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Indian Schoolgirls Spot Asteroid Headed to Earth


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    A pair of 10th graders from India has discovered an asteroid that will eventually find its way toward planet Earth.

    Schoolgirl scientists: Radhika Lakhani and Vaidehi Vekariya got to name their celestial discovery HLV2514, which they chanced upon while participating in a joint project by Space India and NASA.

    • Students across India participated in the educational event that allowed them to analyze photos from the telescope situated at the Haleakala Observatory in Hawaii, CNN reports.
    • The participating students were taught how to use image analysis software to identify objects in space.
    • Lakhani andi Vekariya, who both hail from Surat, Gujarat, were among those who studied the pictures captured by NASA’s Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System (Pan-STARRS). 
    • According to Space India senior educator Aakash Dwivedi, the aim of the project was to involve students and educate them in science and astronomy.

    Spotting an asteroid: After searching for moving objects in the pictures, Lakhani and Vekariya submitted their analysis to NASA and later received a confirmation. 

    • “We started the project in June and we sent back our analysis a few weeks ago to NASA,” 15-year-old Vekariya was quoted as saying.
    • Vekariya shared that they received an email confirmation from the space agency on July 23 that they had identified an asteroid near Earth.
    • The asteroid, which is currently near Mars’ orbit, is set to change its orbit and eventually move closer to Earth. 
    • As Dwivedi explained, this will occur in 1 million years and will be at an actual distance of over 10 times that of our moon’s distance from Earth.
    • “Asteroids are taken very seriously by NASA. Since this asteroid is changing its orbit it has become news,” he added.
    • The discovery elated Lakhani and Vekariya although they can’t celebrate it due to the pandemic.
    • “This was a dream. I want to become an astronaut,” she said.

    Feature Image via SPACE Surat

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