• The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) is the pioneer space exploration agency of the Government of India based at Bengaluru.
  •  It aims to develop and harness space technology in national development, while pursuing planetary exploration and space science research.
  •  Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) operates through a countrywide network of centre such as Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre in Thiruvananthapuram, ISRO Satellite Centre in Bangalore, Satish Dhawan Space Centre on Sriharikota Island, near Chennai, Sensors and payloads Space Applications Centre in Ahmedabad, National Remote Sensing Centre in Hyderabad etc.
  • ISRO’s commercial arm is Antrix Corporation, which has its headquarters in Bangalore.



  • Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM), has completed four years in space since its launch on November 5, 2013
  • It was India’s first interplanetary mission, launched by using a Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) rocket.
  • First Asian Nation: India had created global history by becoming the first Asian nation to reach the Mars orbit in a space mission.
  •  Proved the capability and efficiency of ISRO: ISRO has become the fourth space agency to reach Mars, after the Soviet space program, NASA, and the European Space Agency
  • MOM was aimed to explore and observe Mars surface features, morphology, mineralogy and the Martian atmosphere
  • It carried 5 instruments for Atmospheric studies (Lyman-Alpha Photometer (LAP), Methane Sensor for Mars (MSM)), Particle environment studies (Mars Exospheric Neutral Composition Analyser (MENCA)), Surface imaging studies (Thermal Infrared Imaging Spectrometer (TIS), Mars Colour Camera (MCC).
  • ISRO was presented with the Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament and Development for the year 2014 for the successful Mars Orbiter Mission and for strengthening international co-operation


Why in news?

  • Recently, scientists from Brown University, USA have created the first map of water trapped in the uppermost layer of Moon’s soil using the data captured by instrument on Chandrayan-1.

More on news

  • Scientists have stated that the water thus detected by the Chandrayan-1 lunar mission mostly concentrated around the polar region is present everywhere and not just polar region.
  • It was also found that the concentration of water changes over the course of Lunar Day at latitudes lower than 60 degrees i.e. wetter in morning and evening and dry during lunar noon with fluctuations up-to 200ppm.

Findings of Chandrayan-1

  •  Detection of Water – Major finding was the detection of Water (H2O) and Hydroxyl (OH) on the surface of the moon. The data revealed its presence in abundance around the polar region.
  •  Magma Ocean Hypothesis – It confirmed the Ocean Magma Hypothesis i.e. the moon was once completely in molten state using HySi and TMC.
  •  Evidences of landing site of Apollo 15 and 17 – TMC found the anomalies in Lunar surface about the landing of USA’s Apollo-15 and 17.
  •  New Spinel-rich Rock – Data from TMC, HySI, M3 and SIR2 have led to detection of new spinel-rich rock type on lunar far-side.
  •  X-Ray signals detected– C1XS have detected x-ray signals during weak solar flares thus indicating presence of magnesium, aluminium, silicon and calcium on lunar surface.
  • ISRO is planning to launch a fully indigenous Chandrayan-2 in October this year. This would include an orbiter, lander and a rover.

About Chandrayan-1

  •  Chandrayan-1 was launched by India in October, 2009 using PSLV-C11.
  • The primary objective of the mission was to prepare a three-dimensional atlas of both near and far side of the moon and chemical, mineralogical and photo-geological mapping of moon.
  •  It had made almost 3400 orbits around the moon before it lost contact with Earth in 2009.
  •  Chandrayaan-1 had payloads from India namely:
  •  Terrain Mapping Camera (TMC) o Hyper Spectral Imager (HySI)
  •  Lunar Laser Ranging Instrument (LLRI) o High Energy X-Ray Spectrometer (HEX)
  • Moon Impact Probe (MIP).

Lunar Day

  •  Lunar Day refers to time taken by the Earth’s moon to complete one rotation on its axis and it is also the time taken by the moon to complete one orbit around the Earth.
  • One Lunar Day equals to 27 Earth Days, 7 hours, 43 minutes and 12 seconds.
  • It is usually the phase between two new moons.


Why in news?

  • Recently, IRNSS received setback due to failure of the atomic clocks on board IRNSS-1A and unsuccessful launch of navigational satellite


  • An atomic clock is a clock device that uses an electronic transition frequency of the electromagnetic spectrum of atoms as a frequency standard for its timekeeping element.
  • Atomic clocks are the most accurate time and frequency standards known and are used as primary standards for international time distribution services, to control the wave frequency of television broadcasts, and in global navigation satellite systems such as GPS.
  • A rubidium atomic clock is a frequency standard in which a specified hyperfine transition of electrons in rubidium-87 atoms is used to control the output frequency. It is the most inexpensive, compact, and widely used type of atomic clock.

More on news

  • IRNSS-1A is the first of the seven satellites comprising the Navigation with Indian Constellation (NavIC) – (IRNSS-1G; IRNSS-1F; IRNSS-1E, IRNSS-1D, IRNSS-1C, IRNSS-1B; and IRNSS-1A)
  •  It has been designed to support vehicle
  • tracking, fleet management, disaster management and mapping services besides terrestrial, marine and aerial navigation for India and its neighbourhood.
  •  It was carried on by PSLV (Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle)-C39 to augment the existing seven satellites of the NavIC constellation.

NAVIC or IRNSS (Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System)

  • It is an independent indigenous regional system developed by India on par with the US-based Global Positioning System (GPS), Glonass of Russia, Galileo by Europe, BeiDou by China and Quasi-Zenith Satellite System (QZSS) by Japan.
  • IRNSS will provide basically two types of services:
  •  Standard Positioning Service (SPS) for civilian users
  • Restricted Service (RS), is an encrypted service provided only to specific users
  •  It offers services like terrestrial and marine navigation, disaster management, vehicle tracking and fleet management, navigation aide for hikers and travellers, visual and voice navigation for drivers and marine & aerial navigation for India and its neighbourhood.


Why in news?

