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Designed to last just 90 days and travel 1,000 metres on Martian landscape, NASA’s Opportunity rover outlived its mission lifetime by more than 14 years to become the longest lasting robot sent from Earth and the first wheeled vehicle off Earth to log a drive distance of over 45 kms.
Before its mission came to an end on Wednesday, the solar-powered and golf cart-sized rover that landed on Mars in January 2004 spent 15 years exploring details about Martian landscapes and confirmed that the Red planet once had abundant surface water and its conditions may have been habitable for some period of time in Martian history.
The rover discovered the first meteorite on Mars, sitting near its own heat shield and was the first to identify and characterise sedimentary rocks on a planet other than Earth.
“For more than a decade, Opportunity has been an icon in the field of planetary exploration, teaching us about Mars’ ancient past as a wet, potentially habitable planet, and revealing uncharted Martian landscapes,” Thomas Zurbuchen, Associate Administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, said in a statement.
The Opportunity rover was launched alongside Spirit as part of NASA’s Mars Exploration mission. While Spirit landed at Gusev Crater on January 4, 2004, Opportunity landed on the opposite side of Mars at Meridiani Planum on January 24, 2004. Spirit logged about eight kms before its mission came to an end nine years ago.
NASA’s Opportunity rover also found round, bluish stones that contained the minerals hematite and jarosite, which only form when rocks are exposed to acidic water.
The rover also exposed the surfaces of 52 rocks to reveal fresh mineral surfaces for analysis.
It returned more than 217,000 images, including fifteen 360-degree colour panoramas.
The fifteen years that Opportunity spent on the Red Planet had been full of challenges that required its engineers to be resourceful.
For instance, the rover’s right-front wheel sometimes drew more current than the other wheels, so engineers often drove the rover backward to extend the right front wheel’s life.
Since the terrain was treacherous, its wheels slipped on the loose slopes when it first attempted to drive out of Eagle Crater.
Again on April 26, 2005, Opportunity’s wheels dug into a soft, wind-sculpted sand ripple and got stuck for several nail-biting weeks at “Purgatory Dune.”
The rover also encountered two mission-threatening dust storms that blocked sunlight from reaching its solar panels. It survived a dust storm in 2007 by minimising activities and maintaining enough power in its batteries to recover when the skies cleared.
Unfortunately, the 2018 dust storm that it encountered blotted out even more sunlight and kept the skies above Opportunity dark about a month longer.
The rover last communicated with Earth on June 10, 2018. It has not been heard from for eight months since then.
NASA, which is planning to send humans to the Red Planet sometime in the future, will send the next Mars rover in 2020 to continue seeking the signs of life on Mars. (IANS)
When a baby is born in an Indian household-they invite hijra to shower the newborn with their blessings for their blessings confer fertility, prosperity, and long life on the child. But when that child grows up we teach them to avert their eyes when a group of hijras passes by, we pass on the behaviour of treating hijras as lesser humans to our children. Whenever a child raises a question related to gender identity or sexuality they are shushed down. We're taught to believe that anything "deviant" and outside of traditional cis-heteronormativity is something to be ashamed of. This mentality raises anxious, scared queer adults who're ashamed of their own identity, and adults who bully people for "queer behaviour".
Hijras are a community of people who include eunuchs, intersex, and transgender people. They worship the Hindu goddess of chastity and fertility, Bahuchara Mata. Most hijras, but not all, choose to undergo a castration ceremony known as "nirvana" in which they remove their male genitalia as an offering to their goddess. The whole community is vibrant with hundreds of people with hundreds of ways of expression, the true identity of a hijra is complex and unique to each individual. In India, hijras prefer to refer to themselves as Kinner/Kinnar as it means the mythological beings who excel at singing and dancing.
