India’s first graphic novel is back in print!

Between 1991 and 1994, Indian graphic artist Orijit Sen drew inspiration from influential works like Art Spiegelman's ‘Maus’ and Keiji Nakazawa's ‘Barefoot Gen’ to create India's groundbreaking first graphic novel, River of Stories. This timeless work serves as a poignant critique of India's idea of development and political practices. It revolves around the fictional Rewa Andolan, closely mirroring the real-life Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA), a people's movement fighting against the displacement caused by the construction of the Sardar Sarovar Dam. Illustrated entirely by hand, the graphic novel delves into a decades-long struggle raising pertinent questions about the notion of development. Though the dam was eventually built, the movement's core concerns, such as "development for, whom?" remain deeply relevant today.

 Originally published in 1994 and later going out of print, a new edition of this powerful work was released by Blaft Publications in 2022, featuring a foreword by Indian author Arundhati Roy.

River of Stories

This hand-illustrated novel span 62 pages and intricately weaves together two distinct narratives. One revolves around Vishnu, a spirited journalist from Delhi, who embarks on a journey to the valley, documenting the protests of the Rewa Andolan. The other narrative draws upon the rich mythologies of the Adivasis, painting the enchanting tale of Malgu Gayan, a singer whose melodic tunes bring to life the ancient origins of the river.

The new edition

In this new edition, Orijit Sen acknowledges the significant changes that have occurred since he originally penned the graphic novel. The Narmada Bachao Andolan has progressed, and the landscape has evolved. Sen had contemplated creating an illustrated preface. The purpose was to contextualise the scenario of the early '90s and highlight the changes that have occurred in the Narmada Valley since then.

Additionally, he wanted to shed light on the broader situation of Adivasi and indigenous communities in the present time. However, despite having this idea, Sen had never acted upon it. It was Sen's daughter who ultimately convinced him to reprint the book. "She reminded me to see it for what it is: River of Stories might be the first Indian graphic novel, but more importantly, it is almost a historical document that represents a crucial moment in time in the Narmada Andolan," he says.

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What is Katherine Rundell famous for?

Step into the magical world of childhood with acclaimed English author Katherine Rundell, whose adventurous stories have captured the hearts of many young readers in recent years. Read on to discover more about this talented author and her enchanting tales.

Katherine Rundell is a celebrated multiple-award-winning English author whose poetic verse makes words dance on the page like sunlight on a rippling stream. With a heart full of adventure and a mind brimming with creativity, she crafts stories that ignite the imagination of young readers and transport them to magical worlds.

Born in 1987 in Kent, England, Rundell spent her formative years in Zimbabwe and Brussels. Following her undergraduate studies at Oxford, she was chosen as a Fellow of All Souls College, where she completed her doctoral thesis on the renowned metaphysical English poet John Donne. Last September she published the book ‘Super infinite The Transformations of John Donne’, in honour of the 450th anniversary of the poet's birth. This critically acclaimed work won her 2022's Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction. Rundell who is in her mid-thirties now, started working on her debut novel ‘The Girl Savage’ the day after she turned 21. Drawing on her carefree childhood in Zimbabwe, and the devastation of her family relocating to Belgium when she was 14, her debut novel narrated the story of a free-spirited girl called Wilhelmina Silver who has spent most of her childhood on an African farm and is sent to a boarding school in England following the death of her father.

As an imaginative and adventurous storyteller, Rundell intricately weaves her intriguing and quirky personal interests into her characters, whether it is her love for tightrope walking or roof walking or her fascination with the Amazon. Her characters act as an extension of her inner child and her stories (that are generally aimed at middle-grade readers) combine elements of action, adventure, and magical realism. Her tales take the readers on a journey to faraway lands, where they can explore the mysteries of the world and discover beauty in its hidden corners. Some of her most well-known works include ‘The Rooftoppers’ which won the Waterstones Children's Book Prize in 2014, and ‘The Explorer’, which was shortlisted for the Costa Children's Book Award in 2017.

