Asteroids honor and motivate young scientists

Since 2001, MIT Lincoln Laboratory’s Ceres Connection program, in conjunction with the International Astronomical Union, has celebrated more than 1,500 science fair winners by naming minor planets in their honor.


Lincoln Laboratory's Lincoln Near-Earth Asteroid Research (LINEAR) program has discovered more than 200,000 space objects, 30,000-plus of which have been numbered and made available for naming as minor planets. To the discoverer of these minor planets (often referred to as asteroids) go the rights to recommend names for them.

In 2001, the Laboratory decided the best use of the naming rights was to seek to reward exceptional science students and their teachers with asteroids named in their honor. Thus, the Ceres Connection program was born. Since then more than 1,500 students in middle and high school have been honored for their success at science competitions such as the International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF). 

This year, a 2007 recipient of the honor turned "her" asteroid into an award-winning 2009 science fair project. Read about Caroline von Wurden and the asteroid-inspired project at http://www.ll.mit.edu/news/ISEFwinner.html.

The Ceres Connection also expanded its reach this year by honoring two graduate students who were awarded the IEEE Student Humanitarians Supreme prize in the IEEE Presidents' Change the World Competition. Read about them and the invention that won this honor at http://www.ll.mit.edu/news/IEEEhumanitarianaward.html.


Topics: Space, astronomy and planetary science, National relations and service, Students, Awards, honors and fellowships

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