Daily Current Affairs:UPSC PSC SSC Exams

             Insight Mission

  • InSight, short for Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport, is a Mars lander designed to give the Red Planet its first thorough checkup
  • It is the first outer space robotic explorer to study in-depth the “inner space” of Mars: its crust, mantle, and core
  • Studying Mars’ interior structure answers key questions about the early formation of rocky planets in our inner solar system – Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars – more than 4 billion years ago, as well as rocky exoplanets. InSight also measures tectonic activity and meteorite impacts on Mars today.
  • This mission is part of NASA’s Discovery Program for highly focused science missions that ask critical questions in solar system science.
  • This is the first launch to another planet from the West Coast.
  • It will use seismology (the study of quakes) to determine the makeup and structure of the Red Planet’s core, mantle, and crust.
  • Currently, we know that Mars’ crust consists of lighter rocks and minerals, while heavier materials sank down to form its core and mantel.
  • To learn more about its internal composition, the lander will use specialized instruments to observe seismic waves during “mars quakes.

Eat less saturated, Tran’s fats to curb heart disease: WHO

  • The World Health Organisation (WHO) has recommended that adults and children should consume a maximum of 10% of their daily calorie intake in the form of saturated fat (found in meat and butter) and 1% in Tran’s fats.
  • Dietary saturated fatty acids and trans-fatty acids are of particular concern as high levels of intake are correlated with increased risk of CVDs
  • Saturated fatty acids and Trans-fatty acids
  • Saturated fatty acids are found in foods from animal sources such as butter, milk, meat, salmon, and egg yolks, and some plant-derived products such as chocolate and cocoa butter, coconut, palm and palm kernel oils.
  • Trans-fatty acids can be industrially produced by the partial hydrogenation of vegetable and fish oils, but they also occur naturally in meat and dairy products from ruminant animals (for example, cattle, sheep, goats and camels).
  • Industrially-produced trans-fatty acids can be found in baked and fried foods (doughnuts, cookies, crackers, pies, etc.), pre-packaged snacks and food, and in partially hydrogenated cooking oils and fats that are often used at home, in restaurants, or by the informal sector, such as street vendors of food.

Thalassaemia

  • Thalassaemia is an inherited blood disorder characterised by less oxygen-carrying protein (hemoglobin) and fewer red blood cells in the body than normal.
  • Symptoms include fatigue, weakness, paleness and slow growth.
  • Thalassaemia are genetic disorders inherited from a person’s parents
  • India has the highest number of thalassaemia majors and carriers (or those who are asymptomatic).
  • It is estimated that there are more than 100,000 thalassaemia majors in the country or an average prevalence rate of 3-4% carriers in the general population.
  • Each year, there are 10,000 children born with thalassaemia major.
  • The two types of thalassaemia are alpha thalassaemia and beta thalassaemia.
  • In alpha thalassaemia, having one faulty gene will cause little or no effect to a person.
  • Two faulty genes are associated with mild anemia.
  • Three mutated genes result in hemoglobin H disease that needs regular blood transfusions to treat chronic anemia.
  • Unborn babies with four faulty genes are unlikely to survive pregnancy.
  • Beta thalassaemia also has different forms:
  • Beta Thalassaemia Major, also called BTM, requires lifelong regular blood transfusions.
  • Beta Thalassaemia Inter media is also known as BTI or non-transfusion dependent thalassaemia or NTDT. This is a milder form of the condition and the severity will differ between individuals, from mild anemia to the need for regular blood transfusions.
  • Patients require lifelong blood transfusion, iron chelation therapies and other treatment
  • There is still no cure other than a bone marrow transplant.
  • As this has to be done in early childhood, it is not a workable cure as yet for adults.
  • Thalassaemia causes a significant economic burden on the country due to rising health care and drug expenses.
  • Given the genetic nature of the disease, it is in India’s best interests to focus on prevention and a cure.

 

Cost is a barrier

The development has raised the hopes of patients and families, the biggest obstacle is its cost. Most patients in India cannot pay for such expensive treatments in the absence of any government support and the complete lack of medical insurance for genetic disorders.

