Daily Current Affairs 13th September -2021
- Lunar Science Workshop 2021
- Designed High Ash Coal Gasification Based Methanol Production Plant
- Thamirabarani Civilisation: Tamil Nadu
- Impact of fossil fuel extraction on global warming
- Footprints of 3 Dinosaur Species: Rajasthan
Lunar Science Workshop 2021
#GS3-Space TechnologyAchievements of Indians in Science & Technology
- The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) recently held the Lunar Science Workshop 2021 to commemorate the completion of two years of operation of the Chandrayaan-2 orbiter in lunar orbit.
- The observations of the Chandrayaan-2 orbiter payloads have yielded discovery-class findings, according to the ISRO.
- The Chandrayaan-3 mission will most likely launch late next year.
The lunar workshop delivered the big news of bunch of discovery-class of findings by Chandrayaan-2,
About the Chandrayaan-2:
- It is the second spacecraft in the Indian series of lunar exploration satellites.
- It included an orbiter, lander named Vikram, and rover named Pragyan to explore the Moon’s unexplored South Polar region.
- It was launched on July 22, 2019 from the Sriharikota spaceport by the GSLV Mk-III.
- It was launched into lunar orbit in August of 2019.
- In September 2019, the orbiter and lander modules were separated as two separate satellites.
- Lander failure:
- The Vikram lander’s descent went as planned, and normal performance was observed up to an altitude of 2.1 km above the lunar surface in September 2019.
- As a result, communication with the lander was lost, and the lander landed hard on the lunar surface.
- The six-wheeled Pragyan rover fit inside the Vikram lander.
- A successful soft-landing would have made India the fourth country to do so, following the former Soviet Union, the United States, and China.
- Orbiter Role:
- Using its eight advanced scientific instruments, the orbiter was placed in its intended orbit around the Moon and provided understanding of the Moon’s evolution as well as mapping of minerals and water molecules in polar regions.
- The precise launch and optimised mission management have resulted in a nearly seven-year life for the orbiter instead of the planned one year.
Chandrayaan-2 Orbiter Discoveries:
- Argon-40 detection using a mass spectrometer The first-ever in-situ study of the composition of the lunar neutral exosphere from a polar orbital platform was conducted by CHandra’s Atmospheric Compositional Explorer 2 (CHACE 2).
- It detected and studied the variability of Argon-40 at the Moon’s middle and higher latitudes, depicting radiogenic activities in the lunar interior’s mid and higher latitudes.
- Chromium and Manganese Detection:
- Through remote sensing, the Chandrayaan-2 Large Area Soft X-ray Spectrometer (CLASS) payload has detected minor elements of chromium and manganese.
- Observations of Sun Microflares:
- The Solar X-ray Monitor (XSM) payload made observations of Sun microflares during the quiet-Sun period, which provide important clues on the Sun’s coronal heating problem.
- The first-ever unambiguous detection of the Moon’s hydration features was made by Chandrayaan-2 with its Imaging Infrared Spectrometer (IIRS) payload, which captured clear signatures of Hydroxyl and water-ice on the lunar surface.
- Subsurface Water-ice Detection:
- The Dual Frequency Synthetic Aperture Radar (DFSAR) instrument detected subsurface water-ice signatures and achieved high resolution mapping of the lunar morphological features in the polar regions.
- Imaging the Moon:
- Its Orbiter High Resolution Camera captured images of the moon from a 100 km lunar orbit with “best-ever” resolution of 25 cm (OHRC).
- Geological Discoveries:
- The Terrain Mapping Camera (TMC 2) of Chandrayaan-2, which is imaging the Moon on a global scale, has discovered intriguing geologic signatures of lunar crustal shortening as well as the identification of volcanic domes.
- The Dual Frequency Radio Science (DFRS) experiment onboard Chandrayaan-2 studied the Moon’s ionosphere, which is generated by the solar photo-ionisation of the neutral species of the lunar exosphere.
So, how does all of this help?
- Four aspects will be critical for future scope of work: mineralogical and volatile mapping of the lunar surface, surface and subsurface properties and processes involved, quantifying water in its various forms across the Moon surface, and maps of elements present on the moon.
