ISRO’s ‘Naughty Boy’ Rocket Launches INSAT-3DS (Indian Express)

  • 17 Feb 2024

Why is it in the News?

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) recently launched its weather satellite INSAT-3DS board spacecraft Geosynchronous Launch Vehicle (GSLV) F14, nicknamed the ‘naughty boy’ for its spotty record.

What is the GSLV-F14?

  • The Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV), standing at a height of 51.7 metres, is a three-stage launch vehicle with a liftoff mass of 420 tonnes.
    • First stage: Its first stage (GS1) features a solid propellant (S139) motor with 139 tons of propellant and four earth-storable propellant stages (L40) strapons, each carrying 40 tons of liquid propellant.
    • Second Stage: The second stage (GS2) also utilises an earth-storable propellant system with a 40-ton propellant load.
    • Third Stage: The third stage (GS3) is equipped with a cryogenic system containing 15 tons of propellant, consisting of liquid oxygen (LOX) and liquid hydrogen (LH2).
  • GSLV-F14 serves as a versatile launch vehicle, capable of deploying various types of spacecraft for communication, navigation, earth resource surveys, and other specialised missions.

GSLV-F14/INSAT-3DS Mission Overview and Key Goals:

  • INSAT-3DS Satellite marks a significant advancement in the Third Generation of Meteorological Satellite series from Geostationary Orbit, with substantial contributions from Indian industries.
  • Fully funded by the Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES), the mission aims to enhance meteorological services, complementing the existing capabilities of INSAT-3D and INSAT-3DR satellites.

Key Objectives:

  • Earth Observation and Oceanic Monitoring: Utilise various spectral channels to monitor Earth's surface, conduct oceanic observations, and assess environmental conditions critical for meteorology.
  • Atmospheric Parameter Profiling: Provide vertical profiles of essential meteorological parameters within the atmosphere, enhancing our understanding of atmospheric dynamics.
  • Data Collection and Dissemination: Facilitate the collection and dissemination of data from Data Collection Platforms (DCPs), ensuring timely access to crucial meteorological information.
  • Satellite Aided Search and Rescue (SAR) Services: Enable Satellite Aided Search and Rescue services, enhancing emergency response capabilities through advanced satellite technology.

Significance of the GSLV-F14/INSAT-3DS Mission:

  • The launch of INSAT-3DS holds a lot of significance for India's space agency as it is equipped to provide extremely accurate weather forecast information by studying the surface of the ocean, also being helpful in disaster prevention.
  • The GSLV has encountered challenges in the past, with four out of 15 launches facing setbacks, contrasting with the higher success rates of ISRO's PSLV and LVM-3.
  • The success of this mission is critical, especially considering the upcoming launch of the Earth observation satellite, NISAR, later this year, a collaborative effort between NASA and ISRO.
  • INSAT-3DS, with a mission lifespan of 10 years, will assume the roles of INSAT-3D (2013) and INSAT-3DR (2016), which have reached the end of their operational lives.
  • This mission will enhance meteorological forecasting capabilities, enabling better prediction of extreme weather events like thunderstorms, providing visibility assessments for aviation, and facilitating research on forest fires, smoke, snow cover, and climate dynamics.

OpenAI launches Sora (Indian Express)

  • 17 Feb 2024

Why is it in the News?

OpenAI has unveiled a new generative artificial intelligence (GenAI) model that can convert a text prompt into video, an area of GenAI that was thus far fraught with inconsistencies.

What is OpenAI's Sora?

  • Sora is an AI model developed by OpenAI –– built on past research in DALL·E and GPT models –– and is capable of generating videos based on text instructions.
  • It can also animate a static image, transforming it into a dynamic video presentation.
  • Sora can create full videos in one go or add more to already created videos to make them longer.
  • It can produce videos up to one minute in duration, ensuring high visual quality and accuracy.
  • Sora can generate complex scenes with various characters, precise actions, and detailed backgrounds.
    • Not only does the model understand the user's instructions, but it also interprets how these elements would appear in real-life situations.
  • The model has a deep understanding of language, enabling it to accurately interpret prompts and generate compelling characters that express vibrant emotions.
  • Sora can also create multiple shots within a single generated video that accurately portrays characters and visual style.


  • Despite its impressive capabilities, OpenAI acknowledges certain limitations in the current iteration of Sora.
  • The model may encounter challenges in accurately simulating complex physics within scenes, leading to potential discrepancies in cause-and-effect scenarios.
    • For instance, while depicting a person taking a bite out of a cookie, Sora may struggle to consistently render a corresponding bite mark on the cookie in subsequent frames.


RBI Put Restraints on a Certain Card Network (Indian Express)

  • 17 Feb 2024

Why is it in the News?

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has ordered a certain card network to stop “unauthorised payments” made using business cards.

What is a Card Network?

  • Card networks connect banks, merchants, and customers (card users) to one another so that transactions can be carried out smoothly and securely.
  • Card networks are operating in the background every time a customer uses her card to make a payment.
  • There are five authorised card networks in India:
    • Visa
    • Mastercard
    • RuPay
    • Diners Club, and
    • American Express

Reasons Behind the RBI Order:

  • Payments to Non-Card-Accepting Entities: The network facilitated card payments from corporations for commercial transactions, transferring the funds to non-card-accepting recipients via IMPS, RTGS, or NEFT without proper authorization, violating the Payment and Settlement Systems (PSS) Act, 2007.
  • Non-Adherence to KYC Requirements: Additionally, the RBI expressed concerns regarding non-compliance with Know Your Customer (KYC) norms in these transactions.

