Fulfilling His Majesty The King’s Vision To Develop Space Science &Technology In Bhutan

Email

The PANOPTES telescope project was initiated to fulfil the vision of His Majesty The King to pioneer and foster technological education in Bhutan.

Bhutan’s first satellite (a CubeSat), BHUTAN-1 piggybacked on the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with other payload to the International Space Station at 3:42 p.m BST on Friday, 29th June, 2018 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, USA. (Source: Ministry for Information and Communications)

 

By Dechen Tshomo | Kuensel

Bhutan’s venture into space science and technology began with the launch of the country’s first CubeSat - BHUTAN-1 last year.

This marked the Kingdom’s first step towards the development of it’s Space Science and Technology Programme which is a vision of His Majesty The King.

Last week, in what was yet another milestone in the field of education and research in the country, a team of astronomers from PANOPTES (Panoptic Astronomical Networked Observatories for a Public Transiting Exoplanets Survey), was in the country to install telescopes and train students on its operation at the Royal Academy in Pangbisa, Paro.

About the PANOPTES project

PANOPTES is a citizen science project, which aims to build low cost, robotic telescopes that can be used to detect transiting exoplanets, the planets orbiting around other stars outside the solar system.

 

Photo: Kuensel

 

The project coordinator, Dasho Tashi Wangyal said that the new facility seeks to foster the imagination and creativity of Bhutanese youth and also to encourage students to take greater interest in learning science and mathematics, which are critical for astronomy and other technological pursuits.

The second PANOPTES telescope will be installed at the College of Science and Technology in the district of Phuentsholing and the third one, after a suitable location has been identified.

One of the astronomers, Jennifer Lumbres said that about 19 students were involved in all aspects of building the hardware as well as getting hands-on experience with the software to control the units.

The students, who had prior knowledge in coding were also taught programming of the telescope using python - an interpretative, high-level and general-purpose programming language.

The recently installed telescope will join the global community of 17 existing PANOPTES telescopes around the world. The photographs and images taken by the telescopes can also be accessed by anybody, anywhere in the world.

“With the telescopes deployed successfully, Bhutan will join the global effort for expanding scientific education, research and collaboration,” Dasho Tashi Wangyal said.

He added that this is just the beginning of a broader ambition to introduce space related education and technology among Bhutanese youth across the country.

Another astronomer, Wilfred Gee said that the PANOPTES units are small and student-oriented scientific telescopes which are designed to survive in all weather conditions. They are not just for people who like science, math or robotics.

“We want artists, dreamers and people to help contribute and spread that knowledge throughout so we have people building fundamental units.”

 

Project PANOPTES: Enabling citizen scientists to find exoplanets with affordable technology 

Source: Youtube/Denver Astronomical Society

 

The PANOPTES telescope project, initiated to fulfil the vision of His Majesty The King to pioneer and foster technological education in Bhutan, was supported by Dr. Pete Worden (Chairman, Breakthrough Prize Foundation) and led by Professor Olivier Guyon.

Encourage young Bhutanese to be interested in astronomy

While in the country the astronomers also gave a public talk on ‘Exploring the Universe’ to a packed auditorium comprising of students and professionals interested in astronomy on August 12 in Thimphu.

Sonam Tshering, a corporate employee who attended the talk said that as a kid, he was fascinated by space science. He said that it was inspiring to see many children asking the astronomers questions.

“But we never got such opportunity to actually have astronomers talk about it and learn. This just shows their curiosity and interest to learn more.”

Sharing her experience at the event, one of Bhutan’s first space engineers, Yeshey Choden said that the biggest force that has made all of these surreal things a reality for Bhutanese is His Majesty The King’s unparalleled passion and guidance to enhance technology in the country, which has given birth to introducing Space Science and Technology in Bhutan.

The importance of satellite images for the agriculture sector

The 25-year-old said that agriculture contributes to almost 20 percent of the GDP and two-third of the population depends on agriculture for livelihood.

Life on the farm, she said would be easier and much more efficient if only we knew what would happen to our crops in advance, what kind of diseases are likely to affect rice production, or what crops should we focus on cultivating.

She explained that crop yields can be estimated with remote sensing satellite data while disaster communication satellites will help in smooth communication during disasters. Moreover, forest and water resources can also be monitored using satellite images and so on.

Picking up ‘Space Science and Technology’ skills in Japan

Yeshi Choden was one of the four Bhutanese engineers who designed and built the country’s first satellite, BHUTAN-1, as a part of their Master’s Programme in Japan.

 

Three CubeSats were deployed from the International Space Station “KIBO” Japanese Experiment Module on 10 August 2018: BHUTAN-1(Kingdom of Bhutan), MAYA-1(The Philippines) and UiTMSAT-1(Malaysia).

Source: Youtube/SciNews

 

Through His Majesty The King’s vision to raise awareness and interest in Space Science and Technology, in 2016 Bhutan sent engineers to the Kyushu Institute of Technology in Japan to study space engineering and to participate in the BIRDS-2 Project.

