Indian Students Discover 27 Preliminary Asteroids in Kalam Centre Asteroid Search Campaign

Kalam Centre organized Kalam Centre Asteroid Search Campaign in association with the International Astronomical Search Collaboration (IASC). This was conducted by Dr. Patrick Miller of Hardin Simmons University, USA with outreach support from the nation’s first future learning lab, Homi Lab.

Participants were selected through a rigorous screening process through a worldwide event organized from November 9 to December 3. Only 22 participants were selected across the globe who were later trained to analyze data and spot potential asteroids close to Earth. At the end of the campaign, young minds made path-breaking contributions to NASA’s Near-Earth Object (NEO) Program and discovered 27 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. This usually takes upto 5 years after which the asteroid can be officially cataloged by the Minor Planet Center, International Astronomical Union (IAU).

Selected participants were provided highly specialized training in order to operate the advanced astronomical software, Astrometrica. This software used to analyze 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).

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 flyings rocks around our planet.”

All the successful participants were given certificates by Srijan Pal Singh in a Graduation Ceremony organized by Kalam Centre on December 13, 2020.