1. An ancient circular lake created by a meteorite strike in Maharashtra and a hexagonal mosaic of basaltic rocks in an island off Udupi are poised to become global geoparks, under a Geological Survey of India (GSI) plan. Lonar Lake in Maharashtra and St. Mary’s Island and Malpe beach in coastal Karnataka are the GSI’s candidates for UNESCO Global Geopark Network status. An aspiring Global Geopark must have a dedicated website, a corporate identity, comprehensive management plan, protection plans, finance, and partnerships for it to be accepted. The Geopark tag is akin to that of a ‘World Heritage Site’ for historical monuments that can bring India’s famed geological features to the global stage. Lonar lake is the only known meteorite crater in basaltic rock. St. Mary’s Island, declared a national geo-heritage site in 1975, is estimated to be an 88-million-year-old formation that goes back to a time when Greater India broke away from Madagascar. Lonar crater became a geo-heritage site in 1979. It is relatively young geologically, at just 50,000 years old. A meteorite estimated to weigh two-million-tonnes slammed into the Earth, creating a 1.83-km diameter crater where the lake formed. It is distinguished by a near-perfect, circular ejecta blanket, which refers to earth thrown up during the collision, around it. 
  2. Two immunologists, James Allison of the US and Tasuku Honjo of Japan, won the 2018 Nobel Medicine Prize for research that has revolutionised the treatment of cancer. The pair were honoured “for their discovery of cancer therapy by inhibition of negative immune regulation. Immune checkpoint inhibitor therapy targets proteins made by some immune system cells, as well as some cancer cells. The proteins can stop the body’s natural defences from killing cancer cells. The therapy is designed to remove this protein “brake” and allow the immune system to more quickly get to work fighting the cancer.
  3. Tang Prize is touted as Asia’s version of the Nobels. The Tang Prize is a set of biennial international awards bestowed in four fields: Sustainable Development, Biopharmaceutical Science, Sinology, and Rule of Law.
  4. Indonesian city of Palu was recently ravaged by a Tsunami.
  5. Hyderabad-based Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS), runs the state-of-the-art Indian Tsunami Early Warning System (ITEWS).
  6. Stratolaunch is the world’s largest aeroplane — with two fuselages and six Boeing 747 engines. It is still in the testing phase. The white airplane has a wingspan the length of an American football field, is powered by six engines on a twin fuselage and is a carbon composite plane. It is designed to carry into space, and drop, a rocket that would in turn ignite to deploy satellites. The plane is designed to drop rockets and other space vehicles weighing up to 500,000 pounds at an altitude of 35,000 feet.
  7. Kamov-226T utility helicopters and S- 400 air defence systems are of Russian origin. India is in the process of acquiring these from Russia. The state-of-the-art S-400 Triumf (NATO name SA-21 Growler) is considered one of the most advanced long-range defence systems in the world. It has a range of 400 km and can hit targets at a height of up to 30 km. Its powerful radars can track hundreds of targets simultaneously and destroy a range of targets. Each system includes a command post, a 3D phased array acquisition radar, optional tracking radar and firing units. There are various kinds of missiles to choose from based on the mission requirements.
  8. Mansar Lak, one of the largest freshwater lakes in the Shivalik range of the Jammu region, is facing an existential threat due to human intervention and climate change.
  9. Classified as vulnerable by the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Red List of threatened species, the black spotted turtle (Geoclemys hamiltonii) or spotted pond turtle is native to South Asia, and a heavily trafficked chelonian. The species was once smuggled for its meat and is now sought after as an exotic pet. In India, the species is distributed across the north, northeast and a few parts of central India in States such as West Bengal, Assam, Bihar, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, and parts of Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Rajasthan and Meghalaya.
  10. TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network, is a joint program of WWF and IUCN – the International Union for Conservation of Nature. TRAFFIC works to ensure that trade in wild plants and animals is not a threat to the conservation of nature. TRAFFIC has gained its greatest reputation from supporting CITES, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. Since TRAFFIC was created in 1976 it has helped with the evolution of this international wildlife trade treaty. 

Categories: POINT IAS

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