Bob and Thinus: from Papua to Growing Space Rice with NASA

When we’re talking about NASA and Papua, the connection seems amiss. However, Bob Royend Sabatino Kaway and Thinus Lamek Yewi have made a breakthrough. These students are among the 20 young Indonesian researchers being invited by NASA, USA. Therefore, having Papuan students in NASA is no longer like wishing upon a falling star in the sky.

Papuan students in NASA
Bob Royend Sabatino Kaway and Thinus Lamek Yewi. Via

It all started when the Bureau of education of Indonesia visited schools in Papua and selected bright students to join and do research with NASA. In October, Bob and Thinus passed the first selection in Education Bureau of Jayapura. They competed with 12 students from Advent Boyo Highschool. There are two experiments carried out by the 20 student researchers from Indonesia in NASA. The first research is for yeast growth in space and the second one is the research of growing rice in space using robotic microlabs. These Papuan students joined the Padi (rice) research group.

These researches will be used by NASA to grow food in outer space. As we all know, the atmosphere, gravitation, and air pressure in the outer space is far different from earth. Growing food to supplement and minimize the food that must be carried to space will be increasingly important on long-duration missions. Crew members aboard the International Space Station have been growing such plants and vegetables for years in their space garden. Studies such as Bob and Thinus’s research will help investigators develop procedures and methods that allow astronauts to grow and safely eat space-grown vegetables

Their research has passed NASA’s very tight flight-test and has been launched with United Launch Alliance Atlas V from Space Launch Complex 41 in Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, riding Cygnus cargo to the International Space Station (ISS). Their research will be presented in the Annual Conference of the American Society for Gravitational and Space Research of Washington DC in November 2016. This research will be conducted in the Center for Innovative Learning, Serpong. Bob and Thinus, along with the two teams of Indonesian student researchers will carry out engineering and flight test in San Jose, USA.

Bob and Thinus are students from Advent Doyo Baru Highschool in Waibu District, Doyo Baru Village, Jayapura regency of Papua. Thinus who majors in Language wants to be an ambassador one day. Bob who majors in science, inspired by his achievement with NASA, wants to become a scientist. Later on, the government of Indonesia hopes that the students, including Bob and Thinus can develop this research under the guidance of various experts from Institute of National Space and Aviation (LAPAN), Bogor Institute of Agriculture (IPB), Technology Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB) and Surya University. It is not impossible that one day, we would actually have Papuan paddy fields in outer space.


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