Current Affairs - December, 2018

Latest Current Affairs December, 2018 with Current Affairs, news summary on current events of National and International importance of December, 2018 for Banking, SSC, CLAT, UPSC, State PCS, IBPS, Railways and other Competitive Examinations.

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World Soil Day observed on December 5

World Soil Day is celebrated every year on 5th of December by Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of United Nations. Observance of this day aims to communicate messages on importance of soil quality for food security, healthy ecosystems and human well-being. It also advocates for sustainable management of soil resources. The Theme for year 2018 is ‘Be the Solution to Soil Pollution’. It aims to raise awareness and call people to stop soil pollution.

Importance of soil

Soil is the upper layer of earth. It is mixture of organic and inorganic matter, in which plants grow. It is a finite natural resource. On a human time-scale it is non-renewable. According to FAO, soil holds three times as much carbon as atmosphere and can help to meet challenges of a changing climate. 95% of our food comes from soil and 33% of global soils are already degraded.

Background

International Union of Soil Sciences (IUSS) had adopted resolution proposing 5th of December as World Soil Day in 2002 to celebrate importance of soil as critical component of natural system and as vital contributor to human wellbeing. Later in June 2013 FAO Conference unanimously endorsed World Soil Day and requested official adoption at 68th UN General Assembly. In December 2013, 68th UNGA declared 5th of December as the World Soil Day.

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NASA’s spacecraft OSIRIS-REx arrives at its targeted asteroid Bennu after 2-year journey

NASA’s first-ever OSIRIS-REx mission designed to visit asteroid and return sample of its dust back to Earth reached its destination, Bennu, two years after its launch. It will use its suite of five science instruments to study asteroid for the next year and a half.

OSIRIS-Rex

OSIRIS-Rex stands for Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer. It was launched in September 2016 for studying 101955 Bennu, a carbonaceous asteroid. It is NASA’s first asteroid sampling mission i.e. it will survey surface, collect sample and deliver it safely back to Earth. It will regularly observe area around the asteroid to search for dust plumes and natural satellites and study its light and spectral properties. It will return to Earth after collecting some of its gravels by 2023. It will capture 60 grams dirt and debris from surface of asteroid using its robotic arm without landing i.e. by hovering like hummingbird stirred up by nitrogen gas thrusters and then to Earth for detailed analysis of the collected samples.

Bennu

Bennu is near-Earth carbonaceous asteroid about the size of a small mountain in the Apollo group. It was discovered in September 1999 by the LINEAR Project. It orbits close to Earth’s path around the Sun. It is one of the oldest asteroids known to NASA. It is carbon-rich asteroid and believed to be the type of asteroids that may have chemical building blocks of life, along with lots of water. So, analysis of returned sample from it could help to reveal key insights about early solar system and the origin of life on Earth. It is potentially hazardous asteroid and there is very slight chance it could strike into Earth in the late 22nd century.

Special Note

NASA’s OSIRIS-REx is not world’s first asteroid sampling mission. This distinction is held by Japanese space agency JAXA. It had proved world’s first sample collection from asteroid after its Hayabusa spacecraft crash-landed into the surface of its target asteroid and managed to return a few micrograms of material in 2010.

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