World Space Week kicks off with promises of exciting activities for future scientists
KARACHI: The World Space Week offers an exciting opportunity for children to explore new avenues for their future and ‘boldly go where no Pakistani has before’.
The inaugural ceremony of the space week, organised by Pakistan Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (Suparco), was held at National Centre for Remote Sensing and Geo Informatics on Monday.
“The world we live in today would not have been possible if it weren’t for space technology,” said Suparco secretary Haider Ali Khan. “The benefits of space technology have become part and parcel of human living. Without it, we will be living in the dark ages.”
WSW is a platform that provides academia, students and decision-makers harness a generation that will seek careers in space sciences, said Khan. “Our aim is to excite students about science and provide an impetus for the development of space technology in the country.”
“People residing in technologically advanced countries are aware of the benefits of space technology,” said Khan. However, in developing nations, such as Pakistan, the literacy rates are very low, he claimed. “Even among the educated lot, the space sector is lesser known.”
Most people do not realise that we are dependent on space technology for a lot of things, he said. It is crucial for land mapping, maintaining communication, damage control, crop and resource monitoring, he added.
WSW celebration will allow Suparco to educate people about the benefits of space technology, foster international cooperation in space outreach programmes and harness a generation of future scientists, said a Suparco official, who requested to remain anonymous as he was not authorised to speak to the media.
Space education bus
Suparco’s Mobile Space Education Bus programme was also launched during the ceremony. “Through the space bus, we aim to reach out to students in remote areas and create awareness among them,” said a Suparco official.
The bus accommodates more than 80 students and we show them educational videos, claimed the official. “We also keep a telescope on the bus and, at night we give the students an opportunity to look at the sky,” he said, adding that such practical experiences excite the students. This year the bus will travel to Umerkot and Tando Allahyar for a two-day trip during which it will target 22 schools.
The works of students, who participated in national poster-making competition, were also displayed. The theme of the competition was ‘Careers in Space.’ “We received more than 150 entries this year when last year we received only 85,” said another Suparco official. “We have displayed only 59 posters that we thought were the best,” he added. The winner of the competition will participate in the poster competition to be held in Indonesia, the official added.
The rules of the competition are set by The Asia-Pacific Space Agency Forum, the official explained.
Space week celebrations
In 1999, United Nations mandated that World Space Week will be held annually from October 4 to October 10 to commemorate the launch of Sputnik 1 (first human-made Earth satellite) and the signing of the space exploration treaty.
The event is being celebrated in 14 cities simultaneously including Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad, Peshawar, Gilgit, Quetta, Faisalabad, Abbotabad, Bahawalpur and Larkana. “More than 12,000 students from 400 schools and 17 universities will participate in WSW this year,” said a Suparco official.
A two-day Space Fair will be held at Pakistan Air Force Museum for the general public, schools and university students on October 10 and October 11. The fair will include space-related activities, such as space movie theatre, sky observation, water rocket demonstration and space studio.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 6th, 2015.