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Solar Impulse 2 completes historic round-the-world trip

The first round-the-world solar powered flight by Solar Impulse 2 was completed on 26 July 2016 after the aircraft landed successfully in Abu Dhabi.
•    Construction of Solar Impulse 2 started in 2011.
•    The wingspan of Solar Impulse 2 is 71.9 m, slightly less than that of an Airbus A380, the world's largest passenger airliner.
•    It is made of carbon-fibre.
•    It weighs only about 2.3 tonnes.
•    It features non-pressurized cockpit 3.8 cubic metres in size and advanced avionics, including an autopilot.
•    It has 17248 solar cells built into the wings that supply the plane with renewable energy, via four motors.
•    It made an unscheduled stop in Japan to await favourable weather over the Pacific.
•    The aircraft began the flight from Japan to Hawaii on 28 June 2015.
•    The plane landed at Moffett Field in California on 23 April 2016.
•    The aircraft next landed in Cairo, Egypt, on 13 July 2016.
•    On 23 July 2016, the plane departed Cairo and landed in Abu Dhabi on 26th July 2016.

Brazilian scientists identify another type of Zika-transmitting mosquito

Brazilian researchers on 21 July 2016 announced that they have found another species of mosquito, which is able to transmit the Zika virus to humans.

•    The scientists found the presence of the Culex quinquefasciatus mosquito infected by the Zika virus in three out of 80 groups of mosquitoes analysed up until now.
•    The 80 groups were from the metropolitan area of Recife, Brazil.
•    Until now, transmission of the virus was only known through the Aedes aegypti mosquitos, which are also responsible for the spread of dengue and chikungunya.
•    The Culex quinquefasciatus is known as domestic mosquito in Brazil.
•    It is a medium-sized mosquito found in tropical and subtropical regions of the world.
•    It is the vector of Wuchereria bancrofti, avian malaria and arboviruses.
•    Its genome was sequenced in 2010, and was shown to have 18883 protein-coding genes.

Scientists working toward storing digital information in DNA

Scientists are working towards storing digital data in the base sequence of DNA (Deoxyribonucleic acid).

•    Thus they are seeking to make the genetic material capable to store data for long time in durable format as an archive data for the future.
•    The information in the DNA is stored in strings i.e. in the form four-letter DNA code. It is basically sequences of four building blocks (nuclear strands) abbreviated as A (Adenine), C (Cytosine), T (Thymine) and G (Guanine) found in DNA molecule.
•    Basically digital devices store information in binary format (1s and 0s) i.e. in a two-letter code that produces strings of 1s and 0s.
•    The DNA digital data storage technology uses artificial DNA made using oligonucleotide synthesis machines for storage and DNA sequencing machines for retrieval of stored data.
•    Using this technology strings of DNA can be custom-made that can carry the new code, and store information that code contains

Researchers developed painless micro needle drug monitoring system

Scientists have developed a micro needle drug monitoring system in hopes of reducing pain during drug measurements and replace expensive blood draws.
•    Scientists at the University of British Columbia and the Paul Scherrer Institute(PSI) in Switzerland created a new system that consists of half-millimeter long needle-like projections that do not penetrate the patient's skin unlike the standard hypodermic needle.
•    During medical treatment, the small, thin patch is pressed against the patient's arm to painlessly measure the drugs in the bloodstream without the need for drawing blood.
•    Micro needles are generally painless as they are designed to pierce the outer layer of the skin and not the inner layers, such as the epidermis and the dermis, which contain nerves, blood vessels and active immune cells.
•    Ranamukhaarachchi and his team created the microneedle system to monitor the antibiotic vancomycin, which is used to treat serious infections and is administered via an intravenous line.

China unveils World's largest amphibious aircraft

China has unveiled the world's largest amphibious aircraft which Beijing says will be useful in fighting forest fires and embarking on rescue missions.
•    The massive seaplane, completed seven years after work on it started, is part of China's efforts in minimizing its dependence on foreign goods in crucial sectors.
•    The AG600, nearly the size of a Boeing 737, was rolled out by Aviation Industry Corporation of China in the southern city of Zhuhai on 23 July.
•    According to the Chinese manufacturers, the aircraft has a maximum take-off weight of 53.5 tonnes and a flight range of up to 4,500kms.
•    The agency's deputy general manager, Geng Rugang, hailed the aircraft as "the latest breakthrough in China's aviation industry".
•    With a capacity to cruise at 500kms, the plane can pick up as much as 12 tonnes of water within 20 seconds.

2000 year old burial site discovered in Tamil Nadu

Students on a college trip in Anaikaraipatti, Tamil Nadu have discovered a 2,000-year-old burial site, reports The Better India.

