[Science] TheHindu Dec12: GRAIL, Asteroid Mining, MoonKAMs, Liquiglide, Oraquick and more Science-Tech for UPSC CSAT

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Space related

Asteroid Mining + Space Station

NASA’s plan for Asteroids?

  • NASA scientists are planning to capture a 500,000 kg asteroid, and transform it into a space station for astronauts to refuel at on their way to Mars.
  • This technology would also open up the possibility of mining other asteroids for their metals and minerals.
  • Some asteroids are full of iron which could be used for in the making of new space stations
  • Others asteroids are made up of water which could be broken down into hydrogen and oxygen to make fuel
  • NASA plans to accomplish this in next 10-12 years.



  • Small rocky or metallic body that orbits the Sun.
  • Most asteroids are found between the orbits of the planets Mars and Jupiter in a wide region called the asteroid belt.
  • It is because of their small size and large numbers relative to the major planets that asteroids are also called minor planets.
  • small icy body in space that sheds gas and dust.
  • A Comet appears generally as a bright head with a long tail.
  • The length of the tail grows in size as it approaches the sun. (because Sun’s heat coverts the ice directly into gas without melting).
  • The tail of a comet is always directed away from the sun
  • Halley’s comet, appears after nearly every 76 years.



  • A meteor is usually a small object that Occasionally enters the earth’s atmosphere.
  • At that time it has a very high speed. The friction due to the atmosphere heats it up.
  • It glows and evaporates quickly. Hence known as Shooting stars.
  • Some meteors are large so that they can reach the Earth before they evaporate completely.
  • The body that reaches the Earth is called a meteorite

Comet and its tail

Mercury Messenger

  • Mercury is the innermost planet in the Solar System.
  • NASA’s MESSENGER spacecraft has reported presence of water-ice on Mercury.


  • GRAIL (Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory) mission.
  • It is NASA’s first planetary mission to carry cameras fully dedicated to education and public outreach.


  • MoonKAM= Moon Knowledge Acquired by Middle School Students.
  • The MoonKams captures images of the moon’s surface and sends them to the students for study.

Ebb and Flow, Sally Ride

  • Two NASA spacecraft — Ebb and Flow, equippped with MoonKAMs and orbitting around Moon since 2011 under GRAIL mission.
  • But they did not have sufficient altitude or fuel to continue science operations. Hence NASA team crash-landed them on Moon in Dec 2012.
  • The place where they crash landed is named after Sally K. Ride, America’s first woman astronaut.



liquiglide bottle

Ketchup won’t stick inside bottle anymore!

  • A coating material for any type food containers —glass, ceramic, metal and plastic.
  • It is super-slippery and non-toxic hence you can easily pickout last drop of honey, fruitjam, ketchup or oil from the insides of food containers.
  • No scraping, rinsing of bottles required.
  • And the compound is safe enough to eat.

Other applications

  • Keep ice off the wings of an airplane
  • Help easy flow in oil and gas pipelines where insides of pipes sees buildup of organic compounds that clog supply networks.
  • For cosmetics: can pour last drop of expensive lotions out.

Plastic light bulb

  • a new kind of light bulb that uses plastic polymers and nano materials to generate light
  • It is more energy-efficient than current fluorescent lights and is easier on the eye.
  • It doesn’t produce humming sound like those fluorescent tubes.

Nuke Desalination plant

Nuclear Desalination Demonstration Plant (NDDP) located at Kalpakkam, Tamilnadu.

It is the world’s largest hybrid seawater desalination plant coupled to an existing nuclear power plant.


  • when the pressure drops, the boiling point of seawater also drops.
  • The excess heat generated from nuclear reaction causes seawater to flash evaporate into pure water vapour.
  • The water vapour is then condensed to produce distilled water.

MakerBot Replicator

markbot replicator

Using makerbot, you can “print” your own 3D toys!

  • desktop-size 3-D printer.
  • Instead of using ink, it spreads ultra-thin plastic layers, each melting into the layer below to create a 3D-object.

Switchblade Drone

  • It’s a kamikaze (suicide bombing) type drone.
  • The person controlling it uses a real-time video feed from the drone to crash it into a precise target—say, a sniper and its tiny warhead detonates on impact.

Element 113

  • Japan has created three atoms of the highly unstable superheavy element 113.
  • This element is yet nameless, but it has an enormous nucleus containing 113 protons and 165 neutrons.


