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Solar System 2.0 May Have Water-Rich Planets, Says a New Study

The seven Earth-like planets orbiting the faint red star TRAPPIST-1, just 40 light-years away, may host significant amounts of water.

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The seven Earth-like planets orbiting the faint red star TRAPPIST-1, just 40 light-years away, may host significant amounts of water, boosting the chances of finding life outside our solar system, a study has found.

The TRAPPIST-1 planetary system was first detected in 2016. Last year, further observations showed that there are at least seven planets in the system, each roughly the same size as the Earth.

These are named TRAPPIST-1b, c, d, e, f, g and h, with increasing distance from the central star.

Scientists from the European Southern Observatory led by Simon Grimm at the University of Bern in Switzerland have applied very complex computer modelling methods to all the available data and have determined the planets densities with much better precision than was possible before.

“Densities, while important clues to the planets compositions, do not say anything about habitability. However, our study is an important step forward as we continue to explore whether these planets could support life,” said Brice-Olivier Demory, a researcher at the University of Bern in Switzerland.

“The TRAPPIST-1 planets are so close together that they interfere with each other gravitationally, so the times when they pass in front of the star shift slightly,” said Grimm.

“These shifts depend on the planets masses, their distances and other orbital parameters,” he said. “With a computer model, we simulate the planets orbits until the calculated transits agree with the observed values, and hence derive the planetary masses,” he added.

The measurements of the densities, when combined with models of the planets compositions, strongly suggest that the seven TRAPPIST-1 planets are not barren rocky worlds, researchers said.

They seem to contain significant amounts of volatile material, probably water, amounting to up to five percent the mass of the planet in some cases. By comparison, the Earth has only about 0.02 percent water by mass, researchers said.

TRAPPIST-1b and c, the innermost planets, are likely to have rocky cores and be surrounded by atmospheres much thicker than Earths. TRAPPIST-1d, meanwhile, is the lightest of the planets at about 30 percent the mass of Earth. Scientists are uncertain whether it has a large atmosphere, an ocean or an ice layer. TRAPPIST-1e is the only planet in the system slightly denser than Earth, suggesting that it may have a denser iron core and that it does not necessarily have a thick atmosphere, ocean or ice layer, researchers said.

It is mysterious that TRAPPIST-1e appears to be so much rockier in its composition than the rest of the planets. In terms of size, density and the amount of radiation it receives from its star, this is the planet that is most similar to Earth. TRAPPIST-1f, g and h are far enough from the host star that water could be frozen into ice across their surfaces. If they have thin atmospheres, they would be unlikely to contain the heavy molecules that we find on Earth, such as carbon dioxide.

“It is interesting that the densest planets are not the ones that are the closest to the star, and that the colder planets cannot harbour thick atmospheres,” said Caroline Dorn, from the University of Zurich in Switzerland.

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SCIENCE-TECHNOLOGY

Call For Entries: BharatNet Logo Design Contest

The selected winner will be given a cash award of Rs 50,000/-. Five consolation prizes, Rs 10,000/ each will also be given.

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NEW DELHI: BharatNet is the World’s largest rural broadband connectivity project to connect 2.5 lakh Gram Panchayats (GPs) by Optical Fibre Cable (OFC), Radio and Satellite. It aims to bridge the connectivity gap in rural areas and forms the first pillar of Digital India Programme in rural India.

The project is being implemented by the Government of India through Bharat Broadband Network Limited (BBNL).

BharatNet provides broadband connectivity from Block to Gram Panchayats (GPs) to various Service Providers like Telecom Service providers, Internet Service Providers, Cable Operators etc. using which they can deliver their services like Internet, mobile telephony, cable TV etc to the people in rural areas.

Government agencies will also use this network to deliver their e-Governance and other services such as Tele-medicine, e-Education etc to the people in Rural areas.

BharatNet has already reached to 1 lakh Gram Panchayats and aims to cover all the 2.5 lakh GPs in the country by December-2018. The network will also provide Wi-Fi Hot-spots in all GPs by 2019.

“BharatNet Logo” Design Contest is an initiative of the Department of Telecommunication/ BBNL to make the citizens participate in this development process by giving them an opportunity to design a logo for BharatNet.

The selected Logo may be used by BBNL on its official stationery, website, social media etc. Through this contest, the participants are encouraged to design and upload the image of BharatNet logo (having a minimum resolution of 300 dpi) on MyGov Platform.

