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SM Current Affairs APRIL 2021 Set 06 SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

SM Current Affairs APRIL 2021 Set 06 Science & Technology

Diksha Sharma 15 MINUTES





• Russian Space Agency ‘Roscosmos’ is all set with its mission to launch its spacecraft‘Luna 25’on October 1, 2021, towards the icy South pole of the Moon. After 45 years since their last landing on the Moon, Russian scientists are taking up the project to study the water beneath the surface at the South pole of the Moon.

• The last spacecraft ‘Luna 24’ was launched in August 1976 by the Soviet Union. During a virtual presentation by the National Academy of Sciences on March 23, 2021, the Russian Space Research Institute highlighted that the Moon is going to be the center of its program for the next decade.

About the Luna 25

• Luna 25, a Russian Moon Lander, is set to launch on October 1, 2021.The four-legged lander with a Lunar Robotic Arm and six science instruments has been designed to study the water below the surface at the South pole of the Moon and to assess the threats from the sharp fragments of lunar dust, for one year.

• The Moon lander will use a camera built by the European Space Agency (ESA) for the lunar missions. The European Pilot-D camera will capture the terrain of the Moon. The data will help ESA prepare for their landing on the Moon.

• Luna 25 is one of the five lunar missions planned by Russia. The country will launch Luna 26 in 2023 or 2024. Luna 27 is expected to be launched in 2027. Details about the remaining two missions are yet to be decided. Back in 1959, the Soviet Union launched the first Luna 1 mission. It was the first unmanned spacecraft to land on the Moon.

Race for Moon: Lunar Missions by other countries

• The United States with its Artemis program is planning to land the next man and the first woman on the Moon in 2024.

• China’s spacecraft Chang’e -5, in December 2020,brought back lunar pieces from the huge volcanic plain Oceanus Procellarum on the Moon.

• India is planning to launch its third Lunar mission Chandrayaan-3 by 2022. Israel, after its first failed attempt at landing on the Moon, will reattempt with Beresheet 2.


• Noura al Matroushihas been named as the first Female Astronaut of UAE.

First Female Astronaut of UAE

• Noura al-Matroushi was selected as the first female astronaut of UAE from four thousand other applicants. She is to be trained with NASA for future space exploration missions. Noura is to be accompanied by Mohammed al-Mulla.

• Both astronauts are to be trained with Johnson Space Centre of NASA located in Houston, Texas.

About Noura al-Matroushi

• Noura was born in 1993. She holds a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the UAE University. She is currently working as an engineer at the National Petroleum Construction Company.

• She acted as the Vice President of the Youth Council of the company.Noura is also a member of American Society of Mechanical Engineers.

• Space plans of UAE: UAE does not have any manned mission in near future. However, the country has plans to send unmanned space mission to the moon in 2024. Also, UAE has launched “Amal Satellite” to the Mars in 2020.

• First UAE astronaut to enter space: In 2019, Hazza al-Mansoori was the first UAEastronaut to enter the space. He spent eight days at the International Space Station.

First Muslim Woman to enter space

• Noura is the first Arab woman to enter space. However, the first Muslim woman to enter space was Anousheh Raissyan. She was also the first Iranian woman to enter space.

• She is an Iranian American telecommunications entrepreneur. In 2006, she paid 20 million USD to travel to the International Space Station as a self-funded tourist.


• In the growing list of ‘firsts’ on the Red Planet, NASA’s Perseverance Rover on April 20 successfully generated oxygen from the thin atmosphere of Mars for the first time ever.

• The Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment (MOXIE) instrument aboard NASA’s Perseverance Rover created the milestone experiment that ‘could pave the way for science fiction to become science fact’ said NASA in a statement. This can help in storing oxygen and help power rockets off the planet’s surface in the future.

• MOXIE, aboard the NASA’s Perseverance Rover, generated about 5 grams (equivalent to 10 minutes of breathable oxygen) just a day after the first flight of NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter.

What is MOXIE?

• The Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment is a toaster-sized gold-coated exploration instrument aboard NASA’sPerseverance Rover.

• MOXIE is tasked with producing oxygen from the thin, carbon-dioxide dominated atmosphere of Mars. This will aid in providing breathable air for human exploration missions on Mars and propel rockets off the surface of Mars.

How does MOXIE work?

• Mars is approximately 95% carbon dioxide. MOXIE extracts carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and separated the oxygen atoms from the carbon dioxide molecules and releases carbon monoxide as the waste product back into the Martian atmosphere.

• This conversion process is possible when high levels of heat reach a temperature of approximately 1,470 degrees Fahrenheit (800 Celsius).

• MOXIE, made up of heat-tolerant materials. The 3D-printed nickel alloy parts aid in heating and cooling down the gases flowing through MOXIE and aerogel helps in holding the heat. A thin gold coating on the surface prevents from radiating heat outward and damaging the Perseverance rover.