Choosing children's literature

When Katherine Rundell first began writing children's books, it was not because she saw it as her ultimate destination. Rather, she viewed it as a stepping stone, a path to follow in the footsteps of her literary idol Jane Austen. Rundell was acutely aware that her authorship was not at the level she aspired to, and so she turned to the world of children's fiction as a training ground. But as she has grown and developed as an author, she has come to realise that the genre is so much more than a mere proving ground. To suggest that children's literature is simply a place to polish her skills before moving on to "real" writing is a notion that she now passionately rejects

Reading: A way to cope with the loss

Reading is almost exactly the same as cartwheeling: it turns the world upside down and leaves you breathless says Katherine Rundell Reading was a cherished pastime for Randell, especially because it helped her during some of the most difficult years of her life. It was a stressful time for the family, and Rundell was only nine or 10 years old when her parents were caring for a foster sister who was terminally ill. The experience of losing someone so young was deeply saddening and profoundly painful for the author. Yet, she found solace in books devouring them with an insatiable- appetite. Looking back on this time she believes that it was no accident that she writes for the age she was when she experienced such heartache. Despite the pain, Rundell drew those she loved closer and cherished the things that brought her joy, namely, the power of storytelling.

Embracing the wonder of childhood

Rundell's stories are more than just mere escapism; they are tales that inspire and challenge young readers to think deeply and feel connected to the world around them. Her books are important because they offer a glimpse into the human experience that is both universal and uniquely personal. She captures the essence of childhood wonder and joy but also the fear and uncertainty that often come with growing up. Her stories speak to the resilience and ingenuity of the human spirit and encourage readers to embrace their sense of adventure and explore the unknown.

Through her stories, Rundell shows young readers the power of creativity, resilience, and empathy, and why these qualities are essential to making the world a better place. The success of her books is a testament to the power of storytelling to inspire and transform young minds. Through her beautiful and imaginative works, she has created a legacy that will continue to inspire generations of young readers for years to come.

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What is a planet beyond our solar system called?

A planet beyond our own solar system is referred to as an exoplanet. While most exoplanets orbit other stars, there are also free-floating exoplanets, called rogue planets, that are not tethered to any star and orbit the galactic centre.

"Blind" surveys

Traditionally, ground-based means have been employed to detect exoplanets. Astronomers use "blind" surveys to look for stars in the sky with the potential for housing giant planets, which can then be directly imaged from Earth based on the stars age and distance. This technique, however, has a very low yield, meaning that exoplanets are detected very infrequently. Astronomers have developed a new technique to detect exoplanets whose portraits can be taken using large ground-based telescopes on Earth. They have tasted success with this method and the result is the direct image of a Jupiter-like gas giant - HIP 99770 b-132.8 light years away in the Cygnus constellation. The study behind this success was published in the journal Science in April.

Combining astrometry and direct imaging

HIP 99770 b is the first exoplanet detected by combining astrometry and direct imaging. While two observatories on Hawaii Island did the direct imaging, the astrometry- responsible for measuring the position and motion of HIP 99770 b's home star - came from Gaia space observatory and its predecessor Hipparcos.

Precision astrometry is the method of detecting the movement of stars. This allows researchers to identify those stars that are tugged at by the gravitational pull of an unseen companion like a planet. A picture of the star systems that are close enough is then captured to directly image.

The detection of HIP 99770 b serves as proof of a concept developed by an international research team. They were also able to determine that this exoplanet is 14-16 times the mass of Jupiter and orbits a star that is almost twice as massive as our sun. It receives a similar amount of light as Jupiter as its host star is far more luminous than the sun. The team characterised the nature of HIP 99770 b's atmosphere and showed that the planet's atmosphere has signs of water and carbon monoxide.

This new method of searching for exoplanets is believed to be a major improvement to the existing, traditional method of "blind" surveys. The researchers also hope that this new approach would lead to further advances that eventually lead to the discovery of an Earth-twin around a nearby star.

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What is an encyclopaedia? What does it contain? When did the concept evolve?

The word 'encyclopaedia originates from the Greek term enkuklios paideia, which means general education. Though the concept of an encyclopaedia existed since ancient times, the term came to be used only in the 1500s.

An encyclopaedia is a voluminous body of reference work containing general information about a range of topics or on various aspects of one particular subject. The information is contained in the form of articles, which are arranged alphabetically, in a single book or in a series of volumes. To access the information. one has to look up the topic, as one would do in a dictionary.