  • Astrosat is indulged in observing major events such as merging of two Black holes, gamma ray burst etc.



  • US-based LIGO group had detected gravitational waves emanating from the merger of two massive black holes located nearly 3 billion light years away. It was also confirmed by Hawaii-based ATLAS group.
  • However, AstroSat team in collaboration with the GROWTH network of observatories, has concluded that this event is due to a gamma ray burst, which was confirmed by POLAR project.
  • A gamma ray burst is light emanating from a bursting star, that may lead to the formation of a black hole.

GROWTH (Global Relay of Observatories Watching Transients Happen)

  • GROWTH is an international scientific collaborative project in astronomy studying the physics of fast-changing events in the cosmos like supernovae, neutron stars or black hole mergers, and near-earth asteroids. It is partnership of eleven universities and research institutions from US, India, Sweden, Taiwan, Japan, Israel and Germany.
  • It continuously gathers data of cosmic transient events in the first 24 hours after detection to build a more complete picture and better understand the physical processes of their evolution.
  • It jointly operates 17 observatories in the northern hemisphere. Girawali Observatory – IUCAA in Maharashtra (near Pune) is part of this network.

POLAR project

  • POLAR is an international mission of China and European collaboration is dedicated to establishing whether the photons from Gama-ray bursts (GRBs) — thought to be a particularly energetic type of stellar explosion — are polarized.


  • It is India’s first dedicated multi wavelength space observatory.
  • It observes universe in the optical, Ultraviolet, low and high energy X-ray regions of the electromagnetic spectrum, whereas most other scientific satellites are capable of observing a narrow range of wavelength band.
  • It’s dubbed as a smaller version of NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope
  • Various paylods carried by it are: Large Area X-ray Proportional Counter, Ultraviolet Imaging Telescope, Soft X-Ray Telescope,Scanning Sky Monitor, Cadmium Zinc telluride Imager.

Major objectives of ASTROSAT

  • Understand high energy processes in binary star systems containing neutron stars and black holes.
  • Estimate magnetic fields of neutron stars.
  • Study star birth regions and high energy processes in star systems lying beyond our galaxy.
  • Detect new briefly bright X-ray sources in the sky.


  • It’s a module developed by ISRO to carry human beings to space.
  • ISRO tested it’s ability to re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere with thermal resistance, parachute deployment in cluster formation, aero braking system and apex cover separation procedures.


Why in news?

  • India is set to launch its first solar mission Aditya-L1 in 2019.

About Aditya L1

  • The Aditya L1 will be placed in a halo orbit around a vantage point in space known as L1 Lagrange point.
  • The point L1 has the major advantage of viewing the sun without any occultation/ eclipses.
  • The mission will carry seven payloads including the main payload the Visible

Emission Line Coronagraph (VLEC).

  • Aditya L1 is to be the first satellite to study the magnetic field of the sun’s corona.
  • The Aditya L1 is expected to help study that why the photosphere, the deeper layer of the sun is at much lower temperature than the corona.
  • It will also study aspects that affect space weather, the origin of solar wind ions, their reaction to coronal mass ejections, the distribution of these in the heliosphere- the space around the sun that extends up to Pluto.


  • Halo Orbit: It is periodic, three-dimensional orbit near the L1, L2 and L3 lagrange point (unstable) in a three body system.
  • Lagrange Point: It is the point where the combined gravitational force of two large bodies is equal to the centrifugal force that is felt by a third body which is relatively smaller.
  • There are about 5 such points in a two body system.
  • Corona: The outer layers of the Sun, extending to thousands of km above the disc (photosphere) is termed as the corona. It has a temperature of more than a million degree Kelvin which is much higher than the solar disc temperature of around 6000K.



Why in news?

  • ISRO’s through PSLV C40 has successfully placed 31 satellites (second highest number launched by ISRO using a single rocket) including main payload Cartosat-2s series and 28 foreign satellites in two different orbits.
  • It also includes the Indian nano satellite, NIUSAT which belongs to Tamil Nadu’s Nooral Islam University. This will provide multi-spectral imagery for agricultural crop monitoring and disaster management support applications. Nanosatellites or nanosats weigh between 1 kg and 10 kg.

Significance of the launch

  • The launch marks the roll out of the 100th satellite by ISRO.
  • It is also significant in the sense that India failed in its last attempt to launch its backup navigation satellite IRNSS-1H on board PSLV-C39 failed.
  • It is the second time that ISRO will be achieving the two orbits feat. This was done through the “multiple burn technology” under which the rocket’s engine is switched off and then switched on to control its height.
  • It reinstates India’s position as a successful multiple satellite launcher.
  • Government recently also announced funding to develop an exclusive Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV) to cater mini and micro satellites exclusively.


Why in News?

  • Recently, GSLV MK III D1 rocket (GSAT 19) was launched successfully.


  • The first experimental flight of LVM3-X/CARE mission successfully tested the atmospheric phase of flight. Crew module Atmospheric Reentry Experiment was also carried out in this flight. This was the first testing of the indigenous cryogenic engine.


Cryogenic: Cryogenic propellants are liquefied gases stored at very low temperatures, most frequently liquid hydrogen as the fuel and liquid oxygen as the oxidizer.

  • The liquid fuel and oxidizer are pumped from the storage tanks to an expansion chamber and injected into the combustion chamber where they are mixed and ignited by a flame or spark.
  • The fuel expands as it burns and the hot exhaust gases are directed out of the nozzle to provide thrust.


  • It is the heaviest rocket to be launched from India till now.
  • Apart from the upper cryogenic stage, the vehicle has two solid strap-on motors (S200) and a core liquid booster (L110).
  • For the first time there will be no transponders on the satellite. It will be using a new way beaming data down using multiple frequency beams. It is therefore called “a high through put satellite“.
  • For the first time, it would have indigenously made Lithium ion batteries.
  • This spacecraft would have advanced technologies including miniaturized heat pipe, fibre optic gyro, Micro Electro-Mechanical Systems (MEMS) accelerometer.

