- It is a joint-annual military exercise between Ukraine and NATO.
- It will be held in western Ukraine region and it is seen as a response to Russia’s biggest military exercise Vostok.
- Ukraine’s tension with Russia remain high over the Kremlin-backed insurgency in its eastern region.
- NATO is an Alliance that consists of 28 independent member countries across North America and Europe, thenewest of which, Albania and Croatia.
- It is an intergovernmental political and military alliance, committed to the Principle of collective defence.
- NATO’s headquarters is in Brussels, Belgium.
- Launched in 1997, the Cassini mission — a cooperation between NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency — has sent back thousands of stunning images and made numerous discoveries about the ringed planet and its moons.
- Cassini–Huygens is an unmanned spacecraft sent to the planet Saturn. Cassini is the fourth space probe to visit Saturn and the first to enter orbit. Its design includes a Saturn orbiter and a lander for the moon Titan. The lander, called Huygens, landed on Titan in 2005. The spacecraft was launched on October 15, 1997. This was the first landing ever accomplished in the outer Solar System.
- Recently using data from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft, scientists have spotted a surprising feature emerging at Saturn’s northern pole as it nears summertime – a warming, high-altitude jet stream with a hexagonal shape.
- WHO has recently made an important change in the treatment of patients with Multi-drug Resistant TB (MDR-TB).
- MDR-TB is resistant to at least two of the first-line anti-TB drugs.
- According to the WHO guidelines, all injectables are to be replaced with a fully oral regimen with Bedaquiline to treat MDR-TB patients.
- Bedaquiline is the powerful anti-TB drug used to treat MDR-TB.
- The success rate of injectable treatment is less. It is because of patients discontinuing the treatment in midway due to adverse side effects.
- South Africa was the first country to scale up access to bedaquiline. It would replace the injectablesfor treating all MDR-TB patients.
- The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) is a NASA mission that will look for planets orbiting the brightest stars in Earth’s sky. It was led by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with seed funding from Google.
- The mission will monitor at least 200,000 stars for signs of exoplanets, ranging from Earth-sized rocky worlds to huge gas giant planets. TESS, however, will focus on stars that are 30 to 100 times brighter than those Kepler examined. This will help astronomers better understand the structure of solar systems outside of our Earth, and provide insights into how our own solar system formed.
- TESS will occupy a never-before-used orbit high above Earth. The elliptical orbit, called P/2, is exactly half of the moon’s orbital period; this means that TESS will orbit Earth every 13.7 days. Its closest point to Earth (67,000 miles or 108,000 kilometers) is about triple the distance of geosynchronous orbit, where most communications satellites operate.
- It will use transit method to detect exoplanets. It watches distant stars for small dips in brightness, which can indicate that planet has passed in front of them. Repeated dips will indicate planet passing in front of its star. This data has to be validated by repeated observations and verified by scientists.
- It is the first known omnivorous shark species identified by scientists recently.
- 60% of its diet consists of seagrass. The species graze upon seagrass, in addition to eating bony fish, crabs, snails and shrimp.
- The bonnethead shark is abundant in the shallow waters of the Western Atlantic, and the Gulf of Mexico.
- Though small by shark standards, adult females — the larger of the sexes —can still reach an impressive five feet long.
- Lacking the kind of teeth best suited for mastication, the shark may rely on strong stomach acids to weaken the plants’ cells so the enzymes can have their digestive effects.
- Vostok 2018 is Russia’s military exercise spanning from the Ural Mountains to the Pacific coast.
- It is the biggest military maneuvers since the height of the cold war.
- Zapad 81 is the mammoth manoeuvres carried out in Eastern Europe by the former Soviet Union in 1981.
- Chinese and Mongolian forces will also participate.
- It will involve 300,000 troops, engaging in tri-service mock-operations.
- These exercises are taking place amid Washington’s growing friction with Russia and China.
Program for International Student Assessment (PISA):
- The Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) is an international assessment that measures 15-year-old students’ reading, mathematics, and science literacy every three years.
- First conducted in 2000, the major domain of study rotates between reading, mathematics, and science in each cycle.
- PISA also includes measures of general or cross-curricular competencies, such as collaborative problem solving.
- By design, PISA emphasizes functional skills that students have acquired as they near the end of compulsory schooling.
- PISA is coordinated by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), an intergovernmental organization of industrialized countries, and is conducted in the United States by NCES. Data collection for the most recent assessment was completed in Fall 2015.
- In 2012 PISA test, schools of Shanghai in China topped reading, mathematics and science test, followed closely by Singapore. In 2015, Singapore, Japan and Estonia were ranked as top three countries, in that order.
National Mission on GeM
- Recently the government has launched the National Mission on Government eMarketplace (GeM) for increasing awareness and accelerating the use of (GeM).