Ancient Volume

Pliny the Elder's Naturalis Historia, an encyclopaedia of 37 books covering natural history. geography, medicine, architecture and many other facets of the ancient world, is an important work of the Roman Empire to have survived to the modern day.

Pliny the Elder, a Roman scholar, was a naval and army commander of the Roman Empire in the first century AD. In his spare time, he studied books written by experts on various subjects. Based on his research, he compiled the Naturalis Historia, an encyclopaedia of 37 books covering natural history, geography, medicine, architecture and many other facets of the ancient world. The encyclopaedia is an important work of the Roman Empire to have survived to the modern day. It listed 20,000 facts from 2000 different works by 100 authors. Pliny's tome became the model for modem encyclopaedias -it laid the ground rules for providing in-depth knowledge about the subject matter, reference of original authors and detailed indexed lists of the contents.

John Harris, a London clergyman, introduced the concept of the alphabetical order in modern encyclopaedias in his work Lexicon Technicum (1704).

Oriental tome

Classic Chinese encyclopaedias documented the economic, social, cultural and political history of the land. One of the largest encyclopaedias in the world was commissioned by the Chinese Ming emperor Yongle in 1403. Two thousand scholars worked tirelessly for five years to compile 22.937 manuscript rolls into 11,095 volumes. Given the vastness of the encyclopaedia, it could not be block-printed and hence only three handwritten copies were made. Only 400 volumes of the original manuscripts have survived. They are preserved in national libraries and private collections around the world.

The modern age

The modern encyclopaedia with its systematically organised information appeared around the 18th Century.

One of the first general encyclopaedias in English was the popular Cyclopaedia, or a Universal Dictionary of Arts and Sciences (1728), produced by Ephraim Chambers. It provided cross-references to the alphabetically arranged articles, making it easier for the reader to access relevant information.

The Encyclopédie, edited by Denis Diderot and Jean le Rond d'Alembert is a landmark in the history of encyclopaedias. What was originally meant to be a French translation of Cyclopaedia turned out to be a significant literary work reflecting the essence of French Enlightenment.

Published between 1751 and 1780, it featured contributions of leading French thinkers such as Voltaire, Rousseau, and Montesquieu. The Encyclopédie had a tremendous impact on society in the years leading up to the French Revolution (1789).

The Encyclopædia Britannica was first printed between 1768-71 in Edinburgh, Scotland. The edition consisted of three volumes with 2,391 pages. Over time, it expanded to include over 30 volumes covering 50,000 topics.

Britannica published its 15th and final edition in 2010. Now its encyclopaedic knowledge is available exclusively in digital formats

To date, Encyclopædia Britannica is seen as an excellent reference book in the world of general encyclopaedias.

Personalities such as Walter Scott, Sigmund Freud, Albert Einstein, Marie Curie and Harry Houdini have contributed articles to it. The last edition featured contributions of Desmond Tutu and Bill Clinton.


*The Encyclopædia Britannica was first printed between 1768 and 1771 in Edinburgh, Scotland. It consisted of three volumes with 2,391 pages.

* Over time, it expanded to include over 30 volumes covering 50,000 topics.

*The Encyclopedia Britannica published its 15th and final edition in 2010. Now its encyclopaedic knowledge is available exclusively in digital formats.

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Opening lines that spark curiosity

The opening lines of a book are paramount in setting the tone for the story. Here are a few riveting first lines from some of the most famous books in literature.

Pride and Prejudice

"It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife."

These are the sarcastic opening lines from English author Jane Austen's 1813 novel ‘Pride and Prejudice.’ Set in the Regency Era (1811-1820) this novel revolves around five daughters of the Bennet family and their economic anxiety. At the time Austen was writing this masterpiece marrying into a rich and well-off family was a financial necessity for young women. Through this novel, the author explores the complexities between an individual's quest for love and the financial benefits of making a match.

Nineteen Eighty -Four

"It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen."

This ominous opening sentence belongs to George Orwell's 1949 dystopian novel titled Nineteen Eighty-Four. Set in a fictional vile and gritty state of Oceania where the citizens are under constant government surveillance, it story acts as a warning against a totalitarian form of government that does not promote individual freedom or the idea of free speech. Through this book, the English novelist also highlights how the written word and language can alter society and its functions.

