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OSIRIS-REx: NASA’s spacecraft to unveil origin of life?

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What is the origin of life ?. The monumental question that became a debate between scientist and  philosophers from decades. Now in 2020 ,NASA’s Spacecraft OSIRIS-REx is on the way to find the answer.

NASA’s Origin,Spectral Interpretation, Resource Indentification and Security-Regolith Explorer or OSIRIS-REx was launched in September of 2016 with a mission to collect samples of particles from asteroids , Specifically NASA is focusing on B-type Asteroids. B-type Asteroids
are the primitive one meaning they were formed nearly 4.5 billion years ago when our earth was formed and hasn’t changed much since then. This make B-type Asteroids on focus because they could contain Carbon based Organic molecules similar to those that led life on earth.

After Spotting a B-type Asteroid called 1999 RQ36 also known as Bennu ( an Egyptian bird deity) . Its diameter is about 500 meters i.e approximately 3 times bigger than statue of unity.
Since December 2018 , OSIRIS-REx has been surveying the surface of bennu , Mapping its surface and tracking the spin by orbiting around it. In 2019 it observed clusters of particles or dust coming up from the surface of asteroid. It also found that Bennu is densely covered in boulders which astronomers expect to be smoother. This discovery complicates OSIRIS-REx main mission of landing and collecting sample. Through all the surveys OSIRIS-REx indentified four possible sites where space craft could land. From all these four sites nightingale is found to be more promising than others.

NASA planned two rehearsals before actual landing to make sure everything would go smoothly. First rehearsal in April 2020 went off without any problem. Second rehearsal was pushed back to August 2020 due to corona virus pandemic. Second rehearsal went upto three steps of the sampling sequence but couldn’t collect the sample, this held because of connectivity issues as it takes 16 minutes for radio signal to reach that far. Hence scientists concluded that mission must be done autonomously by the space craft itself. The on board navigation system on Second rehearsal gave much detailed information about Bennu that convinced scientist to go further on mission . By collecting the data required for the mission now the next step is to go all the way up to collect the sample from Bennu.The first attempt after two rehearsals is scheduled on 20th October 2020.

If all goes well , OSIRIS-REx will send the sample back to earth arriving in September 2023. This sample would give scientist to look at very first piece of our solar system. This might give our answer on the question that what is origin of life? , Only if we found organic compound that led life on earth. To get our answers we need to wait till 2023.

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International

Neuralink: a deeper introspection

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6th sense of Human beings the Neuralink- Neuralink is a medical device developed in order to track and enhance brain activity. Moreover, it is like a Fitbit that tracks brain activities like neuron spike. Elon Musk said that the device will also be able to help regain someone’s eyesight even if they’ve lost their optic nerve. He said that this technology will be able to fix everything that’s wrong with the brain. With complete symbiosis of the tech, humans will be able to interact with each other without the need to talk.

It will be surgically implanted into the brain and with it, one will be able to communicate with machines and control them. For now, human trials are not yet begun but would start at the end of 2020. Furthermore, it will also help study the electrical signals in the brain and help cure various medical problems. Before testing on humans, Neuralink prototypes have been tested on rodents, monkeys, pigs, etc.

Before peeping deeper into Neuralink let’s understand the human brain first.


There are 86 billion Neurons in our Brain. These neurons consist of 3 parts: a dendrite that receives the signal, a cell body that computes the received signal, and an axon that sends the signal out.


Neurons are connected through Synapses. The neurons of your brain connect each other to send and receive signals through axon-dendrite connections called synapses. Neurons communicate through Electric Signals. These signals can be recorded in the brain. Recordings from many neurons allow us to decode the information and it represents intended movements.


To understand how Neuralink works, we must understand how our brain sends information to different parts of our body using neurons. These neurons in our brain connect to form a large network and communicate using chemical signals called neurotransmitters.

This reaction generates an electric field to record the reactions. These electrodes translate electrical signals into an algorithm that a machine can read. This is how Neuralink will be able to read what one is thinking and find a way to talk to machines without uttering a single word. It’s all your thoughts and link’s action.


