At a stroke, PSLV C-34 lobs 20 satellites into orbit:-

In one go, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) on Wednesday launched 20 satellites. They include two student satellites from Indian universities and 17 of four foreign countries.

A PSLV C-34 rocket lifted off at 9.25 a.m. from the Second Launch Pad in the Satish Dhawan Space Centre, and 16 minutes later placed a Cartosat-2 Series satellite about 505 km above the Earth’s orbit. In the next 10 minutes, the remaining satellites were placed in the intended orbits.

Soon after the launch, ISRO chairman A.S. Kiran Kumar said, “With this mission, we have launched the current generation Earth observation satellite along with 17 satellites from foreign countries.”

The 725.5 kg Cartosat-2 would be used for Earth observation. According to ISRO, the imagery sent by the satellite will be useful for cartographic applications, urban and rural applications, coastal land use and regulation and utility management like road networking.

It may be recalled that ISRO, in 2008, launched 10 satellites in a single rocket. On April 28, 2008, PSLV-C9 launched a Remote Sensing satellite CARTOSAT-2A along with Indian Mini Satellite (IMS-1) and eight nanosatellites.

In 2014, Russia launched 37 satellites in a single mission.



Top 10 facts:

India’s earth observation spacecraft Cartosat-2 Series satellite and 19 co-passenger satellites together weighing about 560 kg at lift-off would be injected into a 505 km polar Sun Synchronous Orbit.
The primary satellite to be carried by PSLV C-34 rocket is similar to Cartosat-2, 2A and 2B satellites launched earlier. The imagery to be sent by the satellite would be useful for cartographic applications, coastal land use and regulation, utility management like road networking, water distribution, creation of land use maps, precision study, change detection to bring out geographical and manmade features and various other Land Information System and Geographical Information System applications.
LAPAN-A3 (Indonesia): The microsatellite is for Earth observation and is intended to be used to monitor land use, natural resource and environment.
M3MSat (Canada): Maritime Monitoring and Messaging Micro-Satellite is a technology demonstrator mission jointly funded and managed by Defense Research and Development Canada (DRDC) and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA). The satellite’s primary mission is to collect and study Automatic Identification System signals from low-Earth orbit.
GHGSat-D (Canada): Built by Space Flight Laboratory of the University of Toronto Institute for Aerospace Studies, the Earth observation satellite is meant for measuring the atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gases (Carbon Dioxide and Methane).
BIROS (Germany): Berlin Infrared Optical System (BIROS) is a small scientific satellite from the German Aerospace Center and its mission objective is the remote sensing of high temperature events.
SkySat Gen2-1 (U.S.): Designed and built by Terra Bella, a Google company based in Mountain View, California in the U.S., the small Earth imaging satellite is capable of capturing sub-meter resolution imagery and HD video.
Dove Satellites (U.S.): A total of 12 Flock-2P Earth imaging satellites are to be launched in this mission. They would be packed in three dispensers.
Sathyabamasat (Sathyabama University, Chennai): The satellite aims to collect data on green house gases.
Swayam (College of Engineering, Pune): The satellite aims to provide point to point messaging services to the HAM (amateur radio) community.

The mat goes mainstream and Prevention is better than cure is the new mantra.

If India were to look for a new symbol that would be a representative of what the country stands for today, after Tuesday’s great show, it is highly likely that the many-splendoured thing, furled and unfurled with much flourish across the world — the yoga mat — would be a serious contender.

On the second International Yoga Day, the skid-free fluorescent mat became a motif of sorts, heralding a new world order of people willing to go out on to the streets, twist themselves into incredible poses, while holding their noses to regulate breath. A world that is willing to celebrate yoga, or the many versions of it anyhow. Suddenly, it is the in-thing to do; the Jane Fonda aerobics video of today, it’s callisthenics with lurid leotards done in physical training period in school. And with a day’s careful orchestration, it tends to seem exaggerated, a little fantastic, maybe like a performance, but that is not to take away from the actual benefits of doing yoga, consistently and systematically.

When Prime Minister Narendra Modi made his pitch to the United Nations General Assembly to adopt the day of summer solstice as International Yoga Day, he said: “Yoga is an invaluable gift of India’s ancient tradition. It embodies unity of mind and body; thought and action; restraint and fulfilment; harmony between man and nature; a holistic approach to health and well-being.” He went on to emphasise that the core of the philosophy behind yoga, as outlined in Patanjali’s Yogasutra, was not just about exercise, but to discover the sense of oneness with yourself, the world and nature. “By changing our lifestyle and creating consciousness, it can help us deal with climate change,” he added.

