In a rare feat, the students Kishore Kumar and Shiv Mahadev of Class 11 of Shri Natesan Vidyasala Matriculation Higher Secondary School, Mannivakkam, made a provisional asteroid discovery which is designated as 2016 OP4 P10w65D, as part of a nationwide campaign of International Astronomical Search Collaboration (IASC) programme, United States, to popularise astronomy in the country.
This provisional discovery has been confirmed and formally recognised as asteroid discovery, as endorsed by international agencies concerned, having the highest value among all discoveries/observations credited. They have been given designated numbers and will be named after the students, claimed SPACE, a Delhi-based NGO which acts as the nodal agency for organising asteroid search campaigns.
Initially, the SPACE facilitated the students with necessary orientation, trained in advanced data analysis and astrometrical software, which provides the ability to easily compare astrometrical images for the purpose of moving object discovery and also given hands on practice to hunt for asteroids. Later, students were provided with exclusive access to astronomy images to conduct the actual research and analysis.
Under the project, participants got access to the images of the sky taken by 24 inch and 34 inch telescopes positioned in Astronomical Research Institute (ARI) Observatory in the United States.
Students search for asteroids after downloading and analysing data with specialise software. All observations contribute to the near earth object (NEO) data compiled by NASA and Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL), said S Venkata Narayanan, South Zonal Business Manager, SPACE.
In the last seven years, out of 600 students at the all India level, 8 students of Shri Natesan Vidyasala, got the opportunity to participate in the search campaign resulting in the discovery of 4 provisional asteroids, 8 near earth object observations so far. Dr N Ramasubramanyan Founder of the school handed over the certificate of appreciation received from SPACE to Kishore Kumar and Shiv Mahadev and congratulated their work. Kishore and Shiv Mahadev thanked the school for the opportunity provided and mentioned that it wouldn't have been possible without the guidance and support of the school space co-ordinator Ms. Anandhi Mani.