Hijras worship the Hindu goddess of chastity and fertility, Bahuchara Mata.homegrown.co.in
The hijra community works systematically, the community separates itself from the outside world and teaches lessons to the young ones in secret. Each community has a guru and the other hijras are their disciples or chela. The "hijra ways of life" are taught to the disciples in a secluded environment where they leave their families and live with other hijras in the community. More often than not hijras are thought of as nothing different from transgender and often referred to as transgender; however, scientifically these two terms denote a different class of people. Hijras are a part of the whole community of people with various identities and of spiritual and cultural values meanwhile, transgender merely refers to those people whose gender identity differs from the sex assigned to them at birth, they are a part of the community and do not represent the whole community.
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Historically and culturally the community has existed in the Indian subcontinent as long as the civilization has existed. There are mentions of hijra in The Mahabharata, a holy book of Hindus. Shikhandi who was neither male nor female is a mythological legend. In another version of Mahabharata Arjuna, one of the Pandavas was cursed to be the third gender by Urvashi, when he refused to be sexually involved with her. In a story by Padma Purana, it is seen that Arjuna transforms into a woman to take part in Krishna's mystical dance which only women can take part in. The Hijra figures are prominent in Indian Mughal History as well, referred to as Khwaja Siras and known for their loyalty to the ruler, they worked as the sexless watchdogs of the Mughal harems. They held important positions in court and various facets of administration during Mughal-era India, from the 16th to 19th century. The Hijra community is a testament to the sexual diversity that is integral yet often forgotten in Indian culture.
If the whole hijra community was looked upon with enamour and respect in our history, what happened that when we come across the community we look at them with contempt and are filled with a mixture of negative, fear, laughter, and odd emotions. It's owing to the fact that under British Raj, the Criminal tribes Act 1871 hijras were criminalized and the law was made to eradicate the whole community. However, these acts were abolished by the Indian government after independence, and by 2014, India, Nepal, and Bangladesh all had officially recognized third gender people as citizens deserving of equal rights where the third gender means individuals categorizing themselves as neither male nor female. Even though the progress is slow but in 2015 Madhu Kinnar became the first hijra mayor in India was elected in the city of Raigarh.
ALSO READ: India's first Residential Transgender
Although the hijra community was revered by society and is invited to births and weddings for religious and spiritual ceremonies, they still become victims of abuse and discrimination. Violence and hate crimes against the community have become common. They are deprived of education, job opportunities, seating in restaurants, etc. leading them to live in poor conditions barely surviving. They often have to resort to begging and prostitution to earn a daily living. The government has tried to address this issue by introducing bills for the protection of the hijra community, with prison terms and other punishments for those offending them, but there is little to no less effect on the social stigma against the community.
In India, the hijra community comes under the umbrella term LGBTQ+ and we notice that they lack voice and representation when it comes to LGBTQ+ rights. We need to understand that when we fight for LGBTQ+ rights we fight for the whole community, we fight for hijras who have been victims of violence, hate crimes, and disrespect from none other than the people of our society. And although hijras are a part of the LGBTQ+ community as a whole, they have an independent subculture of their own. It is worth every effort to know about them, to study about them, to befriend them, and to smile at them for they are every bit of human as we are and they have nothing but blessings in their heart.
One of the key pillars of any business is financial management. They can sometimes seem daunting – particularly when you're a small business. Your area of expertise might be in product design or ideation, and financial management can seem alien. But the careful planning and management of your financial resources will ensure that your business has the strongest of foundations to build on. Below we explore ways of improving the financial management of your business.
Evaluate your financial position
Any given week you should be well aware of the current cashflow situation in your business. You can stay in the loop by checking your bank balance daily, monitoring your sales totals and review both these figures against the numbers in your business plan.
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Hire an accountant
Sometimes you'll need to make the decision that you simply don't have the time or expertise to manage your finances effectively every week. In this situation – if you can afford it – you should look to hire an accountant. By diligently going through a hiring process you can appoint someone who'll be the right fit for your business. If your accountant proves to be incompetent, you do still have options though. If professional negligence results in a financial loss for you, then you have the option of raising a claim against the accountant.
