[Newsbits] 1.12.2023 – Artemis Program, DIGI-PHARMed, Mars Odyssey Orbiter, ASW SWC Project & more

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/ Space
mind map

This topic of “Artemis Program” is important from the perspective of the UPSC IAS Examination, which falls under General Studies Portion.


In recent developments of December 2023, the Artemis Program faces significant delays due to challenges with SpaceX Starship and Axiom Spacesuit, potentially pushing the Artemis III mission to 2027. This setback comes as NASA prepares for the Peregrine lunar lander’s launch under the Artemis program.

Background of the Artemis Program

The Artemis Program, spearheaded by NASA, is an international effort involving agencies like ESA, DLR, JAXA, CSA, ISA, and ASI. It aims to reestablish human presence on the Moon since the Apollo 17 mission in 1972 and envisions setting up a permanent base on the Moon to facilitate human missions to Mars.

Historical Context

Initiated in 2017 during the Trump administration, the program integrates elements from previous NASA missions, including the Constellation program. Despite initial budget challenges and the impossibility of a planned 2020 Moon landing, additional funding and support were garnered, especially under the Obama and Biden administrations. Notably, Space Policy Directive 1 in 2017 and subsequent funding to SpaceX, Blue Origin, and Dynetics marked significant milestones in the program’s development.

Program Components

The Artemis Program comprises the Space Launch System, Orion spacecraft, Lunar Gateway space station, and commercial Human Landing Systems. It includes several missions: Artemis 1 (an uncrewed test in 2022), Artemis 2 (the first crewed test flight in 2024), Artemis 3 (the first crewed lunar landing, now potentially delayed to 2027), Artemis 4 (second crewed lunar landing in 2028), and Artemis 5 (third crewed lunar landing in 2029). Support missions integral to the program’s success include robotic landers, Gateway module delivery, and Moon base elements. The program’s projected cost is around $93 billion until 2025.

Recent Developments

As of December 2023, the Artemis Program faces a notable challenge with the potential delay of the Artemis III mission to 2027, mainly due to issues with SpaceX Starship and Axiom Spacesuit. Concurrently, the Peregrine lunar lander, part of the CLPS initiative, is scheduled to launch on December 24, 2023, signifying continued progress despite setbacks.


While facing recent challenges and potential delays, the Artemis Program remains a pivotal endeavor in space exploration, aiming to extend human presence beyond Earth and laying the groundwork for future interplanetary missions.

/ Drugs/Pharmaceuticals
mind map

This topic of “DIGI-PHARMed” is important from the perspective of the UPSC IAS Examination, which falls under General Studies Portion.


On December 1, 2023, the Pharmacy Council of India (PCI) unveiled a significant upgrade to the DIGI-PHARMed application, a pivotal move towards the digitization and regulation of pharmacy education in India.

DIGI-PHARMed Overview

DIGI-PHARMed, launched by the Pharmacy Council of India (PCI), represents a crucial step in regulating pharmacy education across India. This application, specifically tailored for pharmacists, pharmacy institutions, students, and jobseekers, aims to streamline and digitalize the entire registration and educational process.

  • Launch Details
    • The application was launched on December 1, 2023​​​​.
    • It targets the regulation of pharmacy education throughout the country.
  • Services Offered
    • DIGI-PHARMed includes four integrated services​​.
    • It caters to a wide array of users, including pharmacy institutions, practicing pharmacists, pharmacy students, and those seeking jobs in the field​​.
  • Application Features
    • Initially introduced in 2020, DIGI-PHARMed facilitates online registration for various stakeholders in the pharmacy sector​​.
    • The application operates on a cloud-based model, ensuring efficient, end-to-end services​​.
    • Its key objectives include achieving total digitization, saving time, reducing paper usage, and enhancing the overall user experience.
  • User Registration
    • Users can access the application through the PCI website (www.pci.nic.in)​“【oaicite:2】“​.
    • The registration process is straightforward, encompassing various sections like faculty, students, and institutions.
    • The form-filling process prohibits the use of special characters to maintain data integrity.