Satellite-Launch Vehicles Developed By ISRO.

PSLV (Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle): It is designed mainly to deliver the “earth-observation” or “remote-sensing” satellites with lift-off mass of up to about 1750 Kg to Sun-Synchronous circular polar orbits of 600-900 Km altitude.

  • PSLV is a four-staged launch vehicle with first and third stage using solid rocket motors and second and fourth stages using liquid rocket engines.
  • PSLV is classified into its various versions like core-alone version (PSLV-CA), PSLV-G or PSLV-XL variants depending on the number of these strap-on boosters
  • PSLV is also used to launch the satellites of lower lift-off mass of up to about 1400 Kg to the elliptical Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO).


GSLV (Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle): GSLV is designed mainly to deliver the communication-satellites to the highly elliptical (typically 250 x 36000 Km) Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO).

  • Two versions of the GSLV:
  1. GSLV Mk-II: is a three stage vehicle with four liquid strap-ons. First stage using solid rocket motor, second stage using Liquid fuel and Cryogenic Upper Stage (CUS) forms the third stage of GSLV Mk II. has the capability tolaunch satellites of lift-off mass of up to 2,500 kg to the GTO and satellites of up to 5,000 kg lift-off mass to the LEO (low earth orbit).

    2  GSLV-III: It is a three stage vehicle with an indigenous cryogenic upper stage engine (C25). It has been designed to carry heavier communication satellites weighing upto up to 4000 kg into the Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit.


  • It is one of the most technologically challenging endeavors of ISRO, that is, developing essential technologies for a fully reusable launch vehicle
  • If developed, it would enable low cost access to space. The configuration of RLV-TD is similar to that of an aircraft and combines the complexity of both launch vehicles and aircraft.


There are various types of satellite in India

  • Communication satellite – The Indian National Satellite (INSAT) system is one of the largest domestic communication satellite systems placed in Geo-stationary orbit. GSAT-17 joins the constellation of INSAT System. The INSAT system provides services to telecommunications, television broadcasting, satellite newsgathering, societal applications, weather forecasting, disaster warning and Search and Rescue operations.


  • A GSAT is a series of geosynchronous satellite placed in geosynchronous orbit, with an orbital period the same as the Earth’s rotation period.
  • Such a satellite returns to the same position in the sky after each day.
  • A special case of geosynchronous satellite is the geostationary satellite, which has a geostationary orbit – a circular orbit directly above the Earth’s equator.

Geosynchronous satellites have the advantage of remaining permanently in the same area of the sky, as viewed from a particular location on Earth

  • Experimental satellite – ISRO has launched many small satellites mainly for the experimental purposes such as Remote Sensing, Atmospheric Studies, PayloadGeostationary satellites have the special property of remaining permanently fixed in exactly the same position in the sky, meaning that ground-based antennas do not need to track them but can remain fixed in
  • one direction. Such satellites are often used for communication purposes. This orbit is present at an altitude of approx. 35,786 km in the equatorial plane.
  • Sun Synchronous Orbits (or Low Earth Orbit): These orbits allows a satellite to pass over a section of the Earth at the same time of day. These satellites orbit at an altitude between 700 to 800 km.
  • Geostationary Transfer Orbit (GTO) is an elliptical orbit, with an apogee (high point) of 35,784 kilometers and an inclination roughly equal to the latitude of the launch site, into which a spacecraft is initially placed before being transferred to a geosynchronous or geostationary orbit.

GSAT-7 or Rukmini

  • Rukmini was the first military communication satellite launched by the ISRO in 2013, for the Indian Defence forces, with the Indian Navy being the primary user.
  • It’s a multi-band military communication satellite, placed into a geosynchronous orbit, to secure real-time communication.


  • Earth Observations satellite – ISRO has launched many operational remote sensing satellites such as CARTOSAT 2, RESOURCSAT 1, OCEANSAT 2 etc. in sun-synchronous orbit and INSAT-3D, Kalpana etc. in geo-synchronous orbit. The data from these satellites are used for several applications covering agriculture, water resources, urban planning, rural development, mineral prospecting, environment, forestry, ocean resources and disaster management.
  • Navigation satellite – To meet the user requirements of the positioning, navigation and timing services. Example – IRNSS, GPS Aided GEO Augmented Navigation (GAGAN) to meet civil aviation requirements.
  • Space Science satellite – research in areas like astronomy, astrophysics, planetary and earth sciences, atmospheric sciences and theoretical physics. For example – Astrosat, Chandrayaan-1 2, MOM  Development, Orbit Controls, recovery technology etc. For example  AryaBhata, APPLE etc. imaging and science missions within a quick turn around time.
  • Student satellite – ISRO has influenced educational institutions by its activities like making satellites for communication, remote sensing and astronomy etc. HYPERSPECTRAL IMAGING SATELLITE

Why in news?

  • ISRO plans to launch HySIS (Hyperspectral Imaging Satellite) – an earth observation satellite, using a critical chip it has developed called “optical imaging detector array”.

What is hyperspectral imaging?

  • Hyperspectral imaging, or imaging spectroscopy, combines the power of digital imaging and spectroscopy. Hyperspex imaging is enabled by an optical imaging detector chip
  • For each pixel in an image, a hyperspectral camera acquires the light intensity (radiance) for a large number of contiguous spectral bands.
  • Every pixel in the image thus contains a continuous spectrum in the visible and near infra-red regions and can be used to characterize the objects in the scene with great precision and detail.
  • Significance: Hyperspectral images provide much more detailed information about the scene than a normal color camera, which only acquires three different spectral channels corresponding to the visual primary colors red, green and blue.
  • Hyperspectral imaging leads to a vastly improved ability to classify the objects in the scene based on their spectral properties.


Why in news?

  • The government of India has come up with Space Activities Bill 2017, a draft law meant to regulate the space sector.