The neural implant will let you control a computer or mobile device anywhere you go. Micron-scale threads are inserted into areas of the brain that control movement. Each thread contains many electrodes and connects them to an implant, the Link.


The link:

It’s a sealed, implanted device that processes and stimulates, and transmits neural signals.


Neural threads:

Each small and flexible thread contains many electrodes for detecting neural signals.


Charger:

A compact inductive charger that connects to the implant wirelessly to charge the battery; same as a smart-watch or fit bit.

Precision Automated Neurosurgery.


The threads on the Link are extremely fragile and flexible that they can’t be inserted by a human hand. Hence neurosurgeons would be provided with a robotic system that can reliably and efficiently insert these threads. The robot would be able to insert the link within an hour without general anesthesia and the patient would be able to leave the hospital on the same day.

Robots will do everything from the incision, removing the skull, inserting electrodes, placing the device, and then closing it up. These robotic systems were tested on numerous pigs used to test the device. This system has no room for errors. The Head of the machine holds and guides the needle that performs the operation and contains a large number of cameras to capture the whole brain.

How Neuralink will help to overcome mental disorders?


The Neuralink aims to fight neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s disease, dementia and epilepsy, spinal cord injuries, and other medical problems. The link is expected to even fight with common anxiety and depression yet that’s not proven. By taking primitive measures of implementing the Neuralink slowly and gradually we can hope best for it. There are high abilities and possibilities that Link could help fight a large number of medical illnesses and aims to create an affordable solution for people who lack the essential needs of medical treatment. At its level best, it will help to control the number of suicides that end lives before help can be received.


For now, those goals are very much out of reach. Scientists need to learn far more about the brain and how it works for any of those ideas to become reality. The brain is still mysterious and the neurological causes of addiction and anxiety are still unclear.


Why is Elon Musk testing his implant on Pigs?


In August 2020, Elon Musk’s 3 pig trial got rearing spotlight. The Neuralink implant was tested on 3 pigs; on 1st with no implant, on 2nd with an implant for some days and later it was removed and the 3rd pig still has the implant in her brain. The experiment of 2nd pig was done to show that if someone wanted to remove the link, they should be able to live a happy and healthy life after that. 3rd pig’s implant is active to track down all neural movements and to list down moments of snout and sniffs.


Hiring engineers for neurotechnology firm Neuralink


Neuralink is almost done dealing with a neuroscience background. The chip is an electrical device that requires mechanical/software engineers to deal with. It would be easier for these engineers to sort out problems like processing, indictive charging, power mgmt, etc. Most importantly, great problem-solving skills, solving high-volume, high-reliability, low-cost production problems are especially valued.

In the end, let’s hope best for the future of brain interfaces and inventing new technologies that will expand our abilities, our community, and our world.


-Anushka Sharad

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Three free courses launched by ISRO

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Indian Space Research Organization or ISRO, a reputed agency of India, has launched three new undergraduate, postgraduate courses online which would not charge any fee. Yes, you rightly heard, it’s free of cost. ISRO is accepting applications for these three courses. So, why you all are waiting? It is a very big opportunity so, go and fill the applications and grab this opportunity.
 
ISRO’s unit- Indian Institute of Remote Sensing(IIRS) will conduct these courses. These courses are of 7 to 12 days of duration. Participants can register for the program of their choice or all available courses.
 
Things to know
 
● Any year undergraduate and postgraduate can take the courses.
● This program is also open to technical or scientific staff of Central or State Government, and also to faculty and researchers working at Universities or Institutions.
● At the end of successful completion of the course, students will be awarded a certificate.
 
Free Courses
1)  Geographical Information System
 
This free course introduces students to geographic phenomena, concepts and examples. The course will start from September 28 to October 15, 2020. Duration of the course is four weeks.
 
This course consists of data inputting, Geographic Information System, spatial analysis, and introductory concepts and overview.
 
2)  Basics of Geocomputation and Geoweb Services
 
This free course provides information on Geocomputation. This course will start on 19 October and ends on October 29, 2020 and is a two week long course.
 
