Science and Technology Current Affairs – 2017

Latest Science & Technology Current Affairs 2015-2016; current developments in Science and Technology 2015-2016 all important national / international updates in science and tech and events for the year 2015-2016.

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NASA launches World’s Lightest Satellite designed by Indian Student

NASA has launched world’s lightest satellite weighing only 64 grams designed by 18-year-old boy Rifath Sharook from Tamil Nadu. The tiny satellite has been named as KalamSat after the former President APJ Abdul Kalam. The tiny satellite was launched into space on a sounding rocket from NASA’s facility in Wallops Island.

Salient Facts

KalamSat is a 3-D printed satellite. This is the first time that 3-D printing technology is used to make satellites.

To participate in NASA’s contest Cubes in Space in partnership with the global education company, I Doodle Learning, Sharook and his team had designed a 1 kg CubeSat. But as the CubSat was costly the group made a smaller version for the contest and came up with ‘KalamSat’.

By using the concept called BalloonSats, the group created a Near Space Launch Vehicle (NSLV) to launch KalamSat. BalloonSats are designed to carry lightweight experiments into near-space.

The tiny satellite weighs only 64 grams which is lighter than a smartphone. The satellite has been made of reinforced carbon fibre polymer.

The satellite was operated for 12 minutes in a micro-gravity environment of space after its flight. The purpose behind the launch of KalamSat was to demonstrate the performance of 3D-printed carbon fibre.

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NASA tests ROSA on Space Station for First Time

NASA is testing the effectiveness of a flexible solar array, the Roll-Out Solar Array, or ROSA, on space station for the very first time. ROSA is expected to one day power satellites and spacecraft. NASA had earlier tested the ROSA technology in vacuum chambers on the Earth but this is the first time it is testing the technology in space.

Salient Facts

ROSA is an advanced, flexible solar array that rolls out like a tape measure. The ROSA is very much flexible so that it can be adapted to different sizes including very large arrays. ROSA is expected to provide power for a variety of future spacecraft and satellites. ROSA will be an asset for satellite radio and television, weather forecasting, GPS and other services used on the Earth.

The NASA engineers remotely attached the ROSA to the International Space Station’s robotic Canadarm2. ROSA will remain attached to the Canadarm2 over seven days to test its effectiveness. Scientists will test the effectiveness of ROSA  in the microgravity and extreme temperatures of space.

ROSA is smaller and lighter than the traditional panels and has a centre wing build of a flexible material containing photovoltaic cells to convert light into electricity. The narrow arm extends on both the sides of the wing to provide support, called a high strain composite boom. These booms are like split tubes made of a stiff composite material. The technology of the booms will be a boon for communications and radar antennas and other instruments.

Significance

Unlike the traditional solar array panels, ROSA has the potential to make solar arrays more compact and weigh lighter. The traditional solar panels which are at present used to power satellites are very bulky with panels being folded using mechanical hinges. ROSA with significantly less mass and volume can offer substantial cost savings and increase the power for satellites. ROSA is 20% lighter and 4 times smaller in volume than the traditional panels.

In addition, ROSA technology can provide solar power to remote locations.

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ISRO to launch Earth Observation Satellite

Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is all set to launch earth observation satellite Cartosat-2 series weighing 712 kg and 30 nano-satellites using Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV).

Salient Highlights

Out of the 30 nano-satellites, 29 will be of foreign origin and one will be of India’s. The 29 nano-satellites will be from 14 countries such as Austria, Belgium, Britain, Chile, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia, and the US. These 29 satellites will be launched by ISRO as part of the commercial arrangements between ISRO’s commercial arm, the Antrix Corporation Ltd with these nations.

The 30 satellites will together weigh 243 kg. The total weight of the 31 satellites would be 955 kg. The PSLV-XL will be launched from the Sriharikota rocket port.

The rockets will be placed into a 505 km polar sunsynchronous orbit (SSO).

This will be the seventeenth flight of PSLV in ‘XL’ configuration. It uses solid strap-on motors.

PSLV

Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) is the third generation launch vehicle of India which is hailed as the reliable and versatile workhorse launch vehicle of India. PSLV’s first successful launch took place in October 1994. Since then the launch vehicle has 38 consecutively successful missions by February 2017. It has launched 46 Indian satellites and 180 foreign satellites between 1994-2017.

PSLV is also India’s first launch vehicle to be equipped with liquid stages. There are three variants of PSLV, namely, PSLV-G, PSLV-CA, PSLV-XL.

PSLV was used to successfully launch Chandrayaan-1 in 2008 and Mars Orbiter Spacecraft in 2013.

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