Current Affairs 2017 - March

IIT-M solar inverter system wins 2017 IEEE Spectrum Technology Award

Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)-Madras has won the 2017 IEEE Spectrum Technology in the Service of Society Award for its solar-direct current (DC) inverter system.

The system was developed by Centre for Decentralised Power Systems at IIT-M using micro grid technology.

Key Facts
  • The system converts in-home power distribution from 230V Analog Current (AC) to 48V DC to directly power appliances and devices.
  • It is equipped to tap rooftop solar power, making it most energy efficient solution for homes and offices. It also consists of DC solar generation, DC power-line, DC appliances and battery.
  • It has been currently deployed in 4,000 off-grid homes in Jodhpur and Jaisalmer in Rajasthan and also deployed in around 7,200 homes in Assam.
  • It also has been installed in villages in Karnataka, Odisha, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.

IEEE Spectrum Technology in the Service of Society Award: It is presented to the company/institution voted by IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) Spectrum editors as having developed the technology that has the potential to benefit mankind.

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NASA scientists found lost Chandrayaan-1 orbiting Moon

Scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) have found India’s first lunar probe, Chandrayaan-1 which was considered lost, is still orbiting the moon. They also have found NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO).

The ISRO lost communication with Chandrayaan-1 on August 29, 2009, almost a year after it was launched on October 22, 2008. The unmanned spacecraft is still circling some 200 km in the polar orbit around the moon

How these probes were discovered?

Both space probes were discovered using JPL’s new ground-based radar technique by sending out a powerful beam of microwaves towards the moon. The beams were produced using 70-metre antenna at NASA’s Goldstone Deep Space Communications Complex in California. The radar echoes bounced back from lunar orbit were received by the 100-metre Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia.

Key facts
  • The LRO was easily discovered as scientists were working with the mission’s navigators had precise orbit data.
  • But finding of Chandrayaan-1, very small and cuboid in shape, about 1.5 metres in length on each side was little bit difficult as ISRO had last contact with it.
  • Even finding a derelict spacecraft at lunar distance that has not been tracked for years is tricky because the moon is riddled with
  • Mascons are regions with higher-than-average gravitational pull. It is believed that they may had dramatically affected spacecraft’s orbit over time, and even cause it to crashed into the moon. 
Background

Chandrayaan 1 after its launch in October 2008 had operated for 312 days, as against the intended two years, but the mission achieved 95% of its planned objectives. It had sent more than 70,000 images of the lunar surface which provided breathtaking views of lunar mountains and craters, especially craters in the permanently shadowed areas of the Moon’s polar region.

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