Wellness and therapy

Yoga does mean many things for many people: for some it is exercise, it’s a tool for wellness, it’s a routine; for others it is a spiritual calling, a way of life, and for very few, it actually is therapy. While modern medicine seems to have reconciled its once stiff-backed opposition to yoga’s role in health care, there remains the reluctance to harness it as therapeutic intervention, even as a supplement. By and large, in its acceptance yoga remains on the side of ‘wellness’, seldom crossing the Rubicon on to the far lands of ‘treatment’. The messiahs of modern medicine, with their demanding touchstone of scientific validation for ancient systems of medicine, say there still is insufficient conclusive empirical evidence to show the beneficial effects of using yoga as therapy.

E.S. Krishnamoorthy, Chennai-based senior neuropsychiatrist, says there is some research of the benefits of practising yoga in certain categories of patients with certain specific ailments. He has set up “integrative therapy clinics” (Trimed) across the city that claim to combine modern medicine with ancient wisdom, ensuring that the latter is scientifically validated for use.

“The autonomic nervous system, which controls key bodily functions, seems most amenable to yoga-based intervention,” he explains. Yoga helps with restoring posture and balance, having a soothing effect on anxiety and mood. “There is also empirical research that it helps control symptoms of asthma and epilepsy,” he says.

“It has been proved that yoga has beneficial effects on the cardiovascular system and regulating blood pressure,” says V. Mohan, founder, Dr. Mohan’s Diabetes Specialities Centre. “From a metabolism point of view, yoga is different from other kinds of exercise. When you do cardio, for instance, your heart rate increases, hormone secretion increases, the adrenalin gets going — leaving you in a hyper state. On the other hand, when someone does yoga, we notice what we call cellular silence. It puts the system in a rhythm and all vital parameters, including blood pressure, heart rate, pulse rate, and blood sugar are stabilised. However, even here, empirical proof of yoga’s impact on lowering blood sugar in a diabetic is only just emerging.”

The problem of validation

But the problem, Dr. Krishnamoorthy adds, is also with methodology: when you subject these traditional systems to modern research methods, they end up not holding up. “We use methods that are usually employed to validate pharmacological interventions [which forms the bulk of modern medicine] to evaluate non-pharmacological techniques.”

“Now, there are a few people trying to do things differently. For instance, at the Mayo Clinic [in the U.S.], yoga was used as one of a bunch of interventions including tai chi and dance therapy in a programme for patients with dementia,” he says. Published research on a pilot study conducted at the clinic indicates that such therapy could improve quality of life, cognitive and physical functions, better than ‘usual care’.

Another key hurdle might lie, ironically, in what is perceived as a strong point, traditionally — the many styles, variations and practitioners of yoga. Dr. Krishnamoorthy points out that there is no protocol for yoga postures or techniques, and this lacuna renders scientific validation difficult, if not impossible.

Meanwhile, yoga has a poster boy in the Indian Prime Minister, who, in televised relays, seems to be capable of great litheness in executing asanas. On Tuesday, he urged all practitioners of yoga to focus on diabetes prevention, again, pushing the agenda into the realm of ‘wellness’. It remains to be seen if the Indian government, with the faith it has in the ability of yoga to achieve unity of mind, body, thought and action, will ramp up its promotion of yoga, with adequate scientific proof, to a viable form of supportive therapy.

Until then, take comfort in watching a sea of vividly colourful yoga mats take over the world.

NHAI to mitigate impacts on wildlife

NHAI has approved an estimate of Rs. 58.16 Crore to mitigate impacts on Wildlife in Karnala Bird Sanctuary (KBS) for widening of part of Panvel – Indapur section of NH-17. This section constitutes the direct connectivity from Mumbai to Goa. The highway stretch passes for about 1.5 km length within the Karnala Bird Sanctuary under Thane wildlife division of West Mumbai Wildlife Circle.

Karnala Bird Sanctuary (KBS):Maharstra

The KBS is covered with moist mixed deciduous forest and falls in the Western Ghat bio-geographic zone. The sanctuary is particularly rich in climbers and as many as 11 species are recorded from KBS.

  • KBS is particularly known for its rich avifauna and is home to over 146 species of resident and 37 species of migratory birds that visit during winter.
  • Rare endemic birds of Western Ghats such as Malabar grey Hornbill, Ashy Minivet, three-toed Kingfisher and Malabar Trogon are reported from Sanctuary.
  • Among other significant bird species the records of Malabar Whistling Thrush, long-billed Vulture, Indian Scimitar Babbler and Shaheen Falcon are significant.


The first Phase-1 human clinical trial of a vaccine for the Zika virus is set to begin in the coming weeks, with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) green-lighting it. The DNA vaccine (GLS-5700) developed by the U.S-based Inovio Pharmaceuticals and GeneOne Life Science, South Korea, has already been tested on animals and found to elicit “robust” antibody and T cell responses



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