Investigation 7-2:

Asteroid Searches

In Chapter 1, we saw how asteroids can be major threats to the well being of life on Earth. You can find out more about the NASA efforts concerning near Earth asteroids at the NASA  Ames Research Center’s Asteroid and Comet Impact Hazards page:

You can join the Hands-On Universe Asteroid Search, which began as a research project started by high school teachers Hughes Pack and Tim Spuck in 1996. In October of 1998 students at Northfield Mount Hermon School in western Massachusetts, USA, discovered a faint and distant Kuiper Belt object, now known as 1998 FS144. The project has used images from large telescopes, observatory archives, and small telescopes for asteroid tracking, searching, and discovery. The web site currently has four main options.

Current status of the Hands-On Universe research projects can be found through the “Staying Up to Date” pages for A Changing Cosmos chapter 7:

For example, the International Astronomical Search Collaboration ( is an educational outreach program for high schools and colleges, provided at no cost to the participating schools. IASC (“Isaac”) a collaboration of:
  • Hardin-Simmons University (Abilene, TX),
  • Hands-On Universe, (HOU)
  • Lawrence Hall of Science, University of California, Berkeley,
  • Astronomical Research Institute ( in Charleston, IL), and
  • Astrometrica (H. Raab, Austria).
HOU collaborated with the NASA WISE mission (Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer):

WISE surveyed the whole sky in infrared light, producing an all-sky image atlas and catalogue of over 300 million infrared sources. In addition to asteroid research, WISE scientists studied the coldest and nearest stars, regions of new star and planet formation, the structure of the Milky Way Galaxy, Ultra-luminous infrared galaxies, and the large scale structure of the Universe.