Biological Plough Redgram

  • Pigeonpea, commonly known as redgram, arhar or tur,
  • It is leguminous plant.
  • it is capable of fixing atmospheric nitrogen and thereby restores nitrogen content in the soil.
  • Its deep rooting system helps in extracting nutrients and moisture from deeper soil layers thus making it suitable for rainfed condition.
  • Deeper rooting system of the crop also helps in breaking the tough dry soil and it is also called as ‘biological plough’.

Handheld Dental X-ray

  • Genuine Handheld X-ray sets are very expensive. But now Chinamade Cheaper products are in the market.
  • But they do not have adequate shielding in the X-ray tube.
  • And leads to accidental leakage radiation.
  • In India, use of such medical X-ray instruments need approval from Atomic Energy Regulatory Board. (AERB)
  • Use of radiation generating equipment not approved by AERB is a violation of the legal provisions and will attract action under the appropriate provisions of the Atomic Energy Act 1962

Why skin itching during wound healing?

  • Histamine =chemical mediator involved in the allergic reactions.
  • Histamine dilates blood vessels to facilitate the entry of immune cells onto the wound site to ward off infection.
  • But It also acts on the nerve endings causing itching.
  • Itching can also be caused due to allergy for the ointments/ medications applied
  • When new skin that is formed is devoid of the normal oil glands .This dryness also provokes the nerve endings causing itching.

OraQuick Home


Oraquick-Detect HIV @Home

  • It’s the first Do It Yourself testkit for detecting HIV—the same one that health professionals use but without the trip to a doctor’s office or the need to wait days for results.

Parkinson’s disease

  • is caused by loss of the neurons that produce the neurotransmitter dopamine (known as dopaminergic neurons).
  • Researchers have now derived dopaminergic neurons from bone marrow stem cells in monkeys to cure it.

Dogs in Mudumalai Tiger Reserve

Mudumalai tiger reserve = Tamilnadu.

Issue: Domestic dogs from surrouding villages are hunting small birds and mammals near forest edges.

Why problem?

  1. Lower prey availability for wild carnivores like tigers and leopards
  2. These dogs may also be spreading rabies and other diseases to wild animals
  3. Mudumalai, also has large populations of the endangered wild dog or dhole.
  4. They eat infected carcasses hunted by domestic dogs=spread of disease.
  5. Training village dogs to procure wild meat is a criminal offence under the category of ‘poaching’. But the larger harm that goes unnoticed is that it indirectly threatens the survival of non-target animals.


  • New onion variety for North India.
  • Developed by National Horticultural Research and Development Foundation (NHRDF), Nashik.
  • This foundation => established by National Agricultural Co-operative Marketing Federation of India Ltd (NAFED)

Mock Questions

Q1. Find incorrect Match?

NASA missions Location
  1. GRAIL
  1. Only 1
  2. Only 2
  3. Both
  4. None

Q2. find correct Match

Term Associated with
  1. Shooting star
  1. Minor planet
  1. Only 1
  2. Only 2
  3. Both
  4. None

Q3. which of the following is not correct about Asteroids?

  1. They’re found in the Asteroid belt between Mercury and Jupiter.
  2. Some of them contain metals and minerals.
  1. Only 1
  2. Only 2
  3. Both
  4. None

Q4. Which of the following is correct about the tail of Comet?

  1. It grows bigger in size as it moves away from the Sun.
  2. It is always directed towards the Sun.
  1. Only 1
  2. Only 2
  3. Both
  4. None

Q5. Correct Match?

Wildlife species Found in
Narcondam Hornbill Nagaland
Dhole Tamilnadu
  1. Only 1
  2. Only 2
  3. Both
  4. None

Q6. (Decision Making Q for CSAT-Paper II) There are reports of domestic dogs hunting small birds and mammals in a wildlife sanctuary and thus posing risk to the foodchain and health of the wild animals. As the Chief Warden of this sanctuary, which of the following step would you take?

  1. Promise cash reward to anyone who kills those domestic dogs.
  2. Set up Electrical fence to prevent those domestic dogs from entering in the Sanctuary.
  3. Order people of the surrounding villages not to feed or shelter those domestic dogs, else face punitive actions.
  4. Capture, Vasectomize and release those domestic dogs in area far away from the Wildlife Sanctuary.

