SARAS Telescope Gives Signals of Universe’s First Stars, Galaxies

Indigenous radio telescope SARAS has helped scientists conclude the properties of the earliest radio luminous galaxies formed 200 million years after the Big Bang, a period called the Cosmic Dawn.

Published in Nature Astronomy by an international group of scientists, the findings of SARAS give an insight into the characteristics of the earliest radio loud galaxies that are usually powered by supermassive black holes. The team of scientists estimated the energy output, luminosity, and masses of the first generation of galaxies that are bright in radio wavelengths.

The Shaped Antenna measurement of the background Radio Spectrum 3 (SARAS) telescope has been indigenously designed and built at Raman Research Institute (RRI), Bengaluru. It was deployed over Dandiganahalli Lake and Sharavati backwaters in northern Karnataka in 2020.

In a first-of-its-kind work, using data from SARAS 3, researchers from the Raman Research Institute (RRI), Bengaluru, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) in Australia, along with collaborators at the University of Cambridge and the University of Tel-Aviv, estimated the energy output, luminosity, and masses of the first generation of galaxies that are bright in radio wavelengths.

Scientists study the properties of very early galaxies by studying radiation from hydrogen atoms in and around the galaxies, emitted at a frequency of approximately 1420 MHz. The radiation is stretched by the expansion of the universe, as it travels to us across space and time, and arrives at Earth in lower frequency radio bands 50-200 MHz, which is also used by FM and TV transmissions. The cosmic signal is tremendously faint, and detecting the signal, even using the most powerful existing radio telescopes, has remained a challenge for astronomers.

Indonesia says lithium, anode plants are being built to support EV ambitions

Indonesia is building a lithium refinery and an anode material production facility to complement its nickel-based battery materials industry, an official said, as it aims to set itself up as a hub for making electric vehicles (EVs).

Investors are currently building a lithium hydroxide plant with 60,000 tonnes capacity in the heart of the nickel industry in Morowali, Septian Hario Seto, a Deputy Coordinating Minister for Maritime and Investment Affairs, told an industry conference on Tuesday.

An anode material plant with 80,000 tonnes capacity is set to start construction in January, he added.

Both materials are needed to make EV batteries.

“We are building an ecosystem, so we are not only producing nickel- and cobalt-based components alone,” he said.

Indonesia has already started producing EV battery parts extracted from nickel, but other materials are also needed to produce EV batteries, Seto said.

Indonesia currently does not have its own lithium mine. He did not elaborate on how the lithium ore for the plant would be sourced.

The government has banned exports of unprocessed nickel to attract investment at home and secure material for domestic production of nickel metals and battery materials.

IIT Jodhpur researchers develop catalytic materials to produce high-purity hydrogen

The researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology Jodhpur have developed lanthanides-based perovskite nanocomposite catalytic materials for artificial photosynthesis to produce high-purity hydrogen.

In the patented method, the researchers used natural sunlight to convert water into hydrogen and oxygen using a highly recyclable catalyst based on low-cost, simple transition metal. The team has now developed a series of catalysts that can efficiently produce hydrogen under ambient conditions. The end application of this research lies in the industries, automobile and energy sectors.

In a statement, IIT Jodhpur said that hydrogen-based energy is the only viable source for a green and sustainable future. More than 90 per cent of the source of hydrogen is from petroleum feedstock, making it costly and out of reach of the common man. IIT Jodhpur’s research team, led by Principal Investigator Dr Rakesh K Sharma, is working to find a viable source of hydrogen generation. The technology developed by the IIT Jodhpur team does not need any external energy source except sunlight.

The team screened more than 100 catalyst combinations to develop five sets of catalysts that give high hydrogen production under sunlight. The catalysts work for wastewater, saline water and brackish water. The catalysts are recyclable and can be used multiple times.

200 Indian Cities will be 5G Enabled by April 2023: Ashwini Vaishnaw

The Union Minister for Telecom and IT, Ashwini Vaishnaw, has said that 200 Indian cities will be 5G enabled by April next year.