  • Department of Space(DoS) is the nodal agency for space activities in India which include:
  • Space Infrastructure: spacecraft for various applications and associated ground infrastructure
  • Space Transportation systems: various class of launch vehicles and associated ground infrastructure Space applications: for various national requirements through establishment of necessary ground infrastructure and coordination mechanisms.
  • Space activities in India till now have been governed by Satellite Communication Policy, 2000 (which enacted a framework to provide licenses to private sector players to operate communication satellites over India) and the Remote Sensing Data Policy, 2011.
  • Internationally, the outer space activities are governed by relevant chapters of international law in general and by United Nations’ (UN) Treaties and principles evolved under UN Committee on Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UNCOPUOS) in particular.

About Space Activities Bill 2017

  • It is needed to encourage the participation of private sector agencies in space activities in India. This will supplement the manpower requirement of ISRO.
  • The draft law includes provisions such as providing non-transferable licence to carry out commercial space activity, supporting such activities professionally ad technically, regulating their operations, penal provisions for undertaking such activities without authorization etc.

UN Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA), 1958.

  • It promotes international cooperation in peaceful uses of Outer Space.
  • It serves as the secretariat for UNGA’s UN committee on Peaceful Uses of Outer Space(COPUOS).
  • It also establishes UN register for Objects launched into Outer space.
  • It manages the UN Platform for Space based Information for Disaster Management and Emergency Response (UN -SPIDER).

Outer Space Treaty, 1967.

  • Aim: To preserve space for peaceful uses by prohibiting the use of space weapons, the development of space-weapon technology, and technology related to “missile defense.”
  • It would prevent any nation from gaining a military advantage in outer space.


Why in news?

  • ISRO has established around 473 Village Resource Centres (VRCs) on a pilot basis, in association with selected NGOs, Trusts and State Government Departments.

What is Village Resource Centres (VRC)?

  • This is one of the unique initiatives that use Satellite Communication (SATCOM) network and Earth Observation (EO) satellite data to reach out to the villages to address the needs of the local people in villages itself.

Applications: VRCs provide wide varieties of services in rural areas:

  • Tele-medicine concept connects the sick people in villages, through VSAT network, to the doctors, who located in cities/urban areas or the Super-speciality hospitals, for providing health services.
  • The Tele-education uses SATCOM to provide a virtual classroom facility to far-flung villages or remote areas in the country and helps in imparting education to the needy, career guidance to rural students etc.
  • Advisories related to agriculture like crop pest and diseases, fertilizer/pesticides, organic farming, crop insurance etc.
  • Skill development and vocational training to the rural population.
  • Other areas of application include Panchayat planning, Weather information, Marketing information, Watershed Development, Drinking water etc.


Why in News?

  • A team of Indian scientists has reported the discovery of a previously unknown ‘supercluster’ of galaxies, some four billion light years away from Earth, and named it Saraswati.

What are Superclusters?

  • Galaxies are like the building blocks of the universe, they contain a huge number of stars. Galaxy clusters have 3-100 galaxies, and super clusters are the clusters of clusters.
  • Within superclusters, clusters are connected by filaments and sheets of dark matter with galaxies embedded in them
  • Sarawati has 42 clusters and it is 4000 million light years from earth.



What is NISAR mission?


  • It is the world’s most expensive earth imaging satellite till date ($1.5 billion), being jointly developed by India and USA and expected to be launched around
  • NISAR is a dual frequency L-band and S-band radar mission, that will map Earth every 12 days from two directions.
  • NASA and Jet Propulsion Laboratory will be responsible for the design & development of L-band SAR, while ISRO will be responsible for the design & development of S-band SAR
  • It will make global integrated measurements of the causes and consequences of land surface changes.
  • NISAR will provide a means of resolving highly spatial and temporally complex processes ranging from ecosystem disturbances, to ice sheet collapse and natural hazards including earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanoes, and landslides.
  • Post completion, NISAR will be integrated with ISRO’s spacecraft and launched on board India’s GSLV.


  • The two space research organisations signed a framework agreement in 2008 that called for cooperation in the exploration and use of outer space for peaceful purposes.
  • Under the agreement, both ISRO and NASA have executed an implementing arrangement for cooperation in NISAR mission, which is valid until
  • The arrangement provides scope for joint activities on science & applications of NISAR data after the launch.

Earlier collaborations between NASA and ISRO:

  • Chandrayaan-I mission, 2005: Moon Mineralogy mapper from NASA accompanied the mission, resulting in “joint-discovery” of water on moon.
  • Mars Orbiter Mission (Mangalyaan), 2014: where NASA’s navigational expertise in deep space trajectory and maneuverability aided the mission.
Parker Solar Probe
  • Solar corona, solar wind and solar energetic particles

  • Refer to Global-scale
  • Observations of the Limb and Disk(GOLD) and Ionospheric Connection Explorer(ICON)respectively Ionosphere region to understand more about
    hurricanes & geomagnetic storms

New Frontiers program
  • Explore the solar system. Two
    recently selected missions:
    Comet Astrobiology Exploration Sample Return ) for visiting comet
    Dragonfly: spacecraft to study
    Titan, Saturn’s largest moon

  • Three older missions:
    Juno Mission: Juno spacecraft to orbit Jupiter.Earlier,Galileo probe in its mission had found evidence subsurface saltwater Jupiter’s moons Europa,Ganymede and Callisto OSIRIS-Rex: Origins,Spectral Interpretation,Resource Identification,Security-Regolith Explorer is NASA’s first unmanned asteroid sampling mission heading towards a near-Earth asteroid called Bennu.
    New Horizons Spacecraft: To study Pluto, its moons (such
    as Nix and Hydra) and the Kuiper belt

SOFIA Mission(Flying Observatory)

  • Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) is world’s largest airborne astronomical observatory built as a joint project of NASA
    and the German Aerospace Centre to observe celestial
    magnetic fields, star forming regions, comets and Saturn’s giant moon Titan
Cassini Mission
  • launched through collaboration between NASA,
    ESA and the Italian space agency to study Saturn and its
    system of rings and moons (Saturn’s largest moon is Titan)

  • first spacecraft to orbit Saturn

Exploration Mission-1
  • It will be the first integrated test of NASA’s deep space exploration systems: the Orion spacecraft and Space Launch System (SLS)rocket
    (most powerful rocket in the world)

  • Orion Spacecraft is designed to take astronauts beyond low-Earth orbit and explore the Moon, Mars and other destinations

Voyager 1 and 2

  • •Year 2017 marked 40th anniversary of its journey

  • •They have explored all the giant planets of our outer solar system,Jupiter,Saturn,Uranus and Neptune; 48 of their moons; and the unique system of rings and magnetic fields

  • •Voyager 1 was the first spacecraft to have entered interstellar space

Kepler Mission

  • •Kepler is a space observatory launched by NASA to discover Earth-size planets orbiting other stars.

