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Underwater snow on Earth gives clues about Europa’s icy shell

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Studying a bizarre underwater snow below ice shelves on Earth can help understand the ice shell Jupiter’s moon Europa, according to researchers.

Europa is a rocky world about the size of the Earth’s moon that is surrounded by a global ocean and a miles-thick ice shell.

Below Europa’s thick icy crust is a massive, global ocean where the snow floats upwards onto inverted ice peaks and submerged ravines.

The underwater snow is much purer than other kinds of ice, which means Europa’s ice shell could be much less salty than previously thought, revealed the study published in the journal Astrobiology.

The finding is important for mission scientists preparing NASA’s Europa Clipper spacecraft, which will use radar to peek beneath the ice shell to see if Europa’s ocean could be hospitable to life.

Previous studies suggest the temperature, pressure and salinity of Europa’s ocean nearest to the ice is similar to what you would find beneath an ice shelf in Antarctica.

The new information will be critical because salt trapped in the ice can affect what and how deep the radar will see into the ice shell, so being able to predict what the ice is made of will help scientists make sense of the data.

Knowing what kind of ice Europa’s shell is made of will also help decipher the salinity and habitability of its ocean, said the team from the University of Texas at Austin.

“When we’re exploring Europa, we’re interested in the salinity and composition of the ocean, because that’s one of the things that will govern its potential habitability or even the type of life that might live there,” said lead author Natalie Wolfenbarger, a graduate student researcher at the varsity’s Institute for Geophysics (UTIG).

The new study also examined the two different ways that water freezes under ice shelves, congelation ice and frazil ice. Congelation ice grows directly from under the ice shelf. Frazil ice forms as ice flakes in supercooled seawater which float upwards through the water, settling on the bottom of the ice shelf.

Both ways make ice that’s less salty than seawater, which Wolfenbarger found would be even less salty when scaled up to the size and age of Europa’s ice shell.

Further, the frazil ice – which keeps only a tiny fraction of the salt in seawater – could be very common on Europa. That means its ice shell could be orders of magnitude purer than previous estimates. This affects everything from its strength, to how heat moves through it, and forces that might drive a kind of ice tectonics, Wolfenbarger said.

According to co-author Donald Blankenship, a senior research scientist at UTIG, the research is validation for using the Earth as a model to understand the habitability of Europa.

“We can use Earth to evaluate Europa’s habitability, measure the exchange of impurities between the ice and ocean, and figure out where water is in the ice,” he said.

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CII lauds launch of 5G technology

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 The new 5G technology will help India achieve the next phase of digital transformation, president of industry body CII, Sanjiv Bajaj said.

In a statement issued by CII, Bajaj said: “The nation is relying heavily on 5G to be a game-changer in enabling new use cases and improving efficiency across every industry. With this launch (of 5G), we are moving towards an inclusive digital transformation ensuring that digital technologies are universally available, accessible, and adoptable, enabling meaningful and safe use of the Internet and digital services for all.”

5G technology in India was launched last week during the the sixth edition of India Mobile Congress (IMC) by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Airtel, Reliance Jio and Vodafone Idea – the three major telecom operators of the country had demonstrated the use of 5G technology to him during the event.

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Government of India approve an 26000 crores for installation of 5G network tower in 500 days

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The government has approved Rs 26,000 crore to install 25,000 mobile towers over the next 500 days, Communications Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said at the Digital India Conference of State IT Ministers at the India Mobile Congress. Through this, the government aims to provide last-mile internet connectivity to the far flung areas.

The project will be implemented by state-owned Bharat Broadband Network Ltd, which was recently merged into the Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd. The cost of the project will be born out of the Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF), which has a balance of Rs 59,736 crore as of August end. USOF is a fund set up by the government to provide internet connectivity to rural and far flung areas.

The state-run telecom operator is expected to launch its 4G services in November now and then target to cover pan-India with 4G in next 18 months. Simultaneously, the company is also targeting to launch 5G services by August 2023, as recently announced by telecom minister Ashwini Vaishnaw.

Recently, the government also approved a Rs 1.64 trillion revival package from BSNL. The revival package will help BSNL to fasten rollout of its 4G network, de-stress its balance sheet, and improve network services, among other things.

“The current approval to install 25,000 towers is in addition to the BSNL revival package and the expenses will be covered through USOF,” the official said.

The telecom operators, however, may not be in favour of the government giving BSNL additional incentives above the revival package.

“If this 25,000 is over and above the BSNL bailout package announced recently then it is more harming as it is against the level playing field,” an executive from a telecom company said, adding that BSNL has been given USOF related rollout without going for the tendering process.

“Denying the telecom service providers to bid is against the spirit of USOF as bidding would have resulted in best price to government and lower the government’s cost overall,” the telecom company executive said.

Currently, telecom operators pay 8% of their adjusted gross revenue as license fee. Of this 5% goes into the universal service obligation fund (USOF) and balance 3% to the exchequer.

As of August 31, about 47% of USOF is unutilised, and telecom operators want the government to either reduce or remove this levy till the funds are fully utilised.

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Airtel showcases 5G ambulance, smart agri 5G solutions to PM Modi

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 Bharti Airtel on Saturday showcased a 5G-connected ambulance to transform primary health care in emergency situations, along with smart farming solutions to Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the 5G official launch in the country.

The 5G ambulance, that can be built for around Rs 7-7.5 lakh, brings a hospital’s emergency care to the patient.

Airtel, Apollo Hospitals and Cisco have joined hands to build the 5G-connected ambulance.

The state-of-the-art 5G ambulance is equipped with the latest medical equipment, patient monitoring applications, and telemetry devices that transmit the patient health data to the hospital in real-time.

In addition, it is also equipped with onboard cameras, camera-based Headgear, and ‘Bodyc Cams’ for paramedic staff — all connected to the ultra-fast and low latency Airtel 5G network.

It will be further enabled with technologies like AR/VR, said the company.

“Healthcare is one of the most promising use cases for 5G, and we are delighted to deepen our partnerships with Apollo Hospitals and Cisco to bring some innovative use cases for the Indian market,” said Ajay Chitkara, Director & CEO, Airtel Business, Bharti Airtel.

With real-time camera feed available, the paramedics in an ambulance can use the cameras to collaborate with the ER doctors at the hospital who are equipped with technologies like AV/VR to undertake basic procedures, if necessary.

The doctors can virtually guide the paramedic to carry out the procedure and save precious lives.

The Airtel’s ‘Ambupod’ technology provides health testing, immunisation and the doctor’s connectivity in difficult-to-reach areas.

“Doctors can do a virtual examination of the patient through a video call and view their reports. Medical services can be provided to many villages at the same time,” according to the telecom provider.

The company also showcased smart farming solutions to Modi during his visit to the Airtel pavilion.

Airtel, along with its partners L&T and CDAC, has made an effort to make the agriculture sector more productive with the help of 5G technology.

“If every farmer in the country gets the necessary information like soil moisture, atmospheric moisture and temperature information in advance to improve the productivity of agriculture, then he can make a better decision,” the company said.

Camera-based analytics can suggest to the farmer according to the colour and nature of the crop, at what time and how much pesticide to use.

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