Google, NASA, Planets - Current Affairs Questions and Answers

1)   The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) successfully tested supersonic landing parachute that will be deployed in its Mars rover mission set to launch in what year?

a. 2030
b. 2025
c. 2020
d. 2050
Answer  Explanation 

ANSWER: 2020

Explanation:
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) successfully tested supersonic landing parachute that will be deployed in its Mars rover mission set to launch in 2020.

The mission will rely on special parachute to slow spacecraft down as it enters Martian atmosphere at over 5.4 kilometres per second. It was first of several tests in support of NASA’s Mars 2020 mission.


2)   Which Google payment app was launched on 18th Sept 2017?

a. Zet
b. Ezt
c. Tez
d. Tze
Answer  Explanation 

ANSWER: Tez

Explanation:
On 18th Sept 2017, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley launched Google’s payment app - ‘Tez’.

Tez by Google is perhaps the simplest form of monetary transactions.

Tez by Google and other ecosystems will make a major change in the digital payments landscape in India.

The tech giant claimed that Tez will enable money transfer directly from the bank accounts of customers, without them having to share their ‘personal information’.

The app will function on both Android and iOS platforms.

Google also said that the app will ‘understand’ eight Indian languages and will work with 55 banks

Tez (which means “Fast” in Hindi is Google’s play to replace cash transactions and become a more central part of how people pay for things, using their mobile to do so.

But it’s also a chance for the company to push out some new technologies - like audio QR (AQR), which lets users transfer money by letting their phones speak to each other with sounds - to see how it can make that process more frictionless, and therefore more attractive to use than cash itself.

Tez will see Google linking up with several major banks in the country by way of UPI (Unified Payments Interface) - a payment standard and system backed by the government in its push to bring more integrated banking services into a very fragmented market.

There will also be phones coming to the market from Lava, Micromax, Nokia and Panasonic with Tez preloaded, the company said.

Google has confirmed to me that payments made and taken using UPI are free for consumers and small merchants

To be clear, Tez is not a mobile “wallet” in the same way as PayTM offers a mobile wallet, where money is stored in the app and needs to be topped up to be used;

It’s more like Apple’s Wallet or other mobile wallets in the west: a place that links up your phone with your bank accounts to let you use your phone as a way to deduct payments from those accounts.

Supported banks include Axis, HDFC Bank, ICICI and State Bank of India and others that support UPI.

Online payment partners include large food chains like Dominos, transport services like RedBus, and Jet Airways

The app has support for English, Hindi, Bengali, Gujarati, Kannada, Marathi, Tamil, and Telugu.

For money transfers, there is a limit of ₹1,00,000 in one day across all UPI apps, and 20 transfers in one day.

AQR and Tez: Know More

  • Google says that AQR - the sound-based format for transferring money securely between devices - is its own proprietary technology.
  • This appears to be the first time that Google has used it for payments, although it has used ultrasonic sound for transferring information between devices before
  • For example, the tech has been used in Chromecast to connect devices since 2014. Other startups that have used audio-based “codes” to transfer payments and other data before include Lisnr, and Chirp.
  • While AQR might seem like a neat technical twist, there are some practical reasons behind why Google might opt for this in Tez.
  • For starters, it obviates the need for NFC in the device, and in the payment devices of merchants or whoever else a person is planning to transact with.
  • The other thing is that it makes any kind of contactless transaction with the device fairly flexible and easy.
  • Services like Airdrop on iPhones require Bluetooth and if you’ve used it before isn’t that seamless and foolproof to turn on (even though it works like a charm when it does). QR codes, meanwhile, require you to turn on the camera on your device and physically align it with a code on another screen, a potentially fiddly and difficult process.
  • Using audio taps into some of the most basic features on even the most basic phones, a speaker and a microphone.
  • Google has also trademarked the name in other Asian countries like Indonesia and the Philippines, so there seems to be a wider strategy to expand this to other regions.
  • India, the second-most populated country in Asia after China, is a ripe market for mobile payment services, with a rapidly expanding middle class with more disposable income and a wider population that is very tech-focussed, with an estimated 300 million smartphones in use today.
  • Digital payments are expected to reach a volume of $500 billion annually by 2020, according to a report from BCG and Google.


