Rajiv Mehrishi sworn in as CAG of India:
Former Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi was sworn in as new Comptroller and Auditor-General (CAG) of India. He was administered oath of office and secrecy by President Ram Nath Kovind. He succeeded Shashi Kant Sharma.
Mr Mehrishi is 1978 batch IAS officer of Rajasthan cadre. He has worked for both Union and State governments at top positions and his bureaucratic career spanned more than 30 years. Before retirement from service, he had served as Home Secretary.
In Centre, he has worked in ministries of Petroleum, Corporate Affairs, Overseas India Affairs, and Fertilisers. Besides he has also worked with President Secretariat and Cabinet Secretariat. In state government, he had worked in areas of agriculture, transport and most importantly again finance—both in capacity of Deputy Secretary and Principal Secretary of finance ministry. He was also Chief Secretary of Rajasthan.
Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG):
CAG is constitutional office under article 148. He is appointed by President of India by warrant under his hand for period of 6 years or up to age of 65 years, whichever earlier. The conditions and services of CAG are prescribed by Parliament via CAG (conditions and services) Act, 1953 as amended in 1971. Allowances and pensions payable to or in respect of persons in that office are charged upon Consolidated Fund of India (CFI).
Removal of CAG is similar to removal of a Supreme Court Judge. CAG is not eligible for any office under GOI post-retirement.
Functions of CAG :
CAG suggests account keeping of union and state with approval of president. It exercises power in relation to account of union and state or any other enterprise funded by GOI as may be prescribed by law made by parliament. The CAG reports to president and governors regarding accounts of union and state respectively. The president presents report to parliament. In 1976, accounting was separated from auditing form CAG’s duty. Now accounting is done by other agencies.
Osiris-Rex: NASA’s asteroid-bound spacecraft swings by Earth :
NASA’s asteroid-chasing spacecraft Osiris-Rex successfully swung by Earth to put it on desired trajectory towards near earth asteroid Bennu using Earth’s gravity. It passed within 17,237 kilometres from Earth above Antarctica.
During closest flyby, Osiris-Rex’s science instruments were tested by scanning Earth and moon as a practice for its operations at Bennu.
The OSIRIS-REx (Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security, Regolith Explorer) mission was launched in September 2016 for studying 101955 Bennu, a carbonaceous asteroid. It is NASA’s first asteroid sampling mission. Japan already has visited an asteroid and returned some specks.
The spacecraft will reach small, roundish asteroid in 2018 and return to Earth after collecting some of its gravels by 2023. It will capture 2 ounces of dust on asteroid using its robotic arm without landing i.e. by hovering like a hummingbird stirred up by nitrogen gas thruster and then begun its return trip to earth.
101955 Bennu is near-Earth carbonaceous asteroid about the size of a small mountain in the Apollo group. It was discovered in September 1999 by the LINEAR Project.
Significance of mission:
NASA scientists believe that Bennu asteroid holds clues to origin of solar system and life and source of water and organic molecules found on Earth. Material returned from asteroid is expected to enable scientists to learn more about the formation and evolution of the Solar System. It will also give insights of initial stages of planet formation and the source of organic compounds which led to the formation of life on Earth.