- The exploration of permanently shadowed regions, as well as craters and boulders beneath the regolith, the loose deposit that comprises the top surface and extends up to 3-4m in depth, has been a key result of Chandrayaan-2. This is expected to aid scientists in determining future landing and drilling locations, including those for human missions.
Some of the key future Moon missions that hope to make use of such data are as follows:
- The Lunar Polar Exploration (LUPEX) mission, a collaboration between the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), is scheduled to launch in 2023/2024. Its goal is to learn about lunar water resources and to investigate the feasibility of establishing a lunar base in the lunar polar region.
- NASA’s Artemis missions aim to enable human landings on the Moon in 2024 and to achieve long-term lunar exploration by 2028.
- The Chinese Lunar Exploration Program also intends to establish a prototype of the International Lunar Research Station (ILRS) at the lunar south pole, as well as a platform for large-scale scientific exploration.
Designed High Ash Coal Gasification Based Methanol Production Plant
#GS3-Growth & Development,Environmental Pollution & Degradation
- In Hyderabad, the first indigenously designed high ash coal gasification based methanol production plant was recently opened.
- BHEL (Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited), a government-owned engineering firm, has successfully demonstrated a facility for producing methanol from high-ash Indian coal.
- Methanol is a clean-burning fuel that can be used to replace gasoline and diesel in transportation, as well as LPG, wood, and kerosene in cooking. It can also be used to replace diesel in railways and could be an excellent complement to hybrid and electric vehicles.
- Methanol can also be used to produce di-methyl ether (DME), a liquid fuel that is very similar to diesel; existing diesel engines will only need minor modifications to use DME instead of diesel.
What are the advantages of utilising Methanol?
- Methanol burns efficiently in all internal combustion engines, producing no particulate matter, no soot, and emitting almost no SOX or NOX (NEAR ZERO POLLUTION).
- Adopting Methanol as a transportation fuel necessitates only minor infrastructure changes and investments in vehicles, as well as terminal and distribution infrastructure.
- Methanol 15% blend (M15) in gasoline reduces pollution by 33%, and diesel replacement with methanol reduces pollution by more than 80%.
- Methanol is used all over the world as a motor fuel, to power ship engines, and to generate clean power. The majority of global methanol production, however, is derived from natural gas, which is a relatively simple process.
- Because India lacks significant natural gas reserves, producing methanol from imported natural gas results in a loss of foreign exchange and is uneconomical due to higher prices.
- The next best option is to use India’s plentiful coal. However, due to the high ash content of Indian coal, most internationally available technology will be insufficient.
- To address this issue, BHEL successfully demonstrated a facility capable of producing 0.25 TPD (Ton per Day) Methanol from high-ash Indian coal using a 1.2 TPD Fluidized bed gasifier.
- The crude methanol produced has a methanol purity of between 98 and 99.5 percent.
- This is part of the NITI Aayog’s ‘Methanol Economy’ initiative, which aims to reduce India’s oil import bill, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and the conversion of coal reserves and municipal solid waste into methanol.
- This in-house capability will also help India’s coal gasification mission as well as coal-to-hydrogen production for the Hydrogen Mission.
Methanol Economy Programme of NITI Aayog:
- Methanol Facts: Methanol is a low-carbon hydrogen carrier fuel made from high-ash coal, agricultural waste, CO2 from thermal power plants, and natural gas. It is the best way for India to meet its commitment to COP 21. (Paris Agreement).
- Methanol vs. Petrol and Diesel: Despite having a slightly lower energy content than gasoline and diesel, methanol can replace both of these fuels in the transportation (road, rail, and marine), energy (boilers, process heating modules, tractors, and commercial vehicles), and retail cooking sectors (replacing LPG [partially], kerosene and wood charcoal).
Environmental and economic impact:
- Blending 15% methanol into gasoline can result in a 15% reduction in gasoline/crude oil imports. Furthermore, this would reduce GHG emissions by 20% in terms of particulate matter, NOx, and SOx, thereby improving urban air quality.
- In addition, the Methanol Economy will generate nearly 5 million jobs through methanol production/application and distribution services.
- Additionally, blending 20% DME (Di-methyl Ether, a methanol derivative) in LPG can save Rs 6000 crore per year. This will save the consumer between Rs 50 and Rs 100 per cylinder.
