Achievements

‘Keep an eye on the night sky, there may be life out there!’

To coincide with World Space Week, Apeejay, Panchsheel Park student Parth Uppal reveals his rendezvous with asteroids and near-Earth objects

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The mysteries of outer Space have mystified human beings for a long time. Our common curiosity includes questions like: How did Space come into existence? Why is it black in colour? How cold is it up there? Does it even have a smell?

While we may or may not find the accurate answers to each of these questions, one thing is certain – astronomers, astronauts and scientists across the globe have been working hard for decades to crack into these and understand both Earth and Space better.

To coincide with World Space Week (October 4-10), Parth Uppal, a class 10 student at Apeejay School, Panchsheel Park who has recently received a certificate from International Astronomical Search Collaboration (IASC) for his observations of near-Earth objects and main belt asteroids in space, shares what excites him the most about outer Space. Participating in the analysis of images from Pan-STARRS (a telescope observatory setup in collaboration with the University of Hawaii, and Institute for Astronomy), the teenager is a space research enthusiast who dreams of becoming an astrophysicist. Read on:

How was your interest in Space ignited?

My father and I are both keenly interested in astronomy. Because of him, I began to read a lot about Space from childhood. With time, my interest in the field has grown and as a child, I have looked through a low-power telescope to study the night-sky. Last year, Jupiter and Saturn fell into a conjunction with Earth and it was a very exciting time for me because I gazed at it through my telescope. Growing up, I have been observing the craters on the moon frequently.  

What is the most puzzling secret about Space, according to you?

Finding life in different galaxies and planets! The Black Hole and how it came into being is a question that yet remains unanswered. Mars, a nearby planet, has traces of what we call the ‘goldilocks conditions’ which are ‘just right’ for human existence. Jupiter’s red spot yet remains a mystery for about 400 years, there is so much to know.

Can you elaborate about your recent findings with IASC?

Yes, my role was to study the images provided by IASC to observe the objects near Earth which could be a potential threat to the planet. What I witnessed in those images had to be determined by whether those objects were in motion. Any such asteroids which may collide with Earth in the near future can be destroyed with techniques such as high-power laser beams, or we could change their path in Space to prevent damage to the Earth. Through my project, two preliminary finds were made and those would be further researched and worked upon by IASC.

India has made strides in Space in the last few years. What project are you looking forward to?

We have the Gaganyaan mission in the pipeline, the objective of which is to carry a crew of three people to Low Earth Orbit (LEO), and perform a set of predefined activities in space, and return them safely to a predefined destination on earth. I have been following the developments on these closely.

Any tips for student space enthusiasts who would want to expand their horizons?

They should keep observing the night sky as it would become more and more interesting each time they witness a change over there. They should keep themselves up-to-date with all the recent findings in astrophysics, and as for me, I often visit the NASA website and watch documentaries like ‘How the Universe works’ on Discovery Channelto know more. 

Mrini Devnani is Senior Correspondent (Newsroom). She covers student achievements, interviews and contributions for the website. She was a former Correspondent covering Edutech for the India Today Group, and has a passion for Social Media and Digital Marketing. You can reach her at [email protected]

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