Essential Facts (Prelims): 14th January 2019



  • India and the U.S. reviewed the progress on finalising two key agreements during the 2+2 meeting.
  • The agreements are the Industrial Security Annex (ISA) and the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geo-spatial Cooperation (BECA), a foundational agreement.
  • The third foundational agreement is Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement.
  • The ISA is particularly essential as the Indian industry looks for a greater role in defence manufacturing. It allows sharing of classified information from the U.S. government and American companies with the Indian private sector, which is so far limited to the Indian government and the defence public sector undertakings.


  • National Clean Energy Fund (NCEF) was created out of cess on coal at ₹400 per tonne to provide financial support to clean energy initiatives.
  • Inter-Ministerial Group chaired by the Finance Secretary was constituted to approve the project/schemes eligible for financing under NCEF.
  • Out of India’s total installed capacity of about 345 GW of power, gas-based capacity is about 25 GW or 7.2% of the total. However, its share in terms of generation is only 3.8% as 14,305 MW of gas-based capacity is stranded due to non-availability of domestic gas and unaffordability of imported gas. The consequence is that a large amount of assets in this sector have turned ‘non-performing’ or ‘unproductive’.

The Cow

  • On June 17, the ATLAS survey’s twin telescopes in Hawaii found a spectacularly bright anomaly 200 million light years away in the Hercules constellation.
  • Dubbed AT2018 or “The Cow,” the object quickly flared up, then vanished almost as quickly.
  • Scientists now speculate that the telescopes captured the exact moment a star collapsed to form a compact object, such as a black hole or neutron star.

Far side of moon

  • China’s Chang’e-4 probe has successfully transmitted back images from the far side (also known as the dark side) of the Moon.
  • Chang’e-4 is the first probe ever to land on that side.
  • Over billions of years, Earth’s gravitational pull has brought the Moon’s spin into sync with its orbit.
  • It takes exactly 28 days for the Moon to complete one rotation, and the same time to make one orbit around Earth. This leads to a phenomenon called “tidal locking”.
  • With the Moon’s rotation and orbit keeping it forever in step with the Earth, only one part of it is visible from this planet at any time. The unseen part is the “far side of the Moon”.
  • Although it is also called the “dark side of the Moon” this is actually a misnomer. Viewed from Earth, half the Moon is sunlit at any time; and during a new moon, the near side is dark while it is the far side that is fully lit. The far side of the moon is also lighter in colour.
  • All previous Moon landings, manned and unmanned, have been on the near side. This has been primarily because the Moon would have blocked radio communication between its far side and Earth.
  • To work around this problem, the Chinese mission has used a “relay satellite”, called Queqaio (Magpie Bridge). It is in orbit around a strategically selected point, called L2. Signals between the far side and Earth are transmitted via the relay satellite.
  • While Chang’e-4 is the first spacecraft to actually land on the far side, its images of that side are not the first. In 1959, the Soviet spacecraft Luna 3 clicked a number of photographs of the far side, from over 60,000 km away.
  • Chang’e-4 landed on January 3 in the Von Kármán Crater in the South Pole-Aitken Basin on the far side of the Moon. The SPA Basin (2,500 km wide, 13 m deep) and the Von Kármán Crater (180 km) are both large impact craters.
  • Chang’e-4 landed at an altitude of minus 6,000 m.
  • A study of the Moon’s craters will seek to establish their compositions and ages, a history of collisions between Earth and the Moon, and various other aspects of the early Solar System.

Clean Air Programme

  • Last week, the Centre launched across the country — a Rs 300-crore National Clean Air Programme (NCAP).
  • It proposes a “tentative national target” of 20%-30% reduction in PM2.5 and PM10 concentrations by 2024, with 2017 as the base year for comparison.
  • NCAP will be rolled out in 102 cities that are considered to have air quality worse than the National Ambient Air Quality Standards.
  • The government has stressed that NCAP is a scheme, not a “legally binding” document with any specified penal action against erring cities.