  • • The Kepler telescope detects the presence of planets by registering minuscule drops in a star’s brightness that occurs when a planet crosses in front of it, a movement known as a transit.
DAWN Mission

  • only mission ever to orbit two extraterrestrial targets - giant
    asteroid Vesta and the dwarf planet Ceres

  • Ceres is the largest body in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. It is a dwarf planet, the only one located in the inner circle of the solar
    system, rest all are located on the outer edges.
AIDA (Asteroid
Impact and

  • It is the first-ever mission that will deflect a near-Earth
    asteroid to protect the planet It is an international collaboration among the European Space Agency (ESA),NASA and others AIDA involves two independent spacecraft–NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART),andESA’s Asteroid Impact Mission(AIM).

  • • Its target is the binary near-Earth asteroid Didymos,a binary system, classified as a potentially hazardous asteroid.

  • • NASA has also designed a spacecraft named Hammer(Hypervelocity Asteroid Mitigation Mission for Emergency Response), which could deflect a asteroids, if it happens to hit Earth.


  • Star-Planet Activity Research CubeSat (SPARCS) is a space telescope to
    habitability and high-energy environment around M-dwarf stars.

  • Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS)to study exoplanets in orbit around the brightest stars in the sky. TESS will monitor more than 200,000 stars for temporary drops in brightness caused by planetary transits.
InSight Mars
  • for Mars (Red Planet)which will study the interior of Mars and listen for Marsquakes

ICESat-2 and
GRACE Follow-
  • to continue the long-term record of how Earth’s ice sheets,sea level, and underground water reserves are changing
Roll-out Solar
Array (ROSA)

  • It is a collaboration between NASA and two private companies with an aim to
    develop flexible solar array(adaptable to different sizes)
    that could one day power satellites and spacecraft.

  • It is 20% lighter and four times smaller in volume than traditional solar panels.

Imaging X-ray

  • The proposal for this mission was accepted under NASA’s
    Explorers Programme which provides frequent,low-cost access to space for investigations.This mission is aimed at studying some of the most extreme and exotic astronomical objects by studying the polarisation of X-rays emitted from their surrounding environments as direct image cannot be taken of
    such as objects like black holes,neutron stars etc.

New Aviation

  • It aims to commercialise ultra-efficient subsonic transportation

  • Recently, NASA has completed preliminary design review of
    the Quiet Supersonic Transport(QueSST) aircraft,initial design
    stage of planned Low Boom Flight Demonstration(LBFD)
    experimental airplane,otherwise known as an X-plane
Joint Polar

  • It is a partnership between NOAA(National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)and NASA It’s first in NOAA’s series of four, next-generation operational environmental satellites designed to circle the
    Earth in a polar orbit.
Backyard Worlds project

  • It is a citizen science project which lets anyone with a computer and an Internet connection flip through images taken by NASA’s Wide Field
    Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE)spacecraft.WISE is a space telescope
    launched in 2009 by NASA to map the entire sky in infrared wavelengths. Its goal was to find objects that had not been imaged before,including very
    bright galaxies, very cold stars,and nearby asteroids and comets.
Hubble Space Telescpe
  • It is a joint venture between NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) — was launched in its orbit 552 km above Earth

  • It has the ability to see in multiple wavelengths — near-
    infrared, visible light and near-ultraviolet

  • It has recently discovered seven Earth-sized planets orbiting the
    ultracool dwarf star TRAPPIST-1 making it the planetary
    system with the largest number of Earth-sized planets discovered so far.

James Webb Space
  • It is a joint project of the NASA, the European Space Agency
  • and the Canadian Space Agency.

  • It will be the successor of Hubble Space Telescope and 100 times powerful than it.

  • One of its main goals is to use spectroscopy to determine the
    atmospheric components of alien worlds.

  • It's a small nuclear reactor that can generate a reliable power
    supply which can be used to provide safe and plentiful
    energy for future robotic and human missions for Mars and beyond


3.3.1. BLUE MOON

Why in news?

  • On January 31, 2018, a rare Blue Moon event was experienced on large parts of the globe.

About the news

  • It was a rare moment as blue moon, a supermoon and a total lunar eclipse fell on same day after more than 150 years.
  • Blue Moon: When two full moons appear in the same calendar month, the second is termed a “blue moon”. First full moon occurred on Jan 1, 2018.
  • Super Moon: occurs when the full moon is at the closest point of its orbit to the Earth, which is also called the perigee. The moon appears 30% brighter and 14% bigger than the apogee full moon
  • Blood Moon: The moon turns into red color during the height of the eclipse as some light does reach it even though the moon is in the shadow of the Earth. Fine particles in the atmosphere scatter (Rayleigh scattering) the blue component of solar spectrum, & what reaches us is the longer wavelength red light.
  • A lunar eclipse happens whenever the moon passes through Earth’s shadow, also known as its umbra.

Solar eclipse

  • A solar eclipse occurs when the moon gets between Earth and the sun, and the moon casts a shadow over Earth.
  • It can only take place at the phase of new moon, when the moon passes directly between the sun and Earth and its shadows fall upon Earth’s surface.
  • However, eclipses do not happen at every new moon because the moon’s orbit is tilted just over 5 degrees relative to Earth’s orbit around the sun. Thus, the moon’s shadow usually passes either above or below Earth.

