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9-year-old Aarush from Kolkata honoured by NASA as India’s youngest ‘Citizen Scientist’

6 May, 2023 10:40:56
9-year-old Aarush from Kolkata honoured by NASA as India’s youngest ‘Citizen Scientist’

Children nowadays have different distractions such as mobile phones, video games, and tons of other stuff. Technological advancement has its pros and cons which affect the students both negatively and positively. But some children are out to use technology for the advancement of the world. And one such child is Aarush Naskar, who loves the stars, and the sun and is very interested in knowing about them. He is a stargazer from a very young age. He keeps himself busy with a telescope and all day he thinks about the stars spread across the sky. This interest and curiosity about Space have led him to be recognized and honoured by NASA (The National Aeronautics and Space Administration) as India’s youngest “Citizen Scientist.”

The prodigy of Kolkata, Aarush Naskar, a 9-year-old student of South Point School, has acquired a spot in the list of NASA’s little scientists. Most kids who are the same age as Aarush are busy with other things, Aarush, being an exception, ruffles through the pages of different books on the complex issues of Space science. He is a Class IV student at South Point School. When Aarush was only 5 years of age, he watched the lunar eclipse from Kolkata for the first time. He went to Kerala when he was 6 years old, and from there he watched the solar eclipse. Since then, Aarush was curious about Space and the celestial wonders.

Aarush’s father, Anupam Naskar, had founded the Kolkata Astronomy Centre. Under his father’s influence, automatically from a very young age, Aarush was drawn to a world of stars and planets. Through the telescope he viewed Space which gave birth to new curiosities and that in turn led him to become a member of the Citizen Scientist team of the International Astronomical Search Collaboration (IASC), a partner of NASA. For this, Aarush had to sit for a preliminary examination of the International Astronomical Search Collaboration. Passing that exam made him a part of the Citizen Scientist team. Even though his journey started holding the hands of his father, by the age of 9 years, Aarush had identified five asteroids on his own.

There are many Space Research Projects of NASA, and Asteroid Search Collaboration is one of them. In Space, different planets, asteroids, etc. are identified and named through the Asteroid Search Collaboration. Anupam Naskar’s team is linked to such planetary research where there are 3 other members other than Aarush and himself. In the team, Aarush is the youngest and others are employed. Anupam and his team have identified 11 new asteroids. Among them, 5 asteroids have been identified by Aarush. Nationally as well as internationally, Aarush seems to be the youngest Citizen Scientist. His work has been honoured through a certificate by NASA.

Achieving something of this level at this age has surprised everyone. According to his father, “Aarush’s interest in Space started to grow when he saw the solar eclipse and lunar eclipse.” His father used to clarify all of Aarush’s complex doubts in a very simple way. During the lockdown period, Aarush used to see his father working all day and this gave rise to new questions in the kid’s mind. He observed his father’s works and tried to learn from them. He also became familiar with computers and the internet and started going through the websites of ISRO and NASA. He studied the telescope and asteroids and tried to understand what Citizen Scientist means and how to become one. Tutorials of ISRO and educational videos of NASA which can be accessed with the help of computers and the internet, helped in answering Aarush’s questions. NASA also makes certain research-based projects solely for children which creates interest in such astronomical issues. From there Aarush got the information and it helped him to become a part of the Citizens Science Project.

NASA encourages the discovery of new planets, asteroids, etc. In Hawaii Island, two telescopes- Pan Star 1 and 2- have been kept. Files sent from these telescopes are thoroughly observed and “near earth objects”, new planets, asteroids, meteors, and much more are identified through computer algorithms. Citizen Scientists identify these extra-terrestrial objects and name them accordingly. Similarly, Aarush has identified 5 of these asteroids.

NASA is trying to spread knowledge about Space among the common public. Through various campaigns, ordinary people are also getting a chance to know about astronomical science. Citizen Scientists observe Space and identify the asteroids and “near earth objects.” They observe their movements through telescopes located at different sites on the Earth. Making a report on which asteroid has come closer to the earth and which is how far away, is part of this project. Those who do this are called Citizen Scientists. And Aarush has gained the rare fame of being one of them and that too as the youngest.

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