The minister added that India is one of the only five countries in the world where end-to-end telecom technology stack is available. Airtel and Jio have already started their 5G mobile services in the country. Reliance’s Jio is offering unlimited data on an invite-only offer, while Airtel 5G is available for all Airtel subscribers, while being capped by data limits. So far, the 5G coverage is light and limited to metros and a few tier-1 cities.

Speaking at a news summit in New Delhi on Thursday, the minister underlined Centre’s aggressive target of two years for a complete 5G rollout that will cover at least 90% of the entire geographical area of India. “The rollout is in full swing, 2,500 5G towers are being deployed every week, and by March, April 200 cities will be 5G enabled,” Vaishnaw noted.

According to the Department of Telecommunications, 5G connectivity will spread across India within two to three years at “affordable” prices. Reliance Jio is aiming to roll out the services around India by December 2023. Airtel is also aiming to provide 5G services in all key metro cities by the end of 2022 and pan-India by December 2024.

Faridabad to Get a ₹200-Crore Waste-to-Methanol Plant

Faridabad will have a ₹200 crore waste-to-methanol plant by December 2023. The Municipal Corporation of Gurugram (MCG) is likely to sign an agreement soon with its door-to-door waste collection concessionaire Ecogreen to ensure the waste is not sent to landfill and is directly sent to the plant instead.

The MCG has identified eight acres of land in Sihi, Faridabad, for the plant, which will be used to convert 500 tonnes of waste into 50 kilo-litres of methanol daily. Methanol is commonly used as a fuel, antifreeze and as solvent.

The Government of Haryana will supply water and power to the plant at a subsidised rate. The concessionaire must obtain environmental clearance and a licence for sale of methanol. MCG Joint Commissioner Naresh Kumar said the project was finalised this month and Ecogreen will start construction by the first week of December. He added that this will also resolve issues at material recovery facilities (MRFs) where waste is brought in a segregated manner to be further segregated into various categories according to their reusability and recyclability. Glass, plastic, metal, paper, cardboard, and rubber waste materials will be recycled at the plant. The senior official said, it will be a step towards decentralising the waste collection process in the city and reducing the amount of waste that is transported to dumping sites.

Sanjay Sharma, Deputy Chief Executive Officer of Ecogreen Energy, said they have collaborated with an Indo-Japanese company to set up the plant.

ISRO Set to Launch Pixxel’s Hyperspectral Imaging Satellite

Bengaluru-based Indian space technology start-up, Pixxel will launch its third hyperspectral satellite, Anand, onboard ISRO’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) from Sriharikota spaceport on Saturday.

The hyperspectral microsatellite – with weight less than 15 kg and wavelengths more than 150 – can capture Earth’s images in greater detail than other non-hyperspectral satellites with wavelengths not more than 10. These images can be used to detect pest infestation, map forest fires, identify soil stress and oil slicks, to name a few.

In April, Pixxel became the first Indian company to launch a commercial satellite, named Shakuntala, using Elon Musk’s SpaceX’s Falcon-9 rocket. Its hyperspectral satellites can provide hundreds of bands of information with global coverage at a very high frequency. These satellites are equipped to beam down up to 50 times more information with unprecedented detail than other conventional satellites in orbit, and are ideal for disaster relief, agricultural monitoring, energy monitoring and urban planning applications, the company said in a statement.

Pixxel has already inked partnerships with Anglo-Australian multinational mining company Rio Tinto and Australian precision agriculture company Data Farming, to use hyperspectral datasets to identify mineral resources and monitoring active and determining crop issues, respectively. The state-up envisions building a health monitor for the planet through a constellation of cutting-edge hyperspectral small satellites in space.

NASA’s Orion Capsule Reaches the Moon

US Space agency NASA’s Orion capsule reached the moon on Monday on its way to a record-breaking lunar orbit. It is the first time a capsule has visited the moon since NASA’s Apollo programme 50 years ago, and represents a huge milestone in the $4.1bn test flight that began last Wednesday.

The close approach of 130 km (81 miles) occurred on Monday, as the crew capsule and its three wired-up dummies were on the far side of the moon. Due to a half-hour communication blackout, flight controllers did not know if the critical engine firing went well until the capsule emerged from behind the moon. The capsule sped up well beyond 8,000 km/h (5,000 mph) as it regained radio contact, NASA said. Less than an hour later, the capsule flew above Tranquility Base, where US astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on July 20, 1969.

