In 2020, 18 new asteroids have been discovered by Indian students as part of an International science programme, ‘International Asteroid Discovery Project’, conducted by STEM & Space in collaboration with International Astronomical Search Collaboration (IASC) as part of a NASA citizen science project. These discoveries have been confirmed recently by the International Astronomical Union (IAU) which records such discoveries formally in the Minor Planet Catalog.

In this project, images of the sky are taken by the Pan-STARRS telescope in Hawaii, which provides the images nightly to the participating students. The students use advanced software analysis to look for asteroids and report their findings. 150 students from all around India participated in this project, and 372 preliminary discoveries of asteroids were achieved by the students, out of which 18 were finally declared to be Provisional or confirmed discoveries of asteroids. For school students, this is a huge achievement!

Dr Mila Mitra, Co-founder of STEM & Space informed us that hundreds of school students participated from India and across the globe, making the campaign the largest asteroid discovery project in India. She shared that their organisation is working to bring experiential learning of STEM through the domain of space and have designed a gamut of hands-on learning workshops, over a period of five years. She congratulated all the students who have made the country proud with their Provisional Discoveries of asteroids.

STEM & Space, an organization working towards STEM learning of Astronomy and Space Science in India has been instrumental in mentoring the unique real time science project, ‘International Asteroid Discovery Project’ (IADP) since the last two years in India. 150 students from all around India participated in this two month long campaign to find asteroids.

IASC is an online scientific program in Astronomy, which provides high quality astronomical data to students around the world to discover Asteroids and Near Earth Objects (NEO), which are rocky objects in an orbit between Mars and Jupiter, which pose a challenge to Earth as they may get perturbed out of their orbit and pose a threat of impact. Hence such programs have been initiated by NASA to track such asteroids regularly, also open to Citizen Scientists and students to enable the discovery and tracking of more asteroids.

All the discoverers received Provisional Discovery Certificates from IASC, NASA and Pan-STARRS observatory for their scientific contribution in discovering asteroids, which will be formally catalogued in the Minor Planet Catalog. After 6 years of tracking, these students may get the chance to name the asteroids discovered by them.

Student discoverers include: Adish Singh Khinda, Aaryaveer Katoch, Saanvi Chauhan, Krisha Bansal – Kunskapsskolan International School, Gurgaon; Sanchit Kapoor – Shiv Nadar School, Faridabad; Diya Dadoo – Shiv Nadar School, Gurgaon; Avinav Singh – City Montessori School, Kanpur Road Campus, Lucknow; Subhashini Sharma – LA Martiniere Girls College, Lucknow; Riaan Gupta – The Mothers International School, Delhi; Somanshu Aikat – Bal Bharati Public School, Rohini; Jahnavi Minocha & Anant Minocha – Springdales School, Dhaula Kuan; Kavya Narayan – Inventure Academy Bangalore; Aditya Arjun Anibha – Genesis Global School, Noida; Bhavishya Jain – Apeejay School, Pitampura; Pratyush Ghose – Indraprastha School, Dwarka; Mokshi Agarwal – Montessori Cambridge School, Pathankot; Akshita Srivastava – City Montessori School, Mahanagar, Lucknow; Jai Deep G, Vishaka. L, N.M.Tamizhselvan, Raghav Sharma, Krishna Sastha K.H., Adhyayan Bharadwaj – DAV Public School Velachery, Chennai.

For students who still want to be a part of this international campaign, STEM & Space is organising yet another campaign this year from April 5 – April 30, 2021 and May 3 – May 28, 2021. Interested participants may visit http://stemandspace.com/iasc/india1.

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