Current Affairs – August, 2019

NASA takes first high-resolution measurements of Interplanetary Shock

NASA’s Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) mission took first high-resolution measurements of an interplanetary shock.  These shocks are made of particles and electromagnetic waves launched by Sun. These interplanetary shocks provide ideal test beds for learning about larger universal phenomena.

About Interplanetary shocks

They are type of collisionless shock — ones where particles transfer energy through electromagnetic fields instead of directly bouncing into one another. These collisionless shocks are found throughout the universe, including in supernovae, black holes and distant stars. These shocks are made of particles and electromagnetic waves launched by the Sun, which continually releases streams of charged particles called solar wind.

About Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) mission

It is NASA’s robotic space mission launched in March 2015 to study Earth’s magnetosphere. It consists of constellation of four identical spacecraft that orbit/fly in tetrahedral formation around Earth through dynamic magnetic system surrounding our planet to study Magnetic reconnection. It is also designed to gather information about microphysics of energetic particle turbulence and acceleration, processes that occur in many astrophysical plasmas.

Records: In November 2016, it had set Guinness world record for highest altitude fix of Global Positioning System (GPS) signal at 70000 kilometers above the surface of the Earth. It also had achieved closest flying separation of multi-spacecraft formation with only 7.2 km between the four satellites.

Magnetic reconnection: It is phenomenons unique to plasma i.e. mix of negatively and positively charged particles that make up stars, fill space and account for an estimated 99% of the observable universe.

19 August: World Humanitarian Day

The World Humanitarian Day is observed every year on August 19 across the world to pay tribute to aid workers who risk their lives in humanitarian service.

Purpose of this day: (i) Provide opportunity to celebrate spirit that inspires humanitarian work around globe. (ii) Pay tribute to aid workers who risk their lives in humanitarian service and (iii) Rally support for people affected by crisis around the world.

2019 WHD theme campaign: #WomenHumanitarians. It seeks to honour work of women in crises throughout the world. Women humanitarians make up large number of those who risk their own lives to save others. They are often first to respond and the last to leave and dedicate their lives to helping people affected by crises.

World Humanitarian Day

It was proclaimed by United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) by passing resolution A/63/L.49 in 2008. It was sponsored by Sweden and was passed by UNGA on Strengthening of Coordination of Emergency Assistance of UN. Since 2009, this day is observed annually by humanitarian community across the world to ensure safety and security of humanitarian aid workers and for their well-being, survival and dignity of people affected by crisis.

Why August 19? The day marks death of then Special Representative of Secretary-General to Iraq, Sérgio Vieira de Mello and 21 of his colleagues who were killed in bombing in Baghdad, Iraq on August 19, 2003.