• MOXIE has been designed to produce up to 10 grams of oxygen per hour. MOXIE is sponsored by NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) and Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate.


China has named its first Mars rover as Zhurong after a traditional fire god. The name signifies igniting the flame of Planetary Explorations of China.

About Zhurong

• Zhurong is on board Tianwen-1 Space probe. It arrived at the Mars orbit in February 2021 and is due to land on the planet in May 2021.

• With Zhurong, China will become the third country after Soviet Union and USA to achieve soft landing on Mars. Also, it will become the second country put a rover on Mars after the US.

• Zhurong weighs 240 kilograms and is solar powered.Zhurong carries multispectral cameras and instruments to analyse the composition of the rocks. It will investigate subsurface characteristics with ground penetrating radar.


• The main aim of Tianwen-1 is to analyse and map the Martian surface and look for water ice and study the climate and surface environment.

• It was launched in July 2020. Tianwen-1 was launched with an orbiter, camera, lander and the Zhurong rover. It weighs five tonnes and is one of the heaviest probes launched to Mars.

• It was launched in Long March 5 heavy lift launch vehicle. It was the second of the three space missions sent to Mars in 2020. The other missions launched were as follows:

• The “Hope Orbiter” by United Ara Emirates. Perseverance Rover and Ingenuity helicopter on Mars 2020 by US

• Recent Developments: China recently became the first country to land a space probe on the little explored far side of the moon. It returned to the earth in December with lunar rocks for the first time since 1970s.



After more than two decades of international cooperation in space research, Russia announced that it would be withdrawing from the International Space Station in 2025.

What does the International Space Station do?

• A space station is essentially a large spacecraft that remains in low-earth orbit for extended periods of time.

• It is like a large laboratory in space, and allows astronauts to come aboard and stay for weeks or months to carry out experiments in microgravity.

• The ISS has been in space since 1998, and has been known for the exemplary cooperation between the five participating space agencies that have been running it: NASA (United States), Roscosmos (Russia), JAXA (Japan), ESA (Europe), and CSA (Canada).

• As per NASA, 243 people from 19 countries have so far visited the ISS, and the floating laboratory has hosted more than 3,000 research and educational investigations in various disciplines, including biology, human physiology, and physical, material and space science.

The recent US-Russia space rivalry

• Russia has been a crucial player in making the ISS a success, with other space agencies relying on advanced Russian modular space station construction technology to build the space station in the initial years.

• Russia was also indispensable because of its Soyuz passenger vehicle, which served as the only way for transporting astronauts to the ISS ever since the US retired its Space Shuttle Program in 2011.

• This reliance on Russia ended last year, however, when the US started to use the SpaceX system developed by Elon Musk.

• This was a major blow for Roscosmos, as this meant an end to the funding it received from NASA for carrying astronauts to the space station. Between 2011 and 2019, NASA had spent $3.9 billion on the Soyuz flights.

• Next year, the US is also expected to have another domestic option apart from SpaceX, as Boeing’s delayed Starliner capsule is expected to become operational.

• Last year, Russia rejected a US offer to be a part of the Artemis program (NASA’s program to return astronauts to the lunar surface), but in March 2021 signed an agreement with China to jointly develop a lunar base.

Growing US-Russia Tensions

• The development also comes at a time when relations between the West and Russia have been going from bad to worse.

• The US has blamed the Kremlin for carrying out the “SolarWinds” hack and interfering in the 2020 election.

• Recently, Russia received flak from the NATO alliance after it was accused by the Czech Republic of being involved in a 2014 explosion at an arms depot.

• Last year, the US accused Russia of carrying out a weapons test after a projectile was said to have been fired from a Russian satellite. Russia, in return, blamed the US for treating space as a “military theatre”.

So, what does Russia plan to do now?

• Russia now plans to build and manage its own space station, which it aims to launch into orbit by 2030. Its space module is being assembled by the Energia corporation, and is set to cost at least $5 billion.

• The station will reportedly orbit the Earth at a higher latitude, enabling it to better observe the polar regions, especially since Russia plans to develop the Arctic sea route as the ice melts.

• Building a new station would also help Russia tide over challenges that its cosmonauts currently face on the ageing ISS, such as conducting experiments and adapting the latest technology to a hardware architecture that is over two decades old.

• However, leaving the ISS would also mean that Russian researchers would lose access to a laboratory that has seen over 15 years of engineering and assembly work to build it, and whose research potential is only now truly expected to take off.

• NASA has ruled out retiring the ISS until at least 2028, and may continue to use it after that by upgrading key systems.

• Russia would manage the space station itself, but has left the door open for other countries to join.


