Science and Technology Current Affairs - 2019

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MEV-1: 1st Satellite Servicing Spacecraft launched

The robotic Mission Extension Vehicle-1 (MEV-1) was successfully launched atop of Russian Proton rocket from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. It is first of its kind commercial satellite-servicing spacecraft. It is designed to dock with aging spacecraft more than 22,000 miles above Earth, then extend its life with aid of solar-electric thrusters. Its successful launch marks beginning of era of commercial satellite servicing in the space.

About Mission Extension Vehicle-1 (MEV-1)

It was built by Virginia-based company Northrop Grumman. It will attempt first-ever docking between two spacecraft near geostationary orbit (nearly 36,000 kilometers over the equator that is popular with communications satellite operators). It will link up with 18-year-old Intelsat communications satellite early next year. Once docked, with this old satellite, it will take over propulsion for Intelsat 901 satellite, which is running low on fuel. It will then put Intelsat back into an ideal target orbit — thus extending its useful life by as many as five years.

MEV-1’s Life span: It is designed for 15-year useful life, and can dock and undock multiple times, thus, it will be providing well in excess of 15 years of mission extension to orbital geosynchronous satellites l running low on its own propellant supply.

Samudrayaan project: NIOT to Launch Deep Sea Exploration & Mining Mission

National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT) will launch ‘Samudrayaan project by 2021-22 to explore the deep sea region. It is pilot project of Union Ministry of Earth Sciences as part the Rs 6000 crore ‘Deep Ocean’ mission for deep ocean mining of rare minerals.

Samudrayaan project

It proposes to send indigenously developed submersible vehicle with three persons to a depth of about 6000 metres to carry out deep underwater studies.  It will be undertaken by the NIOT, Chennai and is in line with ISRO’s ambitious ‘Gaganyaan’ mission of sending an astronaut to space by 2022. It is expected to become a reality by 2021-22. The indigenously developed submersible vehicle developed as part of this project is capable of crawling on sea bed at a depth of 6km for 72 hours. Whereas, currently submarines deployed can only go about 200 metres deep into the sea. The project will go deeper in phases with more trials and ocean mining is expected to commence in 2022. The expenditure of this ambitious project is expected to be around Rs 200 crore.

Significance of Project: If it is successful, India will join selected league of developed nations in the exploration of minerals from deep oceans. Developed countries have already carried out such missions. India could be 1st developing country to undertake such a project.


International Sea Bed Authority (ISBA) has allocated India75,000 sq km site in Central Indian Ocean Basin (CIOB) for exploration of polymetallic nodules from seabed. The estimated resource of polymetallic nodules in this site is about 380 million tonnes, containing 92.59 million tonnes of manganese, 4.29 million tonnes of copper, 4.7 million tonnes of nickel and 0.55 million tonnes of cobalt.