9 J&K students participate in NASA’s global asteroid search campaign

“As part of NASA’s citizen science project that is conducted by Hardin Simmons University, US, under this programme, IASC and Homi Lab deployed a unique platform that gave selected participants a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to discover real near-Earth objects and Main Belt asteroids. Outreach and training support was extended by Kalam Centre, Delhi.

“A total of 105 participants from nine countries were selected across the globe through a rigorous screening process and were later trained to analyse data and spot potential asteroids close to the earth.

“At the end of the campaign, young minds made path-breaking contributions to NASA’s Near-Earth Object (NEO) Programme and discovered three preliminary asteroids. Preliminary discoveries are the first observations of asteroids found in the main belt located between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter which need further confirmation to go to provisional status,” the press release said.

It said this usually takes up to five years after which the asteroid can be officially catalogued by the Minor Planet Centre, of the International Astronomical Union (IAU).

The release also said selected participants were provided highly specialised training.

“The software used to analyse images from the ‘Pan Starrs’ (The Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System) telescope, located in Hawaii, UA. It uses a 1.8 m (60 inch) telescope to survey the sky to look for asteroids, comets, and Near-Earth Objects (NEO)”, the press release added.A

Homi Lab founder and CEO, Srijan Pal Singh, congratulated the students and said “these discoveries are crucial contributions to our knowledge of the cosmos around us”.

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