Current Affairs for Online Crash Course for SSC CGL Exam : Science & Technology

Current Affairs for Online Crash Course for SSC CGL (Tier - 1) Exam

:: Science & Technology ::

NASA’s ‘Europa Clipper’ set to launch in the 2020s

  • NASA’s ‘Europa Clipper’ set to launch in the 2020s will probe the habitability of Jupiter’s icy moon Europa.
  • When the mission was still in the conceptual phase, it was informally called Europa Clipper, but NASA has now adopted that name as the formal title for the mission.
  • The moniker harkens back to the clipper ships that sailed across the oceans of Earth in the 19th century.
  • The mission plan includes 40 to 45 flybys, during which the spacecraft would image the moon’s icy surface at high resolution and investigate its composition and the structure of its interior and icy shell.
  • Europa has long been a high priority for exploration because it holds a salty liquid water ocean beneath its icy crust.
  • The ultimate aim of Europa Clipper is to determine if Europa is habitable, possessing all three of the ingredients necessary for life: liquid water, chemical ingredients, and energy sources sufficient to enable biology.

Great Barrier Reef is experiencing second straight year of mass coral bleaching

  • Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is experiencing an unprecedented second straight year of mass coral bleaching, warning many species would struggle to fully recover.
  • The 2,300-km reef suffered its most severe bleaching on record last year due to warming sea temperatures during March and April.
  • Bleaching is once again occurring, the government’s Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority said after an aerial survey off Australia’s eastern coast.
  • The agency said more bleaching was being observed in the central part of the reef, which last year escaped widespread severe bleaching. The 2016 bleaching was more severe in the northern areas of the bio-diverse site.
  • The back-to-back occurrence of widespread bleaching also meant there was insufficient time for corals to fully recover.
  • Bleaching occurs when abnormal environmental conditions, such as warmer sea temperatures, cause corals to expel tiny photosynthetic algae, draining them of their colour.
  • Corals can recover if the water temperature drops and the algae are able to recolonise them.
  • The Barrier Reef — already under pressure from farming run-off, development and the crown-of-thorns starfish — escaped with minor damage after two other bleaching events in 1998 and 2002.
  • The reef scientists plan to conduct further surveys over the next few weeks to determine the extent and severity of the bleaching.
  • Nearly two-thirds of shallow-water corals in a 700-km stretch of the reef’s northern section were lost to last year’s bleaching event, scientists have said.

Indian researcher has been able to increase wheat grain yield by 20%

  • Indian researcher has been able to increase wheat grain yield by 20% and also improve the resilience of wheat to environmental stress such as drought.
  • By using a precursor that enhances the amount of a key sugarsignalling molecule (trehalose-6- phosphate (T6P)) produced in wheat plant, Dr. Ram Sagar Misra, has been able to increase the amount of starch produced and the yield.
  • The technique The T6P molecule stimulates starch synthesis, which in turn, increases the yield. Since the pathway of T6P molecule is the same in other plants, the yield can potentially be increased by using suitable precursors.
  • While genetic methods can increase the T6P level two-three fold, the four precursor compounds were able to achieve 100-fold increase in the sugar-signalling molecule level compared with plants that did not receive the molecule.
  • In field trials using wheat, a tiny amount of precursor given to the plant increased the yield significantly — the grains produced were bigger as the amount of starch content in the grains increased by 13-20% compared to controls that got only water.
  • To study the resilience of wheat to drought-like conditions when treated with the precursor molecules, the researchers carried out two different studies.
  • Resilence to drought In the first case, four-week-old wheat plants already treated with the precursor molecules were not watered for nine days to simulate a droughtlike condition.
  • More trials on a larger scale are needed to confirm the role of the precursor molecules in increasing yield and withstanding drought-like conditions.

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