Why in news?

  • Perseid Meteor Shower fell on Earth in August peaked on August 12.


  • Geminid meteor shower fell on Earth on December 12.

Asteroids, Meteoroid, Meteors and Meteorites

  • Asteroids – Asteroids are small bodies of rocks which revolve around the sun. The Asteroid belt in our Solar System is found between the Mars and Jupiter.
  • Meteoroids – When asteroids smash into each other, small fragments break off. These fragments are called Meteoroids.
  • Meteors – When these meteoroids come closer to Earth and enter its atmosphere they vaporize with a streak of light in the sky. They are then called Meteors or shooting stars.
  • Meteorites – When the meteors do not vaporise completely after entering the Earth’s atmosphere, they are called Meteorites.
  • Comet – A chunk of ice and rock originating from the outer solar system, often accompanied by a coma and tail.

What is a Meteor Shower?

  • Earth in its yearly motion around the Sun passes through a debris trail left behind by a comet. The meteor shower is caused when debris heat up as they enter the atmosphere and burn up in a bright burst of light.
  • When the debris is in space, they are called“meteoroids,” but when they reach Earth’s atmosphere, they’re designated as “meteors.”

What is Perseid Meteor Shower?

  • Perseid meteor Shower is the dust of Comet Swift Tuttle which passes through Earth every year.
  • The meteor shower is caused when debris heat up as they enter the atmosphere and burn up in a bright burst of light.
  • When the debris is in space, they are called“meteoroids,” but when they reach Earth’s atmosphere, they’re designated as “meteors.”


Comet Swift-Tuttle

  • Comet Swift-Tuttle, having a nucleus of about 16 miles (26 kilometres) wide, is the largest object known to repeatedly pass by Earth.
  • The Comet last passed nearby Earth during its orbit around the sun in 1992. It will next pass by the Earth in 2026.

About Geminid Meteor Shower

Usually meteor shower happens due to the debris left behind by a Comet. However, it

can happen due to an asteroid as well such as in the case of Geminid Shower.

  • Geminid Meteor shower is the dust particle of constellation of Gemini. Earth passes through the path of its parent asteroid 3200 Phaethon every year.


About 3200 Phaethon

  • It is an Apollo Asteroid and has characteristics close to a comet.
  • Sometime the orbits of an asteroid intersect with the orbit of Mars and Earth. The earth orbiting asteroids are called Apollo Asteroids.


Why in news?


  • Proxima Centauri (the second closest star to Earth) was found to be sending out massive solar flare. The finding diminishes the chance of life expected in Proxima Centauri b, a planet revolving in the habitable Goldilocks zone of this Red (Cool) Dwarf Star.
  • The 3 space based observatories (Astro-sat, Chandra (X-ray observatory managed by NASA), and Hubble Space Telescope) and a ground based Observatory HARPS (High Accuracy Radial Velocity Planet Searcher) participated in the multi-wavelength observational campaign and observed the solar flare in Proxima Centauri.

What is Solar/Stellar Flare?

  • It is a dramatic increase in brightness of a star thought to be due to the magnetic energy stored in the star’s atmosphere.
  • When observed in Sun, they are often accompanied by coronal mass ejection.
  • Solar flare ejects clouds of electrons, ions and atoms along with electromagnetic radiations.
  • Bombardment with such huge amount of energy (as observed in Proxima centauri) can strip water from the atmosphere or Oceans and sterilise the ground.


Impact of Solar Flare of Sun:

  • They occur in active regions around sunspots.
  • When flare is ejected in the direction of the earth, the particles hitting the upper earth’s atmosphere may cause AURORA/Polar light (Aurora Borealis-Northern light and Aurora Australis- Southern Light).
  • X-rays and UV rays may affect ionosphere and disrupt long range radio communication.
  • The radiation risks posed by solar flares are one of the major hurdles in manned space missions.

HARPS: High precision spectrograph mounted on European Southern Observatory’s 3.6m telescope at La Silla Observatory in Chile.



Why in news?

  • In a world’s first, the elusive ‘missing’ half of the universe’s observable matter has been found.


  • The universe is made up of regular ‘visible’ matter, dark matter and dark energy- though experts are yet to detect the latter two.
  • Measurements of radiation left over from the Big Bang showed that about 5% of the mass in the universe comes in the form of ordinary matter, with the rest being accounted for by dark matter (25%) and dark energy (70%).
  • Dark matter has never been directly observed and the nature of dark energy is almost completely mysterious, but even tracking down the 5% of ordinary matter has proved more complicated. Counting up of all the observable objects in the sky – stars, planets, galaxies and so on –only accounts for between a 10th and a fifth of what ought to be out there. The deficit is known as the“missing baryon problem”.
  • Now missing matter has been discovered. It is made of particles called baryons linking galaxies together through filaments of hot gas.

Hot Gas Filaments

  • The distribution of ordinary matter in the universe is not homogeneous.
  • Instead, under the action of gravity, matter is concentrated into so-called filamentary structures, forming a network of knots and links called the ‘cosmic web’.
  • Gas filaments between some galaxies contain subatomic particles called baryons.

What Is a Baryon?

  • Leptons and quarks are the basic building blocks of matter
  • Baryons are subatomic particles made up of three even smaller particles called quarks
  • Quark-based particles, baryons take part in the strong interaction between particles, whereas leptons, which are not quark based, do not.
  • The most familiar baryons are the proton and the neutron, which make up the central body of atoms. Baryons therefore comprise most of themass of the visible universe.


    • The best known lepton is the electron.


    Related information


    • Anti-matter: Every matter has its corresponding anti-matter. It shares the same mass as their matter counterparts, but qualities such as electric charge are opposite. For example, positively charged positron is the antiparticle to the negatively charged electron and proton has the negatively charged anti-proton.


