Young Scientist – In Search of Comets!

Young Scientist – In Search of Comets!

Comets are the most primitive objects in the Solar System. Scientists believe that they have a record stored of the chemical and physical processes they were subjected to during the early years of the Solar System.

Last September I submitted a proposal for a project to the BT Young Scientists’ Competition held in The RDS, Dublin, in January each year. My project entitled “Using Data From The SOHO Satellite To Discover Comets” was accepted in October. I got the idea for this project when I read that the SOHO spacecraft (SOlar and Heliospheric Observatory) has discovered over 3,000 comets. The majority of these discoveries have been made by citizen scientists. The SOHO spacecraft is a joint NASA and ESA (the European Space Agency, of which Ireland is a member) project intended to study the Sun.

Each day I download images of the sun from the SOHO website with the hope of identifying a comet. If I find evidence of one I note its coordinates and submit it to the Sungrazer website for confirmation. To date, I have identified 2 comets and logged them on the Sungrazer website and this is what I will be presenting on at next year’s Young Scientist Exhibition.

In 2015, visitor numbers to the Young Scientist Exhibition reached an all-time high of 59,500, as did entries, with 2077 projects being entered. This year the exhibition runs from January 11th to the 14th. I am really looking forward to it. 

Brendan Waters