School pupils find an asteroid, ESA observes it!

The potato model of the asteroid used in the classroomAn asteroid has been observed last year by the highly motivated school pupils at "Collège Le Monteil", Monistrol sur Loire, France... But the pupils could not imagine that a year later, the prestigious European Space Agency would take pictures of this asteroid, using a professional satellite, the Rosetta spacecraft!

This a fantastic example of how inquiry based science education (IBSE) can be successful in connecting pupils with professional researchers and raise interest towards science. Well done!

Image: The potato model of the asteroid used in the classroom

The teacher in charge is André Debackère. With his pupils, he was able to find asteroid 2002 MS4 (moving "star" in this animation picture).

ESA's Rosetta spacecraft will be the first to undertake the long-term exploration of a comet at close quarters. It comprises a large orbiter, which is designed to operate for a decade at large distances from the Sun, and a small lander. Each of these carries a large complement of scientific experiments designed to complete the most detailed study of a comet ever attempted. After entering orbit around Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko in 2014, the spacecraft will release a small lander onto the icy nucleus, then spend the next two years orbiting the comet as it heads towards the Sun. On the way to Comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko, Rosetta will receive gravity assists from Earth and Mars, and will fly past main belt asteroids.