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India will host a meeting of science ministers from G-20 member nations at Coimbatore in July next year during its presidency of the grouping of the world’s 20 major developed and emerging economies. Besides the Science-20 Summit with the theme ‘Disruptive Science for Innovative and Sustainable Growth’, the science administrators will also host the “Research Innovation Initiated Gathering (RIIG) on the theme Research and Innovation for Equitable Society.

Science and Technology Minister Jitendra Singh on Saturday chaired a meeting of six science ministries and departments to review the preparations for the S-20 summit.

A number of side events related to the Science-20 and RIIG meetings have been planned across the country to showcase India’s rich cultural heritage and diversity, an official statement said.

The Science-20 Secretariat will be chaired by Vijay P Bhatkar, the architect of the PARAM series of supercomputers with Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government of India Prof Ajay K Sood and noted structural chemist Gautam Desiraju as eminent members of the Secretariat.

The inception meeting for the S-20 meeting will be held on January 30-31 in Puducherry, while the side event on ‘non-conventional energy for a greener future’ will be held on Bangaram Island in Lakshadweep on February 27-28.

The side events on ‘Connecting Science to Society’ and ‘Culture and Holistic Health: Cure and Prevention of Disease’ will be held at Agartala (April 3-4) and Indore (June 16-17) respectively.

The sub-themes for RIIG gathering will be Materials for Sustainable Energy (CSIR), Scientific Challenges and Opportunities towards Achieving a Sustainable Blue Economy (Ministry of Earth Sciences), Bio-resource/ Biodiversity and Bio-economy (Department of Biotechnology) and Eco-Innovations for Energy Transition (SERB).

The inception meeting for RIIG will be held in Kolkata on February 9-10 with side events in Ranchi (March 21-22),: Dibrugarh & Itanagar (March 24-25), Shimla (April 19-20), and Diu (May 18-19).

The RIIG Summit and Research Ministers meeting will be held in Mumbai from July 4 to Juy 6 July.

Singh said the expected deliverables of the S-20 and RIIG will be creation of better and encouraging frameworks for environmentally responsible technologies and assertion of IP sharing and technology transfers, creation of a global ecosystem for start-up mentorship and funding.

The themes for the two science events will also cover encouragement of more mega science projects, creation of framework for global holistic health program and mental health program, creating common cultural dialogue for science through more engagement programs and interdisciplinary partnerships, creation of a common digital global heritage that is accessible for all citizens, the statement said.


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NASA’s Orion Spacecraft Enters Lunar Orbit a Week After Artemis I Launch

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NASA's Orion Spacecraft Enters Lunar Orbit a Week After Artemis I Launch

NASA’s Orion spacecraft was placed in lunar orbit Friday, officials said, as the much-delayed Moon mission proceeded successfully.

A little over a week after the spacecraft blasted off from Florida bound for the Moon, flight controllers “successfully performed a burn to insert Orion into a distant retrograde orbit,” the US space agency said on its website.

The spacecraft is to take astronauts to the Moon in the coming years — the first to set foot on its surface since the last Apollo mission in 1972.

This first test flight, without a crew on board, aims to ensure that the vehicle is safe.

“The orbit is distant in that Orion will fly about 40,000 miles above the Moon,” NASA said.

While in lunar orbit, flight controllers will monitor key systems and perform checkouts while in the environment of deep space, the agency said.

It will take Orion about a week to complete half an orbit around the Moon. It will then exit the orbit for the return journey home, according to NASA.

On Saturday, the ship is expected to go up to 40,000 miles beyond the Moon, a record for a habitable capsule. The current record is held by the Apollo 13 spacecraft at 248,655 miles (400,171 km) from Earth.

It will then begin the journey back to Earth, with a landing in the Pacific Ocean scheduled for December 11, after just over 25 days of flight.

The success of this mission will determine the future of the Artemis 2 mission, which will take astronauts around the Moon without landing, then Artemis 3, which will finally mark the return of humans to the lunar surface.

Those missions are scheduled to take place in 2024 and 2025, respectively.


