'Space pad kaprao' disappears after landing

'Space pad kaprao' disappears after landing

A pad kaprao dish is gone after it was sent into the atmosphere using a high-altitude balloon in Nakhon Sawan on Thursday. (Photo: GISTDA)
A pad kaprao dish is gone after it was sent into the atmosphere using a high-altitude balloon in Nakhon Sawan on Thursday. (Photo: GISTDA)

A dish of stir-fried holy basil, locally known as pad kaprao, was sent into the atmosphere using a high-altitude balloon in an experiment in Nakhon Sawan province on Thursday. As the balloon landed on the same day, the famous Thai street food was gone.

The launch is considered Thailand's first use of a high-altitude balloon in a space experiment by the Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency (GISTDA). It involved the famous Thai dish and soared 35 kilometres into the stratosphere.

According to GISTDA, the balloon returned safely to the ground. It was found about 200 metres away from the Global Positioning System (GPS) point in tambon Nong Krot, Banphot Phisai district, Nakhon Sawan province.

When researchers came to check the balloon, they found a box containing the pad kaprao dish was opened with the adhesive tape removed and the food disappeared. However, another box containing rice was still intact.

The researchers did not elaborate on pad kaprao's disappearance but will continue to perform high-altitude experiments.

On Thursday, Amarin Pimnoo, a GISTDA engineer and head of the National Space Exploration project, said the experiment was designed to study the effects of high altitudes on nutrients.

He said the dish was chosen for the experiment because it is delicious and easy to cook at a cheap cost, while noting that all kinds of Thai dishes should be studied in space.

With Thai food becoming more internationally popular, it is possible that it can be developed as space food, Mr Amarin said.

"Is our Pad Kaprao edible in space? Will any of the nutrients be destroyed or will they improve? Let's wait for it," he said, adding high-altitude balloons have vast potential. "The gist of this flight is that we've created the High-Altitude Experiment Platform."

He then hinted that GISTDA is developing a small spaceport to send up satellites using balloons.

Tatiya Chuentrakul, vice director for GISTDA's partnership and knowledge-building department, said the High-Altitude Experiment Platform could become a model in the country's science and technology research efforts.

"We did send balloons into the sky but sending balloons high into the atmosphere for space science has never taken place in Thailand," he said. "It is the country's first and marks the beginning of the space experiment platform. It can lead to new ideas and innovations."

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