The Metamorphosis

"As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect."

The shocking, strange and unnerving beginning of German author Franz Kafka's ‘The Metamorphosis’ (1915) draws the readers in with an uncanny grip. It summarises the premise of the novel which revolves around salesman Gregor Samsa, who wakes one morning to find himself inexplicably transformed into a monstrous vermin and narrates how he deals with the social isolation and emotional distress that he must endure because of his new state. Originally written in German, this story is one of the most successful fictional works produced by Kafka.

A Tale of Two Cities

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair."

These introductory lines from Charles Dicken's ‘Tale of Two Cities’ are easily some of the most popular lines in literary history. Set in London and Paris in the run-up to and during the French Revolution, this historic novel opens with a contrasting set of clauses to highlight the struggle between good and evil which is a recurring theme in the novel. This classic novel was originally printed in instalments in the English author's weekly periodical All the Year Round and has been estimated to have sold more than 200 million copies since its first publication.

The Hobbit

"In a hole in the ground, there lived a hobbit."

This intriguing first line marks the beginning of English author J. R. R. Tolkien's children's fantasy novel The Hobbit. Writing to English poet W.H. Auden in 1955, Tolkien revealed that the idea for this book came to him while correcting papers as a professor at Oxford University in the early 1930s. The book revolves around a hobbit called Bilbo Baggins, who takes up an adventurous quest to fight the dragon called Smaug and win back the stolen treasures and reclaim the home of the dwarves. Published in 1937, this book was the public's first introduction to Tolkien's elaborate imagined world of Middle Earth. The success of this novel motivated the author to pen a sequel, which would eventually lead to the extraordinary ‘Lord of the Rings series.’

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Who are Agniveers?

Agniveers are recruits for the armed forces under the short-term induction programme. Read on to find out more about them.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently interacted with Agniveers through a video conference. But do you know who Agniveers are and why they are recruited? Come, let's find out.

Agniveers and Agnipath

"Agniveer" is a new military rank. Agniveers are recruits for the armed forces under the short-term induction programme called the Agnipath scheme. The scheme was unveiled by the Government on June 14, 2022, to recruit Indian youths for the three services - the Indian Army, Navy, or Air Force.

Under the scheme, those in the age group 17-and-a-half years to 21 years are recruited below the rank of commissioned officers for a period of four years with a provision to retain 25% of them for 15 more years. However, the upper age limit was extended to 23 years as a one-time measure for 2022-23. The scheme was earlier called "Tour of Duty".

Purpose of the scheme

The main purpose of the Agnipath scheme is to strengthen the country's security forces, with a youthful, high-tech, and combat-ready military. Those recruited under the scheme are provided training and a pay package, and on completion of the term, will be given a one-time retirement package called 'Seva Nidhi, which will be exempted from income tax. However, the scheme does not include a pension or other benefits.

How do they train?

The training period, which lasts 31 weeks, is divided into two phases. The first 10 weeks are devoted to basic military training and the next 21 weeks to advanced military training. The training will focus on physical fitness, firing and handling various weapons, information technology, and the English language. Nearly 60 lakh applications were received of which 40,000 were selected. The target for this financial year is to recruit 46,000 candidates.

PM's address to Agniveers

Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently interacted with the first batch of Agniveers through video conferencing. He asserted that Agnipath was a transformative policy and a game changer in strengthening the armed forces and making them future-ready.

Hailing the potential of Agniveers, he said the experience they would acquire through this opportunity, would be a source of pride for life. He said the scheme would further empower women.

The introduction of the short-term military employment scheme has faced criticism from some sections for lack of consultation and public debate.

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What are UFOs?

Hundreds of new UFO reports, but...there is still no evidence of aliens. The Pentagon, the headquarters of the United States Department of Defense, has set up a new office to track reports of UFO sightings and collect data.

What are UFOs?

A new Pentagon office set up to track reports of unidentified flying objects (UFOS) has received "several hundreds" of new reports. What are UFOS? Over the centuries, people have reported seeing strange airborne objects or unusual optical phenomena in the sky. These are called UFOS. Over the years, the belief that UFOs are the spaceships of aliens from other planets has gained ground - though without any concrete evidence. Are there possibilities of extraterrestrial life? Shouldn't the sightings be tracked systematically? Well, that's why the All-domain Anomaly Resolution Office (AARO) was formed.