Accounting helps with business investments Image source: wikimedia commons
Keeping track of your stock is key. Too much stock and your business' capital will be tied up in fixed assets that you're not currently shifting. But too little stock and you won't be making enough sales to maintain strong cashflow. Put systems in place to control your stock. This can be achieved by re-ordering stock when you reach minimum levels, carrying out regular reviews of your inventory and performing quick deliveries to ensure it doesn't build up.
Also read: Cut Business Losses with Accounting
Meet tax deadlines
Paying your taxes inefficiently can result in unnecessary fines and wasted time. Pay punctually and make sure that you set up records to ensure that you're paying the right amount that you owe.
Invest in growth
By growing your business you should be able to increase revenue and improve your cashflow. With excess profit, you should look to invest in ways to grow the company. This could be by increasing levels of service, attracting new talent or attempting to innovate and improve products. Whichever path you go down, by growing the business you'll become more reputable.
Financial management can sometimes feel overwhelming – particularly if it's not your niche. But by being organised you can move towards efficient financial management. You can monitor your financial position closely, grow the business, meet tax deadlines or even hire an account to achieve this.
Disclaimer: (This article is sponsored and include some commercial links)
A cryptocurrency is a digital/virtual currency, that is secured by cryptography (study of hiding information). There are over 6,500 cryptocurrencies in existence as of September 2021. The value of cryptocurrency is growing at a quick rate and analysts and experts are still expecting a sharp rise in the value of Bitcoin, the oldest, and most valuable cryptocurrency in the world. however, china doesn't seem to be on board with the idea of digital coins in its economy as it has banned dealing and trading in these digital tokens.
China has taken several decisions to curb the rise of cryptocurrency in its market since 2013 by putting in place increasingly stricter rules on virtual currencies. But on September 17th, China's central People's Bank of China (PBOC) announced that all activities from transactions made in cryptocurrency to crypto mining are deemed illegal including offering trading of digital assets, order matching, token issuance and derivatives. Anyone who's found guilty of being involved with cryptocurrencies and working for overseas platforms from within China will be severely punished. Chinese Government directed the banks to not provide any products or services such as trading, clearing and settlement for cryptocurrency transactions.
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The price of several cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Ethereum, Dogecoin etc. fell drastically after China's announcement. Bitcoin fell below $30,000 for the first time in more than five months nevertheless it recovered some ground by reaching $38,131, though it was still down -10.4%. Ether under Ethereum blockchain lost as much as 22% and Dogecoin lost up to 24%. Two of the largest bitcoin exchange companies Huibo and Binance have halted new registrations for new Chinese registrations and are planning to retire current accounts adhering to the country's new policies. Huibo announced that it'll close down all existing Chinese accounts by the end of the year. The ban makes buying or selling the assets difficult for Chinese mainland investors, as they cannot do so unless they leave the country. The ban has had a major negative impact on the gaming and tech sector.
ALSO READ: The Great Indian Crypto Circus
China was once the world's biggest bitcoin trading and mining centre in 2017. But in May 2021 China's State Council vowed to ban virtual coin transactions and mining. Several Chinese crypto companies are moving out of the country so that the impact of the ban would relatively limited. But why did China went as far as banning cryptocurrency? While the reasons behind China's ban on cryptocurrency remains vague. Speculations are that crypto trading had rebounded and was threatening to the safety of people's assets and disrupting the normal economic and financial order, that it is to prevent money laundering. A report by CryptDailyUse explained that the decision was made in favour of reducing energy prices, greenhouse fuel emissions and carbon footprints concerned with cryptocurrency transactions. China's ban will put China's internet security to test as to whether they're able to find and punish people and platforms that are breaking the laws. Some analysts have claimed that determined investors will find one or the other way to make trades in crypto or they'll simply move off-shore to perform transactions.