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HindustanTimes Sun,21 Dec 2014

Life and Universe

School students from Delhi, Gurgaon discover two asteroids
PTI
New Delhi, August 25, 2013
First Published: 16:13 IST(25/8/2013)
Last Updated: 16:15 IST(25/8/2013)

Four school students of Delhi and Gurgaon have discovered two asteroids which will soon be listed in world's official minor body catalogue maintained by International Astronomical Union (Paris).

Shourya Chambial and Gaurav Patib of Amity International School, New Delhi, and Balachandra Routhu and Ayush Gupta of Gurgaon's Ryan International School, part of two separate teams, have made two provisional discoveries of asteroids doing the country proud, said Sachin Bahmba, Chairman and Managing Director, SPACE.

The discovery has been confirmed by the International Scientific Community and the asteroids have provisionally been named as 2013 LS28 and 2013 PR, he said.

SPACE Director C B Devgun said they are now waiting for them to be placed in the world's official minor body catalogue maintained by International Astronomical Union (Paris).

IAU is the body officially recognised by astronomers and other scientists worldwide as the de facto naming authority for astronomical bodies, he said.

The two teams used exclusive data to look at specific parts of the sky and with the help of complex procedure called 'Astrometrica' tracked objects by looking at the images of the sky provided by telescopes-based in the US to see which of the objects moving over time could be a possible asteroid.

The discoveries were made as part of the program All Indian Asteroid Search Campaign (AIASC) conducted jointly between April and August this year by Science Popularisation Association of Communicators (SPACE) and International Astronomical Search Collaboration (IASC).

AIASC was started by SPACE in 2010 in India with an endeavour to increase love for science, astronomy and research especially among schools students, Bahmba said.

The campaign has been very successful in showing that with proper opportunities and guidance, Indian students can achieve scientific heights and distinctively contribute in scientific discoveries at a very early age, he added.

Besides the two asteroids, 12 preliminary discoveries, 2 Near-Earth Objects (NEO) confirmation and 262 NEO Observations were also done during AIASC phase III.

IASC Director Patrick Miller has congratulated the two school teams for achieving the rare feat.

"Congratulations!!! In spite of hurdles, you guys have made it!  You are just one step closer to having the asteroid numbered and placed into the world's official minor body catalogue maintained by the International Astronomical Union (Paris)," he said.

IASC is an international educational outreach programme which includes Lawrence Hall of Science, Berkeley and Global Hands-on-Universe Association (USA) and other International organisations, which conduct programmes enabling students to be involved in hands-on, real time astronomy.

Using images taken of the sky in the night with the 24" and 32" telescopes at the Astronomical Research Institute (ARI) Observatory, USA, the programme gave students a chance to sift through data with specialised software to make original discoveries of Main Belt asteroids and important observations that contribute to the NASA Near-Earth Object (NEO) Program at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Near-Earth Objects are comets and asteroids that have been nudged by the gravitational attraction of nearby planets into orbits that allow them to enter the Earth's neighbourhood.


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