Contents

  1. Russia plans its own space station in 2025
  2. Climate Vulnerability Assessment Report
  3. ‘Britcoin’ not bitcoin

Russia plans its own space station in 2025

Context:

  • As tensions simmer between Russia and a number of Western countries on the ground, the head of the Russian space agency has announced work has begun on a space station of its own.
  • Russia recently celebrated its proud history in space, marking the 60th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin becoming the first human to go into orbit.
  • For years, Russia had a monopoly on manned space flight but in 2020 NASA astronauts were taken to the ISS via a capsule belong to Elon Musk’s SpaceX.

Relevance:

GS-III Science and Technology: (Space Technology, Developments in Space technology)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is a Space Station?
  2. How are space stations set up and how do they work?
  3. International Space Station (ISS)
  4. Russian withdrawal from the ISS and its new Space Station
  5. ISRO’s space station ambitions

What is a Space Station?

  • A Space station is an artificial structure placed in orbit, having the pressurized enclosure, power, supplies, and environmental systems necessary to support human habitation for extended periods.
  • In simple words: a space station, also called an orbital station, is a large spacecraft or man-made station in space which can act as a home where astronauts live and/or receive several spacecrafts from the Earth and/or act as a kind of science lab, etc.

Depending on its configuration, a space station can serve as a base for a variety of activities. These include observations of the Sun and other astronomical objects, study of Earth’s resources and environment, military reconnaissance, and long-term investigations of the behaviour of materials and biological systems—including human physiology and biochemistry—in a state of weightlessness, or microgravity.

How are space stations set up and how do they work?

Small space stations are launched fully assembled, but larger stations are sent up in modules and assembled in orbit. To make the most efficient use of its carrier vehicle’s capacity, a space station is launched vacant, and its crew members—and sometimes additional equipment—follow in separate vehicles. A space station’s operation, therefore, requires a transportation system to ferry crews and hardware and to replenish the propellant, air, water, food, and such other items as are consumed during routine operations. Space stations use large panels of solar cells and banks of storage batteries as their source of electrical power. They also employ geostationary relay satellites for continuous communication with mission controllers on the ground and satellite-based positioning systems for navigation.

How many Space Stations have we launched?

Since 1971, more than 10 space stations have been launched into a low orbit around Earth and have been occupied for varying lengths of time.

Important Space stations in chronological order are Salyut 1, Skylab, Salyuts 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7, Mir, the International Space Station, and Tiangong 1 and 2.

International Space Station (ISS)

  • The International Space Station (ISS) is a modular space station (habitable artificial satellite) in low Earth orbit.
  • The ISS program is a multi-national collaborative project between five participating space agencies: NASA (United States), Roscosmos (Russia), JAXA (Japan), ESA (Europe), and CSA (Canada).
  • The ownership and use of the space station is established by intergovernmental treaties and agreements.
  • The ISS serves as a microgravity and space environment research laboratory in which scientific experiments are conducted in astrobiology, astronomy, meteorology, physics, and other fields.
  • It is the largest artificial object in space and the largest satellite in low Earth orbit, regularly visible to the naked eye from Earth’s surface.
  • The ISS is the ninth space station to be inhabited by crews, following the Soviet and later Russian Salyut, Almaz, and Mir stations as well as Skylab from the US.
Celebrating the International Space Station (ISS) | NASA

Russian withdrawal from the ISS and its new Space Station

  • Russian officials have indicated they could pull out of the ISS in 2025 as the station’s structure is ageing and also the Russian space agency, Roscosmos, says that its agreement with the international partners runs out in 2024.
  • Appearing to pre-empt the decision to exit – the head of Roscosmos posted a video showing that the first core module of the new Russian orbital station is in the works and it is aimed at being made ready for launch in 2025.
  • The Russian space module, being assembled by the Energia corporation, is set to cost at least $5bn.
  • The planned Russian space station would orbit at a higher latitude and thus be better able to view the polar regions, which would be useful for the opening up of the Northern Sea Route. Russia hopes to develop the route as Arctic sea ice melts.

