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BENGALURU: Isro chairman K Sivan on Monday said that Gaganyaan, India’s first human spaceflight mission, will be slightly delayed because of Covid-19, which has so far put on halt all of the space agency’s launch missions.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had set a 2022 deadline for the human mission, a first crew-less flight as part of which was originally scheduled this year. The TOI was the first to report that the crew-less flight won’t happen in 2020 earlier this year.

On Monday, Sivan, answering a query at the plenary session of the International Astronautical Congress 2020, said that Gaganyaan, targeted for August 2022, “will be slightly delayed,” as Covid-19 has impacted operations.

He did not, however, specify if the launch could still take place in 2022. While maintaining that Gaganyaan activities are progressing well, Sivan also spoke of how other space faring nations like Russia and France. While Russia is training Indian astronaut-elects besides providing space suits, France is helping India in the space medical area.

Sivan further said that the space agency is likely to resume launching activity in the first week of November. VSSC director S Somnath too had earlier spoken at an event sharing details of Isro’s plan to launch PSLV C49 next month. The PSLV C49 rocket will put into orbit Risat-2BR2 and other third party satellites.

The Times of India is an Indian English-language daily newspaper owned by The Times Group. It is the third-largest newspaper in India by circulation and largest selling English-language daily in the world. according to Audit Bureau of Circulations.

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INDIA

Mars losing its atmosphere to outer space at faster rate: Isro’s MOM study

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NEW DELHI: A study of data and images sent by Isro’s Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) and Nasa’s Mars orbiter Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (Maven) has found that “Mars is losing its atmosphere to outer space at a faster rate”.

In fact, other terrestrial planets in the solar system are also constantly losing their atmospheres to outer space. The rate at which this loss happens is determined mainly by the size of a planet and temperature of its upper atmosphere”.

As Mars being a relatively smaller planet compared to Earth, it is losing atmosphere fast.

Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) on Wednesday posted on its website these findings of scientists who had studied data and images sent by MOM and Maven about a global dust storm that enveloped the Red planet in June-July 2018. Such a global storm is one of the dynamical meteorological phenomena on Mars.

Isro had placed the Rs 450-crore MOM in the Martian orbit on September 24, 2014, after its launch on November 5, 2013. Though MOM was scheduled to last only for six months as per the space agency’s plan, it is still alive and sending images from time to time nearly seven years after its launch and since then has made several key findings about the Red planet.

An Isro statement said, “In the first week of June 2018, a global dust storm, also called a “planet-encircling dust event”, started growing on Mars and it had grown to its mature phase by the first week of July. Such a storm significantly heated and expanded the Martian upper atmosphere.

The heating and expansion of the global dust storm led to a part of Mars atmosphere quickly reaching the exobase altitude (which lies at 220 km). Any hot gases above the exobase altitude are more likely to move to further higher altitudes and subsequently escape to outer space.

Hence, from the results of the present study it can be inferred that the 2018 global dust storm resulted in enhanced escape of the Martian atmosphere.”

MOM observed the evening side of Mars by diving down to altitude as low as 155 km. The Mars Exospheric Neutral Composition Analyser (MENCA) instrument, a mass spectrometer onboard the Isro orbiter, measured the neutral densities of the Mars’ thermosphere (which lies between 100 and 200 km).

By analysing these measurements, scientists at the National Atmospheric Research Laboratory, Gadanki, Andhra Pradesh, found that Mars upper atmosphere was undergoing warming and expansion. As the dust storm slowly engulfed Mars over a month period, scientists found that the neutral densities in the Mars thermosphere increased significantly. Such an increase was also confirmed by Nasa’s Maven mission, which was simultaneously measuring the Martian thermosphere on the morning side, the statement said.

Both the Isro and Nasa spacecraft observed a significant increase in neutral densities in the Martian upper thermosphere (150–220 km) associated with the development of a global dust storm in the lower atmosphere.

The study, whose scientific results have recently been published in the Journal of Geophysical Research-Planets, shows the scientific potential of Isro’s MOM and the advantages of multi-spacecraft measurements in exploring planetary atmosphere.

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INDIA

People who never tested positive turning up with post-Covid issues

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MUMBAI: A senior citizen suffering from breathlessness, exertion and dry cough visited a Navi Mumbai hospital. The 60-year-old had never tested positive for Covid, but a lung function test showed restriction consistent with Covid features.

A high-resolution CT scan revealed mild residual Covid lesions caused by the immune response in fighting the virus and some fuzziness in the lungs. The doctors ruled out other illnesses by conducting more investigations. The patient revealed that he had travelled to pilgrim towns, including Varanasi, prior to the lockdown in February-March and that he had mild fever for a few days.

On the basis of his history and his condition, they concluded that it was a case of post-Covid. He was treated with steroids and inhaler. While this was a stray case in June, doctors are now reporting more instances of patients who have never tested positive landing in hospitals with post-Covid symptoms. They report a history of fever or cough, which subsides in a day or two and which they may have ignored.

But with symptoms resurfacing, many are being subjected to the RTPCR test where results come negative. But the same patients then test positive in the antibody test, indicating a history of Covid. Doctors claim many may’ve neglected signs of Covid earlier as mild symptoms subside in a day or two.

Dr Jayalakshmi T K, a consultant pulmonologist with Apollo Hospital in Navi Mumbai, has seen about 30 such patients who have never tested positive but come with breathlessness and unexplained lung ailments. “We ask for their history. Then they reveal they might have had fever two or three months ago.

The RT-PCR would be negative, but a CT scan shows typical Covid-like features and it is fairly confirmatory. A high CO-RADS score is suggestive of Covid and in some cases, the antibody tests too come positive although that need not necessarily mean that the symptoms are because of Covid,” she said.

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INDIA

Pakistan still a haven for terror, India says on FATF decision eve

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NEW DELHI: With the ongoing plenary of terror watchdog FATF likely to decide on Friday if Pakistan should remain in its grey list, India reiterated that Islamabad continued to provide safe haven to terrorist entities and individuals.

The government also said Pakistan had not yet taken any action against several terror entities and individuals, including those proscribed by UNSC like Masood Azhar, Dawood Ibrahim and Zakir-ur-Rahman Lakhvi. All indications are that Pakistan will remain in the grey list for not fulfilling all its commitments to check terror financing and money laundering.

As the MEA said in its statement, it’s understood that Pakistan has addressed only 21 action items so far out of the 27-point FATF Action Plan.

“Six important action items are yet to be addressed,” said spokesperson Anurag Srivastava, adding it was well known that Pakistan’s a haven for terrorists. All six remaining points are said to be related to terror financing.

The issue of Pakistan’s compliance is being looked at the virtual FATF plenary meeting that will get over on October 23. As the official said, Parisbased FATF makes public announcements of its decisions according to its rules and procedures after its Plenary meeting.

“FATF has well laid out standards and procedures for putting a country in its Black List and Grey List. After a country is put on a List, an action plan is given to it and the country concerned is expected to fully complete the action plan within the stipulated time. Those found wanting in implementing their obligations are held accountable and subjected to appropriate action,” he said.

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