Orion is part of NASA’s Artemis programme, which aims to put the first woman and the first person of colour on the moon in the next few years. It was sent atop NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS), from Cape Canaveral, Florida, US, early Wednesday morning, for a lunar orbit. On Saturday, Orion sent back its first photos of the moon. Later, the capsule’s cameras sent back a picture of the Earth — a tiny blue globe surrounded by blackness.

India’s Maiden Privately Built Rocket to be Launched on November 15

India’s first privately developed rocket, Vikram-S, will be launched from the Indian Space Research Organisation’s launch pad at Sriharikota on Tuesday, November 15, said Hyderabad-based space start-up Skyroot Aerospace.

The rocket is part of the maiden mission of Skyroot Aerospace, Prarambh (the beginning), which will carry payloads of two Indian and one foreign customers. The Chennai-based aerospace start-up, Spacekidz will fly ‘Fun-Sat’, a 2.5 kg payload developed by students from India, the US, Singapore and Indonesia on the sub-orbital flight on board Vikram-S.

With this mission, Skyroot will become the first private space company in India to launch a rocket into space. Tuesday’s launch will begin a new era for the Indian space sector, which was opened in 2020 to private players.

Skyroot was the first start-up to sign a memorandum of understanding with ISRO for launching its rockets. The Hyderabad-based venture aims to disrupt entry barriers to cost-efficient satellite launch services and space-flight by advancing its mission to make spaceflights affordable, reliable and regular for all, the venture said in a statement. Established in 2018, it has successfully built and tested India’s first privately developed cryogenic, hypergolic-liquid, and solid fuel-based rocket engines using advanced composite and 3D-printing technologies.

ISRO Ready for First Runway Landing Experiment of Reusable Launch Vehicle

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is prepared for the first runway landing experiment (RLV-LEX) of Reusable Launch Vehicle – Technology Demonstrator (RLV-TD) from aeronautical test range in Chitradurga, Karnataka. The ISRO Chairman S Somanath said that the weather is being monitored.

The ISRO officials informed that the RLV wing body will be carried to an altitude of 3-5 km by a helicopter and dropped at about 4-5 km ahead of the runway with a horizontal velocity. After the release, the RLV will glide, steer towards the runway, and land with a landing gear in the defence airfield near Chitradurga. New systems such as landing gear, parachute, hook beam assembly, radar altimeter and pseudolite have been developed for the successful completion of the experiment.

ISRO successfully achieved its maiden RLV-TD HEX-01 (Hypersonic Flight Experiment-01) mission on May 23, 2016, from Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota Range, and demonstrated the critical technologies for design and flight testing of re-entry vehicles. While that was a suborbital flight and designed to land on sea, the new experiment will demonstrate the approach and autonomous landing on a runway.

To acquire end-to-end RLV technology capability, RLV-LEX must be achieved before the RLV ORE (Orbital Re-Entry Experiment) mission, ISRO officials say.

In A First, Lab-Grown Blood Tried on People in the UK

In an attempt to revolutionise treatments for people with blood disorders, scientists in the United Kingdom have transfused lab-grown blood into people. While the bulk of blood transfusions will always depend on human donors, the eventual goal of the world’s first clinical trial of lab-grown blood is to manufacture vital, ultra-rare blood groups that are hard to find, said the UK researchers. 

The research project combines teams in Bristol, Cambridge, London, and at NHS Blood and Transplant. It focuses on the red blood cells (RBCs) that carry oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body. The lab-grown blood could prove to be beneficial for people who depend on regular blood transfusions for conditions such as sickle cell anaemia, believe the scientists.

The researchers started with a normal donation of a pint of blood (around 470ml) and used magnetic beads to pull out flexible stem cells that are capable of becoming a red blood cell (RBC). These stem cells are then grown in large numbers in the lab. The process takes about three weeks and a pool of about half a million stem cells results in 50 billion RBCs. From these cells, the scientists choose around 15 billion RBCs that are at the right stage of development to transplant.