GSLV-D6 successfully launched, India gets another eye in the sky

Staging yet another spectacular launch of three-stage heavy weight rocket GSLV D-6 with indigenous cryogenic upper stage, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) on Thursday successfully put in orbit GSAT-6 communication satellite.

GSLV-D6 launched in Sriharikota on Thursday. Photo: S.R. Raghunathan

The GSLV D-6 is the second successful consecutive launch of the GSLV series with indigenous cryogenic upper stage. ISRO had on January 5, 2014 launch GSLV D-5, after a similar attempt failed in 2010.

About 17 minute after the 49.1 metre high spacecraft lifted off raised from the second launch pad of Satish Dhawan Space Centre with a lift-off weight of 416 tonne at 4.52 pm, the rocket placed GSAT-6 in the intended orbit.

S-band communication services

The satellite would be eventually fine tuned into the final geostationary orbit at 83 degree East longitude. GSAT-6 will provide S-band communication services in the country.

“The performance of GSLV D-6 has been normal and the intricacies of the rocket have been understood,” ISRO chairman A.S. Kiran Kumar said soon after the launch, from the Mission Control Room.

The Thursday’s launch could mean that the national space agency was increasingly confident of launching the heavy weight rocket with indigenous cryogenic upper stage, which can lift payloads weighing about 2.2 tonne.

Mission Director Umamaheswaran said that the launch was a “Onam” gift of ISRO to the country.

Largest antenna ISRO has ever made

The 2,117 kg-weighing GSAT-6 communication satellite is aimed at primarily benefiting the country’s strategic users and other specific authorised users. The cuboid-shaped satellite with a mission life of nine years also includes a first-of-its-kind S-Band unfurlable antenna with a diameter of six metre. This is the largest antenna ISRO has ever made for a satellite.

Though the Thursday’s launch is the nine time ISRO was using GSLV rocket, this is the third time the rocket was being launched with indigenous cryogenic upper stage. “GSLV-D6 flight is significant since it intends to continue the testing of CUS,” according to ISRO.

The cryogenic stage was “technically a very complex system” compared to solid or earth-storable liquid propellant stages due to its use of propellants at extremely low temperatures and the associated thermal and structural challenges, ISRO stated.

A cryogenic rocket stage “is more efficient and provides more thrust for every kilogram of propellant it burns” compared to solid and earth-storable liquid propellant rocket stages, it added. The cryogenic stages fires for a nominal duration of 720 seconds during the launch.

Source: The Hindu

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Researchers one step closer to cracking Alzheimer’s puzzle

Alzheimer’s, a progressive form of dementia, may occur in middle age or in old age, and while a lot of research is on for drug treatments, none has been successful.

Research groups at TIFR, Mumbai, IISc, Bangalore and the University of Toronto working together, may have gotten the closest yet to figuring out how the toxic form of the Alzheimer’s molecule looks. This brings with it implications of development of better drugs to treat patients.

Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive form of dementia that is characterised by loss of short-term memory, deterioration in behaviour and intellectual performance, besides slowness of thought. It may occur in middle age or in old age, and while a lot of research is on for drug treatments, none has been successful.

Amyloid beta molecules

The ‘lock’ looks like a bunch of Amyloid beta molecules each in the shape of a hairpin, but with a twist, TIFR has said in a release. Debanjan Bhowmik, the lead contributor of the study, says “This has been suspected earlier, but what we found was an unexpected twist in the structure, now becoming a beta-hairpin — very different from the typical hairpin structure people imagined.” This technique might also help in finding the shape of similar proteins in future.

Source: The Hindu

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On National Sports Day Modi pays tribute to Dhyan Chand

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday paid tribute to hockey legend Major Dhyan Chand on his 110th birth anniversary and extended best wishes to all sports enthusiasts across the country on the occasion of the National Sports Day.

“Best wishes to sports enthusiasts and tributes to Major Dhyan Chand on National Sports Day. May sports and sportsman spirit shine in India,” he said in a tweet.

The legendary player is known as “The Wizard” for his superb ball control.

“Congrats to sportspersons and coaches who will be honoured with various sports awards. We are proud of their efforts and contribution to sports,” he added.

A few sportspersons and coaches will be honoured with the National Sports Awards at Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi on Saturday. National Sports Day is celebrated on August 29.

Dhyan Chand, born on August 29, 1905 was an Indian field hockey player, who is widely considered the greatest hockey player of all time

The legendary hockey player won gold medals for India at the 1928, 1932 and 1936 Olympics.

Known as “The Wizard” for his superb ball control, Dhyan Chand played his final international match in 1948. He scored over 400 goals during his international career.

Dhyan Chand died on December 3, 1979.

Source: The Hindu

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Sania receives Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award

Arjuna awards was also handed out to many sportspersons, including cricketer Rohit Sharma.

In the backdrop of two legal cases, 16 sportspersons and five coaches were among those who were honoured at the National Sports and Adventure Awards ceremony in the Durbar Hall of the Rashtrapati Bhawan here on Saturday.

Tennis ace Sania Mirza was conferred the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award even as the Karnataka High Court sought clarifications from the Union Sports Ministry following a petition from Paralympian H.N. Girisha challenging the Ministry’s decision.