- The National Mission will cover all central government departments, states and public sector undertakings in a mission mode.
- It is aimed at creating awareness about GeM, train the buyers and sellers, get them registered in GeM and increase the procurement through GeM.
- It also aims to promote inclusiveness by empowering various categories of sellers and service providers such as MSMEs, start-ups, domestic manufacturers, women entrepreneurs, and Self-Help Groups.
- It will also Highlight and communicate the value addition via transparency and efficiency in public procurement, including corruption-free governance in sync with the Central Government’s objective of ‘Minimum Government, Maximum Governance’.
- The mission also aims to give a boost to cashless, contactless, paperless transactions in line with Digital India objectives.
- It is an online marketplace to facilitate procurement of goods and services by various Ministries and agencies of the Government.
- The platform offers online, end to end solution for procurement of commonly used goods and services for all central government departments and state governments, public sector units and affiliated bodies.
- It aims to enhance transparency, efficiency and speed in public procurement of goods and services and eliminate corruption.
Integrated Development of Wildlife Habitats
- Recently The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has approved continuation of the Centrally Sponsored Umbrella Scheme of Integrated Development of Wildlife Habitats (CSS-IDWH) beyond the 12thPlan period from 2017-18 to 2019-20.
- The Scheme consists of Centrally Sponsored Scheme of Project Tiger (CSS-PT), Development of Wildlife Habitats (CSS-DWH) and Project Elephant (CSS-PE).
- The implementation of the schemes would be done through the respective States in designated Tiger Reserves, Protected Areas and Elephant Reserves.
- The activities covered under the scheme include the staff development and capacity building, wildlife research and evaluation, anti-poaching activities, wildlife veterinary care, addressing man-animal conflicts and promoting eco-tourism.
- Financial assistance is also provided to States for relocation of communities from within protected areas to other areas.
- A total of 18 tiger range States, distributed in five landscapes of the country would be benefitted under the Project Tiger scheme. Similarly, for other two schemes, the coverage is entire country in case of Development of Wildlife Habitats (DWH) and 23 elephant range States for Project Elephant. It would foster wildlife conservation in general with specific inputs for tiger in Project Tiger area and elephant in Project Elephant area.
- Besides immense environmental benefits and effective implementation of tiger conservation inputs in and around tiger reserves under Project Tiger, wildlife conservation inputs in Protected Areas & nearby areas under Development of Wildlife Habitats and Elephant conservation inputs in Project Elephant areas, the schemes would result in overall strengthening/ consolidation of tiger, elephant and wildlife conservation in the country.
- The schemes would address the human wildlife conflict effectively. Besides, the communities opting for voluntary relocation from the Core/Critical Tiger Habitat (6900 families) would be benefitted under Centrally Sponsored Scheme of Project Tiger (CSS-PT) and 800 families under Centrally Sponsored Scheme of Development of Wildlife Habitat.
- These schemes would generate employment opportunities resulting in economic upliftment of people in and around tiger reserves/ Protected Areas besides leading to reduction in natural resource dependency with substitution by clean energy use. People living in vicinity would also get indirect benefits. Local populace would get opportunities to serve as guides, driver, hospitality personnel and in other ancillary jobs. These schemes would foster imparting various skills towards making people self-dependent through various eco-development projects, thereby enabling them to go for self-employment.
- These schemes would result in resource generation through tourist visits, thereby fostering in securing tiger source areas and other areas important for wildlife conservation, besides being helpful in sustaining life support systems as well as ensuring the food, water and livelihood security.
- Recently a Japanese team has developed a space elevator and will conduct a first trial this month, blasting off a miniature version on satellites to test the technology.
- The test equipment will hitch a ride on an H-2B rocket being launched by Japan’s space agency.
- The test involves a miniature elevator stand-in a box just 6 cm long, 3 cm wide, and 3 cm high. The mini-elevator will travel along the cable from a container in one of the satellites.
- If all goes well, it will provide proof of concept by moving along a 10-metre cable suspended in space between two mini satellites that will keep it taut.
Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC):
- UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) promotes international cooperation and coordinates programmes in marine research, services, observation systems, hazard mitigation, and capacity development to understand and manage the resources of the ocean and coastal areas.
- The Commission aims to improve the governance, management, institutional capacity, and decision-making processes of its Member States with respect to marine resources and climate variability.
- IOC coordinates ocean observation and monitoring through the Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS) which aims to develop a unified network providing information on the oceans.
- IOC also coordinates and fosters the establishment of regional intergovernmental tsunami warning and mitigation systems in the Pacific and Indian Oceans, in the North East Atlantic, Mediterranean and Caribbean seas.
Inventory and Revival of Springs in the Himalayas for Water Security.’
- Recently A NITI Aayog constituted group of experts has urged the government to set up a dedicated mission to salvage and revive spring water systems in the country’s Himalayan States.
