- Smart Lander for Investigating Moon (SLIM) Mission: Recently, Japan’s Smart Lander for Investigating Moon (SLIM) spacecraft entered into orbit around the moon after months-long journey. It is a spacecraft built and launched by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) on September 7, 2023, from the Tanegashima spaceport. It weighed only 590 kg. It was launched together with XRISM, a next-generation X-ray space telescope, onboard an H-2A rocket. It entered into an elliptical orbit around the moon over three minutes or so. Its apogee (farthest point) in this orbit is 4,000 km and perigee (closest point) is 600 km above the lunar surface. Just before it lands, SLIM will deploy two small rovers called Lunar Excursion Vehicle (LEV) 1 and 2. LEV-1, LEV-2, and SLIM will together study the lunar surface near the landing point, collect temperature and radiation readings, and attempt to study the moon’s mantle.
- XRISM Mission: The X-Ray Imaging and Spectroscopy Mission (XRISM) is a joint mission of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), involving contributions from the European Space Agency (ESA).The mission aims to observe X-rays coming from deep space and to identify their wavelengths with unprecedented precision. It will use state-of-the-art spectroscopy to measure changes in the brightness of celestial objects at different wavelengths. It detects X-rays with energies ranging from 400 to 12,000 electron volts. (For comparison, the energy of visible light is 2 to 3 electron volts.) This range will provide astrophysicists with new information about some of the universe’s hottest regions, largest structures, and objects with the strongest gravity.
- Huntington’s disease: It is a rare, inherited disease that causes the progressive breakdown (degeneration) of nerve cells in the brain. It has a wide impact on a person’s functional abilities and usually results in movement, thinking (cognitive) and psychiatric disorders. There are two types of Huntington’s disease:
- Adult onset: This is the most common form. Symptoms usually begin after age 30.
- Early onset (juvenile Huntington’s disease): Early onset affects children and teenagers. It’s very rare. When Huntington’s develops early, symptoms are somewhat different and the disease may progress faster.
A genetic change (mutation) of the HTT gene causes Huntington’s disease. The HTT gene makes a protein called huntingtin. This protein helps your nerve cells (neurons) function. The normal HTT gene contains a stretch of DNA that specifies the number of times the amino acid glutamine is repeated in the HTT This number varies from 11 to 31.In the mutant versions of the HTT gene, this stretch is expanded to encode 35 or more repeats. As the number of repetitions increase, the severity of Huntington’s disease increases and its debilitation begins at an earlier age.Huntington’s disease usually causes movement, cognitive and psychiatric disorders with a wide spectrum of signs and symptoms. The patient suffers mood swings, has difficulty in reasoning, shows abnormal and uncontrollable jerky movements, and experiences difficulty in speaking, swallowing, and walking. Medications are available to help manage the symptoms of Huntington’s disease. But treatments can’t prevent the physical, mental and behavioural decline associated with the condition.