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ISRO’s RH200 Sounding Rocket Registers 200th Consecutive Successful Launch

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ISRO's RH200 Sounding Rocket Registers 200th Consecutive Successful Launch

ISRO on Wednesday announced that RH200, the versatile sounding rocket of the Indian space agency, has registered its 200th consecutive successful launch from the shores of Thumba, Thiruvananthapuram. The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has termed it a “historic moment”. It was witnessed by former President Ram Nath Kovind and ISRO chairman S Somanath, among others.

The successful flight of RH200 took off from the Thumba Equatorial Rocket Launching Station (TERLS).

“Indian sounding rockets are used as privileged tools for the scientific community for carrying out experiments on meteorology, astronomy and similar branches of space physics,” an ISRO statement said.

Campaigns such as Equatorial ElectroJet (EEJ), Leonid Meteor Shower (LMS), Indian Middle Atmosphere Programme (IMAP), Monsoon Experiment (MONEX), Middle Atmosphere Dynamics (MIDAS), and Sooryagrahan-2010 have been conducted using the sounding rocket platform for scientific exploration of the Earth’s atmosphere, it said.

The Rohini Sounding Rocket (RSR) series have been the forerunners for ISRO’s heavier and more complex launch vehicles, with a continued usage even today for atmospheric and meteorological studies, the national space agency headquartered here said.

“The 200th consecutive successful flight stands testimony to the commitment of Indian rocket scientists towards unmatched reliability demonstrated over the years,” it said.

Meanwhile, ISRO is all set to launch PSLV-C54/ EOS-06 mission with Oceansat-3 and eight nano satellites, including one from Bhutan, from the Sriharikota spaceport on November 26. The launch is scheduled at 11.56am on Saturday, the national space agency said on Sunday.

Last week, ISRO announced that the payload capability of India’s heaviest LVM3 rocket has been enhanced by up to 450kg with a successful engine test. According to the Indian Space Research Organisation, the CE20 cryogenic engine indigenously developed for Launch Vehicle Mark 3 (LVM3) was subjected to a successful hot test at an uprated thrust level of 21.8 tonnes for the first time on November 9, according to the country’s national space agency.


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PSLV to Launch Pixxel’s Hyperspectral Imaging Satellite Anand on November 26

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PSLV to Launch Pixxel's Hyperspectral Imaging Satellite Anand on November 26

Spacetech startup Pixxel is set to launch its third hyperspectral satellite – Anand – onboard ISRO’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) from the Sriharikota spaceport on Saturday.

Anand is a hyperspectral microsatellite weighing less than 15 kg but having more than 150 wavelengths that will enable it to capture images of the earth in greater detail than today’s non-hyperspectral satellites that have not more than 10 wavelengths.

The imagery from the satellite can be used to detect pest infestation, map forest fires, identify soil stress and oil slicks amongst other things, a statement from Pixxel said on Monday.

“After more than 18 months of delay, many many retests, and more than two years of sweat and hard work by the team, we are finally launching this week,” Awais Ahmed, Founder and CEO of Pixxel said on Twitter.

Founded by Ahmed and Kshitij Khandelwal, Pixxel became the first Indian company ever to launch a commercial satellite – Shakuntala – in April using Elon Musk’s SpaceX’s Falcon-9 rocket.

Pixxel’s hyperspectral satellites are unique in their ability to provide hundreds of bands of information with global coverage at a very high frequency, making them ideal for disaster relief, agricultural monitoring, energy monitoring and urban planning applications, the company said.

The satellites are equipped to beam down up to 50 times more information with unprecedented detail, compared with other conventional satellites in orbit.

Pixxel has already inked partnerships with Rio Tinto and Data Farming which will use hyperspectral datasets to identify mineral resources and monitoring active and determining crop issues respectively.

The imagery from this will provide the team targeted inputs to improve the form factor and imaging capabilities of the next batch of commercial-grade satellites.

With this launch, Pixxel moves closer to achieving its vision of building a health monitor for the planet through a constellation of cutting-edge hyperspectral small satellites in space.

Pixxel is backed by Lightspeed, Radical Ventures, Relativity’s Jordan Noone, Seraphim Capital, Ryan Johnson and Accenture among others.


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