- In this context, it has released a report titled ‘Inventory and Revival of Springs in the Himalayas for Water Security.’
- Himalayan spring water systems are important as a source of water for both drinking and irrigation for the region’s inhabitants. Spanning States across the country’s north and northeast and home to about 50 million people, the Indian Himalayan Region (IHR) has been heavily reliant on these natural groundwater sources.
- Also, with almost 64% of the cultivable area in the Himalayas fed by natural springs, they are often the only source of irrigation in the region.
- Meghalaya with 3,810 villages with springs has the highest number of these water sources in the Eastern Himalayan States.
- Sikkim has the greatest density with 94% of its villages having a spring.
- In the Western Himalayas, Jammu & Kashmir had both the highest number of villages with springs at 3,313 and the greatest density of 50.6%.
- Dawn mission was launched by NASAdeploying spacecrafts to study the asteroid Vesta and dwarf planetCeres.
- It is the only mission ever to orbit two extraterrestrial targets and will characterize the early solar system andthe processes that dominated its formation.
- Vesta and Ceres are celestial bodies believed to have accreted early in the history of the solar system.
- Dawn orbited giant asteroid Vesta for 14 months from 2011 to 2012, then continued on to Ceres, where it hasbeen in orbit since March 2015.
- The spacecraft is likely to run out of a key fuel known as hydrazine which keeps it oriented and in communication with Earth.
- It is a bacterial disease that affects humans and animals.
- It is caused by corkscrew-shaped bacteria called Leptospira.
- In humans, it can lead to kidney damage, meningitis (inflammation of the membrane around the brain and spinal cord), liver failure, respiratory distress, and even death.
- It’s spread through urine of infected dogs, rodents, and farm animals.
- It is a marine satellite launched by China recently.
- It was launched by Long March-2C rocket from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Centre in Shanxi province.
- It is a part of series of satellites.
- HY-1A was launched in 2002 and HY-1B satellite was launched in 2007.
- It was launched to help improve understanding of maritime waters and climate change.
- HY-1C can detect chlorophyll and suspended sediment concentrations and dissolved organic matter, which can affect ocean colour, as well as temperatures on the sea surface.
- The data will help survey fishery and aquaculture resources and environments, offering a scientific basis for reasonable exploitation and utilization of marine resources.
- Scientists will also use the data to study global environmental changes, the role of the oceans in the global carbon cycle and the El Nino phenomenon.
- There is a dispute between Mauritius and UK over the sovereignty of Chagos islands in the Indian Ocean.
- Itis home to Diego Garcia, the key military base of the U.K. and the U.S. in the Indian Ocean.
- The island was taken by UK before the Mauritius decolonisation.
- After the Independence in 1968, most of the islanders were deported to give the island in lease to US for its airbase.
- The evicted islanders have been campaigning for their right to return home.
- A resolution by Mauritius was passed in UN general assembly asking the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to offer a legal opinion in the issue.
- Twenty-two countries and the African Union are going to appear before ICJ to give their statements.
- India has backed Mauritius over its claim on the disputed Chagos islands.
- Australia and the United States are expected to back Britain’s position.
Indian Roofed Turtle
- It is a species of turtle, protected under Schedule 1 of Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.
- It is found in India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Pakistan.
- In India, it is found in Ganges, Brahmaputra and Indus River drainages.
- It is listed on CITES Appendix I.
- It is listed as “Least Concern” in the IUCN list of threatened species.
- The protected areas in Jalpaiguri is known for protecting this species.
- In addition to it, it is also found in Lota devi temple located on the basin of River Karala in Jalpaiguri.
- Society for Protecting Ophiofauna& Animal Rights (SPOAR), an NGO and the Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) has led an initiative to save the species from severe pollution in the river.
- They have installed the Kurma avatar (form of turtle) of Lord Vishnu on the outskirts of river to reduce pollution and to encompass the religious belief.
Multidrug Resistant Super Bug
- Antimicrobial resistance is the ability of a microbe to resist the effects of medication previously used totreat them.
- The term includes the more specific “antibiotic resistance”, which applies only to bacteria becoming resistantto antibiotics.
- Microbes resistant to multiple antimicrobials are called multidrug resistant (MDR) or sometimes superbugs.
- Researchers at the University of Melbourne has recently discovered three variants of the multidrug-resistant bug in samples from 10 countries.
- The bacteria that is resistant to all known antibiotics is“Staphylococcus epidermidis”.
- It is found naturally on human skin.
- It commonly infects the elderly or patients who have had prosthetic materials implanted, such as catheters and joint replacements.
- Global Antimicrobial Resistance Surveillance System (GLASS)was developed by WHOin 2015 to support the global action plan onantimicrobial resistance.