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Rapid Fire Current Affairs

  • 26 Sep 2023
  • 4 min read

NASA’s First Asteroid Samples Land on Earth

  • The NASA’s Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, and Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) spacecraft, launched on 8th September 2016, has successfully delivered the first asteroid samples from the near-Earth asteroid Bennu (formerly 1999 RQ36) to Earth after a seven-year journey, bringing valuable 4.5 billion-year-old samples.
    • The Osiris-Rex sample capsule was released during an Earth flyby, landing safely in the Utah desert, United States preserving the asteroid samples.
    • Scientists estimate the capsule has at least a cupful of debris from the carbon-rich asteroid Bennu.
    • The samples are expected to provide insights into the formation of Earth and life 4.5 billion years ago.
  • Osiris-Rex will continue its mission by studying another asteroid, Apophis, which it will reach in 2029.

Read more: NASA's OSIRIS-REx Mission

Philippine Officials Challenge China's South China Sea Barrier

  • Philippine officials vowed to remove China's coast guard-installed 300-meter-long floating barrier in the disputed Scarborough Shoal of the South China Sea. They called it "illegal and illegitimate," highlighting the violation of Filipino fishermen's rights.
    • The Philippines asserts that Scarborough Shoal lies within its United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea(UNCLOS)-defined exclusive economic zone, a claim upheld in a 2016 arbitration decision that China rejected.
    • This dispute adds to long-standing territorial tensions in the South China Sea, a potential Asian geopolitical hotspot.
  • The South China Sea, an arm of the Western Pacific Ocean, is bordered by Brunei, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam.
    • It connects to the East China Sea via the Taiwan Strait and the Philippine Sea through the Luzon Strait.
    • It encompasses the Spratly Islands, Paracel Islands, Pratas Islands, Macclesfield Bank, and Scarborough Shoal.

Read more: South China Sea

Maharashtra’s Ephemerals

In parts of Maharashtra, a fascinating botanical phenomenon unfolds as certain plant species, known as ephemerals, patiently await the monsoon season to burst into bloom.

  • These ephemerals come in two forms: annual and perennial.
    • Annual ephemerals create new individuals each year, showcasing their beauty for a brief period before forming seeds and lying dormant until the next monsoon.
    • Perennials, on the other hand, have a continuous presence underground, with tubers or bulbs supporting their existence.
  • From ground orchids to lilies, wild yam, and Indian squill, these ephemerals play a crucial role as nectar and pollen sources for native pollinators while also preserving essential soil and water dynamics.

Monsoon Withdrawal from India Delayed

The southwest monsoon in India has started to withdraw, eight days later than the normal date, according to the India Meteorological Department. 2023 marks the 13th consecutive delayed withdrawal of the monsoon.

  • The southwest monsoon typically starts over Kerala by 1st June and covers the entire country by 8th July.
    • It begins retreating from northwest India around September 17 and withdraws completely by October 15.
  • A delayed monsoon retreat leads to a longer rainy season, which can have a significant impact on agricultural production, especially for northwest India where monsoon rainfall is crucial for Rabi crop production.

Read more: Southwest monsoon

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