Scientist ready for rare trip to Antarctica

Scientist ready for rare trip to Antarctica

Earth science expert Prayath Nantasin of Kasetsart University, middle, shows a flag with the acronym of Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn. (Photo by Somchai Poomlard)
Earth science expert Prayath Nantasin of Kasetsart University, middle, shows a flag with the acronym of Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn. (Photo by Somchai Poomlard)

A Thai geologist is setting off Tuesday on a journey to Antarctica to conduct a scientific study on the continent.

Prayath Nantasin, an academic at the Department of Earth Science at Kasetsart University's Faculty of Science, will become one of the few Thai scientists who has stepped on the vast, inhospitable plains of Antarctica.

He was selected to be part of a research team called Japanese Arctic Research Expedition 58 (JARE 58), which is funded by Japan's National Institute of Polar Research (NIPR), in June this year.

However, Mr Prayath will not be the first Thai to have conducted research there. HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn became the first when she studied geography and living species of the South Pole on New Zealand's Scot Base in Antarctica in 1993.

After a visit to Antarctica, the Princess recognised that numerous scientific discoveries of global significance were made in Antarctica, so she set up the Polar Research Team of Thailand to cooperate with polar research centres across the world to create an opportunity for Thai scientists to conduct research activities there.

This year, Mr Prayath was recruited to the Polar Research Team of Thailand under the auspice of HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn.

Recently, Her Royal Highness gave a national flag and a purple flag containing her acronym in the middle to Mr Payath as presents to take with him to Antarctica.

The team will be led by Yasuhito Osanai, a professor from Kyushu University in Japan. Mr Prayath is assigned to explore the high grade metamorphic rocks, which are rocks that have been pressed under extreme temperatures and pressures of around 10-15 kilobars.

"They hypothesise that these rocks are scientifically related to rock types found in Africa, Madagascar and Sri Lanka. If the predication is correct, the conclusion can be made that Antarctica shares similar history with Africa, Madagascar and Sri Lanka. More importantly, data from this research will benefit future scientific research and other scientific endeavours," he said.

The research team will also do mapping and rock collection to take back to Japan for scientific analysis.

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