Daily Current Affairs : 15th August

Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE

Topics Covered

  1. Lambahraun lava field
  2. Notifiable diseases
  3. Bone implant material from eggshells
  4. Facts for Prelims

1 . Lambahraun lava field

Context : To prepare for the next mission to Mars in 2020, NASA has taken to the lava fields of Iceland to get its new robotic space explorer ready for the job.

About NASA’s Mars mission

  • The NASA rover will land on the Jezero Crater on Mars. The rover launch is expected in July 2020 and it will land on the red planet by February 2021.
  • The Mars 2020 rover is expected to spend at least one Martian year (687 Earth Days) on the planet. According to AFP, the reason NASA is testing its rover in the volcanic islands of Iceland because of the similarities with Mars.
  • The rover exploring Iceland is just a prototype for the one that will eventually go to Mars. NASA has also begun testing the cameras on board and the rover’s arm as it gets closer to the mission.
  • The mission aims to collect samples, which could help NASA study the planet more closely. The Mars 2020 rover mission will be looking for ancient habitable conditions and whether the planet had microbial life. It will also collect rock and soil samples and store them on the planet’s surface. NASA is hoping that future missions will be able to retrieve these samples.

About the News

  • Lambahraun lava field at the foot of Iceland’s second biggest glacier, Langjokull, was chosen as a stand-in for the Red Planet’s surface. Experts say that Iceland, a volcanic island in the middle of the North Atlantic, is in many ways reminiscent of Mars.
  • The sites are selected to study how the chemical composition and physical properties of the sand and rocks change as they move from the glacier to a nearby river.

Similarities with the Surface of Mars

  • The mineralogy in Iceland is very similar to what we would find on Mars, in particular, minerals such as olivine and pyroxenes, both dark so-called mafic rocks, which have also been found on Mars.
  • Don’t have much vegetation, it’s cold and have some of the environments like sand dunes and rivers and glaciers that Mars has evidence of in the past

Earlier experiments

  • Iceland has previously been used as a training ground for NASA missions.
  • During the Apollo mission years, 32 astronauts in the mid-1960s received geological training in the Askja lava fields and near the Krafla crater in the north of the country. The setting allows NASA to test equipment and procedures, as well as the people performing them, in extreme environments while remaining on terra firma.

2 . Notifiable Diseases

Context : A month after Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan asked the Delhi government to make malaria and dengue notifiable diseases, the South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) has initiated the work to notify malaria in the capital.

About Notifiable Diseases

  • A notifiable disease is any disease that is required by law to be reported to government authorities. The collation of information allows the authorities to monitor the disease, and provides early warning of possible outbreaks. The World Health Organization’s International Health Regulations, 1969 require disease reporting to the WHO in order to help with its global surveillance and advisory role.


  • Making a disease legally notifiable by doctors and health professionals allows for intervention to control the spread of highly infectious diseases. Registered medical practitioners need to notify such diseases in a proper form within three days, or notify verbally via phone within 24 hours depending on the urgency of the situation. This means every government hospital, private hospital, laboratories, and clinics will have to report cases of the disease to the government.
  • The process helps the government keep track and formulate a plan for elimination and control. In less infectious conditions, it improves information about the burden and distribution of disease.

Examples of Notified Diseases

  • The Centre has notified several diseases such as cholera, diphtheria, encephalitis, leprosy, meningitis, pertussis (whooping cough), plague, tuberculosis, AIDS, hepatitis, measles, yellow fever, malaria dengue, etc


  • The onus of notifying any disease and the implementation lies with the state government.
  • Any failure to report a notifiable disease is a criminal offence and the state government can take necessary actions against defaulters.

3 . Bone implant material from eggshells

Context : Researchers from the Indian Institute of Technology-Hyderabad (IIT-H) and Dr. B.R. Ambedkar National Institute of Technology, Jalandhar, have developed a process by which bone implant materials can be synthesised from eggshells.

About the Research

  • The research seeks to produce bone substitute materials such as tricalcium phosphate, a commonly-used bone substitute material, from natural sources.

About Eggshells

  • Eggshells are made of largely of minerals (95.1%) along with small amounts of proteins and water. Calcium is the main mineral component.
  • Tonnes of eggshells are dumped as waste across the world but bioceramics made from them exhibit greater biocompatibility than other synthetic powders due to the presence of additional bioactive elemental ions. Eggshells are inexpensive and can be obtained in unlimited quantities

Details of the Research

  • In modern medicine, damaged and missing bones are replaced with bone from either the patient or a donor or by using artificial materials containing calcium, such as Plaster of Paris, and more recently, phosphate compounds like hydroxyapatite and calcium phosphate.
  • For their study, researchers synthesised pure and thermally stable tricalcium phosphate nanopowder — powder a hundred thousand times smaller than the width of a single human hair — from eggshells. They used a milling process called ‘ball milling’ to produce these activated calcium phosphate powders.
  • Results showed that eggshell waste is promising enough to replace the commercially available tricalcium phosphate (produced by using harmful chemicals) and has the capability to develop implantable biomaterial for tissue regeneration

4 . Facts for Prelims

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