Hollis student tracks asteroid during summer program

NASHUA – The Academy for Science and Design announced that senior Brin Harper, of Hollis, participated in the 58th annual Summer Science Program at the University of Colorado.

The program is an independent nonprofit operated in cooperation with Caltech, MIT, New Mexico Tech and the University of Colorado at Boulder. More than 750 applications were received from high school juniors from around the world to be a part of this program where students experience college-level education and do research in celestial mechanics by studying the orbits of asteroids.

Harper, who joined 35 other gifted and motivated science students from around the world for 39 intense days, operated a research-grade telescope to take images of a near-earth asteroid, then wrote software to measure its position precisely and calculate its orbital path – including the chance it will impact Earth in the future. The data was then submitted to the Minor Planet Center (www.minorplanetcenter.net) of the International Astronomical Union so it can be used by other scientists to improve future predictions of the asteroid’s position.

In addition to the hands-on night work with the telescope, Harper and her colleagues attended daytime lectures on astronomy, physics, spherical trigonometry, calculus and software development.

"SSP convinced me that I want to pursue a research career in the future," Harper said. "It was extremely inspiring to be part of a community of scientists who were continually driven to learn all that they could. I learned a lot about math, programming, physics, astronomy and, most of all, myself. I feel that I now have a much clearer idea of my goals for the future."

Since 1959, this unique and highly selective program has offered teenagers their first taste of what doing research is all about, to immerse themselves in hands-on, experimental science, and to live and work with their intellectual peers for the first time. Years and even decades later, many alumni describe it as "the educational experience of a lifetime." Most go on to earn advanced degrees and leadership roles in their chosen careers.

For more information about the program, visit www.summerscience.org.

For more information about the Academy for Science and Design, visit www.asdnh.org or email Amy.Bewley@asdnh.org.

Submitted by Academy for Science and Design