The images can be captured using any digital device, including smartphones and should be submitted in jpg or jpeg file format. The participant must be the sole author and owner of the copyright of the submitted logo.

After submission, the copyright of the logo will be with BBNL.

Please read the terms and conditions of the contest carefully.

The selected winner will be given a cash award of Rs 50,000/-. Five consolation prizes, Rs 10,000/ each will also be given.

The last date for submission of entries is May 15, 2018, by 11:00 P.M.

Click here to read the Terms and Conditions.

For any contest-related queries, please write to:
Mr Deepak Sharma,
Sr GM (Services & Marketing), BBNL
Email: marketing.bbnl@gmail.com (link sends e-mail)

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ISRO Chairman Briefs the Government Moon mission ‘Chandrayan-2’

Another ISRO Mission, GSLV Mk III-D2, scheduled for June-July this year, also came up for discussion.

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NEW DELHI: The Chairman Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) & Secretary Department of Space, K Sivan called on Union Minister of Atomic Energy and Space Jitendra Singh here today. During the meeting, Sivan briefed the minister about the upcoming Moon mission “Chandrayaan-2”, expected to be launched from Sriharikota around October-November this year.

Giving details about the upcoming Chandrayaan-2 mission, Dr Sivan informed that the total cost of the mission is about Rs. 800 crore, which includes Rs. 200 crore as the cost of launching and Rs. 600 crore for the satellite. This cost, he said, is almost half of the launch cost if the same mission had to be launched from a foreign launching site.

Chandrayaan-2 will be equipped with a lander and rover probe, which will descend on the surface of the moon, from where it will observe the lunar surface and send back data, which will be useful for analysis of the lunar soil.

Dr Jitendra Singh not only appreciated Chandrayaan-2 for being a cost-effective mission but also lauded it for being totally indigenous in its expertise, manufacturing and material, which makes it an appropriate example of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi’s “Make in India” Mantra.

Another ISRO Mission, GSLV Mk III-D2, scheduled for June-July this year, also came up for discussion.

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Google Creates Prototype Cancer Detecting AR-Powered Microscope

At the moment, cancer diagnosis is primarily achieved with compound light microscopes.

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Picture: 9to5google.com

CHICAGO (USA): A team of Google researchers has developed a Machine Learning (ML) and Augmented Reality (AR)-powered microscope that can help in real-time detection of cancer and save millions of lives.

In the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) in Chicago, Illinois, Google described a prototype Augmented Reality Microscope (ARM) platform that can help accelerate and democratise the adoption of deep learning tools for pathologists around the world.

The platform consists of a modified light microscope that enables real-time image analysis and presentation of the results of ML algorithms directly into the field of view.

The ARM can be retrofitted into existing light microscopes around the world, using low-cost, readily-available components, and without the need for whole slide digital versions of the tissue being analysed.

“In principle, the ARM can provide a wide variety of visual feedback, including text, arrows, contours, heatmaps or animations, and is capable of running many types of machine learning algorithms aimed at solving different problems such as object detection, quantification or classification,” Martin Stumpe, Technical Lead and Craig Mermel, Product Manager, Google Brain Team, wrote in a blog post.

Applications of deep learning to medical disciplines including ophthalmology, dermatology, radiology, and pathology have shown great promise.

“At Google, we have also published results showing that a convolutional neural network is able to detect breast cancer metastases in lymph nodes at a level of accuracy comparable to a trained pathologist,” the post said.

However, because direct tissue visualisation using a compound light microscope remains the predominant means by which a pathologist diagnoses illness, a critical barrier to the widespread adoption of deep learning in pathology is the dependence on having a digital representation of the microscopic tissue.

Modern computational components and deep learning models, such as those built upon open source software “TensorFlow”, will allow a wide range of pre-trained models to run on this platform.

The Google team configured ARM to run two different cancer detection algorithms — one that detects breast cancer metastases in lymph node specimens and another that detects prostate cancer in prostatectomy specimens.

While both cancer models were originally trained on images from a whole slide scanner with a significantly different optical configuration, the models performed remarkably well on the ARM with no additional re-training, the Google Brain Team noted.

“We believe that the ARM has the potential for a large impact on global health, particularly for the diagnosis of infectious diseases, including tuberculosis and malaria, in the developing countries,” Google noted.

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