Students discover asteroids

Schoolchildren who participated in the All India Asteroid Search Campaign 2012 have made several discoveries after searching them for three months.


The campaign was organised by the Science Popularisation Association of Communicators and Educators (SPACE) and the International Astronomical Search Collaboration (IASC), Arizona, US.


The Delhi participants met chief minister Sheila Dikshit on Friday.
“Space is not just the current but has unimaginable future for the entire universe. Our planet cannot try to understand its magnificence, but also learn from its knowledge. Bless you all who have ventured into this exciting adventure,” said Dikshit.  


The selected 78 schools and other organisations promoting amateur astronomers were given exclusive access to astronomy data, provided by an observatory.
Students were selected from Delhi and the National Capital Region, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Jaipur, Himachal Pradesh and Bangalore.


Students from each group worked for the last three months to make original discoveries in the Main Belt Asteroids and other important observations, which contribute to the NASA Near-Earth Object (NEO) programme at its jet propulsion laboratory.


NEOs are comets and asteroids that are nudged by the gravitational force of nearby planets into orbits which allow them to enter the Earth’s neighbourhood.
During this year’s campaign, students have made three provisional discoveries of asteroids — confirmed observation of asteroids found in the Main Belt located between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter.


They also made 37 preliminary discoveries of asteroids — first observations of asteroids found in the Main Belt located between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter, which need further confirmation. Students managed to make nine NEO confirmations and nearly 619 NEO observations.


Pratham Alag and Rishabh Jain, students of Delhi Public School, RK Puram say they downloaded image sets of the sky with the help of high-resolution telescopes from the US and Mexico to analyse them for any traces of NEOs.


Shubham Sharma and Mayank Sharma of DAV Centenary Public School made discoveries in the Main Belt Asteroids.


Sahil Wadhwa, now a young astronomer, who has been working with SPACE since his school days, said, “My experience in AIASC has been amazing as I discovered an asteroid in the first year itself, which was the turning point of my life. It is an amazing feeling of discovering asteroid for three years in a row.”

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