National Astronomical Research Institute of Thailand
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|Public organization overview|
|Jurisdiction||Government of Thailand|
|Headquarters||Chiang Mai, Thailand|
|Public organization executive|
|Parent department||Ministry of Higher Education, Science, Research and Innovation|
National Astronomical Research Institute of Thailand or NARIT is a research institute under the Ministry of Higher Education, Science, Research and Innovation. Its main missions are to carry out, support, and promote the development of astronomy and astrophysics in Thailand through research, public outreach, and educational activities.
NARIT was first established in 2004 as NARI (National Astronomical Research Institute), a statutory government institute under the Ministry of Science and Technology, to commemorate His Majesty the King Bhumibol Adulyadej's 80th birthday. On 27 December 2008, the status of NARIT was changed to a non-profit governmental public organization.
The Thai National Observatory (TNO) is NARIT's main facility, atop Thailand's highest mountain, Doi Inthanon in Doi Inthanon National Park, Chom Thong District, Chiang Mai Province. In 2020, NARIT completed the construction of the Thai National Radio Telescope (TNRO), a 40m single-dish short-millimetre telescope in Huai Hong Khrai Royal Development Study Centre at Doi Saket District in Chiang Mai Province.
A Southeast Asia leading institute in astronomy research.
To explore in-depth knowledge of the universe through scientific research.
- Conducting research in astronomy and related fields
- Building the research infrastructures in astronomy
- Establishing international and national research and academic cooperation networks in astronomy
- Pursuing knowledge and technology transfer in the field of astronomy
Research and development
Astronomical research at NARIT ranges from study of solar system to Galactic Astronomy, to Extragalactic Astrophysics and Cosmology. The research works being supported and encouraged by the institute can be divided into 4 areas namely;
- Impact from Space on Earth and Human
- Understanding Physics of the Universe
- The Study of Exoplanets and Search for Sign of Life outside the Solar System
- Understanding the Origin of the Cosmos
His Majesty the King's 7th Cycle Birthday Anniversary Observatory, or Thai National Observatory (TNO)
Construction of the Thai National Observatory began in 2010 and was completed in 2012. Inside the observatory there are two operational buildings. The observatory and the control building. The building wall is a Ring Wall, and the upper part is equipped with a dome of 9 meters in diameter. Inside, the dome is equipped with a 2.4-meter-diameter reflecting telescope with automatic control systems. The telescope is located on a pier separated from the base of the building so that the telescope is stable and not impacted by any movement of the building. Considering the largest and most modern telescope in Southeast Asia and located in one of the few observatories in the world near the equator, which can be used to observe the skies in both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres.
The control building has two storeys. It is NARIT's operation base for astronomers and telescope operators and also an exhibition area. The rooftop of the control building is equipped with a 1-meter telescope.In addition to the National Observatory, there is also an observatory in honor of His Majesty the Late King Maha Bhumipol Adulyadej at the Doi Inthanon Report Station, where NARIT, in collaboration with the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society and the Royal Thai Air Force, monitors potential threats caused by near-Earth objects and space debris and studies the impact of the sun and space on Earth's climate using a 0.7-meter telescope.
Princess Sirindhorn AstroPark
Princess Sirindhorn AstroPark is the headquarters of NARIT and supports its main missions, which are the research and study of astronomy, technology development, academic services, and communication. Construction began in the year 2012 and was completed in 2020. The compound consists of the following:
- The Main Building - functions as the headquarters for Research and Development, Optics Laboratory, Radio Astronomy Center, Center for Astronomy and Communication Services, Information Technology Center, Library and Astronomy Archives Center, International Astronomy Training Center, and Main Mission Support Section.
- The Operation Building - houses Mechatronic Laboratory and Mechanical Workshop, where high precision machining is conducted, and a mirror coating chamber.
- The Planetarium and Exhibition building - houses a full-dome digital planetarium, which has a maximum resolution of 8K, a diameter of 17 meters, a capacity of 160 seats, with easy access for people with disabilities. It also has 19 interactive astronomy exhibitions.The Observatory is a building for stargazing equipped with a reflecting telescope 0.7 meters in diameter. On the side of the building is a star terrace with a convertible roof and five sets of small and medium-sized high-powered telescopes for general use.
