Science & Technology Current Affairs - 2019

Science & Technology Current Affairs 2019-2020 category comprises current affairs with all important national / international updates in science and tech and events for the year 2019-2020 for UPSC, States, Civil services, SSC and other competitive examinations of India and States.

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ISRO Reusable Launch Vehicle to land in Karnataka

The Reusable Launch Vehicle Program was launched by ISRO in 2016. It aims to cut down the launch cost by reusing the spacecraft. So far, the RLV (Reusable Launch Vehicle) has been tested over water. For the first time, ISRO will test in land.

The RLV will function as a space shuttle that will carry a payload to space and glide back to the earth. While returning, it is to land like a normal aircraft. The landing of the RLV is to be tested at Challakere in Chitradurga district in Karnataka.

Highlights

  • The Aeronautical Test Range has 2.2 km runway
  • The RLV will be dropped from a helicopter
  • The test is critical to India’s Human Space Flight program – Gaganyaan.
  • The following four aspects of the RLV are to be tested
    • Hypersonic flight
    • Autonomous landing
    • Powered Cruise flight
    • Hypersonic Flight with air – breathing propulsion.
  • There are two stages in the recovery process. The first stage is similar to that of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 booster. The second stage is an advanced version of RLV testing done in 2016.

ICON Space Weather Satellite: launched by NASA to Study Earth’s Ionosphere

NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) has launched a satellite called ICON or Ionospheric Connection Explorer to explore the mysterious, dynamic region where air meets space. The ICON satellite rocketed into orbit following a two-year delay and was dropped from a plane flying over the Atlantic off the Florida coast.

About ICON (Ionospheric Connection Explorer)

It will study the link between space weather and Earth weather. Five seconds after the satellite’s release, the attached Pegasus rocket ignited and sent Icon on its way.

Icon, a refrigerator-size satellite should have soared in 2017, but problems with air-launched Pegasus rocket interfered. Despite the long delay, as per the NASA this $252 million mission did not exceed its price cap.

The satellite has been built by Northrop Grumman, an American global aerospace and defense technology company.

Purpose: It will study the airglow formed from gases in ionosphere and also measure the charged environment right around the 580-kilometer-high (360-mile-high) spacecraft.

Way Forward: A NASA satellite called Gold was launched in 2018 is also studying the upper atmosphere, but from much higher up. Similarly, more missions are planned in coming years to study the ionosphere, including from International Space Station (ISS).

What is Ionosphere?

The ionosphere is the charged part of upper atmosphere extending several hundred miles up. It is in constant flux as space weather bombards it from above and Earth weather from below, sometimes disrupting radio communications.

It is our frontier with space and thus act as a protected layer present at the top of our atmosphere.

Importance: Besides Sun, the hurricanes, tornadoes and other extreme weather conditions on Earth are also adding energy in this region. Therefore, the more scientists know, the better spacecraft and astronauts can be protected in orbit through improved forecasting.