    Dark Matter and Dark energy


    NASA defines it in the form of what it is not than what it is.


    • First, it is dark, meaning that it is not in the form of stars and planets that we see.


    • Second, it is not in the form of dark clouds of normal matter, matter made up of particles called baryons.


    • Third, dark matter is not antimatter, because we do not see the unique gamma rays that are produced when antimatter annihilates with matter.


    • Finally, it does not include large galaxy-sized black holes.


    It doesn’t interact with baryonic matter and it’s completely invisible to light and other forms of electromagnetic radiation, making dark matter impossible to detect with current instruments. But scientists are confident it exists because of the gravitational effects it appears to have on galaxies and galaxy clusters.

    Dark energy


    • Dark energy, discovered in the 1990s, is even more mysterious. Scientists have no plausible explanation for dark energy. According to one idea, dark energy is a fifth and previously unknown type of fundamental force called quintessence, which fills the universe like a fluid.

    • During 1990s, the scientists realized that instead of decelerating, the universe is expanding more rapidly. Scientists assume that the accelerated expansion of the universe is driven by a kind of repulsive force generated by quantum fluctuations in otherwise “empty” space. Also, the force seems to be growing stronger as the universe expands. For lack of a better name, scientists call this mysterious force dark energy.



    • Dark matter attracts, dark energy repels.
    • While dark matter pulls matter inward, dark energy pushes it outward.
    • While dark energy shows itself only on the largest cosmic scale, dark matter exerts its influence on individual galaxies as well as the universe at large .

    3.3.5. BOSONS

    Why in news?


    • Recently 125th birthday of famous physicist Satyendra Nath Bose was celebrated after whom Higgs Boson was named by CERN.

    Higgs Boson


    • It is popularly known as the God particle.
    • It was discovered by Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the world’s largest and most powerful particle accelerator, at CERN
    • CERN is the world’s largest nuclear and particle physics laboratory. At CERN, scientists and engineers are probing the fundamental structure of the Universe.
    • Satyendra Nath Bose worked with Albert Einstein to develop the Bose-Einstein statistics according to which bosons can overlap and coexist with other bosons.

    Fundamental of bosons

    • All fundamental particles in nature can be divided into one of two categories, Fermions or Bosons
    • Particles that  make  up  matter  called
    • Fermions
    • Examples: electrons, protons, leptons, quarks, neutrinos.
    • Particle that carry force called Boson. They
    • obey Bose-Einstein statistics.
    •  Bosons  are  sometimes  called  force particles  because  they  control  the
    • interaction of physical forces
    • Examples: photons, 4He atoms, gluons, W Boson, Z Boson.



    Why in news


    • Recently, Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) granted environmental clearance to India-based Neutrino Observatory (INO) project to be setup in Bodi West hills, Tamil Nadu with certain conditions.

    About Neutrino

    • Neutrinos are one of the fundamental particles which make up the universe and second most abundant particle in the universe after photon.
    • Neutrinos are similar to the electron, with one crucial difference: they do not carry electric charge.
    • Neutrinos are of 3 types – electron neutrino, muon neutrino and tau neutrino
    • Neutrinos can be created in several ways, including in certain types of radioactive decay, in nuclear reactions such as those that take place in the Sun, in nuclear reactors.
    • It’s Nicknamed as ‘blueprint of nature’ by scientists.

    About Anti-neutrinos

    • They are antiparticles of neutrinos and are produced in the negative beta decay.
    • Antineutrinos (as neutrinos) are very penetrating subatomic particles, capable of passing through Earth without any interaction.
    • Neutrinos and antineutrinos belong to the family of leptons, which means they do not interact via strong nuclear force.

    India-based Neutrino Observatory (INO) Project

    • It is a multi-institutional effort aimed at building a world-class underground laboratory with a rock cover of approx. 1200m for nonaccelerator based high energy and nuclear physics research in India.
    • It and will have a 50,000-tonne magnetic detector to study neutrinos that are significant in particle physics.
    • In the 1960s, India had a neutrino observatory located at the Kolar Gold Fields in Karnataka. However, the laboratory was shut in the 1990s because the mines were being closed.
    • Significance: Determination of neutrino masses is the most significant open problem in particle physics today and is the key goal of the INO project.
    • Benefits: understanding the particle, understanding the evolution of the universe, role in nuclear non-proliferation through remote monitoring, study of Geoneutrinos might help creating an earthquake warning system.



    Why in news?

    • Scientists have recently discovered the most ancient spiral galaxy in the universe that existed 11 billion years ago.

    More about the news

    • The discovery was made by using a technique that combines gravitational lensing with the Near-infrared Integral Field Spectrograph (NIFS).
    • Gravitational Lensing is a phenomenon in which the gravity of a massive object (like a galaxy or a cluster of galaxies) bends and amplifies the light from an object that lies beyond it.
    • The galaxy, known as A1689B11, existed just 2.6 billion years after the Big Bang, when the universe was only one fifth of its present age.
    • In a spiral galaxy, the stars, gas and dust are gathered in spiral arms that spread outward from the galaxy’s center.
    • Spiral galaxies are exceptionally rare in the early universe, and this discovery opens the door to investigating how galaxies transition from highly chaotic, turbulent discs to tranquil, thin discs like those of our own Milky Way galaxy.


    Why in news?

    • Recently, Falcon heavy rocket lift off from Cape Canaveral.

    More about Falcon Heavy

    • Falcon Heavy is the most powerful rocket in the world after NASA’s Saturn V.
    • It has been developed by private spaceflight company SpaceX and is 230 feet tall and can lift nearly 64 metric ton pay load to low Earth Orbit at a cost of 90 million USD.
    • The engine can be started multiple times to place payloads in various orbits such as low Earth, geosynchronous transfer orbit (GTO) and geosynchronous orbit.
    • Mongolia’s first satellite, Mazaalai is accompanying SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket
    •  It was launched through Joint Global Multi-Nation Birds Satellite Project funded by UNCESCO and JAPAN.
    •   Project  is  a  cross-border  interdisciplinary satellite project for non-space-faring nations, aimed at supporting developing countries to build and launch their first satellite.
    •  It is named after a Mongolia’s endangered gobi bear.


