AHMEDABAD: Two schoolgirls from Gujarat, India, have discovered an asteroid while traveling through images from the University of Hawaii Telescope.
The asteroid is currently near Mars and its orbit is expected to cross the Earth in about a million years, according to SPACE India, a private company where 14-year-old girls were trained. Vaidehi Vekaria said, “When we take a moving name, we get a chance to name the asteroid. She said she wants to be an astronaut when she grows up.
A spokesman for Space India said the asteroid, now known as HLV 2514, could only be officially named after NASA verified its orbit.
Another student Radhika Lakhani said that they are working hard for her education. “I don’t even have a TV at home so I can focus on my studies.”
Asteroids and comets pose a potential threat to Earth and scientists find thousands of them each year. In 2013, a meteorite larger than the Eiffel Tower exploded in central Russia, injuring more than 1,000 people from its shock.
The object was discovered by two girls from Surat as part of an asteroid search operation conducted by Space India with the International Astronomical Exploration Cooperation (IASC), a NASA-affiliated civic group.
IASC Director J. Patrick Miller confirmed the discovery according to his email to the girls who saw Reuters. According to Space India, the girls used special software to analyze photographs captured by the Pan-Stars Telescope in Hawaii in June.
The company is one of the few private space education programs in India to have achieved low-cost space technology that promoted missions to the moon and Mars.