Dr. Bashir Syed: The Solar Physicist from Pakistan

-by Zohaa Wajid

The phrase a Pakistani working at NASA commands our attention since it is not an everyday occurrence. Indeed, Dr. Bashir Syed was not ordinary.

Hailing from Pakistan, being a dedicated student, he made his way to the US with a Fulbright scholarship, earning a Doctorate of Science in Solar Physics. It is an interesting fact that he studied at and later taught at DJ Sindh Science College where Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan happened to be his student.

After a while in the US, he had the honour of becoming a part of NASA as a solar physicist. He played a pivotal role in the United States Space Program throughout the course of the project. Later, he worked in the Space Shuttle Modification Programme to keep the shuttle technologically superior. Moreover, he was involved in NASA’s work to build space probes. Being an expert on cosmic and solar radiation, he was assigned to look over the adverse effects of space radiation on space craft. As a result, he was a key player in the evolution and building of Mars Pathfinder. Towards the end of his career in NASA, he was engaged in the United States Mercury project where he studied and researched on solar-produced plasma.

Even after leaving NASA, he did not leave it. Founding his company EnerTech Enterprises, he continued to support NASA’s Mars Project by supplying them with cosmic and solar radiation equipment.

Following his retirement, he became a part of Pakistan’s Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission where his research in solar physics and astronomy went uninterrupted. During this time, he also trained a handful of Pakistani scientists and engineers in the field of solar technology.

His interests did not just lie in solar physics, he strongly advocated the development of wind and power plants as a solution to the world energy crises. Writing a number of articles on the issue and travelling the world to give lectures on the subject, he hoped his efforts would educate them in ways to design renewable energy projects. Since Pakistan is blessed with sunny days all year round and has areas suitable for harnessing wind energy, he believed this would rid us of obstacles in meeting the energy requirements in Pakistan while leaving the atmosphere unharmed, unlike fossil fuels. To his satisfaction, he was able to able to establish wind power and solar power plants in Pakistan.

As is clear from his life, he was extremely dedicated to his field and his work. Such a spirit is not encountered frequently. The world is grateful for all his efforts in the advancement of space technology and renewable energy.

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