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Daily Prelims Test – 17_February 2021

Which of the following correctly explains the Interplanetary Contamination?

It is a collection of gravitationally determined pathways through the Solar System

It is an innovation process originally invented to produce natural building materials in the sea

It is an artificial material that is orbiting Earth but is no longer functional.

It means transporting Earth-based microbes to other celestial bodies and bringing extraterrestrial microbes back to Earth

Answer: (d) It means transporting Earth-based microbes to other celestial bodies and bringing extraterrestrial microbes back to Earth


In NEWS: Explained: NASA’s Perseverance rover landing on Mars, and what makes landing on the Red Planet difficult

  • UAE’s Al Amal (Hope)–the Arab world’s first such mission–entered the Martian orbit last week. Apart from the UAE, China also launched a Mars mission during the July-August window.
  • In light of such ambitious space missions, some astrobiologists have expressed concerns about possible ‘interplanetary contamination’. The Committee on Space Research (COSPAR) lays down a ‘planetary protection policy’ that aims to limit the number of microbes sent to other planets, as well as ensuring that alien life does not cause havoc on Earth.

About Interplanetary Contamination

  • This means transporting Earth-based microbes to other celestial bodies and bringing extraterrestrial microbes back to Earth. Hence option (d) is correct
  • There are two types of interplanetary contamination:
  • Forward contamination is the transfer of life and other forms of contamination from Earth to another celestial body.
  • Back contamination is the introduction of extraterrestrial organisms and other forms of contamination into Earth’s biosphere. It also covers infection of humans and human habitats in space and on other celestial bodies by extraterrestrial organisms, if such habitats exist.


  • Spacecraft Sterilisation: To prevent forward contamination, space missions take care to ensure that spacecraft are sterilised.
  • Containment: In the case of back contamination, sterilisation would not be an option–as this would ruin the extraterrestrial samples.


Consider the following Statements regarding Perseverance mission

  1. It will carry Ingenuity is the first ever helicopter to fly on Mars
  2. The goal is to look for biosignatures in the dried up lake bed at Jezero Crater

Which of the statement(s) given above is/are correct? 

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

Answer: (c) Both1 and 2 


In NEWS:  Explained: NASA’s Perseverance rover landing on Mars, and what makes landing on the Red Planet difficult

  • NASA’s Perseverance rover is expected to land at the Jezero Crater on the Red Planet, after which it will resume work to look for signs of past life.
  • Landing is the shortest but one of the most significant and also difficult phases of the mission.

About Perseverance mission

  • Perseverance is NASA’s 4th generation Mars Rover — starting with Sojourner from the Mars Pathfinder Mission in 1997, followed by Spirit and Opportunity from the Mars Exploration Rover Mission in 2004, and Curiosity from the Mars Science Laboratory in 2012.
  • Perseverance was launched on July 30, 2020 during the window when Mars and Earth were the closest to each other.
  • The rover is set to land on Mars in Jezero Crater on Feb. 18, 2021
  • Car-sized Perseverance rover is using a nuclear-powered system. The rover will be powered by a generator that will convert heat generated by the natural decay of plutonium-238 into electricity, which will keep the rover and its tools running once it lands on Mars.
  • The Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover will search for signs of ancient microbial life, which will advance NASA’s quest to explore the past habitability of Mars.
  • The rover has a drill to collect core samples of Martian rock and soil, then store them in sealed tubes for pickup by a future mission that would ferry them back to Earth for detailed analysis. Hence statement 2 is correct
  • The thought is that early life on Mars may have resembled early ocean-dwelling life on Earth, like stromatolites.
  • It will carry Ingenuity, the first ever helicopter to fly on Mars. This is the first time NASA will fly a helicopter on another planet or satellite. Hence statement 1 is correct
  • Perseverance will produce oxygen on the Martian surface for the first time, using atmospheric CO2 from the Martian atmosphere. Perseverance will cache rock samples that will be returned to Earth by a subsequent European Space Agency/NASA mission.
  • It will carry a unique instrument, MOXIE or Mars Oxygen ISRU Experiment: which for the first time will manufacture molecular oxygen on Mars using carbon dioxide from the carbon-dioxide-rich atmosphere

Why is landing on Mars difficult?

  • Entry, descent and landing (EDL), is what the most intense phase of the Mars 2020 mission is called. For the Perseverance rover to successfully land on Mars, a number of things need to go right. The EDL phase begins when the rover will reach the top of the Martian atmosphere travelling at a speed of 20,000 km per hour.

What will the Perseverance rover do on Mars?

  • Perseverance will spend one Mars year (two years on Earth) on the planet during which it will explore the landing site region. The Jezero crater where it will land was once the site of an ancient river delta



Grape Net , a web-based certification and traceability software system, aims to monitoring fresh grapes exported from India  to which of the following countries?