3)   Which languages can experience offline translations due to Google Translate updates, of these as of Sept 13, 2017?

a. Urdu
b. Marathi
c. Tamil
d. All of the above
Answer  Explanation 

ANSWER: All of the above

Explanation:
Google on Sept 12, 2017 unveiled several updates to its Translate App in an effort to bring down language barriers.

It said users in Tamil, Kannada, Telugu, Urdu, Bengali, Gujarati and Marathi can experience offline translations and instant visual translation in their preferred language.

The biggest application is that they are breaking language barriers.

Google Translate has also added support for conversation mode in regional languages including Tamil and Bengali.

This feature lets users have a bilingual conversation with someone, simply by talking to the Google Translate app.

Google Translate: Know More

  • India is among the top four countries globally using Google Translate which translates over 140 billion words every day.
  • More than 400 million people in India used the Internet.
  • But the vast majority of India’s online content is in English, which only 20% of the country’s population speaks.
  • The Translate app already lets the user use camera mode to snap a photo of English text and get a translation for it in these languages.
  • Now, with Word Lens feature, Google has taken it to the next level, letting users instantly translate text using their camera.
  • The company said now it was way easier for speakers of local Indian languages to understand English street signs in the city or decide what to order from a restaurant menu.
  • Word Lens is powered by machine learning, using computer vision to distinguish between letters on an image.
  • With the company's Google Translate, users can easily turn their phone into a powerful translation tool, whether for studies, business, travel or work.
  • Offline support enables Indian language users to translate a word or sentence even when they are not connected to the Internet.


4)   PC and Mac apps for Google Drive will be replaced by which app for G Suite service users?

a. Drive File Stream
b. Backup and Sync
c. Drive Backup Stream
d. Drive Sync Stream
Answer  Explanation 

ANSWER: Drive File Stream

Explanation:
Google let fly an announcement that PC and Mac desktop app for Google Drive is going the way of the Dodo bird.

As the new alternative, customers will have two options.

For those using the G Suite service, the solution is called Drive File Stream, an app that will allow for quicker, more streamlined access to their files and also the ability to choose which ones are made available offline.

For non-G Suite users, another app called Backup and Sync will be the way to go.

It will have all the same features as the Google Drive desktop app that most users currently access on a regular basis, but with an added photo capability as well.

This seems to be a move towards making Google more of a one-stop shop for your online cloud storage.

The Backup and Sync app will allow users to store a large amount of photos, provided they're cool with the slight compression that will happen during the upload process.

If not, they'll have to pay extra for more storage.

After the debacle that was Google+, the company is hoping that, with this change, more customers will be housing all of their data in their infrastructure instead of with other providers.


5)   NASA has built its first mission to work as a planetary defence mechanism against cosmic impacts called DART. What does it stand for?

a. Double Asteroid Reducing Test
b. Double Asteroid Reduction Test
c. Double Asteroid Redirection Test
d. Double Asteroid Redirecting Test
Answer  Explanation 

ANSWER: Double Asteroid Redirection Test

Explanation:
NASA is developing the first-ever mission that will work as a planetary defence mechanism against potential cosmic body impacts in the future.

The mission, The Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART), is being designed, built and managed by the John Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory.

The mission has moved from concept development to preliminary design phase, following NASA’s approval on 23 June 2017.

It is the first-ever design that will have the capability of deflecting a near-Earth asteroid.

It would demonstrate the kinetic impactor technique by knocking the hazardous object into a different flight path that would not threaten the planetary defence.

The approval by NASA advances the project towards a historic test with a non-threatening small asteroid.

The target for DART would be an asteroid that will have a distant approach to Earth in October 2022 and then again in 2024.

