Fact Box Current Affairs - 2019

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Fact Box: Mercury Treaty

Mercury treaty to be adopted by 140 countries

Around 140 nations will adopt the world’s first legally binding treaty on mercury.

Objective: The Treaty aims at reducing global emission levels of the toxic heavy metal also known as quicksilver, which poses risks to human health and the environment.

Nations will be asked to ink the treaty next October in Minamata, Japan, in honour of the town’s inhabitants who for decades have suffered the consequences of serious mercury contamination.

Where is Mercury found?

Mercury is found in products ranging from electrical switches to thermometers to light-bulbs, to amalgam dental fillings and even facial creams, and large amounts of the heavy metal are released from small-scale gold mining, coal-burning power plants, metal smelters and cement production.

What are the hazards of mercury?

Mercury poisoning affects the body’s immune system and can lead to problems including psychological disorders, loss of teeth and problems with the digestive, cardiovascular and respiratory tracts. It also affects development of the brain and nervous system and poses the greatest risk to fetuses and infants.

As per United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report:

  • In the past 100 years, man-made emissions have raised the mercury concentrations in the top 100 metres of the world’s oceans to double.
  • Concentrations in deeper waters have increased by up to 25%.
  • Much human exposure to mercury is through the consumption of contaminated fish.
  • Around 200 tonnes of the substance are deposited in the Arctic every year.
  • Developing countries were especially vulnerable to direct mercury contamination mainly due to the extensive use of the element in small-scale gold mining and to the burning of coal for electricity generation.

Month: Categories: InternationalScience & Technology

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Fact Box “Europa”

About Europa:

  • image Moon of Jupiter
  • 6th closest moon of Jupiter
  • Smallest of Jupiter’s 4 Galilean satellites
  • Discovered in 1610 by Galileo Galilei
  • Slightly smaller than Earth’s Moon

Composition:

  • – Primarily made of silicate rock
  • – Likely has an iron core
  • – Thin atmosphere composed mainly of oxygen
  • – Surface is composed of water ice and is one of the smoothest in the Solar System.

Time Line:

  • 1610 – Discovered by Galileo Galilei
  • 1979 – Studied by the Voyager mission
  • 1989 – The Galileo mission was launched which provided the bulk of the present data that we have on Europa.
  • 2022 JUICE (Jupiter Icy Moon Explorer), the next mission to Europa by the European Space Agency.

“Europa” is most promising in habitability in universe after Earth: NASA

As per NASA, Jupiter’s sixth closest moon Europa is the most likely heavenly body in the universe beyond the Earth that could be habitable. Europa which bears an ocean, a thin shelf of ice and oxidants on its surface is far more likely to be habitable than the desert-covered Mars, which has been the focus of recent exploration.

Europa’s evident youth and smoothness of the surface have led to the theory that a water ocean exists underneath it, which could possibly be a home for extraterrestrial life.

This theory suggests that the heat energy from tidal flexing is the reason behind the ocean to stay in liquid state and causes geological activity very similar to the plate tectonics.

Mission “Clipper”:

  • NASA is planning a new $2-billion exploration project called “Clipper”.
  • The mission follows the success of Cassini, a probe that closely explored Titan, a moon of Saturn.
  • NASA will send a spacecraft to Jupiter’s orbit and conduct a number of fly-bys to study Europa in its entirety.
  • Clipper could be launched by 2021 and would take a further three-six years to reach Europa.

* As per scientists, Enceladus, the 6th largest moon of Saturn, could also be habitable.

Month: Categories: Science & Technology

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