter tactical ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and advanced aircraft.
  • It is equipped with a track-via-missile (TVM) guidance system.
  • It has a range of 70km and a maximum altitude greater than 24km.
  • Its flight time is less than nine seconds and the maximum is three and a Half Minutes.

3.New Features of e-NAM platform

Context:
  • Union Agriculture Ministry launched new features of the National Agriculture Market (e-NAM) Platform to strengthen agriculture marketing by farmers which will reduce their need to physically come to  wholesale mandis  for selling  their harvested produce, at a time when there is a critical need to decongest mandis to effectively fight against COVID-19.
  • These software modules are
    • Warehouse Based Trading Module – It enables small & marginal farmers to directly trade their stored produce from selected WDRA registered warehouses which are declared deemed market by the State.
    • FPO Trading Module– It enables FPOs to trade their produce from their collection center without bringing the produce to APMC.
    • An Enhanced Version of the Logistic Module: Trackable transport facilities for inter-state and inter-mandi trade.
e-NAM:
  • e-NAM was launched on 14 April 2016 as a pan-India electronic trade portal linking APMCs across the States.
  • Already 585 mandis in 16 States and 02 Union Territories have been integrated on e-NAM portal.

4.Price Monitoring & Resource Unit (PMRU)

Why in News?
  • Jammu & Kashmir Union Territory has become 12th State/UT where the Price Monitoring & Resource Unit (PMRU) has been set up by the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA).
  • PMRUs have already been set up by the NPPA in 11 States, including Kerala, Odisha, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana, Nagaland, Tripura, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Mizoram.
PMRU:
  • The PMRU, a registered society, shall function under the direct control and supervision of the State Drug Controller of Jammu & Kashmir.
  • The unit shall be funded by the NPPA for its recurring and non-recurring expenses.
  • The PMRU shall help the NPPA and the State Drug Controller in ensuring the availability and accessibility of medicines at affordable prices.
  • It is also expected to organise seminars, training programs and other information, education and communication (IEC) activities in the areas of availability and affordability of medicines for all.
  • The PMRU will also collect samples of medicines, collect and analyse data and make reports with respect to availability and over-pricing of medicines for taking action under the provisions of the Drug Price Control Order (DPCO).
  • PMRU Mandate: To track violation of prices of essential drugs and medical devices under the Drugs Price Control Order (DPCO).
  • PMRU Functions: Offering technical help to the State Drug Controllers and the NPPA to
    • Monitor notified prices of medicines,
    • Detect violation of the provisions of the DPCO,
    • Look at price compliance, collect test samples of medicines, and Collect and compile market-based data of scheduled as well as non-scheduled formulations.
    • The PMRU is chaired by the State Health Secretary. The Member-Secretary would be Drugs Controller.

5.Hybrid Reactor that Turns CO2 into Useful Molecules

Why in News?
  • Researchers have been working on a hybrid system that creates the building blocks for organic molecules by capturing the energy of sunlight. And this system works by combining bacteria and nanowires.
Highlights:
  • We can’t ship packages between Mars and Earth back on forth: one, that would be extremely expensive; two, it is not sustainable. So it is necessary for us to have a plan to produce most items locally.
  • Nanowires are incredibly thin silicon wires that are about a hundredth of the width of a human hair. They are used as electronic components, sensors, and solar cells.
  • In order to work it, we only need sunlight and water, which Mars has plenty on its vast surfaces in frozen form.
  • The left side of the reactor is the chamber which contains the nanowire-bacteria hybrid that reduces CO2 to form acetate. Oxygen is produced on the right side.
  • The team first demonstrated the nanowire-bacteria hybrid reactor five years ago; however, the solar conversion efficiency was only about 0.4%.
  • Top efficiency is achieved by operating at the optimal acidity for bacteria, which gave more efficient conversion of solar energy to carbon bonds.
  • The silicon nanowires are essentially like an antenna: They capture the solar photon just like a solar panel. Within these silicon nanowires, they will generate electrons and feed them to these bacteria. Then the bacteria absorb CO2, and spit out acetate.
  • The biohybrid can pull carbon dioxide from the air on Earth to make organic compounds. We can almost think of this as planting new trees. While producing energy, it helps with climate change too. It brings a good deal for everyone involved.

6.First-ever Heatwave in Antarctica

Why in News?
  • Researchers from the Australian Antarctic Program revealed that they had recorded temperatures as high as 9.2 degrees Celsius at Casey station in the continent east earlier this year, indicating a heatwave event.
Highlights:
  • Heat waves are classified as three consecutive days with both extreme maximum and minimum temperatures. Between January 23 and 26, the station recorded minimum temperatures above zero degrees Celsius and a maximum temperature of 9.2 degrees Celsius.
  • Scientists are concerned about the effect that the heat wave could have on Antarctica’s ecology, both positive and negative. Most life exists in small ice-free oases in Antarctica, and largely depends on melting snow and ice for their water supply.
  • Melted ice flooding can provide additional water to these desert ecosystems, leading to increased growth and reproduction of mosses, lichens, microbes and invertebrates.
  • However excessive flooding can dislodge plants and alter the composition of communities of invertebrates and microbial mats.
  • It is believed that the unusual temperatures were linked to meteorological patterns which occurred in the Southern Hemisphere during the spring and summer of 2019
  • These patterns were influenced in part by the early break-up of the ozone hole in late 2019, due to rapid warming in the stratosphere.
  • Global cooperative efforts being undertaken to repair and eventually close the hole in the ozone layer would help reduce regional shifts in the climate system.

7.Agasthyavanam Biological Park

Why in News?
  • The Forest Department is procuring forest produce collected by the tribes people of the Agasthyavanam Biological Park (ABP) and surrounding forest ranges to be sold to commercial establishments and various collectives to deal with the lockdown necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
About Agasthyavanam Biological Park:
  • Agasthyavanam Biological Park is a wildlife sanctuary in Kerala which has been established in the year 1997.
  • It is contiguous to Neyyar Wildlife Sanctuary and Peppara Wildlife Sanctuary.
  • The park has been named after the Agasthyamalai Agasthyakoodam Peak, which is very closer to the park.
  • The Agasthyamala Biosphere Reserve is located in the southernmost end of the Western Ghats.
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