2. What is AARO?

The AARO was set up in July 2022 to track unidentified objects in the sky, underwater and in space. It was established following more than a year of attention on unidentified flying objects that military pilots have observed.

It focusses on unexplained activity around military installations, restricted airspace and "other areas of interest" and is aimed at helping identify possible threats to the safety of U.S. military operations and to national security.

3. Scientific approach

Sean Kirkpatrick, director, AARO, did not rule out the possibility of extraterrestrial life and said he was taking a scientific approach to the research. Since the launch of the AARO, there have been several hundred new reports.

"We are structuring our analysis to be very thorough and rigorous. We will go through it all. And as a physicist, I have to adhere to the scientific method."

4. No alien life

The U.S. military officially calls the 144 sightings observed between 2004 and 2021 as "unidentified aerial phenomena."

But they have seen nothing that indicates alien life. "I have not seen anything that would suggest that there has been an alien visitation, an alien crash or anything like that," said Ronald Moultrie, Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence and Security.

5. Quick facts

The Air Force conducted an investigation into UFO activity called 'Project Blue Book’. It ended in 1969 with a list of 12,618 sightings, 701 of which involved objects that officially remained "unidentified."

In 1994, it concluded that the 1947 famous "Roswell incident" in New Mexico, was not an UFO but a crashed balloon, the military's long-standing explanation.

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What does a dust devil sound like on Mars?

Mars rover’s microphone captures ten seconds of rumbling noise created by dust devil on the Red Planet. It's the same microphone that provided the first sounds of Martian wind in 2021.

What does a dust devil sound like on Mars? A NASA rover by chance had its microphone on when a whirling tower of red dust passed directly overhead, recording the racket.

It's about 10 seconds of not only rumbling gusts of up to 40 kph, but the pinging of hundreds of dust particles against the rover Perseverance. Scientists released the first-of-its-kind audio. It sounds strikingly similar to dust devils on Earth, although quieter since Mars' thin atmosphere makes for more muted sounds and less forceful wind, according to the researchers.

The dust devil came and went over Perseverance quickly last year, thus the short length of the audio, said the University of Toulouse's Naomi Murdoch, lead author of the study appearing in Nature Communications.

At the same time, the navigation camera on the parked rover captured images, while its weather-monitoring instrument collected data.

"It was fully caught red-handed by Persy," said co-author German Martinez of the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston.

Photographed for decades at Mars but never heard until now, dust devils are common at the red planet.

This one was in the average range: at least 400 feet (118 metres) tall and 80 feet (25 metres) across, travelling at 16 feet (5 metres) per second.

The microphone picked up 308 dust pings as the dust devil whipped by, said Murdoch, who helped build it.

Given that the rover's SuperCam microphone is turned on for less than three minutes every few days, Murdoch said it was "definitely luck" that the dust devil appeared when it did on Sept. 27, 2021. She estimates there was just a 1-in-200 chance of capturing dust-devil audio. Of the 84 minutes collected in its first year, there's "only one dust devil recording," she wrote in an email from France.


  • Common across Mars, dust devils are short-lived whirlwinds loaded with dust that form when there is a major difference between ground and air temperatures.
  • They are a common feature in the Jezero crater, where the Perseverance rover has been operational since February 2021 - but it had never before managed to record audio of one of them.
  • By chance on September 27, 2021, a dust devil 118 metres high and 25 metres wide passed directly over the rover.
  • This time, the microphone on the rover's SuperCam managed to catch the muffled, whirring sounds. far

  • The same microphone on Perseverance's mast provided the first sounds from Mars namely the Martian wind soon after the rover landed in February 2021.
  • It followed up with audio of the rover driving around and its companion helicopter, little Ingenuity, flying nearby, as well as the crackle of the rover's rock-zapping lasers, the main reason for the microphone.


On the prowl for rocks that might contain signs of ancient microbial life, Perseverance has collected 18 samples so far at Jezero Crater, once the scene of a river delta. NASA plans to return these samples to Earth a decade from now. Its helicopter Ingenuity has logged 36 flights, the longest lasting almost three minutes.


