Facts Corner-Part-81

Whale shark

  • Whale shark, the largest living species of fish, comes under the category ‘endangered’ in The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List. In India, the migratory species is listed in Schedule I (Part IIA) of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, which is the highest protection status for any living species in the country. 

North American Free Trade Agreement

  • NAFTA is the initialism for the North American Free Trade Agreement, an agreement signed by Canada, Mexico, and the United States that reduced or eliminated trade barriers in North America. (Since the U.S. and Canada already had a free trade agreement (signed in 1988), NAFTA merely brought Mexico into the trade bloc.)
  • Negotiations for the trade agreement began in 1990 under the administration of George H.W. Bush and were finalized under Bill Clinton’s presidency in 1993. The agreement went into effect on January 1, 1994.

Organisation of Islamic Cooperation

  • Russia has come in support of Organization of Islamic Cooperation countries (OIC) in their effort to enter the Russian market.
  • Organisation of Islamic Cooperation is an international organization founded in 1969, consisting of 57 member states. It is the second largest inter-governmental organization after the United Nations.
  • The organisation states that it is “the collective voice of the Muslim world” and works to “safeguard and protect the interests of the Muslim world in the spirit of promoting international peace and harmony“.
  • The OIC has permanent delegations to the United Nations and the European Union.

Mars 2020

  • Mars 2020 will launch on a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, and is expected to reach Mars in February 2021.
  • The rover will conduct geological assessments of its landing site on Mars, determine the habitability of the environment, search for signs of ancient Martian life, and assess natural resources and hazards for future human explorers. Scientists will use the instruments aboard the rover to identify and collect samples of rock and soil, encase them in sealed tubes, and leave them on the planet’s surface for potential return to Earth on a future Mars mission.

The Mars Helicopter

  • The Mars Helicopter, a small, autonomous rotorcraft, will travel with the agency’s Mars 2020 rover mission, currently scheduled to launch in July 2020, to demonstrate the viability and potential of heavier-than-air vehicles on the Red Planet.
  • The helicopter also contains built-in capabilities needed for operation at Mars, including solar cells to charge its lithium-ion batteries, and a heating mechanism to keep it warm through the cold Martian nights. But before the helicopter can fly at Mars it has to get there. It will do so attached to the belly pan of the Mars 2020 rover.
  • As a technology demonstration, the Mars Helicopter is considered a high-risk, high-reward project. If it does not work, the Mars 2020 mission will not be impacted. If it does work, helicopters may have a real future as low-flying scouts and aerial vehicles to access locations not reachable by ground travel.

Carbon-rich asteroid

  • Scientists have found a carbon-rich asteroid that was flung into the outer reaches of the solar system and may provide new insights into the formation of the Sun and its planets.
  • Astronomers used European Southern Observatory (ESO) telescopes to investigate Kuiper Belt Object 2004 EW95 – the first of its kind asteroid to be confirmed in the cold outer reaches of the solar system.
  • The object likely formed in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter and has been flung billions of kilometres from its origin to its current home in the Kuiper Belt.
  • These models suggest that the Kuiper Belt – a cold region beyond the orbit of Neptune – should contain a small fraction of rocky bodies from the inner Solar System, such as carbon-rich asteroids, referred to as carbonaceous asteroids.
  • The study found evidence for the first reliably-observed carbonaceous asteroid in the Kuiper Belt, providing strong support for these theoretical models of our Solar System’s troubled youth.

Nuclear Winter

  • Nuclear winter refers to the cooling and darkening of the globe that is expected to happen as a result of a severe nuclear explosion.
  • It is also known as the nuclear twilight.
  • It is believed that the smoke, dust and other byproducts of a huge nuclear explosion could form a thick layer of soot over earth’s atmosphere and prevent the entry of sunlight to its surface.
  • It is also hypothesized that nuclear explosions could release chemicals that damage the ozone layer.
  • The term was coined by American scientist Carl Sagan.
  • He used the term in a 1983 pamphlet warning about the devastating effects of a nuclear war between the U.S. and the Soviet Union.


  • Sagar Kanya is a ocean research vessel (ORV).
  • The vessel is a versatile ocean observing platform equipped with technologically advanced scientific equipment and related facilities.
  • It is owned and operated by National Centre for Antarctic and Ocean Research.
  • The ship has helped in India’s studies of the Arabian Sea, the Bay of Bengal, and the Indian Ocean.
  • In 1983, under Indo-German collaboration, this multidisciplinary research vessel was built in Germany and delivered in India to Ministry of Earth Sciences (then Department of Ocean Development).

United Nations Disarmament Commission

  • The United Nations disarmament chief made a statement about disarming North Korea recently.
  • The General Assembly created the United Nations Disarmament Commission (UNDC) under the Security Council in 1952.
  • Its mandate is to prepare proposals for a treaty for the regulation, limitation and balanced reduction of all armed forces and all armaments, including the elimination of all weapons of mass destruction.
  • The UNDC is serviced substantively by the Office for Disarmament Affairs and technically by the Department of General Assembly Affairs and Conference Services.

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