Thai scientist to join polar research team in Antarctica

Thai scientist to join polar research team in Antarctica

A Thai scientist will join a Polar Research Institute of China team in a five-month research project covering astronomy and pole science to begin on Nov 10 and end on April 10, next year in Antarctica.

The purpose of the study is to better understand the impact of cosmic rays on Earth, which will lead to development of new equipment for further study the impact of cosmic rays.

Pongpichit Chuanraksasat, 25, Thailand's first and only astronomer to take part in the planned Antarctic research, said he was honoured to be selected.

Apart from the fact that he would become a part of an important effort to generate knowledge, he also hoped to inspire students interested this field of studies, said Mr Pongpichit, who works with the National Astronomical Research Institute of Thailand (NARIT).

Assoc Prof Sampan Singharajwarapan, vice-president of Chiang Mai University, said the university in cooperation with the NARIT had earlier this year submitted a research proposal to the PRIC suggesting a study into the impact of cosmic rays on Earth.

The proposal was approved, as was a request to bring a cargo container modified into a research laboratory to Antarctica on the Xue Long ship together with the research team, he said. The ship is due to leave Shanghai on Nov 10.

Thai-Chinese astronomical and Pole science cooperation was initiated in 2013 after Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn expressed a wish for Thailand to begin cooperation in this field of studies, said Assoc Prof Boonraksa Soonthorntham, an adviser to the NARIT.

The modified container is now equipped with a newly developed neutron detector named "Changvan", he said. The neutron detector was developed in a previous joint project involving several Thai and overseas participants including Mahidol University, the University of Delaware, University of Wisconsin–River Falls and Shinshu University.

Waraporn Nuntiyakul, who is helping put together the Thai part of project, said the outcome will be studied along with findings from similar previous research.

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