Current Affairs April 19 & 20, 2019

In this post, GKToday presents Current Affairs of April 19 & 20, 2019 in Short Notes form for preparation of IBPS, Banking, CLAT, SSC, Railway, UPSC, IAS/PCS, UPPSC, BPSC, MPPSC, RPSC, TNPSC, MPSC, KPSC and all other competitive examinations of India.

1. Sri Lanka has launched its first satellite ‘Raavana-1’ into space from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on Virginia’s East Shore. It weights around 1.05 kg and the lifespan of the satellite is around one and a half years. The launch marks Sri Lanka’s entry into the global space age. Under BIRDS project, the satellite was designed and built at the Kyushu Institute of Technology in Japan by two Sri Lankan research engineers. Its camera mission is to capture images of Sri Lanka and its neighbouring countries.

2. Nepal has successfully launched its first satellite NepaliSat-1 into space from Virginia in the United States. The satellite was developed by the Nepalese scientists. NepaliSat-1 is a low orbit satellite which will be in the 400-km distance from the Earth's surface. It will be stationed at the International Space Station (ISS) for a month and then it will be sent to orbit the earth. The satellite will take photographs on a regular basis to gather geographical information of the country. It weighs 1.3 kilograms, making it a small satellite with limited capability. The Nepal Academy of Science and Technology (NAST) initiated the launch of the country's own satellite under the BIRDS project of the Japanese Kyushu Institute of Technology. The BIRDS project has been designed in association with the United Nations (UN) and aims at helping countries launch their first satellite.

3. The critically endangered ‘Kakapos’ - the world's fattest species of parrot - have enjoyed a record breaking breeding season, according to New Zealand's Department of Conservation (DOC). This year, 76 chicks have been hatched under the DOC's conservation scheme, with 60 expected to reach adulthood. This will significantly boost the population which has grown to 147 adults since a small number of the plump green, yellow and black birds were discovered in 1970. The kakapo is an "unusual" parrot as the females control the breeding process and only mate every two to four years when their favourite fruit grows in New Zealand's Rimu trees - the period is known as a "mast year". New Zealand's kakapo recovery programme is so tightly monitored that although they remain in the wild, each one has a radio transmitter attached to its body and there are monitoring systems embedded in their nests. It is claimed that kakapo is probably one of the most intensively managed species in the world.

4. By using data obtained by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft, the researchers discovered deep lakes (more than 300 feet, or 100 meters) filled with methane on Saturn’s moon Titan. The team also found “phantom lakes” that fill and empty periodically. It must be noted that Titan is the only known body in our solar system other than Earth with a liquid on its surface. But rather than a water cycle, it has a methane and ethane cycle. The new findings represented further evidence about Titan’s hydrological cycle, with liquid hydrocarbons raining down from clouds, flowing across its surface and evaporating back into the sky. This is comparable to Earth’s water cycle. Titan, with a diameter of 5,150 km, is the solar system’s second largest moon, behind only Jupiter’s Ganymede. It is bigger than the planet Mercury. The research was published in the journal Nature Astronomy.

5. The World Heritage Day (WHD) is celebrated every year on April 18 to promote the cultural heritage across the world. The 2019 theme is ‘Rural Landscapes’. It is also a day of international solidarity in favor of strengthening and safeguarding heritage world-wide. The day also aims to seek recognition for the people involved in preserving the sites, especially scientists, archaeologists, geographers and engineers. As of 2018, India has 36 World Heritage Sites including Western Ghats, Sundarbans National Park, Taj Mahal, City of Ahmadabad, Nalanda University, Mahabodhi Temple in Bihar and Khajuraho in Madhya Pradesh.

6. Ace cricketer Mithali Raj has been named as the goodwill ambassador of the Indian team for the Street Child Cricket World Cup (SCCWC-2019. She joined former captain Saurav Ganguly and IPL franchise Rajasthan Royals in supporting the team. The Street Child Cricket World Cup (SCCWC-2019) is the first cricket world cup for street-connected children. The tournament is being organised by Street Child United (SCU), a UK based organisation, which has a legacy of holding street child tournaments around major sporting festivals like FIFA World Cup in South Africa, Olympics in Brazil, FIFA World Cup Russia and more.

7. The researchers at Tel Aviv University have successfully "printed" the world's first three dimensional (3D) vascularised engineered heart using a patient's own cells and biological materials to completely match the immunological, cellular, biochemical, and anatomical properties of the patient. Their findings were published in a study in Advanced Science. Until now, scientists in regenerative medicine have been successful in printing only simple tissues without blood vessels. But the latest feat is the first time scientists have created a complex organ with biological materials. The process of creating the 3D printed heart started with a biopsy of fatty tissue taken from patients. The cellular material from the tissues was used as the " bionic ink" for the print job. That allowed researchers to create complex tissue models including cardiac patches and eventually an entire heart. The proof-of-concept feat could pave the way for a new type of organ transplant.

8. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank (WB) have jointly launched a project called “Learning Coin”. It is a private blockchain-based coin and only accessible within IMF and the World Bank to help both multinational agencies learn about the merits of blockchain. The coin project has been launched in order to conduct research and learn more about the core technologies that have been used to implement cryptographic assets such as Bitcoin (BTC) and Ether (ETH).

9. The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) Mission of NASA has discovered its first Earth-size planet - HD 21749c. The newly-discovered planet is about 89% Earth’s diameter. The planet is likely very hot, with surface temperatures perhaps as high as 800 degrees F (427 degrees C). It orbits HD 21749, a K-type dwarf star located 53 light-years away in the southern constellation. It is likely a rocky as it circles its parent star in just 7.8 days. This is the 10th confirmed planet discovered by TESS, and hundreds of additional candidates are now being studied.

10. Richard Powers has been honoured with the 2019 Pulitzer Prize in fiction category for his innovative novel ‘The Overstory’, which shows us the world through the perspective of nature.

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