  1. United Kingdom 
  2. United States of America
  3. Gulf countries
  4. Europe Union

Answer: (d) Europe Union


In NEWS: Recently, the APEDA upgraded the GrapeNet to ensure secured, scalable and cost effective interface in the exports value chain

APEDA has adopted next generation Blockchain and Cloud migration enabled GrapeNet System which would ensure a secured, scalable and cost effective interface for all the stakeholders in the exports value chain.

What is GrapeNet?

  • The GrapeNet is a web based certification and traceability software system for monitoring fresh grapes exported from India to the European Union. Hence option (d) is correct
  • GrapeNet is a first of its kind initiative in India that has put in place an end-to-end system for monitoring pesticide residue, achieve product standardization and facilitate tracing back from retail shelves to the farm of the Indian grower, through the various stages of sampling, testing, certification and packing
  • The software can be easily used – anywhere, anytime, 24 by 7, by all authorized stakeholders
  • It has virtually reduced duplication in data capture and enables instant reference of previous steps in the supply chain.
  • APEDA can trace details of the consignment right upto the farm plot level. After integrating Blockchain, GrapeNet will be more secure.

About Blockchain technology

  • Blockchain is a shared, immutable ledger that facilitates the process of recording transactions and tracking assets in a business network. 
  • The technology is ideal for delivering that information because it provides immediate, shared, and completely transparent information stored on an immutable ledger that can be accessed only by network members. 
  • A Blockchain network can track test reports, consignments, production, and much more. 
  • And because members share a single view of the truth, they can see all details of a transaction end-to-end, giving them greater confidence, as well as new efficiencies and opportunities.


Consider the following Statements regarding Soil ameliorant

It is chemical that is applied to improve the quality of the soil and thereby improve plant growth

Gypsum is an ideal soil ameliorant

Which of the statement(s) given above is/are correct? 

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

Answer: (c) Both1 and 2 


In NEWS: Initiatives of Government of India to increase Production and Productivity of food crops under National Food Security Mission

  • National Food Security Mission (NFSM) has been able to achieve around 110 lakh ha area to be treated with Micronutrients, Bio-fertilizers, soil ameliorants/ (Gypsum/Lime/others) from 2014-15 to 2019-2020.

What is soil ameliorant ?

  • An ameliorant is chemical that is applied to improve the quality of the soil and thereby improve plant growth. Hence statement 1 is correct
  • Gypsum is an ideal soil ameliorant for hard compacted soils with poor water penetration or sodicity. Hence statement 2 is correct
  • Adding gypsum to the soil reduces erosion by increasing the ability of soil to soak up water after precipitation, thus reducing runoff. 
  • Gypsum application also improves soil aeration and water percolation through the soil profile
  • In the right conditions, adding lime or gypsum to dispersive soils decreases the sodium exchange percentage, reduces dispersion, and increases stable soil structure.

About Gypsum

  • Gypsum is a soft sulfate mineral composed of calcium sulfate dihydrate, with the chemical formula CaSO4·2H2O.
  • It is a mineral found in crystal as well as masses called gypsum rock. 
  • Massive gypsum rock forms within layers of sedimentary rock, typically found in thick beds or layers.  
  • Gypsum is deposited from lake and sea water, as well as in hot springs, from volcanic vapors, and sulfate solutions in veins


Consider the following organisms:





Which of the above-given organisms can be used as bio-fertilisers?

  1. 1, 3 and 4 only
  2. 2 and 3 only
  3. 1 and 3 only
  4. 1, 2, 3 and 4

Answer: (d) 1,2,3 and 4  


In NEWS: Initiatives of Government of India to increase Production and Productivity of food crops under National Food Security Mission

  • The Mission has been able to achieve around 110 lakh ha area to be treated with Micronutrients, Bio-fertilizers, soil ameliorants/ (Gypsum/Lime/others) from 2014-15 to 2019-2020. 
  • Around 120 lakh ha area under Integrated Pest Management (IPM) were achieved during from 2014-15 to 2019-20. 
  • To strengthen mechanization at farmer’s field about 15 lakh improved farm implements were distributed under NFSM from 2014-15 to 2019-2020

About Bio-fertilizers

  • ‘Biofertilizer’ is a substance which contains living microorganism which, when applied to seed, plant surfaces, or soil, colonizes the rhizosphere or the interior of the plant and promotes growth by increasing the supply or availability of primary nutrients to the host plant.
  • Biofertilizers add nutrients through the natural processes of fixing atmospheric nitrogen, solubilizing Phosphorus, and stimulating plant growth through the synthesis of growth promoting substances.