- Initiatives Taken: The Bureau of Indian Standards has notified 20 percent DME blending with LPG, and the Ministry of Road, Transport, and Highways has notified M-15, M-85, and M-100 blends.
- Assam Petrochemicals launched Asia’s first canister-based methanol cooking fuel programme in October 2018. This initiative is consistent with the Prime Minister’s vision of providing a clean, cost-effective, and pollution-free cooking medium.
- In a joint venture with Israel, five methanol plants based on high ash coal, five DME plants, and one natural gas-based methanol production plant with a capacity of 20 MMT/annum are planned.
- Three boats and seven cargo vessels are being built by the Cochin Shipyard Limited for Inland Waterways Authority of India to use methanol as a marine fuel.
How is Methanol made?
- Methanol can be manufactured from a variety of feedstocks, including natural gas, coal (Indian High Ash Coal), biomass, municipal solid waste, and, most importantly, CO2.
- The majority of global methanol production comes from natural gas, which is a relatively simple process.
- In India, there are several challenges associated with methanol production.
- India does not have a large amount of natural gas reserves. As a result, producing methanol from imported natural gas results in a loss of foreign exchange and is sometimes uneconomical due to high natural gas prices.
- The next best option is to use India’s plentiful coal.However, due to the high ash percentage of Indian coal, most internationally accessible technology will not be adequate for our demands.
The Way Forward
- With 125 billion tonnes of proven coal reserves and 500 million tonnes of biomass generated each year, India has enormous potential for ensuring energy security through alternative feedstock and fuels.
- Methanol, on the other hand, does not receive the same level of government attention as EV (Electric Vehicles), despite the fact that the former can arrive faster. There is a lot of work to be done in order to fully implement the Methanol Economy.
- The development of methanol-based technology has the potential to transform India from an energy importer to an energy exporter.
Thamirabarani Civilisation: Tamil Nadu
#GS1-Ancient Indian History
- Carbon dating of organic material recovered from archaeological excavations in Sivakalai, Thoothukudi district, reveals that the Thamirabarani civilisation in Tamil Nadu is at least 3,200 years old.
- Carbon dating is the process of determining the age or date of organic matter based on the relative proportions of the carbon isotopes carbon-12 and carbon-14 found in it.
About the study on Thamirabarani civilization
- The study was carried out by the Beta Analytic Testing Laboratory in the United States.
- The carbon dating analysis of rice with soil found in a burial urn in Sivakalai, southern Tamil Nadu, was carried out by the laboratory during an archaeological excavation.
- The analysis revealed that the Porunai river [Thamirabarani] civilization dates back to 1155 BCE, or 3,200 years.
- Encouraged by this discovery, Tamil Nadu’s Chief Minister has announced the establishment of the Porunai Museum in Tirunelveli at a cost of Rs. 15 crores.
- The shortest river in Tamil Nadu, the Thamirabarani begins in the Pothigai hills of the Western Ghats in the Ambasamudram taluk, flows through Tirunelveli and Thoothukudi districts, and empties into the Gulf of Mannar at Korkai (Tirunelveli district) (Bay of Bengal).
The Importance of the Findings:
- It could lead to evidence that a city civilisation (Porunai River (Thamirabarani) civilization) existed in south India as long as 3,200 years ago, as part of the Indus Valley Civilisation.
- Archaeological excavations would also be conducted in other states and countries in search of Tamil ancestors.
- To establish Tamil trade relations with these countries, research would be conducted at Quseir al-Qadim and Pernica Anekke in Egypt, which were once part of the Roman empire, as well as Khor Rori in Oman. In these countries, potsherds with Tamil scripts have been discovered.
- Studies would also be conducted in Southeast Asian countries where King Rajendra Chola had established supremacy, such as Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, and Vietnam.
- The Pandyas, Cheras, and Cholas, the three ruling houses of Tamil India, fought for supremacy over southern India and Sri Lanka. These dynasties promoted early literature and constructed significant Hindu temples on the Indian subcontinent.
- Sangam literature, written over a six-century period (3rd BCE – 3rd CE), contains references to various Chola, Chera, and Pandya kings..