ISRO’s space station ambitions

  • Indian Space and Research Organization (ISRO) has announced its ambitious plan to put up a space station in the next decade.
  • The Indian space station will be much smaller (mass of 20 tonnes) than the International Space Station and will be used for carrying out microgravity experiments (not for space tourism).
  • Preliminary plan for the space station is to accommodate astronauts for up to 20 days in space, and the project will be an extension of the Gaganyaan mission.
  • It will orbit Earth at an altitude of around 400km.
  • ISRO (Indian Space Research Organisation) is working on space docking experiment (Spadex), a technology that is crucial for making the space station functional. (Space docking is a technology that allows transferring humans from one spacecraft to another.)
  • The International space station (ISS) is currently the only active space station (Operating and permanently inhabited) in the Earth’s orbit.

-Source: The Hindu


Climate Vulnerability Assessment Report

Context:

Eight Indian states — Jharkhand, Mizoram, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Assam, Bihar, Arunachal Pradesh and West Bengal — are highly vulnerable to climate change, according to a national climate vulnerability assessment report.

Relevance:

GS-III: Environment and Ecology (Climate change, Environmental Pollution and Degradation, Government Interventions and Policies for management of Climate Change)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is the DST Report on Climate Vulnerability Assessment?
  2. Highlights of the Report
  3. About National Action Plan on Climate Change

What is the DST Report on Climate Vulnerability Assessment?

  • ‘The Report Climate Vulnerability Assessment for Adaptation Planning in India Using a Common Framework’ identifies the most vulnerable states and districts in India with respect to current climate risk and key drivers of vulnerability.
  • This report released by the Department of Science and Technology aids in prioritizing adaptation investment, developing and implementing adaptation programs.
  • This report is a part of the capacity building programme under two missions of the National Action Plan on Climate Change – National Mission on Sustaining the Himalayan Ecosystem (NMSHE) & National Mission on Strategic Knowledge for Climate Change (NMSKCC).
  • The report is unique as the assessment uses a common framework across the states & union territory to make them comparable thereby empowering the decision-making capabilities at the policy and administrative levels.
  • Percentage of population living below the poverty line; income share from natural resources; the proportion of marginal and small landholdings, women’s participation in the workforce; density of healthcare workers etc., are some of the key indicators for the assessment.

Highlights of the Report

  • The report identified Jharkhand, Mizoram, Orissa, Chhattisgarh, Assam, Bihar, Arunachal Pradesh, and West Bengal as states highly vulnerable to climate change.
  • Himachal Pradesh, Telangana, Sikkim and Punjab were identified as “Lower-middle Vulnerable States”.
  • Uttarakhand, Haryana, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Nagaland, Goa and Maharashtra were identified as “Low-vulnerable states”.
  • Among all states, Assam, Bihar, and Jharkhand have over 60% districts in the category of highly vulnerable districts.
  • Hence, the report shows that all districts & states are somewhat vulnerable with respect to current climate risk in India.

Use of this report

  • The assessments can be used for India’s reporting on the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) under the Paris Agreement.
  • These assessments will help support India’s National Action Plan on Climate Change.
  • It will contribute to the development of more targeted climate change projects and will support the implementation of the State Action Plans on Climate Change.
  • It will help in developing adaptation projects for the Green Climate Fund, Adaptation Fund and funds from multilateral and bilateral agencies.
  • It will also benefit climate-vulnerable communities across India through development of better-designed climate change adaptation projects.

About National Action Plan on Climate Change

  • The National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC) was launched in 2008 by the Prime Minister’s Council on Climate Change.
  • It aims at creating awareness among the representatives of the public, different agencies of the government, scientists, industry and the communities on the threat posed by climate change and the steps to counter it.

