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School students discovered 18 new asteroids

Wed 24 Feb 2021    
| 2 min read

In 2020, 18 new asteroids have been discovered by Indian students as part of an international science program, ‘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.

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.

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.

Dr Mila Mitra, Co-founder of STEM & Space informed 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 5 years. She congratulated all the students who have made the country proud with their Provisional Discoveries of 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.

For UAE students, who want to be a part of this international campaign, STEM & Space is organising the IASP campaign in UAE from April 5 – April 30, 2021 and May 3 – May 28, 2021. Interested participants can visit at for more details.

STEM & Space, an organization working towards STEM learning of Astronomy and Space Science in India and UAE, has been instrumental in mentoring the unique real-time science project, ‘International Asteroid Discovery Project’ (IADP) since the last two years in India. STEM & Space aims to foster interest in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) through interactive and experiential programs, interwoven with the fascinating domain of space and astronomy.

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