Tiny Bytes: Chinese sky lab, Delhi pollution, snakes on a train, and more


China readies space lab as ISS set to expire in 2024

China unveiled on Tuesday a replica of its first permanently crewed space station, which would replace the international community's orbiting laboratory and symbolises the country's major ambitions beyond Earth.

The 17-metre core module was a star attraction at the biennial Airshow China in the southern coastal city of Zhuhai, the country's main aerospace industry exhibition.

The model represented the living and working space of the Tiangong – or "Heavenly Palace" – which will also have two other modules for scientific experiments and will be equipped with solar panels.

Three astronauts will be permanently stationed in the 60-tonne orbiting lab, which will enable the crew to conduct biological and microgravity research. Assembly is expected to be completed around 2022 and the station would have a lifespan of around 10 years.

The International Space Station – a collaboration between the United States, Russia, Canada, Europe and Japan – has been in operation since 1998 but is due to be retired in 2024. China will then have the only space station in orbit, though it will be much smaller than the ISS which weighs 400 tonnes and is as large as a football pitch.

Air quality hits new low as Delhiites flout curbs on Diwali dhamaka

A thick haze engulfed the national capital Wednesday night with the air quality deteriorating to the "very poor" category as Delhiites continued to burst firecrackers long after the deadline set by the Supreme Court, the authorities said.

The Supreme Court had allowed bursting of firecrackers from 8 pm to 10 pm only on Diwali and other festivals. It had also allowed manufacture and sale of only "green crackers", which have a low light and sound emission and less harmful chemicals. Despite the apex court order, there were reports of its violation from many areas long after 10 pm.

Snake brings train to a screeching halt

The Vivek Express from Kanyakumari to Dibrugarh was held up at Appanchira near the Vaikom Road station after a snake got entangled in the pantograph. The pantograph is the equipment that connects the loco to the power lines.

When the snake entered the equipment, the train came to a stop. The incident took place on the Kottayam – Ernakulam track on Wednesday. The train was entering the platform no: 1 of the station at that time. Railway staff found that it was snake that had brought the train to a halt only after a long inspection. Though they tried to remove the snake, their efforts failed.

Later, other employees arrived at the spot from Kottayam in the Palaruvi Express and they disentangled the snake from the pantograph and the overhead electrical cable.

Tesla appoints Robyn Denholm to replace Musk as chairman

Electric car company Tesla on Thursday announced the appointment of Robyn Denholm, an executive at Australian firm Telstra, to become the Chair of the Tesla Board. Denholm takes over the role from Elon Musk who agreed to step down as chairman of Tesla for three years and pay a $20 million fine in a deal with the stock market regulatory authority, Securities and Exchange Commission (S.E.C.) to resolve securities fraud charges. Mush will remain as Tesla's chief executive.

His tweet about taking his company private, along with attacks on critics on social media, raised concerns with investors about whether Musk has become too focused on criticism from so-called short-sellers who had been making bets against him and Tesla.

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