By Graham K. Rogers
On Tuesday 1 September, several students from the Engineering Faculty of Mahidol University attended GPF Building, Wireless Road: the Public Affairs Section of the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok. Along with students from science and engineering faculties of other Thai universities, they saw current head of NASA, former astronaut, Charles F. Bolden, Jr., and NASA's Chief Scientist, Ellen Stofan talk about the space agency. This was an inspiring hour or so with input from the two, as well as some excellent questions from the Thai students in attendance.
Charles F. Bolden, Jr. Moving Round the Room Asking Students Questions
Bolden briefly outlined NASA's history, before explaining some of its more recent successes. These include discoveries made on Mars and the most recent information about Pluto. Stofan - whose main interests include geology - was particularly excited about what Pluto may tell us about the solar system and planetary formation.
As a two-time pilot of the space shuttle who was also mission commander twice, Bolden's insights into space travel were exciting. He was still clearly enthusiastic about his experiences which inspired the students attending.
While the format was mainly presentation, Both were keen to throw the forum open to questions and Bolden particularly walked among the students probing and gaining the confidence of those in attendance.
One of the points about space exploration and the discoveries is to find out more about our own planet: Earth. Part of the reason for being in Bangkok was to examine local facilities that are assisting NASA with climate research. It was coincidence of course that black clouds were gathering outside the Tower windows and heavy rain began to fall as the session ended.
All those attending were in a group photograph session at the end, with one or two managing selfies, before Bolden was whisked away for a session with the Press.
Graham K. Rogers teaches at the Faculty of Engineering, Mahidol University in Thailand. He wrote in the Bangkok Post, Database supplement on IT subjects. For the last seven years of Database he wrote a column on Apple and Macs. He is now continuing that in the Bangkok Post supplement, Life.