This course consist of Geocomputation technology, applications, introductory to online GIS, geo-web services, repositories, ISRO geoweb services, programming concepts for Geocomputation, introduction to Python and R.
A big well informative course I must say!
 
3)  Remote sensing and GIS Applications
 
Lastly, this course would teach concepts including applications of remote sensing, GIS applications for crop resource assessment and remote sensing applications for geological studies. This course will begin on 2nd November and ends on 20th November, 2020 and the course duration is four weeks.
 
 
 
But, the minimum criteria will be 70% attendance and 40% marks in the online examination. Above all of that, students will get access to study materials such as lectures slides, demonstrations and others through e-class platforms of IIRS.
 
So, come forward and make this pandemic period of your’s more productive. You have the opportunity to take all these courses from the comfort of your home. By the help of these courses you will get to know more advanced physics. ISRO is doing such a great job by providing these free courses. We will be able to acknowledge many new things from these courses. We should fully grab these. Isn’t it?
 
 
 
 
 

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REVIEWING THE AIRCRAFT AMENDMENT BILL,2020

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On February 4 2020 the Minister of Civil Aviation Shri Hardeep Singh Puri. The bill aims at amending the Aircraft Act, 1934.

Aircraft Act, 1934
The Aircraft Act, 1934 came into effect for providing better provisions for the control of the manufacture, possession, use, operation, sale, import, and export of aircraft.
After the Act’s enaction the act had been extended to the new provinces and merged states as per the guidelines of the Merged States (LAWS), Act 1949 (59 of 349), S.3 (1-1-1950) and to the Union territories of Manipur, Tripura and Vindhya Pradesh by the Union Territories (Laws) Act, 1950 (30 of 1950), S.3 (16-4-1950). Vindhya Pradesh now forms part of M.P. State Act 37 of 1956, S.9(1) (e) (1-1-1956), Manipur and Tripura are new States; See Act 81 of 1971, S.3(21-1-1972).
Aircraft Amendment Bill, 2020
After the Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri proposed the bill on February 4 the bill was passed by the Lok Sabha on March 17, was also passed by the Rajya Sabha by the means of a voice vote.

Provisions of the Bill:

The Bill amends the Aircraft Act,1934 the bill regulates the manufacture, possession, use, operation, sale, import, and export of civil aircraft and licensing of aerodromes.
The Bill will provide statuary power to the regulatory institutions of Civil Aviation like the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS), and the Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau (AAIB).

The Civil Aviation Minister quoted “the amendment was necessary for light of the recent growth of the civil aviation sector,
DGCA: The bill entitles the DGCA to act as a watchdog. The DGCA will foresee the regulatory functions as mentioned in the bill for the growth of the civil aviation sector. The DGCA can levy up to Rs 1crore as a penalty on airlines, airports, and other key aviation entities.
BCAS: The BCAS will be carrying out regulatory and oversight functions on civil aviation security.
AAIB: To carry out investigation related to aircraft accidents and incidents.
Reasons behind the Amendment
The statuary power that the Bill provides to the civil aviation institutions is likely to help the civil aviation sector to improve India’s safety aviation rankings as recommended by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).
The bill intends to increase the fine amount for any violation of rules from RS 10 lakh to Rs 1 Crore for aviation sector stakeholders.
Under the Bill, the central government may cancel the licenses, certificates, or approvals granted to a person under the Act if the person contravenes any provision of the Act.

Exemptions
The aircrafts belonging to the navy, military, and air force of the Republic of India will be exempted from the bill
The extension of the exemption will also be extended to the other armed forces other than these three.
Challenges

The Disinvestment by the government from Air India has resulted in the firm incurring heavy losses (26 crores per day) the pandemic is expected to further increase the number of losses
According to recent data, there has been a rise in the number of near-miss incidents in the airspace, near miss is a close call that has the potential to cause great injury to humans or the environment but does not occur,
The aviation sector faces shortages of Air Traffic Controllers (ATC)
Because of the COVID- 19 pandemics there has been an increase in the drop in demand which has compelled the airlines and its stakeholders to face financial crisis.

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