General Studies Mains

Write 20 words about following terms

  1. Oraquick home
  2. GRAIL
  3. MOONKams
  4. Liquiglide
  5. NAFED
  7. 3D-printing.
For previous entries related to Science-Tech, visit Mrunal.org/snt
want to add your entries, then participate in Current Affairs Marathon (click me)


  1. The Hindu Science Tech (Thursday) editions of Dec 2012
  2. TIME magazine’s best inventions of the year 2012
Indian History Freedom Struggle Pratik Nayak

54 Comments on “[Science] TheHindu Dec12: GRAIL, Asteroid Mining, MoonKAMs, Liquiglide, Oraquick and more Science-Tech for UPSC CSAT”

  1. 1.d, 2.d, 3.a, 4.d, 5.b, 6.c

    1. you’ve answered 6-c. but if villagers are ordered not to feed or shelter the dogs- won’t it force dogs even more to go in jungle and hunt more wildlife animals?

  2. 6.b….i think so as this seems to be the best answer…

    1. electric fence can also harm wild animals living inside the sanctuary coming out in search of food at night.

      1. Electric fence can harm wild animals, villagers surrounding the sanctuary(Because, in a sanctuary Local people have some rights, unlike National Park) and also the forest officials

    1. if there will be elcetric fencing than it is not assure that only dos will touch that , ther may be other wild animals even tigers will touch that.

      so answer is “D”

  3. nice…thanks!!!!!!!!!

  4. 1.A

  5. Mrunal ji… i think that a meteor is just the visible path of a meteoroid… kindly correct me if I am wrong

    1. Rajesh, check NCERT Class 8 Science, Chapter 17, Page 223.

      1. mrunal.org/forum is not accepting my id ..there m getting some problem ..why?

    2. meteoroid is the thing that enters atmosphere of the earth. meteor is what we see during its fall. i mean a flash jet as a result of sudden burning of the material as a result of friction. mateorite is the remnant of meteroid that reaches the earth and remained available. most of meteorides dont reach the surface of the earth due to their small size. but once reached we start calling them meteorites.

      1. agree correct explanation..

  6. Deep-root penetration on the part of certain leguminous crops provides better drainage as a result of the channels left after the roots decay

  7. meteor:any of the small solid extraterrestrial bodies that hits the earth’s atmosphere

    meteorite: Stony or metallic object that is the remains of a meteoroid that has reached the earth’s surface

  8. Hey Mrunal,
    you have made a typo error in the asteroid table. It says steroids are minor planets :)

  9. sir…..plz explain govt schemes and India Vs International organations

  10. sir ,could you provide a detail overview on CYBER SECURITY ISSUES including measures taken by govts to combat this problem of knowledge based economy………………..

  11. The best way to deal with domestic dogs is sterlization and immunization(anti-rabies and other diseases like distemper, parvovirus, corona, etc) but don’t release anywhere else because empty space will attract new and unvaccinated , unsterlised dogs . Native sterlized dogs won’t allow new ones as they are territorial animals . You have often seen dogs fighting over territory when a new or dog from different territory comes.

  12. answers in order are d >> d >> a >> d >> b >> d

  13. Just an addition to s & t stuff .
    Census info India software.
    The specially designed software is an innovative and flexible database technology used for dissemination of population and housing census results. The software has been developed by UN statistics division , in partnership with UNICEF and UNFPA , to help countries disseminate their census results at any relevant geographical level, on CD- ROM and also on the web. The user is able to extract info quite easily and generate charts and maps depicting data. This powerful data dissemination tool would not only reduce the burden of statistical drudgery , but at the same time would make using census data an enjoyable experience.

  14. please add download functionality for all the articles.

  15. JASMINE-you can download very easily

    On chrome:-Just press ctr+p and then select save as PDF ,select destination and voila u have nw pdf version of the article
    In general:-There’s a button named ‘print as pdf’ on top right of all the articles,press it,it’ll create pdf plus it’ll cut margins and thus resulting pdf will be much more good that option 1.

    or just press ctr+s in any browser,and save entire webpage if u dnt have pdf reader or if u didnt get anything,there are load of other ways too,but for the time being try above ways…

  16. thank you Aaam Aadmi

  17. Sir, will you please provide an overview regarding NDC.

  18. sir i am not able write the answers of previous years question papers satisfactorily for public administration . Is there any book with solved papers of last ten years

  19. Thank you Mrunal for helping all of us..

  20. Very informative .Thank you very much.

  21. Amazing coverage. very comprehensive. thank you.

  22. please give correct answers as well..atleast of few ambiguous one like Qs no 5 &6

  23. Sorry..to misplace ur name instead of mine

  24. 1.c

  25. Really appreciable..


  27. 1 degree tilt.

  28. 1) d
    2) c
    3) d
    4) a
    5) c
    6) d

  29. 1 D
    2 D
    3 A
    4 D
    5 B
    6 C ( B is risky, collateral damage may be too much plus we can site punitive action quoting “poaching” laws)

    1. correction
      1 B

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