Daily Current Affairs - 23-01-2021

Spain and France have recently signed an agreement to build 590 MW of solar power plant. This will be the largest solar power plant in Europe. The agreement was signed between Iberdola of Spain and Donone of France.

About the Power Plant

Spain

Spain is currently the busiest subsidy free photo-voltaic market of Europe. In 2020, Spain commissioned 2.9 GW of solar power. In 2019, Spain added 729 MW of solar power. Hence, the 2020 addition is four times that of the 2019 addition.

France

France has set a target of installing 18 to 20 GW of solar power by 2023. In 2016, France along with India laid the foundation of International Solar Alliance. Though France is not a country located in the tropics, it has joined hands with India in International Solar Alliance. This is mainly because the International Solar Alliance was framed and announced at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, 2015 (the Paris agreement conference) hosted by France.

The International Solar Alliance mainly aims to bring about major decrease in cost of solar energy. This is to be achieved by involving countries rich in solar energy, that is, those countries located between the Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn.

Solar Energy in India

India has been increasing its solar power capacity. As of November 2020, the installed solar power of India was 36.9 GW. India has established 42 solar parks to make land available to the promoters of solar plants. India has set a target of achieving 100 GW of solar power by 2022.

The MeerKAT Radio Telescope recently discovered two giant radio galaxies. The galaxies were discovered under the MIGHTEE survey. The discovered galaxies are bigger than 93% of any other giants discovered before. They were 62 times the size of Milky Way. Light takes 6.5 million light years to travel from one end to the other.

MeerKAT Radio Telescope

Square Kilometre Array

The receiving stations of SKA are to extend out to a distance of 3,000 kilometres. The SKA is being built in Australia and South Africa. The four precursor facilities of the project are as follows:

The SKA is an international effort to build the world largest radio telescope. The Karoo region in South Africa and the Murchison Shire region in Australia were chosen for technical and scientific reasons. The atmospheric above the deserts are favourable with clear sky and provide maximum radio quietness.

The Operation Sard Hawa was launched by the Border Security Force in the western border of Rajasthan. The main purpose of the operation is to check the instances of infiltration due to dense fog in the region. The Operation has also been launched to enhance the security ahead of Republic Day. The operation is to run till January 27, 2021.

About Operation Sard Hawa

Importance of Operation Sard Hawa

Due to dense fog in desert areas in winter, there are possibilities of infiltration in the region. There have been attempts to infiltrate from across the border taking advantage of this haze. During such situations, the border security forces increase patrolling under special operations like that of Operation Sard Hawa. They also monitor the borders through vehicles along with trekking. The jawans also conduct foot point trekking. During foot point trekking, the camels, vehicles and pedestrian intrusions used by intruders are detected.

Border Security Force

The Border Security Force of India is also called the “First Wall of Defence of Indian Territories”. It was set up in the wake of 1965 Indo-Pakistan war. The main function of the Border Security Force is to ensure the security of borders of India. It is headed by an officer from Indian Police Service. The BSF also undertakes defensive actions during wartime to free up Indian Army troops for offensive operations. The BSF also assists Central Reserve Police Force and the Indian Army in counter-insurgency operations.

The BSF has marine wing, air wing, commando units and artillery regiment. Currently, the BSF is the world largest border guarding force.

The US President Joe Biden recently proposed to extend New START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) Treaty by five years. Russia has welcomed the proposal.

Key Features of New START Treaty

Time Line set by New START Treaty

The above obligations of reducing the nuclear warheads were to be achieved within a time frame of seven years from the date, the treaty entered into operation. The treaty will last for ten years. The countries may renew it till five years upon agreement by both the parties.

Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty

The INF Treaty was signed between US and Russia during the cold war period. It was signed in 1987. Under the treaty, the countries agreed to eliminate their stocks of short range and intermediate range missiles. The US withdrew from the treaty in 2019.

The United Nations General Assembly recently adopted a resolution on safeguarding religious sites across the world. The resolution was titled “Promoting a culture of peace and tolerance to safeguard religious sites”. India supports the resolution.

Key Features of the Resolution

United Nations Plan of Action to safeguard Religious Sites

India-Pakistan irritants over the resolution

Pakistan was one of the co-sponsors of the resolution along with Saudi Arabia and other twenty countries. According to India, the co-sponsoring of Pakistan was a great irony. This is because, Hindu temples were attacked in Karak, Pakistan. In December 2020, the supporters of Jamiat Ulema e Islam party attacked and burned a temple in Karak district.

