Thursday, February 23, 2017

Scientists discover 7 earth-sized exoplanets

A compact analogue of our inner solar system about 40 light years away has been discovered, the U.S. space station NASA announced at a press conference on Wednesday.
“The discovery gives us a hint that finding a second earth is not just a matter of if but when,” Thomas Zurbuchen, Associate Administrator of the Science Mission Directorate said.
By using powerful space telescopes and ground-based observatories, an international team of astronomers have discovered the first known system of actually seven Earth-size planets orbiting the nearby TRAPPIST-1, which is relatively close to us, in the constellation Aquarius.
“Around a nearby, cold, small star we found 7 rocky Earth-size planets, all of which could have liquid water — key to life as we know it,” NASA posted on Twitter.
Three of these planets are firmly located in the habitable zone, the area around the parent star where a rocky planet is most likely to have liquid water.
The discovery sets a new record for greatest number of habitable-zone planets found around a single star outside our solar system, according to the NASA.
“With the discovery, we have made a giant accelerated leap forward in the search for habitable worlds and life on other worlds,” Sara Seager, professor of Planetary Science and Physics, MIT, said. “Potentially because with not just one planet, but several,” she added.
The new results were published Wednesday in the journal Nature, and announced at a news briefing at the NASA Headquarters in Washington.
“The seven wonders of TRAPPIST-1 are the first Earth-size planets that have been found orbiting this kind of star,” said Michael Gillon, lead author of the paper and the principal investigator of the TRAPPIST exoplanet survey at the University of Liege, Belgium.
TRAPPIST-1, classified as an small, ultra-cool dwarf, is the new hot topic in astronomy and the search for life outside our solar system. In contrast to our sun, the dwarf is so cool that liquid water could survive on planets orbiting very close to it, closer than is possible on planets in our solar system.
In May 2016, astronomers announced the discovery of three planets in the system, but even then they suspected there might be a few more.
Assisted by several ground-based telescopes, including the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope, NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope confirmed the existence of two of these planets and discovered five additional ones, increasing the number of known planets in the system to seven.
Using Spitzer data, the research team precisely measured the sizes of the seven planets and developed first estimates of the masses of six of them, allowing their density to be estimated. Based on their densities, all of the planets in the system are likely to be rocky.
“Looking for life elsewhere, this system is probably our best bet as of today,” Brice-Olivier Demory, professor at the University of Bern’s Center for Space and Habitability and one of the authors of the Nature paper, said in a statement.
Earth-like exoplanets orbiting dwarf stars are easier to observe than real Earth twins around solar-type stars, according to the new study.

China, France agree to boost ties

Chinese President Xi Jinping and French Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve agreed in Beijing on Wednesday to boost bilateral ties and cooperation in global affairs such as climate change.
In their meeting, Xi said a healthy China-France ties meet the fundamental interests of both countries and peoples, and are conducive to world peace and development.
Xi hailed the progress of ties since the two countries launched a comprehensive strategic partnership in 2014, citing efficient cooperation in various areas and enhanced cultural exchanges.
“The most important reason for smooth growth of China-France relations is that we always respect each other, understand and accommodate each other’s core interests and major concerns, and support one another on major issues,” Xi said.
He urged both sides to implement key cooperation projects, keep up momentum on cooperation in emerging areas, promote the docking of “Made in China 2025” plan with France’s “Industry of the Future” plan.
China welcomes France’s participation in the Belt and Road initiative and supports companies of both countries to cooperate in this framework, he said.
China hopes to cement law-enforcement and security cooperation with France, Xi added.
He called on the two countries to jointly promote peaceful settlement of global and regional hot issues, fight against protectionism in any form and secure progress in global governance including the Paris agreement on climate change.
Xi also urged both sides to beef up cooperation in G20, implement the consensus reached in the Hangzhou G20 summit last year, and promote the progress of G20 Hamburg Summit later this year.
China supports EU integration, Xi said, vowing a stronger China-EU partnership and closer cooperation.
In his turn, Cazeneuve hailed China’s great global influence, adding that France is committed to closer cooperation with China in trade, technology, nuclear power, aviation, automobile manufacturing and infrastructure building in the Belt and Road framework.
The two countries should step up cooperation in global affairs, promote multilateralism and safeguard world peace and stability.
France expects greater achievements in ties with China, he added.
China’s top legislator Zhang Dejiang also met with Cazeneuve later on Wednesday.
Zhang, chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPC), pledged to enhance NPC’s exchanges with the French National Assembly and Senate.
Cazeneuve is on an official visit to China from Feb. 21-23. Besides Beijing, he will also visit Wuhan.

