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Friday, 31 January 2014

The Scintillating Discoverers!

Delhiites, Gaurav and Shourya discover an asteroid! Here's my article on their grand achievement... 

Left: Shourya, Right: Gaurav

The two may appear like regular school kids but their achievements put them in an extremely higher orbit. Astronomy as well as Science enthusiasts, Gaurav Pati and Shourya Chambial, residents of South Delhi discovered a 20-40 meters wide, stony-type main belt asteroid on June 22, 2013.

Both are class VII students of Amity International School, Pushp Vihar, Delhi, and belong to non-scientific families. They make a perfect duo of chirpy, sassy and inventive kids. They desire to shimmer and glow. On being asked about the procedure of discovering the asteroid, the two got thrilled and Gaurav instantaneously answered, “SPACE in association with IASC sends images from outer space to students in different countries. The students were taught about both manual and automatic modes during the seminar. We were also provided with the software, ‘Astrometrica’ during the workshop which essentially helps us to analyze the pictures. In our case, Shourya loved to work more on manual modes while I used to work on both manual and automatic modes.”

They have always been active partakers of activities that the School’s Astronomy Club takes up on regular basis. Also, the duo has an enormous interest in Science and Astronomy. On realizing that the two are rare gems of astro-science, Dr. Amita Mohan, the Principal at school, the Chairperson Dr. Amita Chauhan and Physics teacher Ms. Rashmi Sherawat, picked the duo up and registered them into the All India Asteroid Search Campaign 2013. The campaign is organized by Science Popularization Association of Communicators and Educators (SPACE) in collaboration with the International Astronomical Search Collaboration (IASC). They made the discovery as part of the same campaign.



“The cosmic noise and the artifacts often caused obstructions in our work”, said Shourya. But it seems that they had decided not to look back ever. Both of them continued to burn midnight oil and used to dedicate at least two hours to the research each day ever since they started the research work. “We had submitted our MPC file with Dr. Patrick Miller, the director of the IASC Russia on June 11. All that we had to do next was to wait for their response. Though a fifteen days’ wait seemed really long to us, it proved to be astoundingly fruitful!” exclaimed Shourya on being questioned about the submission of the project and its after effects.

The duo’s confidence was quite evident in their reaction to what they feel about the grand achievement. They responded with gleaming eyes, “Both of us were on cloud nine when we received a communication in this regard from the Minor Planet Centre on June 25 saying that our asteroid has been identified and the find has been confirmed by the international scientific community.” The asteroid has been provisionally named as ‘2013 LS28’. It is yet to be placed in the world's official minor body catalogue maintained by International Astronomical Union (Paris).

Gaurav and Shourya have actually had their name across the universe. They can, in a span of three to six years, rename the asteroid according to their wish. Both of them have decided to name it as ‘ShouryaGauravAmity’. “We chose such a name as we owe a lot to our school because we couldn’t have been a part of this campaign and hence the discovery wouldn’t have been possible if our mentors at school have not had enough faith in us”, said Gaurav when inquired about the choice of name.

No doubt that both Gaurav and Shourya have shown the brilliance which is no less than that of a diamond. Apart from research work, the duo has a lot many other interests, as well. They keep themselves involved in one or the other activity in order to de-stress themselves. Gaurav loves to write stories as well as poems and read space oriented books. Also, he paints and does English theatre. Shourya, on the other hand, loves to swim, read stories and take part in various quizzes that are organized both at school and inter-school levels.
In future, both of them want to stay associated with the field of science and astronomy in one way or the other. While Shourya aspires to study at either Harvard or Stanford University and further become a scientist at NASA, Gaurav wishes to study at Oxford University and later wants to be a writer or a professor in French.