Vikhe Patil students discover six preliminary asteroids

Two students from the Vikhe Patil Memorial School, Lohegaon, have claimed the discovery of six preliminary asteroids as part of a global campaign run by the Kalam Centre Asteroid Search Campaign, organised by the Kalam Centre, New Delhi, in association with International Astronomical Search Collaboration (IASC).

The campaign was run from November 9 to December 3, 2020, as part of a Nasa citizen science project, conducted by Hardin Simmons University, USA.

Under this programme IASC and the Kalam Centre, deployed a unique platform which gave selected participants an opportunity to discover near-Earth objects and main-belt asteroids.

Participants were selected through a rigorous screening process and a worldwide event organised from November 9 to December 3.

Only 22 participants were shortlisted and selected across the globe. These were later trained to analyse data and spot potential asteroids close to Earth.

At the end of the campaign, these young minds discovered 27 preliminary asteroids.

A total of 10 teams participated in the campaign.

Arya Pulate and Sherya Wahgmare of Vikhe Patil, were from team SLV III, and discovered six preliminary asteroids.

“Selected participants were provided highly specialised training in order to operate the advanced astronomical software, Astrometrica. This software is used to analyse images from the ‘Pan Starrs’ (The Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System) telescope, located in Hawaii, USA. It uses a 1.8 m (60 inch) telescope to survey the sky to look for asteroids, comets and near-Earth Objects (NEO).” said Ashok Vikhe Patil chairman of the Dr Vikhe Patil Foundation.

Srijan Pal Singh, former advisor (Technology and Policy) to Dr Kalam and founder, Kalam Centre, congratulated the students and said, “These discoveries are crucial contributions in our knowledge of cosmos. Knowing the asteroids around and mapping them is an important element in our bid to understand and monitor these flying rocks around our planet.”

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