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Wednesday, 16 October 2019 

Space Science


In early 90’s, space science activities in Malaysia was mainly done at the universities such as astrophotography at Kusza Observatory at the University Darul Iman Malaysia, atmospheric physics and Moon crescent studies at Falak Centre in the University of Science Malaysia, CCD studies of sky objects at the University of Malaya and UV astronomy studies at the National University of Malaysia. The establishment of  the National Planetarium Kuala Lumpur  in 1994 which also houses a small observatory has encouraged further space science activities through the study on sky extinction co-efision and astrophotography. Amateur astronomers during those years were mainly doing astrophotography.
After more than a decade, Malaysia will now move further in space science studies under four main fields including Astronomy, Micro Gravity Sciences, Space Weather Research and Scientific Payload Onboard Spacecraft.


In 2005, Malaysia has established the Langkawi National Observatory which is having the facility of a 50 cm Ritche-Chriterien robotic telescope which can be controlled remotely through the Internet and also a robotic 15 cm multi apo-chromatic refracting telescope. 
The 50 cm robotic telescope is capable of gathering data for scientists interested in doing research in the field of photometry, spectroscopy and astrometry and the 15 cm apo-chromatic telescope is capable of gathering data on three different wavelengths namely solar continuum, H-alpha and Calcium K lines which is recently being used for sunspot counting activity and Malaysia is looking towards joint international collaboration on Global H-Alpha Patrol project.
Robotic observatories with small telescopes can make significant contributions to astronomy observations. They provide an encouraging environment for astronomers to focus on data analysis and research while at the same time reducing time and cost for observation and traveling. Malaysia is looking to enhance researches in those fields mentioned above and looking for global and regional partners for collaborations.
Variable Star Cataloguing for Equatorial Region is a project which will be started in 2010 using facilities at the Langkawi National Observatory.  This project is planned to be a joint collaboration between Malaysia, Indonesia and Paraguay. Malaysia is looking for other local, regional and global partners in implementing this project.
Sky Brightness Data Collection Programme throughout Malaysia will be carried out in order for Malaysia to embark on the Light Pollution Reduction Campaign. The campaign will also start from 2010. The quality of Malaysian night sky will be mapped throughout Malaysia and this would also in turn help us to identify areas to be preserved for future astronomical research purposes and also for astro-tourism.
Due to quite high cloud cover rate in Malaysia with less than 200 days of clear night sky to do astronomical observation throughout the year, Radio Astronomy is a promising alternative to optical astronomy.  There are still very little activities in Radio Astronomy in Malaysia and we are seriously looking at the opportunity to develop this field in the near future.

Adaptive Optics and New Moon Research is yet to be further explored and we are hoping that we would strengthen those fields in the future.

Micro Gravity Sciences

The launch of Malaysian First Astronaut Programme (Which is also known as the Angkasawan Programme) in 2007 was a big milestone for Malaysia in her space exploration programme. It has provided opportunities for Malaysian scientists to embark researches on microgravity sciences.  One of the most important aspect of Malaysian Astronaut Programme is "doing science" for knowledge generation that leads to the betterment of mankind.
During the first Malaysian Astronaut Programme, five microgravity experiments were flown to the ISS with the first Malaysian astronaut. Protein Crystallization experiment has given a very good result in which further collaboration with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency on this research is underway.
For the second astronaut programme, Malaysia will be sending a lot more microgravity experiments to the ISS. Malaysia is looking forward to receive proposals from local scientists and researchers on microgravity researches to be flown onboard the ISS and also looking for international collaborations.
Malaysia is now collaborating with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency in sending protein samples to the ISS. It will be six launches from 2009 to 2012 to bring samples of protein from Malaysia under the cooperation on “The Utilization of High Quality Protein Crystal Growth Experiment on Board the Japanese Experiment Module "KIBO"”. The high quality protein experiment is a unique programme for Malaysia because it will show to the Malaysian public on how microgravity experiments can support and give commercial impact to the industry especially to medical and detergent technologies in Malaysia.
In 2007, The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency offered Malaysia to jointly participate in “Microgravity Experiments through Parabolic Flight”. It had opened a new interactive programme for those at the tertiary level in Malaysia. Starting from the year 2010 onwards, Malaysia plans to organize this kind of competition on an annual basis throughout the country. We believe that this will spur many young talents to get involved in microgravity research by using Parabolic Flight technique which will later make Malaysia to be an active participant in the international arena on microgravity sciences in the future.

Space Weather

Flare Patrol is another global scientific initiative to monitor Solar flares and investigating their effects which needs to be alerted throughout the world for the safety of space assets in outer space. Malaysia has started a collaboration with Watukosek Solar observatory in Indonesia in monitoring solar flares in order to contribute to the Flare Patrol project. Malaysia is very keen on moving this ahead and develop our capability to save especially our space assets in orbit.
In conjunction of celebration of International Heliophysical Year, Malaysia has participated in another space weather research through setting up the Earth’s magnetic field sensor system  (MAGDAS) at the Langkawi National Observatory.  The objective of the sensor is to closely monitor the variability of earth magnetic field due to solar activities. This project is a joint project between ANGKASA, UKM and University of Kyushu Japan. We would like to further enhance our capability in doing research in this field in the future.
With the combination of solar telescope system and the MAGDAS system in Langkawi National Observatory, Malaysia is planning to set-up the National Space Weather Lab Centre (NSWLC) with the main objective to operationalize  space weather monitoring in Malaysia. One of the highest motivation to set-up the NSWLC is to develop an early warning system on solar activities that will bring impact on our satellites and Earth’s atmosphere. With NSWLC, a few initiative such as the mapping of  our ionosphere’s Total Electron Content will be planned for a cooperation with local universities.

Scientific Payload

Despite of ground based initiatives in doing space science in Malaysia, they are also some initiatives of using space segments such as the development of scientific payload that will capitalize on near equatorial orbit, NEqO concepts. With this new initiative, Malaysia is inviting  local research institutions and universities to participate and make proposals on the payload for space sciences to be onboard our own small or nano satellites in the future.
For the future, Malaysia is planning to deeply involve in space science experiments through smart partnership with international partners especially on researches which will possibly give commercial return to the nation to be part of the social responsibility of National Space Agency of Malaysia (ANGKASA) towards achieving the “societal well-being”.


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