The BIRDS project is a cross-border interdisciplinary satellite project for non-space faring countries supported by Japan.

The Chief ICT officer with the Division of Telecom and Space, Sonam Phuntsho said that Bhutan’s journey into space has taken off as a result of the vision of His Majesty The King to harness space resources and technologies for the benefit of the country and its people.

In line with the Royal vision, the first step is to explore possibilities of utilising the space resources available to Bhutan and to build capacity in the area.

Engineers were sent to Japan to study space engineering and to participate in the BIRDS-2 Project in 2016 to enhance capacity building.

The launch of the BHUTAN-1, he said was a major achievement as it was a satellite that was designed and built entirely by Bhutanese engineers and was the first major milestone in achieving His Majesty’s vision.

 

This article first appeared in Kuensel and has been edited for Daily Bhutan.

 


Related Posts

Kingdom Of Happiness Launched First Satellite, BHUTAN-1 Into...

The crowd cheered as the Space X Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft bearing BHUTAN-1 lifted off from the Cape...

Jul 01, 2018 16:00

Bhutan’s Satellite Deployed From ISS Along With Limited Edition...

Live-streamed on YouTube, representatives from various countries and institutes gathered at the Japan Aerospace...

Aug 11, 2018 16:08

College Of Science & Technology Students In Bhutan Built...

The vehicle resembles an auto-rickshaw but has better looks with Bhutanese design.

Mar 26, 2019 19:18

Harnessing The Power Of Technology To Lead Bhutan Towards...

“We have very talented Bhutanese, who, given the right training and preparations, can take advantage of technology,” His...

Aug 11, 2019 23:08

South Asian Internet Service Providers Attend SANOG 33 In Bhutan...

SANOG provides a regional forum to discuss operational issues and technologies of interest for data operators in the...

Jan 15, 2019 00:45

Suhas Gopinath - World’s Youngest CEO Gave An Inspiring Talk On...

“Technology is a means of survival in the competitive modern world with modern problems,” said Suhas Gopinath.

Jul 22, 2019 23:58

Latest

News

Canada Offers Scholarships For Students In Bhutan, Aims To Enhance Bilateral Ties

Through the programme starting in the 2020/2021 academic year, scholarship recipients will receive Nu 3,256,029 (about USD 45,600) a year to...

Sep 16, 2019 13:08

Delegation From Bhutan Attended UNCCD COP14 In India

Minister of Agriculture and Forests, Yeshey Penjor led a delegation to the high-level segment of the UNCCD COP14, which was held from...

Sep 12, 2019 23:58

Features

Reconstruction of Lingzhi Dzong – Built To Commemorate Bhutan’s Victory Over A Tibetan Invasion In 1668

To date, about Nu 13 million has been spent since preparatory works for the Lingzhi Dzong construction which began 15 months ago.

Sep 14, 2019 23:58

True Purpose of Rituals And Their Importance In Buddhism

Rituals are an indispensable way of life for a Bhutanese household and families are known to spend a fortune on them.

Sep 13, 2019 12:11

Sports

Bhutan’s Pelden Wangchuk Wins 10th Edition Of Tour 0f Dragon Mountain Bike Race

This year, the race also saw the highest number of female participants compared to past years.

Sep 10, 2019 01:08

Tour Of The Dragon – Toughest One Day Bike Race Starts On 7 September In Bhutan

It takes sheer toil and stamina for the top riders to complete the 268 km race which finishes at the capital, Thimphu.

Sep 06, 2019 23:58

Business

Sherza Ventures Limited Launched IPO, Aims To Establish Brand Bhutan Products Globally And More

Sherza Ventures Limited aims to be a hyper retail and wholesale trading venture using e-commerce.

Sep 09, 2019 10:58

iMerit Bhutan Launched, Hopes To Create Far-Reaching Socio-Economic Impact

iMerit strives to drive social and economic change by tapping into an under-resourced talent pool, thereby creating digital inclusion.

Sep 04, 2019 10:58

Travel

Plans In The Pipeline To Develop Trongsa For Tourism

“The people of Trongsa were very supportive of the tourism development concept for the locality.”

Sep 05, 2019 14:48

7 Facts You Never Knew About Flying Into Bhutan

Druk Asia interviewed Namgyal Wangchuk, Senior First Officer with Drukair to find out what it's like to fly into Paro International Airport.

Aug 07, 2019 23:18

Lifestyle

7 Vegetables You Must Try While Visiting Bhutan

Read Tashi Choden's blog on the vegetables to try if you ever visit Bhutan.

Aug 31, 2019 16:43

Many Lives, Many Stories - 10th Edition of Bhutan’s Mountain Echoes Literary Festival Underway

About 80 speakers and performers came from different parts of the world with different stories to narrate.

Aug 25, 2019 22:42

Subscribe to our newsletter

Never miss out on new happenings and news stories!