  • These recordings allow scientists to study the Martian wind, atmospheric turbulence and now dust movement as never before.
  • The impact of the dust-made "tac tac tac sounds will let researchers count the number of particles to study the whirlwind's structure and behaviour.
  • It could also help solve a mystery that has puzzled scientists. On some parts of Mars, whirlwinds pass by sucking up dust, cleaning the solar panels of rovers along the way.
  • Understanding why this happens could help scientists build a model to predict where the whirlwinds might strike next.
  • It could even shed light on the great dust storms that sweep across the planet, famously depicted in the 2015 science-fiction film "The Martian".

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What is Kuiper Belt?

Also called the "third zone" of the solar system, this large volume of space outside Neptune's orbit is home to thousands of icy, cold objects. This is where Pluto is also present.

In the cold, outermost area of our solar system lies one of the largest structures in our solar system. Also called the "third zone" of the solar system, this "donut-shaped" volume of space is called the Kuiper belt. This is where Pluto is also present.

The region encompasses hundreds of thousands of icy, cold objects and is outside Neptune's orbit.

The region is named so after astronomer Gerard Kuiper, who published a paper speculating objects beyond Pluto. This was also suggested by Astronomer Kenneth Edgeworth in the papers he published and sometimes this belt is called the Edgeworth-Kuiper Belt. Some researchers also refers to it as the Trans-Neptunian Region.

The icy bodies are called Kuiper Belt Objects (KBOS) or trans-Neptunian objects (TNOS). They are highly diverse in terms of size, shape, and colour. A significant number of KBOS have moons.

So how did the icy objects form? According to scientists, these icy objects are leftovers after the formation of our solar system. The region must have formed after these objects came together to form a planet but Neptune's gravity played spoilsport. The gravity shook up this region and these icy objects couldn't join to form a planet.

The Kuiper Belt volume is being lost nowadays. The amount of material which it carries now is much less when compared to what it contained earlier.

The objects in the belt collide and lead to fragmented, smaller objects. Sometimes the dust gets blown out of the solar system. We take a look at a few of the KBOS.


This KBO is known for its strange shape and rotation style. According to NASA, the Haumea resembles a squashed American football. This was a result of the object's collision with another object half the size of it.


Smaller than Pluto, Eris takes 557 years to orbit the Sun. It has a moon called Dysnomia.


Lying some billion miles past Pluto is the Arrokoth, a Kuiper Belt Object which means sky in the Native American language. This small snowman-shaped object is believed to hold clues about the origin of life on Earth and also about the planet's formation.

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What was the mission of the Hubble Space Telescope?

A mission conceived as one for preventive maintenance turned out to be more urgent after four of the six gyroscopes on board the Hubble space telescope failed.

The Hubble space telescope has changed our understanding of the universe A telescope that was launched into low Earth orbit in 1990, Hubble still remains operational and continues to be a vital research tool. Following NASA's most recent review of Hubble's operations, it has been announced that NASA would support the observatory through June 2026, with estimates suggesting that it might be able to continue operations until the mid-2030s and even beyond.

Designed to be visited

While the longevity of the telescope is testament to the vision of those who conceived the mission, there's another crucial factor that has made it possible. Hubble was the first telescope that was designed to be visited in space. This meant that astronauts could not only perform repairs and replace parts, but also upgrade its tech with newer instruments. There have been five such missions that have taken place from 1993 to 2009. One such servicing mission in December 1999 turned out to be a life saver for the telescope.

After the first servicing mission in 1993 and the second one in 1997, the third to carry out preventive repairs was scheduled for June 2000. Since Servicing Mission 2 in February 1997, however, three of the six gyroscopes aboard Hubble had failed. With at least three working gyroscopes necessary for Hubble's operation, it prompted the managers to split Servicing Mission 3 (SM3) into two parts, SM3A and SM3B, with the former scheduled for December 1999.

An unexpected failure

 On November 13, 1999, a fourth gyroscope failed unexpectedly. With SM3A planned for the following month, this triggered NASA to place Hubble into safe mode. The safe mode was a sort of protective hibernation that prevented the telescope from making any observation. Hubble was in this state for over a month, waiting for the crew of SM3A to make their way.