Sania, a multiple Grand Slam champion, is the second tennis player to get the honour and the first to receive the award from President Pranab Mukherjee.

The awardees:

Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award: Sania Mirza.

Arjuna Award: P.R. Sreejesh (hockey), Dipa Karmakar (gymnastics), Jitu Rai (shooting), Sandeep Kumar (archery), Mandeep Jangra (boxing), Babita Kumari and Bajrang (wrestling), Rohit Sharma (cricket), K. Srikanth (badminton), Swarn Singh (rowing), S. Satish Kumar (weightlifting), Sanothoi Devi (wushu), Sharath Gayakwad (para-swimming), M.R. Poovamma (athletics), Manjeet Chillar, Abhilasha Mhatre (kabaddi), Anup Kumar Yama (rollerskating).

Dronacharya Award: Naval Singh (para-athletics), Anoop Singh (wrestling), Harbans Singh (athletics-lifetime), Swatantar Raj Singh (boxing-lifetime), Nihar Ameen (swimming-lifetime).

Dhyan Chand Award: Romeo James (hockey), Shiv Prakash Misra (tennis), T.P.P. Nair (volleyball).

Tenzing Norgay National Adventure Awards 2014: Arunima Sinha (land), Jot Singh (land), Paramvir Singh (water), Satyendra Verma (air), Satish Chander Sharma (lifetime).

Maulana Abul Kalam Azad Trophy: Punjabi University, Patiala.

Rashtriya Khel Protsahan Puraskar: Directorate-General of Military Training (identification and nurturing of budding/young talent), Coal India Limited (encouragement of sports through corporate social responsibility), Haryana Police (employment of sportspersons and sports welfare measures), Sports Coaching Foundation, Hyderabad (sports for development)

Source: The Hindu

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India rebuffs Afghanistan on strategic meet

Stung by Afghanistan’s security and strategic shift towards Pakistan in the past year, India has rebuffed another invitation from Kabul to revive the Strategic Partnership Agreement (SPA) signed in 2011 to hold a meeting of the Strategic Partnership Council (SPC).

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to attend the inauguration of Afghanistan’s Parliament building in Kabul.

Diplomatic sources at the highest level have confirmed to The Hindu that India has conveyed its inability to hold the meeting that would be chaired by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and her Afghan counterpart Salahuddin Rabbani “due to prior commitments.”

New Delhi has also conveyed that Ms. Swaraj will not attend the upcoming Regional Economic Cooperation Conference on Afghanistan (RECCA) in Kabul on September 3 and 4, and instead Sujata Mehta, Secretary, Multilateral and Economic Relations, will represent India at the conference. India’s representation will be in sharp contrast to some of the other regional countries participating at the Foreign Minister-level, while Iran is expected to send its Interior Minister and Pakistan its National Security Adviser Sartaj Aziz, RECCA official Asadullah Hamdard confirmed to The Hindu.

While India’s decision to not attend the RECCA conference, which is essentially a development and donor conference, may not affect relations given India’s $2.3-billion strong commitment to Afghanistan, Afghan officials said the delay in the SPC meeting is more significant. India and Afghanistan have held only one meeting of the SPC (in 2012) since former Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai and former India Prime Minister Manmohan Singh signed the historic agreement in 2011.

Trust deficit

“After Karzai, we have never trusted Ashraf Ghani’s motivations given the overtures he made to the Pakistan Army,” said the former Ambassador to Kabul Rakesh Sood, adding, “India has always been hesitant about what it wanted from the SPA anyway. The demand for defence equipment, for example, was something we were never able to deliver on.”

India’s development commitment remains robust, and Mr. Modi’s visit is expected to take place once the Afghan Parliament is completed by the Indian Public Works Department by January 2016.

Source: The Hindu

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India, US set to ink pact on terror database

In return, India wants access to Internet-related data from U.S.-based service providers like Google, Yahoo, and Bing, among others.

India could soon get access to a U.S. database of 11,000 terror suspects if the countries sign a pact to exchange information on terrorists, during the Homeland Security dialogue in December. The information would be shared through the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s legal attache at the U.S. embassy in New Delhi.

Though some security agencies expressed concern over giving unhindered access to the U.S. on such “sensitive database”, the government is of the view that it would be beneficial in the long run. India is, however, insisting that “privacy issues” be taken care of, and the agreement not be a tool to serve only the interests of the U.S. In return, it wants access to Internet-related data from U.S.-based service providers like Google, Yahoo, and Bing, among others.

Source: The HIndu

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Gujarat violence: Probe custodial death, says High Court

Prima facie it is homicide, says judge; CID ordered to investigate Shwetang Patel’s demise.

Even as Gujarat returned to normality on Friday with curfew being lifted from Mehsana, Visnagar and Unjha and several areas of Ahmedabad, the High Court ordered the CID (Crime) to investigate the alleged custodial death of 32-year-old Shwetang Patel. He was reportedly picked up by the police from his residence in Bapunagar area in Ahmedabad on the night of August 25, 2015 when unrest broke out all over the State following the detention of quota agitation leader Hardik Patel.

Source: The Hindu

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