Date: 4/17/2019

 
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  • Scientists have captured the deepest radio images of the Sun, an advance that may help reliably predict space weather and its possible effects on Earth.
  • The Sun is probably the most studied celestial object, but it still hosts mysteries that scientists have been trying to unravel for decades, for example, the origin of coronal mass ejections which can potentially affect the Earth.
  • A team of scientists at the National Centre for Radio Astrophysics (NCRA) in Pune, Maharashtra have been leading an international group of researchers to understand some of these mysteries.
  • "The sun is a surprisingly challenging radio source to study. Its emission can change within a second and can be very different, even across nearby frequencies," said Divya Oberoi, from NCRA, who led the study published in the Astrophysical Journal.
  • "In addition, the radiation due to the magnetic fields is so weak that it is like looking for the feeble light from a candle in the beam of a powerful headlight," Oberoi said in a statement.
  • "On top of this, seeing coronal emission at radio frequencies is a bit like looking through a frosted glass, which distorts and blurs the original image," he said. The Sun has some of the most powerful explosions in the solar system.
  • Their possible impacts on Earth include electric blackouts, satellite damage, disruption of GPS based navigation, and other sensitive systems. Hence, it is becoming increasingly important to understand and predict space weather reliably.
  • The magnetic fields in the sun's atmosphere, the corona, are the energy source for these massive explosions, and they are notoriously difficult to measure. Observations in radio wavelengths are best suited for this problem, but even there, this information is very hard to extract.
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  • A total of 150 Indian peacekeepers serving with the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) have received medals of honour for their dedicated service and sacrifice.
  • "A glimpse beyond the dedicated Service and Sacrifice of the @UN blue beret Indian peacekeepers receive medals of honour in Malakal -@India Be Proud," the UN mission tweeted 15th April, along with pictures of the Indian peacekeepers participating in a parade and receiving the medals for their exemplary service.
  • The medals were given to the 150 Indian peacekeepers serving in UNMISS in Malakal during a ceremony filled with parades and performances by a piped band.
  • Colonel Amit Gupta, deployed with UNMISS in Malakal, was among the recipients of the medal of honour.
  • A UNMISS news article said Gupta commands a battalion of 850 soldiers in the Upper Nile region of South Sudan.
  • Under his command, his men have conducted highly sought-after veterinary camps and run a veterinary hospital in Malakal, with a second expected to be completed in Kodok - a major town along the west bank of the Nile - in a few weeks' time.
  • Indian peacekeepers serving with the mission have undertaken numerous training sessions of community animal health workers, providing value addition training for farmers to help them make the most of their produce.
  • Gupta has previously served the United Nations in Northern Kivu, in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Private Ankush Cheema, another recipient of the medal of honour, had joined the unit in 2017 when he found out that they were scheduled for a peacekeeping mission.
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  • Egypt's parliament on 16th April passed amendments to the constitution that could see President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi remain in power until 2030.
  • The vote, which sends the amendments to a national referendum, was seen by critics as another step back to authoritarianism, eight years after a pro-democracy uprising ended autocrat Hosni Mubarak's three-decade rule.
  • The 596-member assembly, packed with el-Sissi's supporters, overwhelmingly gave its initial approval in February, sending it to the Constitutional and Legislative Affairs Committee to finalize the wording before 16th April final vote.
  • Of the 554 lawmakers who attended the session, 531 voted "yes," 22 voted "no" and one abstained. "Today we are concluding what we started in February," speaker Ali Abdel-Al said at the beginning of the session. "In this great day, we offer to the Egyptian people a draft bill of the constitutional amendments."
  • The national referendum will likely take place before early May when the Muslim holy month of Ramadan starts.
  • Since early April, the Egyptian capital has been awash with large posters and banners encouraging people to vote in favor of the changes. In Cairo's central Tahrir Square, where mass protests became the symbol of the 2011 anti-Mubarak uprising and of hopes for democratic change in Egypt, the posters urge people to vote in the referendum.
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  • India and the United Kingdom this week signed a memorandum of understanding on defence and security equipment described as a ‘step change’ in the long-standing defence relationship between the two countries.
  • The agreement follows a visit by India’s chief of naval staff, Admiral Sunil Lanba, to HMS Queen Elizabeth in Portsmouth in March, and HMS Dragon’s visit to Goa in December last year, where the ship took part in the naval exercise, the Konkan Series.
  • The defence equipment MoU was signed by Air Marshal Richard Knighton on behalf of the UK’s ministry of defence and Barun Mitra, additional secretary (defence production) in India’s ministry of defence.
  • “As major world economies, Britain and India both have a proud global maritime history, with impressive futures ahead,” defence minister Stuart Andrew said.
  • “The signing of this Memorandum of Understanding underpins the collaboration between our two nations, building on our defence ties, and ensuring our nations are able to combat emerging threats for generations to come,” Andrew said.
  • By collaborating and exploiting procurement opportunities together, both nations will be able to benefit from technological and manufacturing capabilities and support long-term cooperation between their defence and security industries, an official statement said.
  • Besides the bilateral defence talks, representatives of the UK and Indian industry met to discuss how they would forge deeper and broader partnerships to contribute to these efforts.
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  • Satellite measurements by Nasa researchers have verified the ground-based data which shows the Earth's surface has been warming globally over the past 15 years.
  • The team used measurements of the 'skin' temperature of the Earth taken by a satellite based infrared measurement system called AIRS (Atmospheric Infra-Red Sounder) from 2003 to 2017.
  • Recommended By Colombia The researchers compared these with station-based analyses of surface air temperature anomalies principally the Goddard Institute for Space Studies Surface Temperature Analysis (GISTEMP).
  • The study, published in the journal Environmental Research Letters, found a high level of consistency between the two datasets over the past 15 years.
  • "AIRS data complement GISTEMP because they are at a higher spatial resolution than GISTEMP, and have more complete global coverage," said Joel Susskind, from Nasa's Goddard Space Flight Center in the US.
  • "Both data sets demonstrate the Earth's surface has been warming globally over this period, and that 2016, 2017, and 2015 have been the warmest years in the instrumental record, in that order," Susskind said in a statement.
  • "This is important because of the intense interest in the detail of how estimates of global and regional temperature change are constructed from surface temperature data, and how known imperfections in the raw data are handled," he said. AIRS data reflects skin temperature at the surface of the ocean, land and snow/ice covered regions.

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