Recent News and Developments

The most recent update to DIGI-PHARMed, announced on December 1, 2023, marks a significant enhancement in its features and functionalities. This revamped version is designed to further simplify processes and provide more comprehensive services to its users.

  • Enhancements in the Revamped Application
    • The updated version focuses on further digitizing the pharmacy education and registration processes​​.
    • It emphasizes a more streamlined user experience, especially in the areas of enrollment and registration​​.
    • The application continues to support a broad spectrum of pharmacy-related professionals and institutions.


The revamped DIGI-PHARMed application signifies a transformative step in the digitalization of pharmacy education and professional services in India, reflecting PCI’s commitment to advancing the pharmacy sector through technological integration.

/ Space
mind map

This topic of “Mars Odyssey Orbiter” is important from the perspective of the UPSC IAS Examination, which falls under General Studies Portion.


The Mars Odyssey Orbiter, launched on April 7, 2001, and arriving at Mars on October 24, 2001, is NASA’s longest-lasting spacecraft at Mars. Its primary mission, which lasted from February 2002 to August 2004, was focused on creating the first global map of Martian chemical elements and minerals, and it continues to operate in an extended mission capacity.


  • THEMIS (Thermal Emission Imaging System): This instrument is essential for determining the distribution of minerals, especially those that form in the presence of water.
  • GRS (Gamma Ray Spectrometer): It helps in identifying 20 chemical elements on Mars’ surface, including hydrogen, which is indicative of water ice.
  • MARIE (Mars Radiation Environment Experiment): This experiment studies the radiation environment above Mars.

Communications Relay

The Odyssey Orbiter also serves as a communications relay for various Mars rovers and landers, including the Mars Exploration Rovers “Spirit” and “Opportunity,” the Mars Phoenix lander, and the Mars Science Laboratory’s Curiosity rover. This capability is crucial for selecting potential landing sites and transmitting data from the Martian surface.

Recent News (November 2023)

In a significant achievement, the Odyssey’s THEMIS camera captured a stunning view of the Mars horizon, an operation that took three months to plan. This view, from about 250 miles above the Martian surface, is akin to the view from the International Space Station of Earth. Captured on May 9, 2023, the image is a false color composite, highlighting water-ice clouds and dust in the Martian atmosphere.

THEMIS Operations

Arizona State University (ASU) leads the operations for Odyssey’s THEMIS camera, which has provided a new perspective for Mars scientists, similar to astronauts’ experiences when viewing Earth’s curvature from the ISS.

Achievements and Contributions

Over two decades, the Mars Odyssey Orbiter has made significant contributions to our understanding of Mars:

Mapping Martian Ice

  • Odyssey’s data has been pivotal in locating water ice on Mars, a crucial resource for future human exploration and understanding the Martian water cycle.

Understanding Mars’ Composition

  • The orbiter’s THEMIS camera has produced global maps of Mars, identifying various physical materials like rock, sand, and dust, thereby contributing to a deeper understanding of the planet’s history and surface composition.

Ensuring Safer Landings

  • Odyssey has sent back more than 1 million images, aiding in identifying hazards and resources on Mars. This data has been instrumental in ensuring safer landings for missions like the Perseverance rover.

Communications Relay Role

  • The orbiter has been key in relaying data between Mars rovers/landers and Earth. It has supported over 18,000 relay sessions, proving vital for the success of numerous missions.

Study of Martian Moons

  • The Odyssey has begun using its THEMIS camera to study Mars’ moons, Phobos and Deimos, providing insights into their composition and history. This data will be crucial for future missions aimed at these moons.


The Mars Odyssey Orbiter, a testament to human ingenuity and the quest for knowledge, continues to expand our understanding of Mars, from its surface composition and water ice deposits to the mysteries of its moons. As it enters its 22nd year at the Red Planet, its ongoing mission remains a cornerstone of Mars exploration, providing vital data that will shape future missions and our understanding of our celestial neighbor.

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/ Diseases, Indices/Reports
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This topic of “World Malaria Report 2023” is important from the perspective of the UPSC IAS Examination, which falls under General Studies Portion.


