International Astronomical Search Collaboration
The newest of the IASC Asteroid Search Campaigns starts on February 1 and continues until March 17, 2010. Schools from 9 different countries will participate including Brazil, Bulgaria, England, Ghana, Ireland, Kenya, Poland, Portugal, and United States.
The sky-watching students get 45 days to analyze telescope images from several observatories in North America. They compare images from the telescopes over the course of the campaign. In that time students are able to locate the objects in space which change positions. Comparing images over several weeks, students are able to animate the data to confirm the presence of the asteroids.
HSU associate professor of mathematics Patrick Miller started the International Astronomical Search Collaboration in October 2006 with 5 U.S. schools. IASC now serves over 200 schools per year from 21 countries. Students in elementary, middle schools, and high schools participate as well as many university students from all over the world.
All totaled thus far, students have discovered over 200 Main Belt asteroids. They have noted over 1,500 Near Earth Object observations, 200 NEO confirmations, and 50 virtual impactor observations.
Miller says, "IASC also features special campaigns for countries. Campaigns include the all-China, all-Africa, all-Portugal, and the all-India asteroid search campaigns. There have been two all-Texas campaigns as part of a grant with the TRC of UT Austin."
Miller also reports, "IASC is a participant in the NASA Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) that was launched on December 14, 2009 from Vandenberg AFB. IASC will serve as many as 75 U.S. schools participating in the NASA WISE Education/Public Outreach Program of the Space Sciences Laboratory, UC Berkeley."
"IASC is party to a NASA grant proposal that includes Pan-STARRS of the University of Hawaii and the Dallas Museum of Nature & Science. IASC is working on a collaboration with the National Astronomical Observatory of China and the Chinese Academy of Science to use the Xinglong Observatory located near the Great Wall." IASC has also proposed a collaboration with the National Optical Astronomical Observatory of the University of Arizona, Tucson.
Strangely enough, all of the above has been accomplished out of the Math Lab at HSU and Miller's modest and somewhat lonely office in the basement of Sid Richardson. From there, Miller has managed and a world-wide network of volunteers, most of whom he has never met in person, but communicates with via the Internet.