Other recent discoveries include:
- A silver punch marked coin bearing the symbols of the sun, moon, taurine, and other geometrical patterns was recently excavated from Keezhadi (Tamil Nadu).
- According to research, the coin dates back to the 4th century BC, before the time of the ancient Maurya empire (321-185 B.C.E).
- Archaeological excavations are taking place in a number of locations in Tamil Nadu, including Kodumanal, Keeladi, Korkai, and Sivakalai.
- According to carbon dating of artefacts, the Keeladi civilisation existed in the 6th century BC.
Impact of fossil fuel extraction on global warming
#GS3-Conservation related issues.
- According to a new study (published in the journal Nature), global fossil fuel extraction must be reduced in order to keep global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, the target set by the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement.
The following are the key findings:
- To meet the target set by the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, global oil and gas production should decline by 3% per year until 2050.
- As of now, neither planned nor operational fossil fuel extraction projects are conducive to meeting the goals.
- A significant number of regions around the world have already reached their peak fossil fuel production, and any increase in fossil fuel production must be offset by a decrease elsewhere if the goal is to be met.
- By 2050, the required unextracted reserves for oil must be 58 percent, 59 percent for fossil methane gas, and 89 percent for coal. Which is to say that these percentages of fossil fuels need to remain unextractable if global warming targets are kept in mind.
Why is it necessary to limit the use of fossil fuels?
- The global cost of air pollution caused by fossil fuels is high: around $2.9 trillion per year, or $8 billion per day, which equated to 3.3% of the world’s GDP at the time.
- The cost of air pollution caused by fossil fuels is estimated to be $150 billion in India.
The following are the upcoming challenges:
- Human activity has already caused global temperatures to rise by approximately 1 degree Celsius above pre-industrial levels (1950-1900).
- Currently, countries’ emissions targets are incompatible with keeping global warming to less than 1.5 degrees Celsius.
What is the Paris Climate Agreement’s stated goal?
- The Paris Climate Agreement, signed in 2015 by 195 countries, established a goal of limiting climate change in the coming decades.
- The agreement aims to slow the global warming process by attempting to “hold the increase in global average temperature to well below 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels.”
India urgently requires:
- Reduce your reliance on domestic exploration.
- Increase the productivity of agricultural fields.
- Boost strategic reserves.
- Restructure and reorganise petroleum companies in the public sector.
Footprints of 3 Dinosaur Species: Rajasthan
#GS1-Important Geophysical Phenomena
- Footprints of three dinosaur species were recently discovered in Rajasthan’s Jaisalmer district, in a major discovery.
- It demonstrates the presence of massive reptiles in the western part of the state.
Concerning the Discover:
- The footprints, which were made in the seashore’s sediment or silt, became permanently stone-like. They are members of three dinosaur species: Eubrontes cf. giganteus, Eubrontes glenrosensis, and Grallator tenuis.
- While the giganteus and glenrosensis species have 35 cm footprints, the third species’ footprint was discovered to be 5.5 cm.
- The footprints dated back 200 million years. They were discovered near the Thaiat village in Jaisalmer.
- The dinosaurs are classified as theropods, with hollow bones and three-digited feet as distinguishing characteristics. All three species were carnivorous and lived in the early Jurassic period.
- The name Thar Desert is derived from thul, the general term for the region’s sand ridges. It is also known as the ‘Great Indian Desert.’
- Location: Rajasthan state in northwestern India, and Punjab and Sindh provinces in eastern Pakistan.
- It is bounded on the west by the irrigated Indus River plain, on the north and northeast by the Punjab Plain, on the southeast by the Aravalli Range, and on the south by the Rann of Kachchh.
- An arid region covering over 200,000 square kilometres.
- The surface is made up of aeolian (wind-deposited) sand that has accumulated over 1.8 million years.
- The surface is undulating, with high and low sand dunes separated by sandy plains and low barren hills, or bhakars, that rise abruptly from the surrounding plains.
- Barchan, also spelled Barkhan, is a crescent-shaped sand dune formed by the action of wind from a single direction.
- Several playas (saline lake beds), also known as dhands in the region, are scattered throughout the area.
- The desert is home to a diverse range of large mammals, including the blue bull, blackbuck, and Indian gazelle or chinkara.
Daily Current Affairs 13th September -2021
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