The asteroid called Didymos (Greek for twin) consists of two bodies: Didymos A, which is about 780 metres in size, and Didymos B, which is a smaller asteroid about 160 metres in size.

DART would impact only smaller of the two bodies, Didymos B, the composition of which is unknown.

The size is typical of asteroids that could potentially create regional effects should they impact Earth.

After launch, DART would fly to Didymos and use an APL- developed onboard autonomous targeting system to aim itself at Didymos B.

The spacecraft is expected to strike the smaller body at a speed that would be about nine times faster than a bullet, around six kilometres per second.

Earth-based observatories would be able to see the impact and the resulting change in the orbit of Didymos B around Didymos A, allowing scientists to better determine the capabilities of the kinetic impact as an asteroid mitigation strategy.

The kinetic impact technique works by changing the speed of a threatening asteroid by a small fraction of its total velocity.

By doing it well before the predicted impact, the small nudge will add up over time to a big shift of the asteroid’s path away from Earth.

DART is a critical step in demonstrating we can protect our planet from a future asteroid impact. As we don’t know that much about their internal structure or composition, this experiment needs to be performed on a real asteroid.


6)   Which of the following are Indian American astronauts?

a. Raja Grinder Chari
b. Sunita Williams
c. Kalpana Chawla
d. All of the above
Answer  Explanation 

ANSWER: Raja Grinder Chari

Explanation:
NASA on 7 June 2017 announced names of 12 new astronauts, including an Indian-American Lt Col Raja Grinder Chari.

They, the new astronauts, were chosen from a record number of over 18000 applicants. The new candidates include six military officers, three scientists, two medical doctors, a lead engineer at SpaceX and a NASA research pilot.

The seven men and five women comprise the 22nd class of American spaceflight trainees since 1959.

Raja Grinder Chari: Know More

  • Indian American Lt Col., US Air Force Raja Grinder Chari (39) is a commander of the 461st Flight Test Squadron and the Director of the F-35 Integrated Test Force at Edwards Air Force Base in California.
  • He hails from Waterloo, Iowa who graduated from the US Air Force Academy with bachelor’s degrees aeronautics and astronautics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and graduated from the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School.
  • The other 11 selected astronaut candidates include Zena Cardman, Jasmin Moghbeli, Jonny Kim, Frank Rubio, Matthew Dominick, Warren Hoburg, Robb Kulin, Kayla Barron, Bob Hines, Loral O’ Hara and Jessica Watkins.


7)   Which NASA probe was named after Eugene Parker?

a. Solar Plus Probe Spacecraft
b. Solar Minus Probe Spacecraft
c. First mission to a star to be launched in 2018
d. Both a and c
Answer  Explanation 

ANSWER: Solar Plus Probe Spacecraft

Explanation:
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) on 31 May 2017 renamed the Solar Probe Plus Spacecraft, NASA’s first mission to a star which will be launched in 2018, as the Parker Solar Probe in honour of astrophysicist Eugene Parker.

The announcement was made at a ceremony at the University of Chicago, where Eugene Parker serves as the S Chandrasekhar Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus at the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics.

Eugene Parker was the first to predict the existence of the solar wind back in 1958. He theorized that the sun constantly sends out a flow of particles and energy called the solar wind.

This is the first time NASA has named a spacecraft for a living individual.

The article was based on the observations of Parker which showed that there was high speed matter and magnetism constantly escaping the sun which affected the planets and space throughout our solar system.

He proposed a number of concepts about how stars including sun give off energy. This phenomenon has been proven to exist repeatedly through direct observation and it was named as the Solar Wind.

Parker’s observation forms the basis for understanding about how stars interact with the worlds that orbit them.

Parker also theorized an explanation for the superheated solar atmosphere, the Corona, which is contrary to what was expected by physics laws.

As per his theory, Corona is hotter than the surface of the sun itself.

Many NASA missions since then have continued to focus on this complex space environment known as Heliophysics.

