Two class 10 students from Surat, Vaidehi Vekariya and Radhika Lakhani, have discovered a near-Earth asteroid. Their finding has been confirmed by NASA and named HLV2514. This new asteroid is expected to pass by Earth in the future.
The Two Girls Discovered The Asteroid While Participating In A Science Programme
Vaidehi and Radhika train for astronomical studies at the SPACE training institute.
For the last two months, they have been participating in a science outreach programme conducted by NASA called the ‘All India Asteroid Search Campaign’, in association with the International Astronomical Search Collaboration (IASC).
Due to the global pandemic, all research, learning, and examining work was done by the two girls from home.
For weeks, they examined multiple images taken by Pan-STARRS Telescope in Hawaii through a software. They ended up spotting a moving object near Mars, which had been hidden from view until now. They then submitted the details of their finding for verification.
SPACE India And NASA Confirmed The Rare Discovery And Congratulated The Girls
Space India soon posted a message on Facebook about the finding. “We are proud to announce that two girls from Surat with the help of SPACE-All India Asteroid Search Campaign discovered a new Asteroid which is a Near-Earth Object,” the post read.
“It is a near-Earth object (NEO) which is currently near the planet Mars, and over time (~10^6 years) will evolve into an Earth-crossing asteroid,” the post said about asteroid HLV2514.
NASA too sent a confirmation email verifying the girls’ rare discovery.
IASC director, Dr Patrick Miller, sent an email to the Institute saying, “In the last campaign, your team reported HLV2514 as a new asteroid. It is, in fact, a near-Earth object (NEO). This NEO is near the planet Mars, and over time (~10^6 years) will evolve into an Earth-crossing asteroid. Mars-crossing asteroids are called Amors. Earth-crossing asteroids are called Apollos. Congratulations!!”
People online are sending the two girls adulations and praise for their commendable feat as well.
The girls are ecstatic, not only about their discovery being verified but also about the recognition they’re receiving from experts and people online.
“We had tagged around 20 objects of which this one proved lucky. We have given it a random name at present, and we may get an opportunity to name the astroid once its orbit is confirmed by NASA. It may, however, take a few years’ time,” the two girls told Times Of India.
Women Are Leading Mankind’s Charge Towards Exploring Space
Women, in recent years, have been at the helm of multiple milestones in space research and astrophysics. Be it Katie Bouman’s algorithm that gave the word its first looks at a black hole, or closer to home, Muthayya Vanitha and Ritu Karidhal helming ISRO’s historic Chandrayaan-2 mission – women’s contribution to space science in recent years has been immense.
Vaidehi and Radhika are the latest addition in a long line of trailblazing women in space science. Kudos to these phenomenal girls, who refused to let even a global pandemic stop them from working towards going down in space history!
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