China, Italy on to stronger ties

President Xi Jinping and his Italian counterpart Sergio Mattarella held talks Wednesday, pledging to enhance bilateral ties.Two leaders agreed to develop bilateral relations from a strategic and long-term perspective and advance the relationship to a higher level.
Xi called on the two countries to maintain high-level exchanges and close cooperation between their governments, legislative institutions and political parties.
China and Italy should synergize their development strategies and innovate cooperation patterns, Xi told Mattarella, who is on a state visit to China from Feb. 21 to 26.
“China welcomes Italy to participate in the Belt and Road Initiative,” Xi said.
Xi called for more cooperation in technological and industrial innovation and in the field of cultural heritage, promoting the building of culture centers and language teaching in respective country.
The president also stressed that China was willing to work with Italy to maintain world peace, development and stability through close communication on global economic governance, multilateralism and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in the UN and G20.
“China supports European integration and hopes both sides foster China-Europe partnerships that feature peace, growth, reform and civilization, and build a peaceful, open, inclusive and prosperous world,” Xi said.
Mattarella said he came to China to deepen the comprehensive strategic partnership between the two countries and that Italy hopes for closer high-level exchanges and cooperation in trade and culture.
Italy supports an open multilateral trading system and will enhance coordination with China in international and regional affairs, Mattarella said, adding that Italy backs the development of Europe-China relations.
After their talks, Xi and Mattarella witnessed the signing of cooperation documents in culture, science, education, health, trade and innovation. Prior to the talks, Xi held a welcoming ceremony for Mattarella at the Great Hall of the People.

Bharti Airtel set to acquire Telenor India

Digital payments industry in India is expected to reach 500 billion US dollars by 2020, with over 50 per cent of Internet users in the country will be using it by then.
The report by global telecom body GSM Association and Boston Consulting Group (BCG) said that more than 50 per cent of India’s Internet users will use digital payments by 2020, when the size of digital payments industry in the country will be 500 billion dollars.
In India, BCG estimates that digital technologies will influence up to 45 per cent of all retail sales by 2025. The report counts government’s plans to build 100 smart cities across the country and ‘Digital India’, which aims to increase the optical fibre network to thousands of villages where two-thirds of the population lives. The report appreciated India for the use of digital and mobile technologies for creating educated and digitally literate user base.
With nation on move to digital India the leader in this sector are consolidating their position for the telecom grid to be next pathway of success of nation in their growth.
In this context  the Bharti Airtel to acquire Telenor India within a year.
The proposed acquisition to include transfer of all of Telenor India’s assets and customers. Airtel, one of India’s largest telecommunications services providers, today announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement with Telenor South Asia Investments Pte Ltd (“Telenor”) to acquire Telenor (India) Communications Private Limited (“Telenor India”). The acquisition is subject to requisite regulatory approvals.
 
As part of the agreement, Airtel will acquire Telenor India’s running operations in seven circles – Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Maharashtra, Gujarat, UP (East), UP (West) and Assam. These circles represent a high population concentration and therefore offer a high potential for growth.
 
The proposed acquisition will include transfer of all of Telenor India’s assets and customers, further augmenting Airtel’s overall customer base and network. It will also enable Airtel to further bolster its strong spectrum foot-print in these seven circles, with the addition of 43.4 MHz spectrum in the 1800 MHz band. Airtel will ensure quality services to Telenor India’s customers, while offering them the added benefits of its innovative product portfolio, access to superior voice and data services, mobile banking, VAS and domestic/ international roaming facilities. Telenor India’s operations and services will continue as normal until the completion of the transaction.
Gopal Vittal, Managing Director and CEO (India and South Asia), Bharti Airtel, said, “The agreement underlines our commitment to lead India’s digital revolution by offering world-class and affordable telecom services through a robust spectrum portfolio spread across multiple bands. On completion, the proposed acquisition will undergo seamless integration, both on the customer as well as the network side, and further strengthen our market position in several key circles. The customers of Telenor India will now be able to enjoy India’s widest and fastest voice and data network, and a range of Airtel’s world-class products and services.”
“The acquisition of additional spectrum through this transaction, which made an attractive business proposition, has further enhanced our already solid spectrum portfolio. The proposed transaction will also create substantial long term value for our shareholders given the significant synergies,” added Vittal.
Sigve Brekke, Chief Executive Officer of Telenor Group, said, “We believe today’s agreement is in the best interest of our customers, employees and Telenor Group. Finding a long term solution to our India business has been a priority for us, and we are pleased with our agreement with Airtel. The decision to exit India has not been taken lightly. After thorough consideration, it is our view that the significant investments needed to secure Telenor India’s future business on a standalone basis will not give an acceptable level of return.”

J&K: Three soldiers martyred

Jammu & Kashmir, three soldiers were killed and five others including two officers injured in a terror attack in Moolu Chitragam area of Shopian district last night.
A local woman was also killed in the incident.
The encounter took place when a joint team of 44 Rashtriya Rifles and State Police launched a search operation at Kungnoo Shopian following an information about the presence of terrorists in the area.

PM Modi asks Secretaries to review ease of doing business

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has asked Secretaries of Central Government Departments and State Chief Secretaries to review the situation with regard to Ease of Doing Business. Referring to the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business” Report, he asked the officials to assess the progress based on the parameters used in the Report.
Mr Modi also asked senior officials of the Central Government to review its progress on weekly basis. Interacting through PRAGATI, the Prime Minister also reviewed the progress of the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban) and underlined the Government’s commitment to provide Housing for All by 2022. He also asked the States to come up with strategies, time bound action plans and roadmap, and a monitoring mechanism to follow up on this goal. He called for the use of latest technology inputs to improve the pace and quality of work.
The Prime Minister reviewed the progress towards handling and resolution of grievances related to the telecom sector. He emphasized the need for improving efficiency, and fixing accountability at all levels to bring about a visible change in the situation at the earliest. Mr Modi also reviewed the progress of vital infrastructure projects in the railway, road, port, power and natural gas sectors, spread over several states.

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