Daily Current Affairs : 17th April

Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE

Topics Covered

  1. Titan
  2. Haemophilia
  3. Facts for Prelims – Extinction rebellion, Non Performing Assets

1 . Titan

Context : Lakes filled with liquid methane spotted on Saturn’s moon Titan

About the Finding

  • On its final flyby of Saturn’s largest moon in 2017, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft gathered radar data revealing that some of frigid Titan’s lakes of liquid hydrocarbons in this region are surprisingly deep while others may be shallow and seasonal.
  • Titan and Earth are the solar system’s two places with standing bodies of liquid on the surface. Titan boasts lakes, rivers and seas of hydrocarbons: compounds of hydrogen and carbon like those that are the main components of petroleum and natural gas.
  • The researchers described landforms akin to Mesas towering above the nearby landscape, topped with liquid lakes more than 300 feet deep comprised mainly of methane. The scientists suspect the lakes formed when surrounding bedrock chemically dissolved and collapsed, a process that occurs with a certain type of lake on Earth.
  • The scientists also described “phantom lakes” that during wintertime appeared to be wide but shallow ponds — perhaps only a few inches deep — but evaporated or drained into the surface by springtime, a process taking seven years on Titan.
  • The findings represented further evidence about Titan’s hydrological cycle, with liquid hydrocarbons raining down from clouds, flowing across its surface and evaporating back into the sky. This is comparable to Earth’s water cycle.
  • Because of Titan’s complex chemistry and distinctive environments, scientists suspect it potentially could harbor life, in particular in its subsurface ocean of water, but possibly in the surface bodies of liquid hydrocarbons.

About Titan

  • Titan is the largest moon of Saturn and the second-largest natural satellite in the Solar System.
  • It is the only moon known to have a dense atmosphere, and the only object in space, other than Earth, where clear evidence of stable bodies of surface liquid has been found.
  • Titan, with a diameter of 5,150 km, is the solar system’s second largest moon, behind only Jupiter’s Ganymede. It is bigger than the planet Mercury.
  • Titan is the most Earth-like body in the solar system. It has lakes, canyons, rivers, dune fields of organic sand particles about the same size as silica sand grains on Earth,

About Cassini Mission

  • The Cassini–Huygens mission was a collaboration between NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA), and the Italian Space Agency (ASI) to send a probe to study the planet Saturn and its system, including its rings and natural satellites.
  • The robotic spacecraft comprised both NASA’s Cassini probe, and ESA’s Huygens lander which landed on Saturn’s largest moon, Titan.
  • Cassini was the fourth space probe to visit Saturn and the first to enter its orbit. The craft were named after astronomers Giovanni Cassini and Christiaan Huygens.
  • The voyage to Saturn included flybys of Venus (April 1998 and July 1999), Earth (August 1999), the asteroid 2685 Masursky, and Jupiter (December 2000).
  • Its mission ended on September 15, 2017, when Cassini’s trajectory took it into Saturn’s upper atmosphere and it burned up in order to prevent any risk of contaminating Saturn’s moons, which might have offered habitable environments to stowaway terrestrial microbes on the spacecraft

2 . Haemophilia

Context :  April 17 is World Haemophilia Day

About Haemophilia

  • Haemophilia is a rare condition that affects the blood’s ability to clot. It’s usually inherited, and most people who have it are male.
  • Normally, when you cut yourself, substances in the blood known as clotting factors combine with blood cells called platelets to make the blood sticky. This makes the bleeding stop eventually.
  • People with haemophilia don’t have as many clotting factors as there should be in the blood. This means they bleed for longer than usual.
  • Because of the genetics involved in the way the sex of a child is determined, men are more vulnerable to haemophilia than women.

Why Men are more vulnerable

  • The sex of an individual is determined by a pair of “sex chromosomes” (a chromosome is a DNA molecule that contains genetic information).
  • Females are identified with an XX pair of sex chromosomes, and males with an XY pair. When an X chromosome from the mother pairs up with the father’s X chromosome, the offspring is XX (female); when an X chromosome from the mother pairs up with the father’s Y chromosome, the offspring in XY (male).
  • Haemophilia is caused by a defect in the X chromosome. If a girl is born with one defective X chromosome, her other X chromosome can compensate for it. In such a case, she is a carrier of haemophilia but will not suffer from the condition herself.
  • Only if both her X chromosomes are defective will she suffer from haemophilia herself. On the other hand, if a boy is born with a defective X chromosome, he does not have the second X chromosome to compensate for it, and will suffer from haemophilia. That is the reason haemophilia is more common among men.

3 . Facts for Prelims

Extinction Rebellion

  • Extinction Rebellion is a campaign group which was established last year in Britain by academics and has become one of the world’s fastest-growing environmental movements.
  • Nearly 300 people arrested in ongoing climate change protests

Non-Performing Assets

  • A nonperforming asset (NPA) refers to a classification for loans or advances that are in default or are in arrears on scheduled payments of principal or interest. In most cases, debt is classified as nonperforming when loan payments have not been made for a period of 90 days. 
  • Nonperforming assets are typically listed on the balance sheets of banks.  Banks usually categorize loans as nonperforming after 90 days of nonpayment of interest or principal, which can occur during the term of the loan or at maturity. 
  • A loan can also be categorized as nonperforming if a company makes all interest payments but cannot repay the principal at maturity

Hate Speech Laws

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