• Microsoft and the United Kingdom’s Meteorological Office have decided to team up to build the most powerful supercomputer in the world to forecast weather and climate change.

• According to UK’s Met office, the supercomputer, which is most likely to be operational in 2022, will help in providing accurate warnings on severe weather. It will also help in protection from the impact of increasingly extreme floods, storms, and snow in the UK.

• CEO of Met office Penny Endersby stated that working with Microsoft, the Met Office will provide the highest quality weather and climate datasets as well as more accurate forecasts that will enable the decisions to allow people to stay safe.

• This will be a unique opportunity that will help in keeping not just the Met office but the UK at the forefront of high-performance computing and environmental modeling.

World’s most powerful supercomputer in the UK:

• The UK Government, in February 2020, announced the funding of about 1.2 billion pounds (Rs. 12,400 crores) for developing this supercomputer, which has been expected to one of the top 25 supercomputers in the world.

• The computing device, which will help to advance climate change modeling, will also help in improving forecasts and projections for risk-based planning.

• It will also provide increasingly accurate forecasts of the temperature and wind information for the aviation industry of the country.

• The device, in addition, will enhance the emergency preparedness to local storms, flooding, heavy rain through the improved forecasting of local-scale weather with the use of very high-resolution simulations.

Supercomputers in other countries:

• Supercomputers are being increasingly used worldwide for accurate weather and climate-change forecasting.

• Fujitsu Laboratories in Japan used the world’s most powerful supercomputer, Fugakoin order to develop an AI model for predicting Tsunami flooding.

• Meanwhile, in the US, the Hewlett Packard Enterprise has also been developing a supercomputer. It will be installed at NCAR-Wyoming Supercomputer Centre, to help study climate change and severe weather.


• India's indigenous Light Combat Aircraft, Tejashas added 5th generation Python-5 Air-to-Air Missile (AAM) in its air-to-air weapons capability. The maiden trial of the Python-5 missile was conducted by DRDO on April 27, 2021.

• Trials aim to enhance the capability of already integrated Derby Beyond Visual Range (BVR) AAM on Tejas. The missiles were test-fired at Goa and the successful completion of the mission trials validate its performance under extremely challenging scenarios.

• Python missiles were able to hit the target with 100 percent accuracy. Derby missile also achieved a direct hit on a high-speed maneuvering aerial target thereby validating their complete capability. The missile trials met all their planned objectives.

Key Highlights

• Extensive missile carriage flight tests were conducted at Bengaluru prior to these trials to assess the integration of the missile with aircraft systems onboard the Tejas such as Missile Weapon Delivery System, Avionics, Fire-control radar and the Flight Control System.

• The live launch of the missile on a Banshee target was carried at Goa, after successful separation trials.

• The Python-5 missile live launch was conducted to validate target engagement from all aspects as well as beyond visual ranges.

• The missiles hit the aerial target in all the live launches. The missiles were fired from Tejas aircraft flown by Indian Air Force (IAF) Test pilots belonging to National Flight Test Centre (NFTC).

• Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh congratulated all the teams including from DRDO, ADA, Indian Air Force, HAL and all the others involved in the trial.



Recently, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has announced that it will support eight joint research projects mooted by the Space Technology Cell (STC), IIT-Delhi.

 The ISRO has extended support to the projects under its RESPOND programme.
 ISRO started the RESPOND (Research Sponsored) programme in the 1970s, with the objective of encouraging academia to participate and contribute in various Space related research activities.
 Under the Programme, ISRO provides financial support for conducting research and development activities related to Space Science, Space Technology and Space Applications in Academic Institutions in India.
 This is the flagship programme of ISRO to promote extramural research in emerging areas of Space at Academia.
 It looks to enhance the Academic base, generate human resources and infrastructure at the Academic Institutions to support the Space Programmes.
 India is on course to launch its first human spaceflight mission, Gaganyaan, where Indian astronauts will spend time to conduct space experiments. This ambitious mission will help the country prepare for future deep-space missions.
 RESPOND is also participating in the National Missions like IMPRINT (IMPacting Research INnovation and Technology) programme and UchhatarAvishkar Yojana (UAY).

IMPRINT Programme

 The scheme was released in 2015 by the Ministry of Human Resource Development (now Ministry of Education).
 It is a first-of-its-kind Pan-IIT and IISc joint initiative to address the major science and engineering challenges that India must address and champion to enable, empower and embolden the nation for inclusive growth and self-reliance.
 IMPRINT provides the overarching vision that guides research into areas that are predominantly socially relevant.

UchhatarAvishkar Yojana

 It was launched by the Ministry of Human Resource Development in 2015.
 It promotes innovation of a higher order that directly impacts the needs of the Industry and thereby improves the competitive edge of Indian manufacturing.