With servicing mission veterans Steven Smith and Michael Foale at the helm, the seven-member crew aboard the Discovery Space Shuttle (STS-103) left for space on December 19. Within a couple of days, they manoeuvred close enough to Hubble such that it could be grappled with Discovery's robotic arm.

All six gyroscopes replaced

 The first of the three scheduled spacewalks took place over 8 hours and 15 minutes spanning December 22-23 (Central European Time, CET). Smith, along with fellow crew member John Grunsfeld, managed to replace all six of Hubble's gyroscopes. The entire astronomical community heaved a collective sigh of relief on receiving this news. The duo also replaced kits to prevent Hubble's batteries from overcharging.

While Hubble's main computer was changed in the second spacewalk that spanned 8 hours 10 minutes through December 23-24 (CET), the final spacewalk spanning 8 hours 8 minutes through December 24-25 (CET) saw a faulty transmitter and data tape recorder being replaced. Preliminary tests were then conducted to ensure that all of Hubble's systems, be it old or new, were performing satisfactorily.

Backs away slowly

Minutes into December 26 (CET), the Hubble telescope was released. Discovery then backed away from Hubble slowly. Having successfully performed the major objectives of the mission, the astronauts on board used the time remaining to stow away equipment, apart from making preparations for landing.

After orbiting the Earth 119 times and travelling more than 5 million km, Discovery made its way back. It performed a smooth night-time landing, touching down on the runway at the Kennedy Space Center in the U.S. on December 27. Hubble was successfully back in operation, and has been for over two decades since then.

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Which is the first comet to encounter a spacecraft?

Discovered first on December 20, 1900, comet 21P/Giacobini-Zinner gets its name from two astronomers. From being one of the last comets to be discovered in the 19th Century, this comet is now best known for having the first encounter with a spacecraft.

Comets are popular for different reasons. There's Halley's comet, which is the most famous of them all. Regularly visible to the naked eye from the Earth, Halley's comet has been observed and recorded by astronomers for over 2,000 years. Then, there is comet Hyakutake. Discovered only in 1996, this comet's passage near the Earth in the same year was one of the closest cometary approaches in nearly 200 years. We will be turning our attention to comet 21P/Giacobini-Zinner, whose claim to fame now includes being the first comet to encounter a spacecraft. This comet was first discovered on December 20, 1900, making it one of the last comets to be discovered in the 19th Century. A discoverer of a number of comets, French astronomer Michel Giacobini found this comet while skygazing from Nice Observatory. It was followed for two months and orbital calculations revealed that the comet was a periodic object with an orbital period less than seven years.

Recovered in 1913

It wasn't recovered in 1907, when it was not placed favourably for viewing. Even though the comet was expected to be unfavourably placed in 1914 as well, German astronomer and renowned science historian Ernst Zinner accidentally rediscovered it on October 23, 1913.

Since both Giacobini and Zinner discovered and recovered this comet, it is named after them and is called comet 21P/Giacobini-Zinner. The letter "p" indicates that it is a periodic comet, which are comets with orbital periods less than 200 years. When orbital calculations were revised when the comet was recovered in 1913, its orbital period was found to be close to 6.6 years, and the comet has been observed on almost every return since then.

Draconid meteor shower

This comet had favourable returns in 1959, 1985, and 2018, when it was well observed as its perihelion (closest approach to sun) allowed it to pass close to the Earth. The nucleus of the Giacobini-Zinner sprays ice and rock into space every time it returns to the inner solar system. This makes the comet the parent comet of the Draconid meteor shower, which takes place in early October each year.

While this meteor shower is quite weak in most years, there have been Draconic meteor storms on record, meaning that over 1,000 meteors were seen per hour at the location of the observer. The 1933 and 1946 Draconid storms were particularly intense, with over 500 meteors observed per minute in Europe during the former and 50-100 per minute seen in the U.S. during the latter.

Farquhar's idea

Comet Giacobini-Zinner's current claim to fame was a result of its favourable return in 1985. When funding for a spacecraft mission to comet 1P/Halley, which was enroute to its 1986 perihelion passage, didn't materialise, planetary scientist Robert Farquhar came up with an idea. He suggested that the already existing International Sun-Earth Explorer 3 (ISEE-3) be placed on an alternate path that would take it towards Giacobini-Zinner.

