Today's Headlines

Today's Headlines - 13 January 2023

The VSHORAD missile system

GS Paper - 3 (Defence Technology)

The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) accorded Acceptance of Necessity (AoN) to procure the Very Short Range Air Defence System or VSHORAD (IR Homing) missile system, designed and developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). The development comes amid the ongoing military standoff with China at the LAC in eastern Ladakh and reports of air violations by China along the LAC last year.

What is the missile system?

  1. Meant to kill low altitude aerial threats at short ranges, VSHORADS is a man portable Air Defence System (MANPAD) designed and developed indigenously by DRDO’s Research Centre Imarat (RCI), Hyderabad, in collaboration with other DRDO laboratories and Indian Industry Partners.
  2. The DRDO, in September last year, conducted two successful test flights of the VSHORADS missile from a ground based portable launcher at the Integrated Test Range, Chandipur, off the coast of Odisha.
  3. As per the defence ministry, the missile—which is propelled by a dual thrust solid motor—incorporates many novel technologies including miniaturised Reaction Control System (RCS) and integrated avionics, which were successfully proven during the tests conducted last year. The DRDO has designed the missile and its launcher in a way to ensure easy portability.

How will it help India?

  1. While the exact specifications of the missile are not immediately known, officers in the Army explained that being man portable and lightweight compared to the other missile systems in the Army’s armoury, it can be deployed in the mountains close to the LAC at a short notice.
  2. When it comes to man portable air defence missiles, there was a critical gap in the Army’s inventory, especially for the eastern and northern borders, though not so much for the western borders with Pakistan, for which India has the Soviet-vintage OSA AK missile systems.
  3. Others like the Akash Short Range Surface to Air Missile System are heavier with a theatre air defence umbrella of up to 25 km and can be deployed further away from the LAC for static formations.
  4. When inducted, they will be a critical air defence missile for the forces, even for an all-equipped infantry unit, and will be the best option for mountain warfare.

 The ‘Pineapple Express’ phenomenon

GS Paper - 1 (Geography)

Forecasters said the rain arriving in California is being caused by a “true Pineapple Express” — a specific example of a common atmospheric phenomenon that resembles a conveyor belt for moisture. California and other parts of the West Coast have been hit with a series of what meteorologists call atmospheric riverslong, narrow regions in the atmosphere that transport most of the water vapor outside the tropics. “Like rivers in the sky,” according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Is ‘Pineapple Express’ a common phenomenon?

  1. These rivers in the sky occur often on the West Coast but can happen in other locations, including the eastern United States, where they often channel moisture from the Caribbean.
  2. And they carry a lot of moisture — enough water vapor to equal or sometimes exceed the average flow of the Mississippi River at the point where it flows into the Gulf of Mexico.
  3. When this moisture begins to interact with land, it can fall as rain or snow. Often, as is the case lately in California, the precipitation is abundant because these atmospheric rivers provide a continuous flow of moisture.
  4. Although atmospheric rivers come in different shapes and sizes, for one to be a “true Pineapple Express,” location matters.
  5. The tail end, where the moisture is pulled into the atmosphere, must start near Hawaii. Then the river must stretch continuously through the atmosphere to the U.S. West Coast.

What happens, as a result?

  1. Whether an atmospheric river is a Pineapple Express or not, the result is something like a conveyor belt for precipitation.
  2. That makes them essential to the livelihood of coastal states, which rely heavily on precipitation for their water supply: Between 30% and 50% of the annual precipitation on the West Coast occurs from just a few atmospheric river events, according to the NOAA.
  3. But when the rivers are particularly strong — or come back-to-back in what are called “atmospheric river families” — the effects can be serious, like the extensive flooding that California is experiencing now.

 Northwest India is shivering by cold wave

GS Paper - 1 (Geography)

Delhi and other parts of northwest India have been reeling under a cold wave spell. In Delhi, the Safdarjung weather station, which provides representative figures for the city, has recorded cold wave conditions for five consecutive days so far this month, making it the longest such spell in a decade.

What is a cold wave?

  1. The IMD marks a cold wave in terms of minimum temperatures – when the minimum temperature in the plains is 4 degrees or less or when the minimum temperature is less than 10 degrees and 4.5 to 6.4 degrees below the normal.
  2. One of the major factors contributing to colder than normal temperatures over north India this month is the large-scale fog cover, according to RK Jenamani, scientist, IMD.
  3. While westerly and northwesterly winds of around 5 to 10 kmph in the afternoon have also been contributing to the dip in temperature, an important factor this month is fog, which has been lasting for longer durations, preventing sunlight from reaching the surface and affecting the radiation balance.
  4. There is no heating in the day time, and then there is the impact of the night. Foggy or cloudy nights are usually associated with warmer nights, but if the fog remains for two or three days, cooling begins even at night.
  5. Light winds and high moisture near the land surface have been contributing to the formation of a blanket of fog over large swathes of the Indo-Gangetic plains in the morning.
  6. Since there has not been any significant impact of western disturbances over the region, cold northwesterly winds have also been contributing to low temperatures.
  7. Western disturbances, which are storms from the Mediterranean region, are associated with a change in wind direction, bringing easterly winds to northwest India.

 Space fourth dimension of warfare

GS Paper -3 (Space Technology)

Terming space as the fourth dimension of warfare, scientific advisor to Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, has said that a lot of military-related and defence-related activities have already started in the space domain. This is leading to a lot of increasing activities in space.

More about the news

  1. He was speaking at the three-day international workshop on Space Situational Awareness (SSA) and Space Traffic Management (STM) in Bengaluru, Karnataka, jointly organised by Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and Astronautical Society of India (ASI).
  2. The proliferation of multiple large constellations of satellites is also anticipated to contribute to the drastic rise in the population density of space objects.
  3. Scientists from ISRO say that Space Situational Awareness (SSA) and Space Traffic Management (STM) have become an integral and indispensable part of safe and sustainable space operations.
  4. It aims to bring out the potentially detrimental effects of the increasing number of space objects and deliberate on the methods, procedures, technologies, and policies that need to be developed and implemented to continue long-term sustainable utilisation of outer space.
  5. It stressed the importance of space traffic management and called for laws and mechanisms for the purpose.

Space situational awareness:

  1. It is a comprehensive knowledge of the population of space objects.It includes having knowledge of adversaries’ space activities and surveillance of all space objects and space activities.
  2. Debris in space is created by artificial space objects like rocket bodies used to launch satellites, inactive satellites and materials released during mission operations.
  3. The measurement, mitigation and potential removal of debris require the effective application of space situational awareness.
  4. A robust space situational awareness capability is an essential prerequisite to continue safe and sustainable operations in an increasingly congested outer space.
  5. Chairman of the Indian National Space Promotion and Authorisation Centre (IN-SPACe), said, Number of space objects will increase to 60,000 by 2030 from about 4,500 active space objects now. Therefore, the space traffic may become as bad as Bangalore or Mumbai or New York City.


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