IASC started in October 2006 with 5 high schools from the United States. Today, it has grown to 500 schools in more than 65 countries. As of today, IASC now has over 1,000 provisional discoveries made by the participating students and teachers. Of this number, 33 are numbered and cataloged by the IAU.
There have been 6 TNO discoveries in IASC, one from the 0.81-m at the Astronomical Research Institute (ARI) and the others from PS1 on Haleakala (University of Hawaii). The hope with the new TNO Discovery Program will grow in magnitude as has the MBA Discovery Program since October 2006. The ARI will support the May 15 – August 15 with confirmation fields using its 1.3-m. These along with the fields from SAAO will be distributed to the 75 schools from India that participate in IASC during those months.
Catalina Sky Survey
Working with Dr. Eric Christensen of the Catalina Sky Survey (University of Arizona), IASC will introduce a new TNO Discovery Program. The plan is to offer two TNO search campaigns in the time period October 2015 – April 2016. These will be a pilot test of the 1.5-m telescope at G96 on Mt. Lemmon outside of Tucson, AZ.
Las Cumbras Observatory Global Telescopes
LCOGT has awarded IASC 120 hours of time on its 1-m network at the South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO). IASC will use this time from May 15 until August 15 to support the MBA Discovery Program. During the summer months at northern latitudes, the student discoveries have thinned out as a result of the large sky surveys (e.g., Pan-STARRS, Catalina)…combined with the ecliptic far to the south and the short nights that time of year. Use of the LCOGT 1-m network will allow IASC to produce survey fields not accessible to Pan-STARRS. Catalina is shut down during those months due to weather and maintenance.
The process has begun to develop a formal collaboration between NASA and IASC. I met twice last year with NASA officials to work on the project. It will be a collaboration with the NASA Asteroid Grand Challenge (Washington, D.C.) that is managed through the NASA Ames Research Center (Mountain View, CA). A formal contract is being drawn up with NASA. As this project progresses, I will keep everyone informed. The collaboration will include using the NASA Ames broadcast facilities to develop online teacher training workshops, use of the NASA logo on IASC certificates, working with students groups at an annual meeting at NASA Ames, and developing new participating schools, particularly from Mexico.
GHOU Meeting — Honolulu
Global Hands-On Universe will have its annual conference in early August 2015 in Honolulu. I am very much interested in organizing an IASC planning session for that conference. The purpose of the session would be to work on the future of IASC including its expansion to new schools and new professional collaborators. I hope this is something that would be of interest to you attend…either in person or by video conferencing.
Dr. Patrick Miller
Department of Mathematics
Holland School of Science & Mathematics