IIT Bombay students Kritti Sharma, Kunal Deshmukh, and Harsh Kumar received a special mention under the "New Discovery award 2020" from the Astronomical Society of India. They work with the GROWTH-India telescope and the international GROWTH collaboration to search for and confirm Near-Earth Asteroids. Under a collaboration with the Zwicky Transient Facility in California, Kritti and Kunal discovered 2020 QG: the closest asteroid then known that had passed by Earth without hitting it. The trio routinely uses the GROWTH-India telescope to image and verify asteroid candidates found in sky surveys, and report the results to the Minor Planet Centre of the International Astronomical Union. Between them, they have discovered over 43 asteroids in the last one and a half years, with more being added each week.
Kritti is a third year undergraduate student in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. Kunal is a final year undergraduate in the Department of Metallurgy and Materials Science. Harsh is a third year PhD student in the Department of Physics. They all work with Prof. Varun Bhalerao of the Physics Department.
The GROWTH-India telescope was set up with funding support from the Science and Engineering Research board of the Department of Science and Technology, and the Indo-US Science and Technology Forum. It is jointly operated by IIT Bombay and the Indian Institute of Astrophysics, Bangalore.
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