Daily Current Affairs for Competitive Exams: November 8, 2016

NASA’s Magnetospheric Multiscale Mission sets Guinness world record

  • A NASA mission’s GPS prowess is now part of the record books: The Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) mission just broke a Guinness World Record for highest altitude fix of a GPS signal.
  • The four MMS satellites set the new space record by using GPS navigation at an altitude of 43,500 miles (70,000 kilometers) above Earth’s surface. The satellites use GPS, which is a navigation system that pinpoints locations by checking in with devoted satellites in orbit, to stay in a tight flying formation as they survey the Earth’s magnetic field.

About MMS

  • NASA’s MMS is an unmanned space mission to study the Earth’s magnetosphere, using four identical satellites flying in a tetrahedral or pyramid formation. The mission launched in March 2015, aims to map magnetic reconnection, a process that occurs as the sun and Earth’s magnetic fields interact. Understanding causes of magnetic reconnection is important for understanding phenomena of auroras on Earth, flares on surface of sun, and areas surrounding black holes. The mission is also designed to gather information about the microphysics of energetic particle acceleration and turbulence, processes that occur in many astrophysical plasmas.

About Magnetosphere?

  • Magnetosphere is the region of space surrounding an astronomical object in which charged particles are controlled by that object’s magnetic field. The magnetic field near the surface of many astronomical objects resembles that of a dipole. The field lines of the magnetic field significantly distort the flow of electrically conducting plasma emitted from a nearby star.

COP7 of WHO FCTC begins in Noida

  • The 7th Session of the Conference of the Parties (COP7) to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) started in Greater Noida, Uttar Pradesh on November 7, 2016. It is for the first time that India is hosting the COP meeting of FCTC. It is the world’s biggest convention on tobacco control policy in which 180 countries are patner to it.

What is Conference of the Parties (COP)?

  • The COP is the FCTC’s governing body and is comprised of all 180 Parties. The regular sessions of COP are held every third year. It reviews the implementation of the Convention and acts to promote its effectiveness.
  • Tobacco use kills around 6 million people a year globally and the cost to treat tobacco-related diseases is whopping $22 billion. In case of India, there are nearly 275 million tobacco users and close to one million deaths every year due to its direct or indirect use.

Preventive steps taken

  • India is pushing for stricter control on smokeless tobacco. In India, implementation of 85% pictorial warnings on cigarette packets has been mandatory. The new Juvenile Justice Act makes sale of tobacco products to minors punishable offence with 7 years of rigorous imprisonment.

Coradia iLint: World’s first zero-emissions hydrogen train unveiled in Germany

  • World’s first hydrogen-powered, zero-emission passenger train was unveiled in September 2016 in Germany. The Coradia iLint, developed by French rail company Alstom, only emits excess steam and condensed water into the atmosphere.

Key highlights of the Coradia iLint

  • Coradia iLint is powered by a hydrogen fuel tank on its roof. The fuel cell is supplied with hydrogen and oxygen-, which it converts into electric power.
  • The system is backed up by lithium batteries. These batteries store the excess power to supply when needed.
  •  The train is totally carbon-free, making it a much more sustainable alternative to the 4000 diesel trains currently in circulation in Germany.
  • It has enough onboard hydrogen storage to power an 800 kilometre journey, with speeds topping out at 87 miles per hour.
  • The testing of the train will be carried out by the end of 2016. If the results prove successful, the trains will service the Buxtehude-Bremervörde-Bremerhaven-Cuxhaven line in the German state of Lower Saxony by December 2017.