There are 8 national missions forming the core of the NAPCC which represent multi-pronged, long term and integrated strategies for achieving key goals in climate change. These are-

  1. National Solar Mission
  2. National Mission for Enhanced Energy Efficiency
  3. National Mission on Sustainable Habitat
  4. National Water Mission
  5. National Mission for Sustaining the Himalayan Ecosystem
  6. National Mission for A Green India
  7. National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture
  8. National Mission on Strategic Knowledge for Climate Change

-Source: PIB


‘Britcoin’ not bitcoin

Context:

The British finance minister told the Bank of England (BoE) [Similar to RBI in India] to look at the case for a new “Britcoin”, or central bank-backed digital currency, aimed at tackling some of the challenges posed by cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin.

Relevance:

GS-III: Science and Technology (Developments in Science and Technology, Application of Technology in Daily life, Blockchain technology)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What are cryptocurrencies?
  2. How are they different from actual currency?
  3. How do cryptocurrencies derive their value?
  4. About Britcoin
  5. Understanding Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC)

What are cryptocurrencies?

  • Cryptocurrencies are e-currencies that are based on decentralized technology and operate on a distributed public ledger called the blockchain.
  • Blockchain records all transactions updated and held by currency holders.
  • The technology allows people to make payments and store money digitally without having to use their names or a financial intermediary such as banks.
  • Cryptocurrency units such as Bitcoin are created through a ‘mining’ process which involves using a computer to solve numerical problems that generate coins.
  • Bitcoin was one of the first cryptocurrencies to be launched and was created in 2009.

How are they different from actual currency?

  • The Main difference is that unlike actual currencies cryptocurrencies are not issued by Governments.
  • Actual money is created or printed by the government which has a monopoly in terms of issuing currency. Central banks across the world issue paper notes and therefore create money and assign paper notes their value.
  • Money created through this process derives its value via government fiat, which is why the paper currency is also called fiat currency.
  • In the case of cryptocurrencies, the process of creating the currency is not monopolized as anyone can create it through the mining process.

How do cryptocurrencies derive their value?

  • Any currency has its value if it can be exchanged for goods or services and if it is a store of value (it can maintain purchasing power over time).
  • Cryptocurrencies, in contrast to fiat currencies, derive their value from exchanges.
  • The extent of involvement of the community in terms of demand and supply of cryptocurrencies helps determine their value.

About Britcoin

  • In the wake of declining cash payments in the country partly due to the Corona pandemic, the Bank of England and the Treasury are considering creating Digital Currency.
  • The Digital currency, if passed, would exist alongside cash and bank deposits and act as a new form of money to be used by households and businesses in England.
  • It would sit at the interface between cash and private payments systems and would not necessarily be based on distributed ledger technology.
  • This ‘britcoin’ would be tied to the value of the pound to eliminate holding it as an asset to derive profit.
  • The move could have an economic impact in the form of wider investment into the UK tech sector and lower transaction costs for international businesses.
  • Britain’s digital currency would be different in a key sense as if passed, it would be issued by state authorities. Currently, only the Bahamas has such a currency, though China is trialing it in several cities.

Understanding Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC)

  • A central bank digital currency (CBDC) uses an electronic record or digital token to represent the virtual form of a fiat currency of a particular nation (or region).
  • A CBDC is centralized – i.e., issued and regulated by the competent monetary authority of the country.
  • Each unit acts as a secure digital instrument equivalent to a paper bill and can be used as a mode of payment, a store of value, and an official unit of account.

Advantages of CBDC

  • CBDC aims to bring in the best of both worlds—the convenience and security of digital form like cryptocurrencies, and the regulated, reserved-backed money circulation of the traditional banking system.
  • New forms of digital money could provide a parallel boost to the vital lifelines that remittances provide to the poor and to developing economies.
  • It will ensure that people are protected from financial instability caused due to the failure of private payments systems.
  • Ensures that central banks retain control over monetary policy against the remote possibility that payments might migrate into cryptocurrencies over which they have no leverage.

Issues with CBDC

  • There is a need to enforce strict compliance of Know Your Customer (KYC) norms to prevent the currency’s use for terror financing or money laundering.
  • Existence of digital money could undermine the health of commercial banks as it removes deposits on which they primarily rely for income.

-Source: The Hindu

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