Parker Solar Probe will be launched during a 20-day window that opens on 31 July 2018.


8)   NASA scientists have developed technology to help _____ land during emergencies.

a. Drones
b. Planes
c. Jets
d. Choppers
Answer  Explanation 

ANSWER: Drones

Explanation:
NASA scientists are developing a technology to help drones land safely during emergencies. The announcement regarding the new technology was made by NASA on 25 May 2017. After eight test flights, the technology has successfully spotted safer landing zones like swamps or drainage ditches to crash instead of on top of people’s cars.

This crash-landing software for drones was developed by Patricia Glaab, an aerospace technologist at NASA Langley Research Centre, and her fellow NASA colleague Lou Glaab.

The software links on-board drone components like batteries and motors to monitor their health.

The technology help them identify when something on the drone goes wrong, and puts the aerial vehicles in a crash-landing mode.

When triggered, the software checks a pre-installed database of nearby safe zones and identifies one for safe landing. The software also incorporates technology that lets drones recognise and avoid objects on the ground using on-board cameras.


9)   Which famous scientist and former Indian president had a bacteria named after him?

a. President Abdul Kalam
b. President Pratibha Patil
c. President Pranab Mukherjee
d. None of the above
Answer  Explanation 

ANSWER: President Abdul Kalam

Explanation:
Scientists at NASA have named a new organism discovered by them after the much-loved Indian scientist and former President, APJ Abdul Kalam.

Till date, the new organism, a bacteria, has been found only on the International Space Station (ISS) and has not been found on earth.

Researchers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), the foremost lab of NASA for work on inter-planetary travel, discovered the new bacteria on the filters of the International Space Station (ISS) and named it Solibacillus kalamii to honour the late president, who was a renowned aerospace scientist.

Kalam had his early training at NASA in 1963 before he set up India’s first rocket-launching facility in the fishing village of Thumba in Kerala.

The name of the bacterium is Solibacillus kalamii, the species name is after Dr Abdul Kalam and genus name is Solibacillus which is a spore forming bacteria. The filter on which the new bug was found remained on board the ISS for 40 months.

Called a high-efficiency particulate arrestance filter or HEPA filter, this part is the routine housekeeping and cleaning system on board the international space station.

This filter was later analysed at JPL and results recently published. Even as it orbits the earth some 400 kilometres above, the ISS is home to many types of bacteria and fungi which co-inhabit the station with the astronauts who live and work on the station.

Even though Solibacillus kalamii has never been found on earth till date, it is really not an extra-terrestrial life form or ET.


10)   NASA launched a stadium sized __________ balloon to detect ultra high energy cosmic particles from beyond the galaxy as they penetrate to the atmosphere of the earth.

a. Helium
b. Carbon
c. Pressure
d. None of the above
Answer  Explanation 

ANSWER: Pressure

Explanation:
A stadium-sized pressure balloon launched by NASA in New Zealand began collecting data in near space on 26th April 2017.

This is beginning a 100-day planned journey after several launch attempts were thwarted by storms and cyclones.

The balloon, designed by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration to detect ultra-high energy cosmic particles from beyond the galaxy as they penetrate the earth’s atmosphere, is expected to circle the planet two or three times.

The balloon’s monitoring was only the start of a long quest which would next involve a space mission currently being designed by NASA, she added.

The balloon, launched on 24th April 2017 in Wanaka, a scenic spot on New Zealand’s South Island, will collect data from 34 km above the earth.

New Zealand was also the base for NASA’s scientific balloon programme in 2015 and 2016.

New Zealand: Know More

  • New Zealand is a country in the southwestern Pacific Ocean.
  • It is consisting of 2 main islands, both marked by volcanoes and glaciation.
  • Capital Wellington, on the North Island, is home to Te Papa Tongarewa, the expansive national museum.
  • Capital: Wellington
  • Code: +64
  • Currency: New Zealand dollar
  • Prime minister: Bill English
  • Population: 4.596 million (2015) World Bank


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