Current Affairs – March 2012 Science & Technology Affairs
- A NASA spacecraft, Messenger in the last week of March 2012 discovered further evidence for the existence of water ice at Mercury’s poles. NASA’s previous work revealed patches near Mercury’s poles that strongly reflect radar, a characteristic of ice. Messenger is only the second spacecraft, after Mariner 10 in the 1970s, to have visited the Mercury, which is the innermost planet in Solar system.
- The National Green Tribunal on 30 March 2012 suspended the environmental clearance granted to Posco’s mega steel project in Orissa in January 2011. The tribunal comprising Justice C V Ramulu and D. K. Agarwal held that the clearance given to Posco’s mega steel project in Jagatsinghpur district of Orissa will remain suspended till the environment ministry reviews it afresh.
- The Government of Niger, in the first week of March 2012, declared the whole area of the Termit Massif and Tin Toumma desert, to be a national nature and culture reserve. Significantly, the area is home to some critically endangered species. It is now the largest single protected area in Africa.It has an area of 100000 square kilometers.
- The Department of Atomic Energy plans to set up three more nuclear fuel complexes to meet the requirements arising out of the proposed massive expansion plan to increase the capacity of nuclear power plants to 63,000 MW by 2032, from the current level of 4,780 MW. Presently, the Department has only one such complex at Hyderabad. It produces fuel bundles and other components for all the 20 reactors in operation in the country. The first of the three additional plants would come up at Kota in Rajasthan and would be used to supply fuel to the four 700 MW Pressurised Heavy Water Reactors being built at neighbouring Rawatbhata and Kakrapar in Gujarat. The sites for the other two are yet to be finalised.
- To provide easily accessible and high-quality Science and Engineering education through information and communication tools, the Human Resource Development Ministry on 23 feb launched a series of virtual laboratories that will aid studies in nine disciplines. The 91 virtual laboratories will enable hundreds of experiments in nine disciplines of Science and Engineering.