Regional Observatories for the Public
On the 24th of March 2009, The Cabinet passed a resolution granting NARIT permission to proceed with plans to construct a Regional Observatory for the Public in each of the following five provinces: Nakhon Ratchasima, Chachoengsao, Songkhla, Khon Kaen, and Phitsanulok. As of 2019, three locations have been opened to the public—Nakhon Ratchasima, Chachoengsao, and Songkhla. The other two, Khon Kaen and Phitsanulok, are currently under construction. All five observatories in this project are under the royal patronage of Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, who generously bestowed upon each the name “Regional Observatory for the Public in Honor of His Majesty the King’s 7th Cycle Birthday” followed by the name of the province in which it is located. The Main Structures of the Regional Observatory consist of The Observatory a clamshell fiberglass dome 18 feet in diameter installed with a 0.7-meter reflecting telescope and a 180-degree retractable roof for panoramic observation with an adjacent roll-off roof observatory where smaller telescopes are installed, The Planetarium a dome equipped with a high-resolution digital star projector that serves as a planetarium service and an astronomy exhibition space and Outdoor Learning Area for planet walk.
- Regional Observatory for the Public, Nakhon Ratchasima - Has an area 40,000 square meters. Located inside Suranaree University of Technology, 111 University Street, Suranaree Sub-District, Nakhon Ratchasima Province District, Nakhon Ratchasima, 30000. It opened in November 2014.
- Regional Observatory for the Public, Chachoengsao - Has an area of 57,600 square meters. Located at 999 Moo 3, Wang Yen Sub-District, Plaeng Yao District, Chachoengsao, 24190. It opened in February 2018.
- Regional Observatory for the Public, Songkhla - Has an area of 40,000 square meters. Located at 79/4 Moo 4, Khao Rup Chang Sub-District, Songkhla Province District, Songkhla, 90000. It opened in July 2019.
National Radio Astronomy Observatory (TNRO)
The Thai National Radio Astronomy Observatory (TNRO) under the Radio and Geodesy Network Development Program has installed the Thai National Radio Telescope, which at 40 meters in diameter, is the largest in Southeast Asia and the first radio telescope located on the equator. It has the capacity to receive radio signals in the frequency range of 0.3 to 115 GHz and, along with another radio telescope with a diameter of 13 meters, will expand capabilities in astronomical observation, promote the use of astronomy in developing basic knowledge in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), leading to the development of human capacity in astronomy and advanced engineering technology, along with increasing potential and human resources in advanced industries such as telecommunications, software engineering, and digital technology, etc.
The National Radio Telescope is a Nasmyth-Cassegrian radio telescope. The reflector plate can be rotated both vertically and horizontally to follow an object with high precision. It can be used to study objects in the universe and related physical phenomena, such as planets and comets in the solar system, the Sun, stars, active galactic nuclei, supernovae, neutron stars, galaxies, and black holes, etc.
The 13-meter-diameter radio telescope will be used to conduct geodesy and geological research with a technique called Very-long-baseline interferometry (VLBI), which allows for high-precision measurement of the positions and movements of tectonic plates that may cause disasters such as earthquakes or tsunamis. Once completed, both telescopes at the Thai National Radio Astronomy Observatory will be utilized in collaboration with other observatories around the world within the network of International VLBI Service for Geodesy and Astronomy (IVS).
Only a fraction of electromagnetic radiation are within the wavelengths visible to the human eye. Objects in the universe emit electromagnetic radiation with wavelengths outside this range, such as radio waves, microwaves, infrared waves, light waves, ultraviolet radiation, x-rays, and gamma rays. Therefore, modern astronomy research and study relies on observation at wavelengths beyond those visible to the naked eye.
The Thai Robotic Telescope Network (TRT)
Thailand is located at latitudes of 5 to 20 degrees north, allowing for complete observation of the Northern Hemisphere but only partial observation of the Southern Hemisphere. There are also limitations in studying the center of the Milky Way and many interesting objects in that area, not the least of which is that the best time of year to study the center of the Milky Way coincides with the rainy season in Thailand.
In response to these limitations, NARIT established the Thai Robotic Telescope Network (TRT) project to install 0.6 and 0.7-meter telescopes in locations with favorable sky conditions and excellent astronomical visibility. There are currently telescopes installed in four locations: 1. Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory (CTIO) Republic of Chile, under the PROMPT project (Panchromatic Robotic Optical Monitoring and Polarimetry Telescopes) project, active since October 2013; 2. Gao Mei Gu Observatory (GAO) in People's Republic of China, active since October 2015; 3. Sierra Remote Observatories (SRO) in California, the United States, active since December 2015; and 4. Springbrook Observatory (SBO) in New South Wales, Australia, active since July 2017.
NARIT designed and developed the robotic telescope network control system by applying technology from mechatronics engineering, computer science, astronomy, and optics, operating in remote mode and robotic mode through the Internet from anywhere in the world. It has a system for automatically targeting and tracking celestial objects both in the Northern and Southern hemispheres for the benefit of astronomy research and study. This network serves both domestic and international astronomers as well as provides support for research at primary and secondary school levels.
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