Top 10 Indian Science Stories Of 2016

2017-01-29 09:50:00

Credit: Indian Express

Credit: Indian Express

1. Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) Launched 20 Satellites

Creating a record, India on 22 June 2016 successfully launched 20 satellites including 17 foreign and its earth observation satellite in a single mission in 26 minutes from Sriharikota, in a crucial step to become a key player in the multi-billion dollar space launch market. In a precision launch, Indian Space Research Organisation workhorse Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C34) took off in clear skies from the second launch pad of Satish Dhawan Space Centre, about 110 kilometre from Chennai, at 9.26 am and placed the new generation earth observation satellite( Cartosat-2 Series) and 19 others in the designated polar Sun Synchronous Orbit 26 minutes later.

Thirteen of the satellites are from the United States including the 12 earth imaging Dove satellites from Planet Labs organisation, each of which weighs just 4.7 kg, and a 110-kg earth imaging satellite called SkySat Gen-2 made by a Google-owned company. There are two Canadian satellites and one each from Germany and Indonesia.

2ISRO test fires Scramjet engine, joins elite club of nations

India on 28 Aug 2016y successfully test fired its futuristic Scramjet Rocket Engine using oxygen from the atmosphere that could cut the cost of the launches several fold and help in Indian Space Research Organisation’s bid to design advanced air breathing engines. The first experimental mission of Scramjet Engine was successfully conducted from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre.

The Scramjet engine will also be used eventually to power ISRO’s reusable launch vehicle at hypersonic speed. ATV is a two-stage spin stabilised launcher with identical solid motors (based on Rohini RH560 sounding rocket) as the first as well as the second stage (booster and sustainer), ISRO said.

3. India's communication satellite GSAT-18

India's latest communication satellite, GSAT-18 was inducted into the INSAT/GSAT system on October 06, 2016 from Kourou, French Guiana by Ariane-5 VA-231. Weighing 3404 kg at lift-off, GSAT-18 carries 48 communication transponders to provide.Services in Normal C-band, Upper Extended C-band and Ku-bands of the frequency spectrum. GSAT-18 carries Ku-band beacon as well to help in an accurately pointing ground antennas towards the satellite.

GSAT-18 is designed to provide continuity of services on operational satellites in C-band, Extended C-band and Ku-bands. GSAT-18 was launched into a Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO) by Ariane-5 VA-231 launch vehicle. After its injection into GTO, ISRO's Master Control Facility (MCF) at Hassan took control of GSAT-18 and performed the initial orbit raising maneuvers using the Liquid Apogee Motor (LAM) of the satellite, placing it in circular Geostationary Orbit.The designed in-orbit operational life of GSAT-18 is about 15 years.

4ISRO successfully launches PSLV-C35 with eight satellites

In its thirty seventh flight (PSLV-C35), ISRO's Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle successfully launched the 371 kg SCATSAT-1 Satellite along with seven co-passenger satellites today morning (September 26, 2016) from Satish Dhawan Space Centre SHAR, Sriharikota. This is the thirty sixth consecutively successful mission of PSLV.  The total weight of all the eight satellites carried on-board PSLV-C35 was 675 kg. PSLV-C35 is the first PSLV mission to launch satellites carried onboard into two different  orbits. This PSLV mission was the longest of the PSLV missions conducted till date and was completed in 2 hours 15 minutes and 33 seconds after lift-off.

After PSLV-C35 lift-off at 0912 hrs (9:12 am) IST from the First Launch Pad with the ignition of the first stage, the subsequent important flight events, namely, strap-on ignitions and separations, first stage separation, second stage ignition, payload fairing separation, second stage separation, third stage ignition and separation, fourth stage ignition and cut-off, took place as planned. After a flight of 16 minutes 56 seconds, the vehicle achieved a polar Sun Synchronous Orbit of 724 km inclined at an angle of 98.1 degree to the equator (very close to the intended orbit) and 37 seconds later the primary satellite SCATSAT-1 was separated from the PSLV fourth stage.

5. Agni 5, India's Longest Range Nuclear Capable Missile

Agni-5, India's longest range nuclear capable missile, was successfully test fired from the Kalam Island off Odisha coast on December 26, 2016 by the Defence Research and Development Organisation or DRDO. The intercontinental surface-to-surface ballistic missile, the latest in India's "Agni" family of medium to intercontinental range missiles, with new technology for navigation and guidance, gives India the strategic depth it needs to contain its enemies, say scientists. Ready to be deployed, the Agni-5 will soon join India's military arsenal.

6. BGR-34

The scientists of NBRI and CIMAP, joined hands in developing an effective, safe, patient friendly solution towards management of type 2 Diabetes mellitus  BGR-34. They had in-depth study of over 500 renowned ancientherbs and finally identified the 6 best herbs listed in Ayurvedic ancient texts for various ailments and indications namely Daruharidra (Berberisaristata), Giloy (Tinosporacordifolia), Vijaysar (Pterocarpus marsupium), Gudmar (GymnemaSylvestre), Majeeth (Rubiacordifoila) and Methika (Trigonellafoenum-graecum) to be combined in different fractions &quantity and processed meticulously to develop a marvelous anti-diabetic formulation. The herbs were further subjected to optimization studies to establish the right proportion.

7. Indian astrophysicist wins challenge on dark energy

On 1 Dec. 2016 Professor David Wiltshire of the Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Canterbury, announced that well-known Indian theoretical physicist Thanu Padmanabhan has won the challenge on dark energy. Padmanabhan is from the Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics, Pune, India.

The challenge was issued 10 years ago in Melbourne by Padmanabhan to prove his ideas on dark matter wrong by 2016. According to The Times of India, he stated "there would be no evidence to contradict the theory that dark energy (cosmological constant) is the root cause of accelerated expansion of the universe.

8. Novel sensor to check on heart & lungs

A team of researchers have developed a novel sensor they claim can simultaneously measure both cardiac and respiratory activities. The new device is non invasive, and can be wrapped around a person's chest. It can help in early clinical diagnosis of many conditions associated with lung and cardiac health. The device is robust, portable, shock-proof, non-electric.

9. Saltwater lamp

The salt water-run battery is as powerful as four AA batteries, and can power an LED lamp for 1,500 hours (or a little more than two months) at a stretch. The concept is one that most are familiar with in high school chemistry. Electricity can be produced when two electrodes (one that can readily give away its electrons, and another to accept them as easily) are dipped in an electrolyte. Vasant Natarajan from the Physics Department of IISc. refined on this concept. A box (barely 6 cm in height, and around 11 cm in length) is made with four cells. A solution of 600 ml water and two tablespoons of salt is poured into the container and the lid, which contains a magnesium and graphite electrode, is closed. 

10. Bacteria-free water

With deaths due to water related diseases on the rise globally, high efficient water filtration that is affordable is gaining importance. A research team at IISc claims to have a solution. It has designed a membrane which can almost eliminate bacterial contamination from water. The newly designed membrane is made of polyethylene, which has several advantages like low cost, strength, durability and stability. It also prevents biofouling – accumulation of micro-organisms on the membrane, which blocks the membrane and increases the overall time, cost and energy required for water purification.

To make the three dimensional porous membrane, the scientists mixed the polyethylene oxide (PEO) with polyethylene during the manufacturing process, and later created tiny pores. Biocidal agents are chemical or biological agents used to kill unwanted organisms. A large portion of the porous membrane is covered with graphene oxide sheets which are efficient and safe biocidal agents with potential to kill bacterial contaminants. Unlike other biocidal agents like silver, graphene sheets are non-leaching and non-depleting and thus are safe for use in filtration procedure.