The Treaty on Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons was adopted on July 7, 2017. The treaty entered into force on January 22, 2021. The treaty is the first legally binding international agreement that aim to eliminate nuclear weapons completely.

Signatories

The treaty was approved by the United Nations General Assembly in 2017. However, only 120 members have signed the treaty. The major nuclear powers of the world including India have not supported the treaty. The other major nuclear powers that did not support the treaty were China, US, France, Japan, North Korea, Russia, Pakistan and Israel.

Key Features

India’s Stand

India does not support the Treaty on Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. India is committed to the policy of “No First Use” against nuclear weapon states and non-use against non-nuclear weapon states. India is also committed to negotiations regarding the Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty. FMCT is a proposed international agreement. The agreement prohibits production of enriched Uranium and Plutonium.

India has also not signed Non-Proliferation Treaty and the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.

Nuclear Warheads

According to 2020 estimates, the estimated global nuclear warhead inventories are 13,500. Of this, more than 90% belongs to Russia and the US. India holds 150 nuclear warheads. Russia holds 6,375 nuclear war heads and US holds 5,800 nuclear warheads. China holds 320.

The researchers studying about the WASP-107b have recently found that the core mass of the giant exoplanet is much lower than what was previously assumed.

Recent Study on WASP-107b

WASP-107b is an exoplanet and was discovered in 2017. Earlier, the scientists believed that the planet was huge in size due to its huge gas envelope that surrounded the planet. Also, the scientists believed that such huge gas envelopes are possible only with massive and dense cores. However, the recent study says that the cores of WASP-107b are not as dense as thought earlier.

About WASP-107b

Comet like tail in WASP-107b

WASP-107b has a comet-like tail. This is because, the helium absorption occurring in the atmosphere of the planet has increased the temperature to five hundred degrees Celsius. This makes it one of the hottest known exoplanets. Such huge temperatures are boiling off its surfaces. This leaves a comet like tail as WASP-107b is revolving around its star.

The Hum of the Universe was recently detected by the North American Nanohertz Observatory for Gravitational Waves (NANOGrav). According to the researchers, the hum was produced by gravitational waves.

About the Hum of the Universe

Blackhole Hum

Similar humming sounds are produced when black holes collide. Such sounds are called Black Hole hums. On an average more than hundred thousand mergers of black holes occur in the universe in a year.

NANOGrav

NANOGrav is North American Nano hertz Observatory for Gravitational Waves. The main objective of NANOGrav is to detect gravitational waves. The project is implemented by Parkes Pulsar Timing Array, International Pulsar Timing Array and European Pulsar Timing Array.

Pulsar Timing Array

It is a programme of regular, timing observation of widely distributed array of millisecond pulsars. A millisecond pulsar is a pulsar with rotational period smaller than about ten milli seconds. A millisecond pulsar is a pulsar with rotational speed smaller than ten milli seconds.

Indian Pulsar Timing Array

It is a project of National Centre for Radio Astrophysics, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research. It aims to detect nano-hertz gravitational waves by precision timing.

The researchers have recently found that the largest sea in Titan (moon of Saturn) is thousand feet deep in its centre. Also, it is the size of five great lakes combined together.

About Kraken Mare

Titan Saturn System Mission

Europa Jupiter System Mission-Laplace

It is a joint project of European Space Agency and NASA. The project is to focus on the moons of Jupiter such as Europa and Ganymede and magnetosphere of Jupiter. The magnetosphere is a region in space where the charged particles are affected by the magnetic field of an object.

The Government of India is to use Rapid Assessment System for the feedback on COVID-19 vaccination.

About Rapid Assessment System

What is CO-WIN?

It is a digital platform used for COVID-19 Vaccine delivery. The CO-WIN platform records vaccine data collected through CO-WIN mobile application. The platform is used to record vaccine data. Apart from this, the app will collect database of health care workers as well. It uses temperature loggers (of cold chain) for accurate remote temperature monitoring in real time.

It has five different modules namely administrator module, vaccination module, registration module, beneficiary acknowledgement module and report module.

The CO-WIN is based on eVIN (Electronic Vaccine Intelligence Network)

Electronic Vaccine Intelligence Network

It was an indigenously developed technology that digitises vaccine stocks. It monitors temperature of cold chain through smartphone applications. It was first launched in twelve states in 2015. eVIN supports the Universal Immunization Programme of Government of India.

NEGVAC

NEGVAC is National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration. It is a group of experts formed by Government of India to guide the strategies of vaccine introduction.