The World Malaria Report 2023, published by the World Health Organization (WHO), presents a comprehensive picture of the global state of malaria. It highlights significant progress made in some regions, but also underscores the challenges posed by climate change, funding gaps, and the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on malaria control efforts.

World Health Organization’s Role

  • Annual Reporting: The WHO publishes an annual report on malaria, focusing on global progress and challenges.
  • Malaria Guidelines: Updated guidelines for malaria were released on March 14, 2023.

Global Trends in Malaria

  • Funding Gap: The gap in funding for malaria control and elimination has grown significantly, indicating a need for increased investment.
  • Global Cases and Deaths: There has been an increase in global malaria cases, but significant reductions in deaths in some countries.
  • Investments Since 2000: Investments in malaria control have averted millions of deaths and prevented billions of cases.

India Trend

  • Malaria Burden in India
    • India topped the South-East Asia Region for the most malaria cases and deaths in 2022.
    • The country accounted for 66% of the region’s malaria cases and, along with Indonesia, for 94% of the region’s malaria deaths.
  • Comparison with Previous Years
    • Compared to 2021, India saw an estimated 30% decline in malaria cases and a 34% decline in deaths, indicating some progress in malaria control.
  • Global Contribution
    • India, along with eight other countries in the South-East Asia Region, contributed to about 2% of the global malaria burden in 2022.

Challenges and Issues

  • Climate Change: A key factor affecting malaria transmission, with both direct and indirect impacts.
  • Stagnation Since COVID-19: The pandemic has exacerbated existing challenges, leading to a stagnation in progress against malaria.
  • Constrained Resources: Limited resources and difficulties in implementing interventions, particularly in rural areas.
  • Health System Challenges: The need for prompt and high-quality healthcare services to combat malaria.
  • Mosquito Resistance: Rising resistance to insecticides poses a threat to vector control efforts.

Climate Change and Malaria

  • Direct Effects: The evidence on how climate change directly affects malaria transmission is mixed.
  • Indirect Effects: Climate change-related events, like extreme weather, disrupt health services and can lead to outbreaks.
  • Impact on Malaria Seasons: Changes in weather patterns could affect the timing and effectiveness of malaria interventions.

Funding for Malaria Control

  • Importance of Funding: Critical for scaling up interventions and developing new, climate-resilient tools.
  • Surveillance and Data Collection: Increased funding needed for better surveillance and data analysis.
/ North East

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Anti-Submarine Warfare Shallow Water Craft (ASW SWC) Project Mind Map

This topic of “Anti-Submarine Warfare Shallow Water Craft (ASW SWC) Project” is important from the perspective of the UPSC IAS Examination, which falls under General Studies Portion.

Recent Developments (as of November 2023)

  • Launch of ‘Amini’: Fourth vessel, highlights naval strength enhancement
  • Name Significance: Reflects strategic importance of Amini Island, Laksha


  • Initiation: December 2013
  • Approval: Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), India
  • Objective: Replace Abhay-class corvettes
  • Cost: ₹13,440 crore (2013 value)

Tender and Contracts

  • Tender Issued: June 2014, to private shipyards
  • Winning Bidders: Cochin Shipyard (CSL), Garden Reach Shipbuilders & Engineers (GRSE)
  • Contract Date: April 2019
  • Contract Value: ₹6,311 crore for 8 ships each (GRSE and CSL)
  • Delivery Timeline: 2022-2026


  • Start: December 2020 (CSL), December 2020 (GRSE)
  • Key Milestones: Steel-cutting, keel laying, launching
  • Current Status: Ongoing construction

Design and Capabilities

  • Vessels: 16 ASW SWC ships
  • Builder Diversity: Different designs by CSL and GRSE
  • Length: 77.6 meters (GRSE), 78 meters (CSL)
  • Displacement: 700 tons (CSL), 900 tons (GRSE)
  • Speed: 25 knots
  • Range: 1,800 nautical miles
  • Armament: RBU-6000 anti-submarine rocket launcher, lightweight torpedoes, anti-submarine mines
  • Propulsion: Water-jet propulsion
  • Stealth Features: Reduced radar, acoustic, infrared signatures
  • Crew: 57 (7 officers + 50 sailors)
  • Sensors: Hull-mounted sonar, towed low-frequency variable-depth sonar