    Why in news?

    • Israel has launched its first environmental research satellite, Venus satellite which is built jointly by Israel and France.

    More on satellite

    • It is placed in sun-synchronous orbit and its goal is to obtain high-resolution photographs of specific sites to track various environmental issues
    • It will also monitor Earth’s vegetation to distinguish plants planted at as little as five meters apart. This makes possible “precision agriculture,” in which farmers would be able to accurately plan for water, fertilizer, and pesticide needs.
    • The mission will also test the operation of an innovative electric propulsion system based on the Israeli-designed Hall Effect Thrusters.


    Why in news?

    • Engineers at Purdue University in the US have designed and tested a micropropulsion system that uses liquid water as the propellant for orbital maneuvering of tiny satellites called CubeSats.
    • Pure water is chosen as the propellant since it is green, safe, easy to use and free from the risk of contaminating sensitive instruments by the backflow from plumes as in the case of thrusters using chemical propellants.


    Why in news?

    • University of Surrey, UK has decided to launch Remove Debris mission this year to remove space debris.


    • There is almost 7,000 tons of active space debris—from old satellites and spacecraft to lost components and spent rocket parts-orbiting Earth at any given moment which may take years to disintegrate.
    • More debris, could lead to more collisions – a cascade   effect   known  as   the  Kesslersyndrome which may render space eventually inoperable for important services like navigation, communications, weather forecasting etc.
    • The Remove Debris satellite platform will showcase four methods such as Net capture, Harpoon Capture, Vision-based navigation, De-orbiting process for release, capture and deorbit two space debris targets, called DebriSATs:

    International Space debris Committee

    • It is an international governmental forum for the worldwide coordination of activities related to the issues of man-made and natural debris in space to facilitate opportunities for cooperation in space debris research, to review the progress of ongoing cooperative activities, and to identify debris mitigation options.



    Why in News?

    • Wildlife panel of the Union Environment Ministry had in 2017 cleared plan for diversion of Ladakh forest area for national large solar telescope (NLST).

    Why Ladhak Region for NLST

    • High altitude region which will fundamentally enhance the NLST capacity.
    • Prolong region of sunshine, clear sky (high visibility) with low sessional variation.
    • Low concentration of aerosol and dust particles in sky.
    • Lower wind speed and presence of mild gusts and direction; also the laminar winds blowing in favourable condition.

    What is National Large Solar Telescope (NLST)

    • It will be a 2-m class, multipurpose and state-of-the-art solar telescope (NLST).
    • NLST will be the largest solar telescope in the world.
    • The project of NLST would be implemented by Bangalore based, Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIAP).

    Features of National Large Solar Telescope

    • It is capable of doing both day and night astronomy because of unprecedented high spatial resolution.
    • It will fill the longitude gap between Japan and Europe. Currently, there is no telescope between these regions.
    • It will help in understanding the formation and decay of sunspots by using Helioseismology, which is a powerful technique for probing the solar interior using acoustic Oscillations.


    • Geo Magnetic Storm: A geomagnetic storm is a major disturbance of Earth’s magnetosphere that occurs due to exchange of energy from the solar wind into the space environment surrounding Earth. They create beautiful auroras or the Polar Lights, but they also can disrupt navigation systems such as the Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) and create harmful Geomagnetic Induced Currents (GICs) in the power grid and pipelines.
    • Kuiper belt: It is flat ring of icy small bodies that revolve around the Sun beyond the orbit of the planet Neptune. It is home to three officially recognized dwarf planets: Pluto, Haumea, and Makemake. It is thought to be the source of most of the observed short-period comets, particularly those that orbit the Sun in less than 20 years
    • Exoplanets: Planets outside our solar system are called exoplanets. Most of these are part of star systems. There are some “rogue” exoplanets, which are not attached to any star system. The first exoplanet, 51 Pegasi b, was discovered in 1995.
    • Goldilocks” zone: The exoplanets must orbit within a distance of their stars in which liquid water can exist on the planet’s surface, receiving about as much sunlight as Earth.This distance is called the “Goldilocks” zone because it is neither too far or too close to the star that life becomes impossible.
    • Dwarf Star: A relatively small, low mass star that emits an average or below average amount of light, when compared with Giant or Super-Giant Stars.The colour of dwarf stars can range from blue   to   red,   the   corresponding temperature varying from high (above 10,000 K) to low (a few thousand K)Red Dwarfs are the most common star in milky way. Our Sun is a Yellow Dwarf Star.
    • A white Dwarf star is a remnant of Red Giant Star which has exhausted  all  its fuel. The  maximum  mass  of a stable white dwarf star can be 1.44 times the mass  of  the  sun  also  known  as Chandrasekhar limit
    •  A mass greater than the limit will turn the star into a neutron star or black hole at the end of its life.
    • Brown dwarfs, sometimes called “failed stars”, are spread throughout the Milky Way.They are strikingly similar to Jupiter. Scientists study their atmospheres in order to look at what weather on other worlds might look like
    • International space station: It is a multi-Tidal Locking – It is the name given to the situation when an object’s orbital period matches its rotational period. A great example of this is our own Moon. The moon
    • takes 28 days to go around the Earth and 28 days to rotate once around it’s axis. This results in the same face of the Moon always facing the Earth. Recently, discovered hottest known planet, designated KELT-9b is also tidally locked to its star.
    • International space station: It is a multi-nation project with contributions from 15 nations. However, 5 major partners include USA, Russia, Europe, Canada and Japan. It is a habitable artificial satellite in low earth orbit and is the largest single structure humans ever put into space. Astronaut time and research time on the space station is allocated to space agencies according to how much money or resources that they contribute.


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