Today's Headlines

Today's Headlines - 24 August 2023

Vikram lander creates history

GS Paper - 3 (Space Technology)

India became the first country to touch down on the lunar South Pole on 23 August 2023 as billions watched from around the globe. The Chandrayaan-3 lander - designed to deploy a smaller, 26-kg lunar rover - landed on the surface of the moon, marking a giant leap in India’s spacefaring journey.The Moon has captivated human curiosity for centuries, and with each new mission.

What is the Moon's geological history and evolution?

  • The Moon is estimated to be about 4.5 billion years old, roughly the same age as the Earth.
  • The leading theory about the Moon's formation suggests that a Mars-sized celestial body collided with the young Earth, and the debris from this collision eventually coalesced to form the lunar body.
  • However, current geological evidence from the Moon suggests that it may be younger by just 60 million years compared to Earth.

How much do things weigh on the Moon?

  • The Moon's gravitational pull is much weaker than Earth's, approximately one-sixth of Earth's gravity.
  • As a result, objects on the Moon weigh significantly less than they do on Earth. This is due to the Moon's smaller size and mass.
  • For example, a person weighing 68 kilograms on the Earth would weigh only over 11 kg on the Moon.

Why do Indian scientists want to land on the Moon's South Pole?

  • The lunar South Pole has become a focal point for exploration due to its unique features and potential scientific value.
  • It is believed to host a vast reservoir of water ice in permanently shadowed regions. The presence of water is of immense significance for future space exploration, as it can be converted into resources such as drinking wateroxygen and hydrogen for rocket fuel.
  • Also, the permanently sunlit area in the region has a temperature of around minus 50 to 10 degrees Celsius, which provides better chemical conditions for the electronics onboard the rover and lander to work properly.

What is in the lunar South Pole?

  • The terrain and geology at the Moon's South Pole are distinct from other regions. Permanently shadowed craters provide extremely cold conditions that allow water ice to accumulate and persist.
  • The unique geography of the South Pole also creates regions of perpetual sunlight, which can be harnessed for solar power.
  • The terrain varies from rugged landscapes to relatively flat plains, offering a diverse range of scientific opportunities.

Why is a region of the lunar South Pole permanently shadowed?

  • This depends on the Moon's geology. The Moon's axis is only slightly tilted relative to its orbit around the Earth.
  • This results in certain areas near the poles being in permanent shadow. These shadows create extremely cold environments where temperatures can plummet to very low levels.
  • These frigid conditions are conducive to preserving water ice for billions of years.


Poor nations forced to rely on fossil fuels

GS Paper - 3 (Energy)

Poor countries with heavy debts have been forced to continue to rely on fossil fuels for generating revenue to return the loans taken from richer countries and private lenders to meet various economic exigencies like the pandemic three years ago, a new report said. These countries, mostly in the global south, may find it impossible to phase out fossil fuels and transition to renewable energy as revenues from fossil fuel projects “are often overinflated and require huge investments to reach expected returns, leading to further debt”.

What is the “debt-fossil fuel trap”?

  • The report, ‘The Debt-Fossil Fuel Trap’, published on 21 August 2023 by the anti-debt campaigners Debt Justice and partners in affected countries.
  • The global south — a term used for developingless developing and underdeveloped countries, located in AfricaLatin America, and Asia — countries are increasingly being burdened by enormous debts in recent years.
  • Their “external debt payments (money borrowed from richer countries, or multilateral creditors like the World Bank and IMF, or private lenders such as banks) has gone up by 150% between 2011 and 2023, reaching their highest levels in 25 years”, said the report.
  • Moreover, 54 countries are in a debt crisis — they had to cut their public sending budgets during the pandemic to repay the loans, the analysis found.
  • The situation is worsened by extreme weather events, which force these countries to borrow more money as they lack adequate finances and resources for adaptation, mitigation and tackling loss and damage.
  • For instance, Dominica’s debt as a percentage of GDP rose from 68% to 78% after Hurricane Maria hit the island in 2017.
  • To deal with the mounting debts, these countries have turned to extracting more fossil fuels.
  • The country’s strategy to reduce debt may end up adding to debt levels without generating adequate revenue to repay, which could force Argentia to further expand its fossil fuel projects, the report added. This is known as the “debt-fossil fuel trap”.

Ending the high debt burdens

  • The report has laid out a few recommendations to help global south countries exit the “debt-fossil fuel trap”.
  • It said clean energywealthy governments and institutions must implement “ambitious debt cancellation for all countries that need it, across all creditors, free from economic conditions.
  • They should also stop accepting repayments made through fossil fuel projects’ revenue.
  • Meanwhile, “Bilateral and multilateral finance should be aligned with a 1.5 degree warming scenario and fair shares calculations, and not be used to finance fossil fuels.


Naval wargame Exercise Malabar concludes

The 27th edition of Exercise Malabar concluded on the east coast of Australia, off Sydney. The four-nation exercise witnessed the participation of shipssubmarines, and aircraft from the Indian Navy, Royal Australian Navy (RAN), Japan Maritime Self Defence Force (JMSDF), and the US Navy (USN).

More about the Exercise

  • The exercise was conducted in two phases – a harbour (or planning) phase from 11 to 15 August, and a sea phase from 16 – 21 August, which saw the four navies actually implementing the plans that they had made.
  • The Indian Navy was represented by the indigenously built guided missile destroyerINS Kolkata, the multi-role stealth frigate INS Sahyadri, and P-8I Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft.
  • There was a strong aircraft presence, including fighter aircraftmaritime patrol aircraft and shipborne helicopters.
  • The sea phase of Exercise Malabar witnessed complex and high intensity exercises in airsurface and undersea domains, weapon firings and cross deck helicopter operations.
  • The joint exercises at sea honed the war-fighting skills and enhanced interoperability between the four navies to undertake advanced maritime operations.
  • The seamless integration of air assets also showcased the exceptional coordination and interoperability between the Indian, Australian, and US maritime patrol aircraft units.
  • Exercise Malabar reaffirmed the ability of the four navies to operate together as an integrated force, while also highlighting their shared commitment to maritime security and regional stability through collaborative training and mutual understanding.


  • At the culmination of five days of multifarious exercisesExercise Malabar vividly showcased the strong cooperationshared values, and the collective ability of the four participating nations to ensure a freeopen and inclusive Indo-Pacific, promoting peace and security for all.
  • China has made it clear to the four participating countries that it sees Malabar as an inimical military grouping.
  • After Malabar 2007, China conveyed its displeasure in writing, seeking to know whom the exercise was directed against. Since then, the number of participating navies has doubled from two to four.

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