Types of Biofertilizers

  • Nitrogen fixing biofertilizers eg.Rhizobium, Bradyrhizobium, Azo-spirillum and Azotobacter. Rhizobium is one of the vital symbiotic nitrogen-fixing bacteria.
  • Blue-Green algae or Cyanobacteria from the symbiotic association with several plants. Liverworts, cycad roots, fern, and lichens are some of the Nitrogen-fixing cyanobacteria. Anabaena is found at the leaf cavities of the fern. It is responsible for nitrogen fixation.
  • Phosphorous solubilising biofertilizers (PSB) eg.Bacillus,Pseudomonas and Aspergillus 
  • Phosphate mobilizing biofertilizer eg. Mycorrhiza 
  • Plant growth promoting biofertilizers eg. Pseudomonas sp. Hence option (d) is correct

Advantages of biofertilizers:

  • They help to get high yield of crops by making the soil rich with nutrients and useful microorganisms necessary for the growth of the plants.
  • Biofertilizers have replaced the chemical fertilizers as chemical fertilizers are not beneficial for the plants.
  • Biofertilizers are not costly and even poor farmers can make use of them.
  • They are environment friendly and protect the environment against pollutants.

Disadvantages of Biofertilizer

  • Biofertilizers require special care for long-term storage because they are alive. They must be used before their expiration date.
  • The soil must contain adequate nutrients for biofertilizer organisms to thrive and work.
  • They complement other fertilizers, but they cannot totally replace them.
  • They lose their effectiveness if the soil is too hot or dry.


Kailash Range is situated to the

South of Lipulekh Pass

south of Lake Mansarovar

North of karakoram pass

South of Pongong

Answer: (d) South of Lipulekh Pass


In NEWS: Chinese troops pull back from Pangong north, south banks

  • Sources said the visuals were from the north bank of the Pangong Tso, and the Kailash Range area on the lake’s south bank. Hence option (d) is correct
  • According to the agreement reached between the Indian and Chinese military commanders, both sides have to restore all land form to as it was before the standoff began in May 2020.
  • On the north bank of Pangong Tso, the Chinese have dismantled a jetty that they had constructed at Finger 5, and removed markings of a helipad, said sources.
  • As part of the process, Chinese troops will pull back from Finger 4 to east of Finger 8 on the Pangong north bank – they had come in 8 km west of Finger 8 which India says marks the LAC.

About Kailash Range

  • The Kailash Range originates from the southern bank and runs northwest to southeast for over 60 km.
  • Kailas Range is one of the highest and most rugged parts of the Himalayas, located in the southwestern part of the Tibet Autonomous Region, southwestern China.
  • The Kailash Ridge is characterised by rugged, broken terrain with heights varying between 4,000-5,500m.
  • Its key features include Helmet Top, Gurung Hill, Spanggur Gap, Muggar Hill, Mukhpari, Rezang La and Rechin La.
  • The Ridge dominates Chushul Bowl; an important communications centre.
  • The range lies to the north of a trough drained in the west by the Langqen River—which is known as the Sutlej River in India—and in the east by the Damqog River, headwater of the Brahmaputra River.
  • In the middle of this depression lies Lake Mapam.
  • To the north of this lake lies Mount Kailas, which reaches an elevation of 6,714 metres; it is known as Gang Tise to the Tibetans and is the highest peak in the range.
  • Mount Kailas is an important holy site, both to the Hindus, who identify it with the paradise of Shiva, and to the Tibetan Buddhists, who identify it as Mount Sumeru, cosmic centre of the universe.
  • Access to the area from the south is through the high Lipu Lekh Pass.
  • The Indus River rises on the north flank of the Kailas Range.


The term Spatial Mark­Resight (SMR) models is sometimes seen in the news in the context of

  1. Captive breeding of Wild Fauna
  2. Maintenance of Tiger Reserves
  3. Assess the population status of leopards 
  4. Security of National Highways

Answer: (c) Assess the population status of leopards 


In NEWS: Leopard population tracking gets new approach

  • Wildlife specialists have for long faced challenges estimating the density of leopards in areas where some of the spotted cats are melanistic or black.
  • Experts from three organisations, one of them Assam-based Aaranyak, have come up with a system that helps in properly estimating the leopard population in areas sustaining a mix of rosette and melanistic individuals.
  • Rosettes are jagged black circular marks on the tawny coat of a leopard. Like the tiger’s stripes, the rosettes of each leopard are unique in shape and size, making the species identifiable individually.
  • Melanistic leopards — commonly called black leopards or black panthers or ghongs (Assamese) — have been difficult to estimate as their rosettes are invisible.
  • The Spatial Mark-Resight (SMR) models applied by the scientists of Aaranyak, Panthera and World Wide Fund for Nature-India have provided a way of counting the melanistic leopards too. Hence option (c) is correct
  • This problem is acute in the tropical and subtropical moist forests of South and Southeast Asia where the frequency of melanistic leopards is high and leopards also face the greatest threat. No precise estimates of leopard population could thus be done in protected areas and non-protected areas in India except on some occasions
  • The team used three years of camera trapping data between 2017 and 2019 obtained from Manas National Park to establish the SMR approach.
  • The population density of leopards in Manas is 3.37 per 100 sq km. In the study, about 22.6% images of the leopards were of the melanistic kind.
  • The SMR method is expected to make it easier to assess the population status of leopards for informed conservation measures by applying the conventional camera trapping field method.


