Science & technology Current Affairs - 2020

NASA’s Curiosity rover discovers useful Nitrogen on Mars

NASA’s Curiosity rover for first time has found evidence of nitrogen in the form of nitrate in aeolian deposits and in two mudstone deposits on Mars.

It was detected by using the Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instrument suite mounted on Curiosity rover by the team of Scientists.

Scientists believe that the detected nitrogen in the form of nitric oxide could be released from the breakdown of nitrates during heating of sediments from Mars.

These nitrates are a class of molecules that contain nitrogen in a form used by living organisms. Thus this discovery adds evidence to the hypothesis that ancient Mars was habitable for life.

However, there is no evidence suggesting that the discovered nitrogen molecules found by the rover was created by life on the red planet. Scientists also believe that the discovered molecules are ancient and might have been deposited from non-biological processes like meteorite impacts and lightning on Mars’ in past.

It should be noted that Nitrogen is essential part for all known forms of life as it used in the building basic blocks of larger molecules like DNA and RNA that encode the genetic instructions for life. It is also essential in proteins that is used to build structures like hair and nails in living organisms.

India’s first Polar Remotely Operated Vehicle operationalised in North Antarctica

India’s first Polar Remotely Operated Vehicle (PROVe) was successfully operationalised for research in North Antarctica by National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT).

PROVe was operationalised, after it had undergone series of trials in Antarctica in the past two months since its deployment by the NIOT researchers.

It has been deployed in Priyadarshini Lake located on the Schirmacher Oasis which is a major source of water for Maitri, India’s second base in the Antarctica.

Key facts of PROVe

  • Indigenously built by NIOT under the Union Ministry of Earth Sciences.
  • Capable of probing the sea bed under normal temperature and capable of exploring up to 200 meters in inhospitable and tough regions like the ice clad Antarctica.
  • Operated remotely by scientists on board the ship and has inbuilt thrusters allowing it for 360-degree movement.
  • Will help researchers to study and find out details about dissolved oxygen in sea bottom, salinity and the quantity of sunlight hitting the bottom of the sea.
  • The results and outcomes will help researchers in understanding the biological activities taking place inside the sea.

Implications of its operationalisation in Antartica

  • Its breakthrough is a great leap forward in forecasting with precision the ever elusive Monsoon, a climatic phenomenon which determines India’s economy.
  • In case of forecasting Monsoon, PROVe will measure parameters like ocean currents, temperature and salinity in the Arctic.
  • It will especially help scientist to move away from present Mathematical models for forecasting the Monsoon which many times vary from initial forecasts.

Current operation will collect data for analysis in June 2015. This data will be used for analyzing hypothesis about the link between Antarctic Ocean currents and Indian monsoon system.