NASA Search Campaign: At first, nine students of a private school in Jammu and Kashmir reportedly participated in a Global Asteroid Search Campaign which is a part of NASA's Citizen Science Project. The search programme was conducted by Delhi-based Homi Lab in association with the International Astronomical Search Collaboration (IASC) between October 21 and November 15, 2022.
As per the official press release, a spokesperson of the Homi lab asserted that this was the first time that a school from the Kathua district, J&K India has participated in the NASA Campaign.
Further, it reported that Shrnya, Abhay Pratap Singh, Divum Bharti, Rashi Sharma, Alyssa Sardhalia, Samar Pratap Singh Bhadwal, Mehul Sharma, Mrigan Kamouli Vaishisth and Pranaya Mahajan from Spring Dales English School, Kathua district also participated in the Kalam Asteroid Search Campaign.
NASA Citizen Science Project
As part of NASA’s Citizen Science Project that is held by the Hardin Simmons University of USA, the IASC and Homi Lab installed a unique platform under this programme that granted the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to selected participants to experience and discover real near-Earth objects and Main Belt asteroids.
The official statement also mentioned that outreach and training support was extended by Dr APJ Abdul Kalam Centre of Delhi. A total number of 105 participants from nine countries were selected across the world through a meticulous screening process and they were later given professional training in order to analyse data and spot potential asteroids close to the earth.
Discoveries in NEO Programme
Coming to the end of the search campaign, young minds were able to make path-breaking contributions to NASA's Near-Earth Object (NEO) Programme. These young students discovered three preliminary asteroids as told by the officials.
Preliminary discoveries are the first observations of asteroids which are found in the main belt located between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter and require further confirmation to go to provisional status. The press release stated that the phenomena usually take up to five years after which the asteroid can be officially recorded by the Minor Planet Center, International Astronomical Union (IAU).
Those who were selected to take part in the programme were provided highly specialised training by the centre so that they could operate the advanced astronomical software, Astrometrica and utilize these skills for the project discovery. This software is used to analyse images from the ‘Pan Starrs’ (The Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System) telescope which is located in Hawaii, USA.
Srijan Pal Singh, the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Homi Lab congratulated and appreciated the students for their excellent discoveries. These discoveries are significant contributions and present knowledge about the cosmos and universe comprising the Earth.
He further said that having knowledge about the asteroids is an important element in comprehending and detecting these travelling rocks from distant worlds around planet Earth.
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