- It is the first Indian multi-purpose civilian aircraft in the light transport aircraft category developed by the National Aerospace Laboratory (NAL) and CSI.
- The project began in 1991 as a collaboration with Russia, But India went on indigenously and the firstprototype flew in 2004.
- The NAL has been pitchingSaras Mk2 for the government’s UDAN (UdeDeshKaAamNagrik), since it has thecapacity to operate in illequipped, semipreparedand unpaved airstrips.
- It is a 19 seater aircraft with a range of 600 km.
- The aircraft is powered by two Canadian Pratt & Whitneyturbo-prop engines
mounted in the pusher configuration.
- National Aerospace Laboratories is India’s first largest aerospace firm.
- It was established by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) at Delhi in 1959 and its headquarters was later moved to Bangalore in 1960.
- It has the prime responsibility of developing civilian aircraft in India.
ISRO’s astronaut training Hub
- India’s worldclass facilityfor training astronauts willbe established in three years at Challakerein Chitradurga district of Karnataka.
- A sum of Rs.2,700crore has been earmarked.
- The first set of four astronaut candidates for the first Gaganyaan mission of 2022 are to train in Russia.
- Challakere will also host work related to crew and service modules of the spacecraft that carries the astronauts.
River Ice Cover Loss
- The annual river ice cover will decline by about six days for every one degree Celsius increase in global temperatures, posingeconomic and environmental consequences, according to a study published in the journal Nature.
- This is the first study to look at the future of river ice on a global scale.
- More than one-third of Earth’s landmass is drained by rivers that seasonally freeze over. Ice transforms the hydrologic, ecologic, climatic and socioeconomic functions of river corridors.
- Although river ice extent has been shown to be declining in many regions of the world, the seasonality, historical change and predicted future changes in river ice extent and duration have not yet been quantified globally.
- Previous studies of river ice, which suggested that declines in extent and duration could be attributed to warming temperatures, were based on data from sparse locations.
- The study based on the location of the 0-°C isotherm.
- Using satellite observations, the global extent of river ice is declining, a mean decrease in seasonal ice duration of 6.10 ± 0.08 days per 1-°C increase in global mean surface air temperature.
- Landsat images spanning 1984–2018 and observed a mean decline of 2.5 percentage points globally in the past three decades.
- The study’s findings showed monthly declines in the Northern Hemisphere between 9-15 percent in the winter months and 12-68 per cent during the spring and fall within this century.
- Greatest declines were found in the Tibetan Plateau, eastern Europe and Alaska.
- The heaviest impact was taken by the Rocky Mountains, north-eastern US, eastern Europe and Tibetan Plateau.
About River Ice Cover:
- Sheet or stretch of ice forming on the surface of lakes and rivers when the temperature drops below freezing (0° C [32° F]).
- About half the surface waters of the Northern Hemisphere freeze annually.
- These frozen rivers support important transportation networks for communities and industries located at high altitudes.
- Ice cover also help to regulate the amount of greenhouse gasses released from rivers into Earth’s atmosphere.
WHO Pre-Qualifies Serum’s Low Cost Pneumococcal Vaccine
Pneumococcal vaccine developed bythe Pune based Serum Institute of India has been pre qualified by the World Health Organisation (WHO) inthe third week of December 2019.
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- The vaccine will cost only $2 per dose, which is 30% cheaper than the before
- The prequalification of the vaccine by WHO was based on the results of a phase-3 trial (the final phase of human clinical trial) carried out in 2,250 children in Gambia, a small West African country.
- According to a November 2019 UNICEF report, pneumonia caused 1,27,000 eaths in India in 2018, the second highest number of child mortality under the age of five in the world.
- In India, pneumonia and diarrhoea cause the most deaths in children under five years.
- The pneumococcal vaccine PNEUMOSIL is a conjugate vaccine to help produce stronger immune response to a weak antigen.
- Serum Institute had optimised an efficient conjugate vaccine manufacturing processes forits meningitis A vaccine (MenAfriVac), which was used for manufacturing the pneumococcal vaccine.
- This helped the company reduce the manufacturing cost of pneumococcal vaccine.