Once the idea was approved, ISEE-3 was sent on a series of lunar flybys that would take it towards Giacobini-Zinner. Following the final lunar flyby in December 1983, ISEE-3 was renamed the International Cometary Explorer (ICE).

On September 11, 1985, ICE passed through the ion tail of Giacobini-Zinner, thereby completing the first encounter between a comet and a spacecraft. While ICE lacked cameras, it did carry scientific instruments that enabled it to record measurements of the electric environment around the comet and also as to how the comet interacted with the solar wind.

Even though an international fleet of spacecraft, including ICE, met Halley in 1986 from a number of vantage points for a study like never before, Giacobini-Zinner will forever hold the title of being the first comet to encounter a spacecraft. While its most recent return in 2018 might be comet 21P's most favourable return in the 21st Century, you can still look forward to its approach once in less than seven years, and maybe even try and track it.

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What is diasporic literature?

The word diaspora is derived from the Greek verb diaspeiro which means to scatter or to spread about. In its original context, it was an agricultural term used for the scattering of seeds during the process of sowing.

However, In the 21st Century, this word describes the dispersion of people from their homeland. Today, scholars acknowledge two types of diaspora- forced and voluntary. The first occurs as a consequence of wars or natural disasters like famine or drought, whereas the latter happens when people leave their homeland in search of better economic opportunities. The common link between the two diasporic communities is their shared sense of nostalgic longing for the homeland accompanied by a desire to return.

Diasporic literature

Diasporic literature refers to the literary: works produced by these displaced individuals, who migrated away from their homeland. As literature that reflects the displaced condition of its author, this kind of writing is informed by nostalgia for the motherland and the pangs and pains of assimilating into a foreign culture.

But the multicultural identity of these individuals does have a silver lining which is by not belonging to just one culture they have the freedom to borrow elements from multiple cultures and truly become global citizens.

First Indian diasporic writer India's first diasporic writer was Sake Dean Mahomed who was born in Bihar in 1759 and migrated to Britain in 1782. He was the first Indian author to publish a book in English. His book The Travels of Dean Mahomet was published in 1794 and is regarded as the first major work of both Indian-English literature as well as Indian diasporic literature. Some contemporary examples of diasporic literature include Jhumpa Lahiri's The Namesake, and Kiran Desai's The Inheritance of Loss.

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What is the use of Ribo device?

The 'Ribo' is a robotic solution for those looking to enjoy a bit of digital companionship. It "embraces" your smartphone and displays expressions that seem to convey your smartphone's feelings while separated from your hands. Half desktop pet and half smartphone dock, Ribo expresses emotions through its eyes displayed on a circular screen that serves as its face. The "tummy" of the robot is where you can slot your smartphone in. Inserting a charging cable turns Ribo into a charging station when needed. If you hold both of its hands in yours, it can take ECG readings that will be displayed on your phone and on its LCD display. Compared to smart docks with wireless charging and advanced features, Ribo might seem lacking, but what it offers is a more personal and approachable connection with technology.

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Under pressure I feel the urge to try drugs.

My friends often talk about drinking, smoking and vaping. Many of them are also consuming the same. As I don't, I sometimes feel like a misfit in the group. Under pressure I feel the urge to try these things.

As you grow older you will be introduced to a number of new things. Drinking, smoking and vaping can become very addictive vices over time. Many individuals start with thinking of trying it just once and then get habituated to it and are unable to leave it. I appreciate that you have never indulged in the same. I suggest that you refrain from these habits as these are not healthy for your physical and mental well-being.

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I am having difficulty in preparing for my exams.

I am a first year MBBS student. I am having ... difficulty in preparing for my exams thereby decreasing my efficiency. Kindly guide.

Studying as an MBBS student may be overwhelming sometimes. Since the syllabus is vast, you can benefit by dividing the portion equally and preparing an organised daily timetable to help you learn better. Make sure you keep some time as free time or a break time to avoid getting too bogged down by the syllabus. Try learning in terms of pointers first and later elaborate on what you have learnt. Use a highlighter wherever required, this would help to magnify important words or statements. Try to maintain a book on pointers only, this will help you revise your entire portion at one glance, last minute. You can also audio record yourself as you read out a difficult answer and hear it later; according to studies, listening to your own voice repeatedly can help you memorise better.

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