Consider the following 

  1. Messaging services
  2. Internet-based voice calling solutions.
  3. Audio streaming

Which of the above options are incorporated under the ambit of Over-the-top media services (OTT) platforms?

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 and 3 only
  3. 3 only
  4. 1,2 and 3

Answer: (d) 1,2 and 3


In NEWS: Explain action taken on OTTs, SC tells govt.

  • The Supreme Court did not appear convinced with the government’s submission that it is “contemplating” regulations for OTT (over-the-top) platforms such as Netflix and Amazon Prime.
  • Everybody in the world can contemplate… You put it out in an affidavit what you are doing,” Chief Justice of India Sharad A. Bobde addressed Additional Solicitor-General K.M. Nataraj
  • The court issued notice on a plea filed by advocates Shashank Shekhar Jha and Apurva Arhatia seeking a proper board/institution /association for monitoring and managing the content of different OTT/streaming and digital media platforms.
  • About OTT (over-the-top)
  • An “over-the-top” media service is any online content provider that offers streaming media as a standalone product. The term is commonly applied to video-on-demand platforms, but also refers to audio streaming, messaging services, or internet-based voice calling solutionsHence option (d) is correct
  • OTT services circumvent traditional media distribution channels such as telecommunications networks or cable television providers.
  • OTT bypasses cable, broadcast, and satellite television platforms, the companies that traditionally act as a controller or distributor of such content.
  • They are typically accessed via websites on personal computers, as well as via apps on mobile devices (such as smartphones and tablets), digital media players, or televisions with integrated Smart TV platforms.
  • Currently, there is no law or autonomous body governing digital content. The recent move will give the government control over OTT platforms, which were unregulated till now.
  • Generally, the Government in India censors the content on grounds of public morality, communal harmony or cultural preservation, among various reasons. However, due to the lack of censorship, content on OTT platforms can disrupt social harmony and moral fabric of society.


Dhubri Phulbari Bridge is a proposed bridge over which of the following river in india?

  1. Brahmaputra River
  2. Ganga River
  3. Indus River
  4. Godavari River

Answer: (a) Brahmaputra River


In NEWS: PM to launch ‘Mahabahu-Brahmaputra’ and lay foundation stone of two bridges in Assam on 18th February

  • Prime Minister will lay the foundation stone for the four lane bridge over the Brahmaputra between Dhubri (on North Bank) and Phulbari (on South Bank).  Hence option (a) is correct
  • The proposed Bridge will be located on NH-127B, originating from Srirampur on NH-27 (East-West Corridor), and terminating at Nongstoin on NH-106 in the State of Meghalaya. It will connect Dhubri in Assam to  Phulbari, Tura, Rongram and Rongjeng in Meghalaya.
  • The bridge, to be built with a total cost of approx 4997 cr, will meet the long-standing demand of the people from Assam and Meghalaya who were depending on ferry services to travel between the two banks of the river.
  • It will reduce the distance of 205 Km to be travelled by Road to 19 Km, which is the total length of the bridge.


  • The launch of Mahabahu-Brahmaputra will be marked by the inauguration of the Ro-Pax vessel operations between Neamati-Majuli Island, North Guwahati-South Guwahati and Dhubri-Hatsingimari; Shilanyas of Inland Water Transport (IWT) Terminal at Jogighopa


The term ‘Intended Nationally Determined Contributions’ is sometimes seen in the news in the context of 

  1. pledges made by the European countries to rehabilitate refugees from the war-affected Middle East
  2. plan of action outlined by the countries of the world to combat climate change 
  3. capital contributed by the member countries in the establishment of Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank 
  4. plan of action outlined by the countries of the world regarding Sustainable Development Goa

Answer: (b) plan of action outlined by the countries of the world to combat climate change 


  • Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) is a term used under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) for reductions in greenhouse gas emissions that all countries that signed the UNFCCC were asked to publish in the lead up to the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference held in Paris, France in December 2015. The INDCs, which lay out the blueprint for tackling climate change, emphasised eight key goals — sustainable lifestyles, cleaner economic development, reducing emission intensity of GDP, increasing the share of nonfossil fuel based electricity, enhancing carbon sink, adaptation and mobilising finance, technology transfer and capacity building