What are the RBI’s Concerns?

  • Under Section 4 of the PSS Act, such a payment system requires authorisation, which had not been obtained in this case.
  • There were two other concerns as well.
    • First, the intermediary in such an arrangement pooled a large amount of funds into an account that was not a designated account under the PSS Act.
    • Second, transactions processed under this arrangement did not comply with the ‘originator and beneficiary information’ requirements, as stipulated under the ‘Master Direction on KYC’ issued by the RBI.
  • Steps taken by the RBI: The RBI has instructed the card network to suspend all such arrangements until further notice.
    • However, regular usage of business credit cards remains unaffected.

Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) (Indian Express)

  • 17 Feb 2024

Why is it in the News?

Researchers have now, for the first time, detected the presence of water molecules on the surface of an asteroid using the data from NASA's now-retired SOFIA airborne observatory.

About Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA):

  • SOFIA is a powerful, general-purpose infrared observatory used to study the birth of new stars, planetary nebulae and supernova remnants, the atmospheres of Solar System objects, and many more.
  • Earth’s atmosphere protects us from harmful radiation, but it also blocks a lot of light useful for astronomy.
    • For that reason, NASA and the German Aerospace Center (DLR) built the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) to fly aboard a modified commercial aircraft capable of flying above 99% of the light-blocking atmosphere.
  • SOFIA is carried aboard an aeroplane capable of flying at an altitude of 13 kilometres, higher than 99% of the infrared-absorbing atmosphere.
    • First flown in 2007, SOFIA provided the first measurements of Pluto’s atmosphere, mapped the dust and magnetic fields around black holes, and provided a wealth of information about star-forming nebulae.
  • The telescope consists of a 2.5-meter (8.2-foot) mirror and a suite of scientific instruments including:
    • Photometers to measure the brightness of sources
    • Spectrometers to split the light into its component wavelengths, and
    • A polarimeter to measure the polarisation of light caused by dust particles.
  • Astronomer Gerard Kuiper is best known for his prediction of the Kuiper Belt of icy outer Solar System bodies, but in 1965, he used a high-flying NASA aeroplane to study Venus in infrared light, pioneering the use of aircraft for astronomy.
    • SOFIA is Kuiper’s spiritual descendant, built on a larger scale and using a dedicated aeroplane.
    • The SOFIA telescope is carried by a Boeing 747SP (“special purpose”) designed for long-duration flights.
    • The aeroplane was modified in several ways, including a large opening on the side of the telescope.
  • To operate under these conditions, SOFIA is lightweight and built to withstand mechanical vibrations and turbulence from air flowing across the opening in the side of the aeroplane.
  • The aeroplane is capable of ten-hour flights, with flight paths chosen to keep ahead of the sunrise and maximise the amount of darkness.
  • SOFIA achieved full operational capability in 2014 and prematurely ended in 2022 after operating for 12 years.


India initiates Anti-Dumping Probe into Solar Glass Imports from China and Vietnam (TOI)

  • 17 Feb 2024

Why is it in the News?

India has launched an anti-dumping investigation into the import of solar glass from China and Vietnam following a complaint from domestic players.

What is Anti-Dumping Duty?

  • Anti-dumping duty is a tariff levied on imports from foreign countries when their prices are lower than the fair market value of similar goods in the domestic market.
  • It's implemented by governments to counteract the practice of "dumping," where foreign goods are sold at unfairly low prices in the domestic market, posing a threat to local businesses.
  • The primary objective of anti-dumping duty is to safeguard domestic industries from unfair competition and restore fair trade practices.
  • This measure is permitted by the World Trade Organization (WTO) to address instances where dumping causes genuine harm to domestic industries.
  • To impose anti-dumping duties, governments must provide evidence of dumping, quantify its extent in terms of costs, and demonstrate the resulting injury or threat to domestic markets.
  • While aimed at protecting local industries, anti-dumping duties can sometimes lead to increased prices for consumers within the country.

About Countervailing Duty (CVD):

  • Countervailing duty (CVD) is a type of tariff imposed by a government to offset the adverse effects of import subsidies on domestic producers.
  • It serves as an import tax applied by the importing country on subsidised products from abroad.
  • CVD is imposed to address situations where foreign governments provide subsidies to their producers, lowering the cost of their goods and potentially disrupting fair competition.
  • To prevent the influx of subsidised products into their markets, importing countries levy CVD, effectively neutralising the price advantage enjoyed by these imports.
  • The imposition of CVD is permitted by the World Trade Organization (WTO) to help maintain fair trade practices among its member countries.

Difference Between Anti-dumping Duty and Countervailing Duty:

  • Anti-dumping duty is enacted to safeguard domestic markets from the harmful effects of low-priced foreign goods, while CVD targets products benefiting from government subsidies, resulting in artificially low prices.
  • The amount of Anti-dumping duty is determined by the margin of dumping, whereas CVD is calculated based on the subsidy value granted to foreign goods.