KalamSat – World’s smallest Satellite
The satellite has been named ‘KalamSat’ in memory of the world-renowned scientist and late President of India Dr APJ Abdul Kalam.
The satellite has been built by Rifath Sharook, an 18 year old student from Pallapatti in Karur district of Tamil Nadu.
The four-centimeter cube satellite weighs 64 grams and includes sensors to measure temperature and radiation levels, among other data.
Rifath’s satellite was chosen from 86,000 designs submitted by teams from 57 countries in a ‘Cubes in Space’ contest held by NASA and ‘I Doodle Learning’.
The main role of the satellite would be to demonstrate the performance of 3D-printed carbon fiber.
Cassini (Beamed back Saturn’s Solstice)
Cassini was launched in 1997 and arrived at Saturn in 2004 for its four-year primary mission to study the planet and its rings and moons.
It is currently in the final phase of its long mission, called its Grand Finale. Over the course of 22 weeks from April 26 to September 15.
Cassini’s most detailed look came after landing on Titan, Saturn’s largest moon, from where it beamed pictures back to earth. It was revealed later that Titan was an earth-like world with rain, rivers, lakes and seas.
Cassini discovered previously unknown moons in orbit within the planet’s rings. These include Methone, Pallene, Polydeuces, Daphnis, Anthe and Aegaeon.
One of its most important discovery was Enceladus – a frozen moon that shoots out icy jets as it gets warped by Saturn’s gravity.
Two significant discoveries among these are a large global ocean beneath the icy cover of Saturn’s moon Enceladus and liquid methane on Saturn’s largest moon
TRAPPIST-1 – The Exoplanet System
Seven planets, with mass similar to the Earth and orbiting around a dwarf star the size of Jupiter.
The planets circle tightly around a dim dwarf star called Trappist-1, barely the size of Jupiter.
Since the initial discovery of three planets was made using the Chile-based Transiting Planets and Planetesimals Small Telescope, the exoplanet system is called TRAPPIST-1.
TRAPPIST-1 holds the record for the greatest number of habitable-zone planets found around a single star outside our solar system.
NASA predicts that based on the density, the planets are rocky, though they can’t confirm the presence of water yet.
The star in TRAPPIST-1 is classified as an ultra-cool dwarf, which NASA points out is in contrast to our Sun.
The four newly discovered planets orbit around the star every 4.04 days, 6.06 days, 8.1 days and 12.3 days respectively; the orbital period of two of the three planets discovered last year are 1.51 days and 2.42 days respectively.
Junior Nobel Prize
Indrani Das, a 17-year-old Indian-American teen, won the top, $250,000 prize by winning the Regeneron Science Talent Search competition, which is known as the Junior Nobel Prize (12 of the people who won the contest have gone on to win actual Nobel Prizes).
Indrani had conducted on astrogliosis. It is a condition that occurs when astrocytes, which are a form of cells, start increasing in an abnormal rate due to certain form of injuries or trauma like infection, stroke etc. Excess of astrocytes leads to the destruction of neurons.
The renowned competition generally finds about 1,700 students each year submitting their research study in hopes of being recognised with the top prize.
Another Indian-American, Arjun Ramani, took the third place, which carries a prize of $150,000, for his project on networks using mathematical field of graph theory and computer programming.
Nicknamed the “Junior Nobel Prize”, it was originally sponsored by Westinghouse in 1942 and Intel took it up from 1998 till last year. Twelve of the contest alumni have won Nobel Prizes.