- The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) on 18 January 2017 approved a mission to explore 16 Psyche, an iron-rich asteroid that is located in the large asteroid belt between the planets Mars and Jupiter.
- Under the mission, NASA craft will be launched in the year 2023 and will arrive at asteroid Psyche in 2030.
Current Affairs on International
- President Barack Obama before leaving to president office on 17th January 2017 commuted the prison sentence of former U.S. military intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning.
- Manning has been a focus of a worldwide debate on government secrecy since she provided more than 700,000 documents, videos, diplomatic cables and battlefield accounts to WikiLeaks.
- For this she was sentenced to serve 35 years in prison.
- Eugene Cernan,an American astronaut has passed away on 16 January 2017 was one of only 12 people to walk on the Moon and the only person to have descended toward the Moon in the lunar lander twice.
- He traveled into space three times: as Pilot of Gemini 9A in 1966, Lunar Module Pilot of Apollo in 1969 and as Commander of Apollo 17 in 1972 and got retired from NASA and the Navy in 1976.
- Chinese linguist Zhou Youguang, known as the father of Pinyin for creating the system of Romanized Chinese writing, passed away at the age of 111 on 14 January 2017 in Beijing, China.
- Zhou Youguang was a Chinese economist, linguist, sinologist, publisher, banker, and supercentenarian (someone who has lived to or passed their 110th birthday).
- Pinyin is the writing method that coverts Chinese characters into words using letters from the Roman alphabet.
- It changed the way the language was taught. In 1958, it was officially adopted by the Chinese Government. In 1982, Pinyin became the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 7098 after a vote.
- The United Nations adopted it in 1986.
- The United States on 13 January 2017 has announced the end of a 20-year economic embargo on Sudan, lifting trade and financial sanctions in an effort to foster ties with the Sudanese government.
- The announcement made by outgoing President Barack Obama’s administration that comes after an executive order to permanently repeal a range of sanctions as a result of Sudan’s efforts to improve security in the region.
- Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has signed a 1-trillion yen, about 8.7 billion dollars, aid package over the next five years to the Philippines.
- The package is focused on infrastructure and energy.
- U.S. President Barack Obama on 12 January 2017 bestowed the Presidential Medal of Freedom on Joe Biden, the man he called “the finest vice president we have ever seen.”
- The Presidential Medal of Freedom is country’s highest civil honour and award of this medal to Biden was the last time President Obama presented the honour.
- Morocco, a majority-Muslim country, has banned the sale and production of burqas (full-body veils).
- It said the measure appeared to be motivated by security concerns however it is unclear if Morocco is now intending to ban the garment outright.
- Russia has announced its intention to permanently walk away from the G8 group of industrialised nations as in March 2014, Russia was temporarily suspended from the G8 group.
- G8 consists of UK, US, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Canada, resulting in the group becoming G7 in its place.
- Clare Hollingworth,the veteran British war correspondent who broke the news of the Nazi invasion of Poland, has passed away.
- It was she who spotted German forces amassed on the Polish border while travelling from Poland to Germany in 1939 that triggered the outbreak of World War -II.
- Iran’s ex-President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani who has been described as “a pillar of the Islamic revolution” has passed away due to heart attack.
- He was the dominant figure in the country’s politics since the 1980s and key figure in the foundation of the Islamic republic in 1979, and served as president from 1989 to 1997.
- Rafsanjani, who served two terms as Iran's president from 1989 to 1997, continued to be an influential figure in Iranian politics.
Norway become the first country in the world to turn-off its FM radio network
- Norway is set to become the first country in the world to turn off its FM radio network. This process will start with the northern town of Bodoe switching off its local network on 11 January 2017.
- By the end of the year, all FM broadcasts in Norway will have ended, replaced by Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB) transmissions that generally offer better sound quality and because of the reason that the cost of FM was eight times higher than digital.
Mario Soares ‘Father of Democracy’ passed away
- Former Portuguese President and Prime Minister Mario Soares, regarded as a father of the country’s democracy, died in a Lisbon hospital at the age of 92 on 7 January 2017.
- Mario Soares played a key role after the 1974 Carnation Revolution, a military coup that put an end to 48 years of Salazar rule, led by dictator António de Oliveira Salazar.
- Mario Soares served as Portugal’s Prime Minister, twice, and then as President (1986-96).
- He then spearheaded the country’s entry into the European Union.
China Launches Longest Bullet Train
- China has launched its longest bullet train named “Shangri-la of the World” and has built more than 20,000 km of high-speed rail lines.
- It runs between Kunming, capital of southwest China’s Yunnan Province to Beijing.
- The train starts from Kunming on a 2,760-km trip to Beijing, which takes about 13 hours.
UAE govt seizes Dawood Ibrahim’s assets
- After National Security Adviser Ajit Doval reportedly pursued the matter with UAE and requested the officials to act and seize Dawood’s property, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) government seized assets of Mumbai serial blast mastermind worth up to Rs 15,000 crore.
- .In one of the biggest crackdown on underworld don Dawood Ibrahim,
Pakistan approves Hindu marriage bill
- The much-awaited bill to regulate marriages of minority Hindus in Pakistan, the Senate Functional Committee on Human Rights unanimously approved the Hindu Marriages Bill on 2nd January 2017
- This move is seen as the closer to reality after a Senate committee approved the landmark draft legislation, nearly four months after it was passed by the National Assembly.
- The bill will enable the Hindu community members to get their marriages registered. It will become a law after it will be passed by the Senate, the upper house of the Parliament.
China started Train Freight service to London
- China has launched its first freight train to London over 12000 km away as part of efforts to improve trade.
- The train departed from Yiwu,Zhejiang Province & will pass through Kazakhstan,Russia,Belarus,Poland,Germany,Belgium & France before arriving in London. The journey will take 18 days.
- London is the 15th city in Europe added to China-Europe freight train services.
Finland to Pay Unemployed Basic Income
- Finland has become the first country in Europe to pay its unemployed citizens a basic monthly income after unemployment rate of Finland stood at 8.1 per cent in November 2016.
- It is the two-year trial with the 2,000 randomly picked citizens who receive unemployment benefits kicked off January 1.
- It will amounting to 560 euros (USD 587), in a social experiment hoped to reduce poverty & boost employment.
China commenced operations of world's longest high-speed railways
- China in the last week of December 2016 commenced operations of Shanghai-Kunming line, one of the world's longest high-speed railways.
- The line is a part of the China Railway High-speed’s system of high-speed rail corridors, beginning in Shanghai and ending in Kunming.
- The Shanghai-Kunming line is 2252 km in length and longest east-west high-speed railway in China as it passes through five provinces of Zhejiang, Jiangxi, Hunan, Guizhou and Yunnan and cuts travel time from Shanghai to Kunming from 34 hours to 11 hours with the maximum speed of the train is 330 km per hour.
Shankar Balasubramanian DNA expert chosen to be conferred knighthood
- Shankar Balasubramanian the India-born DNA expert who was chosen to be conferred with a knighthood by the British Queen as announced in the New Years’ Honours List 2017
- Shankar Balasubramanian, the Chennai-born professor of medicinal chemistry at the University of Cambridge, has been chosen for the prestigious knighthood award for year 2017.
- According to the knighthood citation, 50-year old Balasubramanian is the co-inventor of Next Generation DNA sequencing, considered the most transformational advance in biology and medicine for decades. His work has spawned an entirely new discipline of Bioinformatics.