•    The students discovered four Dolmens, which are the burial sites of leaders and war heroes. Notably, Dolmens are typically megalithic tombs with flat stones laid upon upright ones.
•    The Sangam literature (300 BCE to 400 CE) shows a vibrant Tamil life with well laid out towns which are organically related to a colorful village life.
•    Some songs give detailed descriptions of port cities and various settlements.
•    However, there have not been enough archaeological substantiation attempted for the historical data embedded in Sangam literature. Coins have been obtained with the names of some of the rulers.
•    The news of Keeladi, a village in Sivaganga district in Tamil Nadu, having thrown up large scale urban settlements more than 2000 years old, coinciding with the Sangam age, is good encouragement for Indian archaeology.

Canada to conduct world’s first Zika vaccine test on humans

A Canadian university in July 2016 said that it will conduct the world's first Zika vaccine test on humans. The vaccine that is under development will be tested on humans in the near future. Until now, vaccines have been tested on mice.

Kobinger, a doctor of microbiology and professor of medicine at the university, is overseeing the study.
•    The disease is caused by a virus transmitted primarily by Aedes mosquitoes.
•    People with Zika virus disease can have symptoms including mild fever, skin rash, conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pain, malaise or headache. These symptoms normally last for 2-7 days.
•    There is scientific consensus that Zika virus is a cause of microcephaly and Guillain-Barré syndrome. Links to other neurological complications are also being investigated.
•    The virus is capable of causing serious birth defects and has traveled quickly through Latin America.
•    There is no existing treatment or vaccine for it.

China inducted its largest indigenously-built transport aircraft named as Y-20

China inducted its largest indigenously-built transport aircraft named as Y-20, marking a crucial step in its Air Force history for improving its strategic power projection capability.
•    It is also considered as a breakthrough for Chinese defence sector especially in military aviation technology which will allow the world’s largest force to transport cargo and troops over long distances in diverse weather conditions.
•    The indigenously designed and developed Y-20 officially joined the PLA Air Force in Chengdu.
•    It is ideal for transporting cargo and personnel over long distances in diverse weather conditions. It has a maximum take-off weight of 200 tonnes.
•    The plane is comparable to the Russian-made IL-76 and US made C-17.
•    It is more advance than the IL-476.
•    Its induction will make easier for Chinese PLA to deploy troops, enable military to act more promptly and respond to emergencies in a better manner
•    The Y-20 had undergone its maiden flight in January 2013 and since then it had undergone trials runs, including in the rugged Tibetan terrain,
•    It had made its debut at the 10th China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition in November 2014.

(NASA) has given its approval to extend New Horizons mission to investigate a mysterious object deep in the Kuiper Belt.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in the first week of July 2016 gave its approval to the New Horizons mission to investigate a mysterious object deep in the Kuiper Belt.
The mission will explore the mysterious object known as 2014 MU69.
It is expected that the New Horizons will reach 2014 MU69 on 31 December 2018 or 1 January 2019.
•    2014 MU69 is an ancient object considered one of the early building blocks of the solar system.
•    It was selected as New Horizons' target in August 2015.
•    After four course changes in October and November 2015, New Horizons is on course toward 2014 MU69.
•    2014 MU69 was initially called PT1 and 1110113Y by the New Horizons and Hubble teams respectively.
•    It was discovered on 26 June 2014 using the Hubble Space Telescope during a preliminary survey to find a suitable Kuiper belt object for the New Horizons probe to flyby.
•    2014 MU69 is the first object to be targeted for a flyby that was discovered after the spacecraft was launched.
•    New Horizons is an interplanetary space probe that was launched as a part of NASA's New Frontiers program.
•    It is engineered by the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) and the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI), with a team led by S. Alan Stern.
•    It was launched with the primary mission to perform a flyby study of the Pluto system. Its secondary mission is to fly by and study one or more other Kuiper belt objects (KBOs).
•    New Horizons was launched on 19 January 2006 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
•    It was launched directly into an Earth-and-solar escape trajectory with a speed of about 16.26 kilometers per second.
•    On 14 July 2015, it flew 12500 km above the surface of Pluto, making it the first spacecraft to explore the dwarf planet.

•    The Five Hundred Meter Aperture Spherical Telescope (or FAST) is the size of 30 soccer fields, and has taken over five years and $180 million to build. • FAST is nearly twice as big as the next largest radio telescope — the 300-meter-wide Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico. • One of the scientists involved in building FAST said that if it the telescope's dish was filled with wine, there would be enough to give five bottles of the stuff to each of the Earth's 7 billion inhabitants. • The telescope will be put to more serious uses: searching for extraterrestrial life and exotica of the Universe such as pulsars, quasars, and gravitational waves. • More than 9,000 residents living within a 5 kilometer distance of FAST were relocated during the telescope's construction. • Each received 12,000 yuan ($1,800) in compensation from the Chinese government.