  • The Department of Biotechnology (DBT) has constituted a task force (“Stem Cell Research and Regenerative Medicine”) to encourage transnational research
  • On the regulatory front, there are clear guidelines for “Stem Cell Research and Therapy” that have been formulated jointly by the DBT and the Indian Council of Medical Research.
  • The new Drugs and Clinical trials Rules, 2018 encourage and motivate clinical research for orphan diseases
  • India has no dearth of talented and ethical medical researchers and doctors who can engage in gene therapy research. So, the government, medical research institutes and hospitals need to start developing low-cost gene therapies for thalassaemia.

     Gravity RAT

  • It is a malware allegedly designed by Pakistani hackers, which has updated its programming capabilities and is equipped with anti-malware evasion capabilities.
  • the latest update to the program by its developers is part of GravityRAT’s function as an Advanced Persistent Threat (APT), which, once it infiltrates a system, silently evolves and does long-term damage.
  • The RAT was first detected by Indian Computer Emergency Response Team, CERT-In, on various computers in 2017. It is designed to infliltrate computers and steal the data of users, and relay the stolen data to Command and Control centres in other countries.
  • The ‘RAT’ in its name stands for Remote Access Trojan, which is a program capable of being controlled remotely and thus difficult to trace.

How is it different from other Malware?

  • Gravity RAT is unlike most malware, which are designed to inflict short term damage. It lies hidden in the system that it takes over and keeps penetrating deeper.
  • Gravity RAT has now become self aware and is capable of evading several commonly used malware detection techniques,
  • One such technique is ‘sand boxing’, to isolate malware from critical programs on infected devices and provide an extra layer of security.
  • Typically, malware activity is detected by the ‘noise’ it causes inside the Central Processing Unit, but Gravity RAT is able to work silently.
  • It can also gauge the temperature of the CPU and ascertain if the device is carrying out high intensity activity, like a malware search, and act to evade detection,
  • The other concern is that the Command and Control servers are based in several countries. The data is sent in an encrypted format, making it difficult to detect exactly what is leaked.

How does the Trojan enter the system?

  • Gravity RAT infiltrates a system in the form of an innocuous looking email attachment, which can be in any format, including MS Word, MS Excel and MS PowerPoint, Adobe Acrobat or even audio and video files.
  • The hackers first identify the interests of their targets and then send emails with suitable attachments. Thus a document with ‘share prices’ in the file is sent to those interested in the stock market. Once it is downloaded, it prompts the user to enter a message in a dialogue box, purportedly to prove that the user is not a bot. While the users take this to be a sign of extra security, the action actually initiates the process for the malware to infiltrate the system, triggering several steps that end with Gravity Rat sending data to the Command and Control server regularly

Specially designed for Prelims-2018

United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA)

  • It is a separatist outfit seeks to establish a sovereign Assam with an armed struggle to form a socialist Assam.
  • According to ULFA sources, it was founded in 1979 at Rang Ghar, a historic structure dating to the Ahom kingdom (1228–1826) and began operations in 1990.
  • It has had training camps and sanctuaries in Nagaland and Naga inhabited areas of Arunachal Pradesh, as well as in Bhutan, Bangladesh and Myanmar.
  • ULFA’s stated objective is the attainment of Swadhin Asom (independent Assam). It has declared its readiness to talk with the government on the condition that the above is on the agenda.
  • Sunil Nath spokesman of ULFA has stated that the organization established ties with the Nationalist Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN) in 1983 and with the Burma based KIA in 1987.
  • The Government of India (GOI) has classified it as a terrorist organization and had banned it under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act in 1990.
  • Concurrently, GOI started military offensives against it, named Operation Bajrang November 1990, Operation Rhino September 1991, Operation All Clear December 2003 and Operation Rhino 2 led by the Indian Army.
  • Operation All Clear was a military operation conducted by Royal Bhutan Army forces against Assam separatist insurgent groups in the southern regions of Bhutan between 15 December 2003 and 3 January 2004. It was the first operation ever conducted by the Royal Bhutan Army.
  • The anti-insurgency operations still continue at present under the Unified Command Structure.

Leptospirosis

  • Leptospirosis is an infection caused by corkscrew-shaped bacteria called Leptospira.
  • Symptoms can range from none to mild such as headaches, muscle pains, and fevers; to severe with bleeding from the lungs or meningitis.
  • If the infection causes the person to turn yellow, have kidney failure and bleeding, it is then known as Weil’s disease
  • If it also causes bleeding into the lungs then it is known as severe pulmonary hemorrhage syndrome

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