Science Snippets

PSLV-C52 Launches Earth Observation Satellite

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) launched the Earth Observation Satellite, EOS-04, into a sun synchronous polar orbit at an altitude of 529km on February 14 from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota.

The EOS-04 is a Radar Imaging Satellite designed to provide high-quality images under all weather conditions, an ISRO release said. The images will be of immense use in sectors like agriculture, forestry and plantations, soil moisture and hydrology, and flood mapping.

The EOS-04 weighs around 1700kg. Its mission life is ten years. The launch vehicle that carried EOS-04 to its orbit is the Polar Launch Satellite Vehicle, PSLV-C52. Along with the primary satellite, EOS-04, PSLV-C52 carried and put into orbit two other small satellites: INSPIREsat-1, a student satellite from the Indian Institute of Space Science & Technology (IIST) in association with Laboratory of Atmospheric & Space Physics at University of Colorado, Boulder, and INS-2TD, a technology demonstrator satellite from ISRO.

Source: PSLV-C52 Successfully Launches EOS-04

JWST Reaches Destination

The James Webb Space Telescope — an international collaboration between NASA, European Space Agency, and the Canadian Space Agency — has reached L2, the second Lagrange point, nearly 1.5 million kilometres from the Earth after a month-long journey.

The L2 is one of the Lagrangian points in space where gravitational forces and the orbital motion of a body balance each other. So, it is a great observation post.

Webb is the largest and the most powerful telescope to be launched. It has a large 6.5-metre segmented mirror designed to collect almost six times more light than Hubble, the telescope which has been in operation for over 30 years.

Webb, the USD 10bn telescope that has taken over 30 years to conceive, design, and build, will study infrared light from celestial objects with much greater clarity. It is hoped that Webb will reveal many mysteries of the universe.

With Webb reaching its destination, engineers will now work on the alignment of its mirrors, instrument activation, and commissioning. The process will take a few months, and Webb is expected to start sending images around June.

Source: Orbital Insertion Burn a Success, Webb Arrives at L2

Scientists Regrow Frog's Leg

A team of scientists has been able to regenerate the lost legs of frogs using five drugs.

Scientists at Tufts and Harvard University’s Wyss Institute have published a study in the journal Science Advances. The study said the team could re-grow the lost legs of adult African clawed frogs using five drugs.

The researchers said they enclosed the frog's stump in a silicone cap — described as a BioDome — containing a silk protein gel loaded with the five drugs. The drugs reduced inflammation, inhibited collagen production, and encouraged the growth of nerve fibres, blood vessels, and muscle.

The BioDome, which seals the stump for just 24 hours, creates an amniotic-like environment and starts the regrowth process. The frogs so treated developed functional legs in 18 months.

Some creatures like salamanders, crabs, and lizards can regrow tissues, organs, and even limbs.

Source: Scientists Regrow Frog’s Lost Leg

Hippos Recognize Strangers' Voices

The Hippopotamus, an African megaherbivore, can distinguish between familiar hippos and unknown hippos by listening to their vocalizations alone.

According to the findings of the research conducted by French researchers in the Maputo Special Reserve in Mozambique and published in Current Biology, hippos respond more aggressively towards stranger hippos.

The study says that hippos are very vocal. Their most common vocalization is the "wheeze honk", a call that can travel as long as one kilometre.

During the day, the amphibious hippos gather in groups in lakes. There could be several groups, which are neighbours to one another. The researchers conducted playback experiments on groups of hippos and observed their response to vocalizations from a hippo of the same group, from a neighbor, and from a stranger. The playback calls were made from the shore, 70-90 metres away from the groups that were tested.

The researchers found that hippos responded more aggressively to calls from strangers than from neighbours.

Source: Voice-Mediated Interactions in a Megaherbivore

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