Strategic Role

  • Primary Missions: ASW operations, subsurface surveillance, SAU missions
  • Secondary Duties: Defense against aircraft, minelaying, search-and-rescue
  • Operational Area: Coastal and littoral waters

Indigenous Contribution

  • Make in India Initiative: Over 80% indigenous content
  • Significance: Boosts local defense manufacturing, employment
Mind map

This topic of “Plan Bee” is important from the perspective of the UPSC IAS Examination, which falls under General Studies Portion.


The Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) of India has implemented an innovative initiative known as ‘Plan Bee’ to prevent elephant casualties on railway tracks. This initiative has been recognized for its effectiveness in reducing the number of elephant deaths due to collisions with trains, a problem that has been prevalent in several parts of the country. This article aims to provide a comprehensive analysis of the ‘Plan Bee’ initiative, discussing its implementation, effectiveness, and potential implications for wildlife conservation.

The Genesis of Plan Bee

The ‘Plan Bee’ initiative was adopted by the NFR in 2017 in response to the increasing number of elephant deaths on railway tracks. The initiative involves the use of a device that broadcasts the sound of swarming honeybees, a natural deterrent for elephants. The device, which costs about Rs 2,000, is installed at level crossings in areas prone to accidents involving elephants.

  • The first device was installed at a level crossing west of Guwahati, adjacent to the Rani Reserve Forest, a known elephant habitat.
  • The sound produced by the device can be heard up to 600 meters away, effectively keeping elephants at a safe distance from the railway tracks.
  • As of the latest reports, the NFR has installed 46 such devices at various vulnerable points.
  • The initiative was recognized with the ‘Best Innovation Award’ by the Indian Railways, further validating its effectiveness.

The Impact of Plan Bee

The ‘Plan Bee’ initiative has had a significant impact on reducing elephant casualties on railway tracks.

  • Between 2014 and 2016, 35 elephants were killed on railway tracks. The implementation of ‘Plan Bee’ has drastically reduced such incidents.
  • From 2013 to June 2019, a total of 67 elephants were knocked down in train-elephant collisions. However, through ‘Plan Bee’ and other measures, NFR has been able to save as many as 1014 elephants from 2014 to June 2019.
  • The initiative has been particularly effective in Assam, which is home to about 5620 elephants, and the Dooars area of North Bengal, which also has a significant elephant population.
  • The buzzing sound of the device has been tested on both domesticated and wild elephants, proving its effectiveness in deterring these animals from approaching the railway tracks.

Plan Bee: A Model for Wildlife Conservation

The ‘Plan Bee’ initiative serves as a model for innovative, cost-effective, and non-invasive methods for wildlife conservation. It demonstrates how understanding and leveraging the natural behaviors of animals can contribute to their protection.

  • The initiative is based on the natural aversion of elephants to the sound of swarming bees. This understanding has been used in other contexts as well, such as in African villages where ‘beehive fences’ are used to deter elephants from raiding crops.
  • The use of sound as a deterrent is non-invasive and does not harm the elephants or disrupt their natural behaviors.
  • The initiative also highlights the importance of local solutions to conservation challenges. The device used in ‘Plan Bee’ is relatively inexpensive and can be installed at multiple locations, making it a scalable solution.
  • The success of ‘Plan Bee’ underscores the potential for similar initiatives to address human-wildlife conflicts in other contexts and with other species.


The ‘Plan Bee’ initiative by the Northeast Frontier Railway is a testament to the power of innovative, locally-adapted solutions to conservation challenges. By leveraging the natural behaviors of elephants, the initiative has effectively reduced the number of elephant casualties on railway tracks. As human activities continue to encroach on wildlife habitats, initiatives like ‘Plan Bee’ offer a model for mitigating human-wildlife conflicts in a humane and non-invasive manner.

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