Schoolgirls Discover Asteroid Heading Towards Earth
For love, for honour, for mankind, for… school? Two Indian girls have discovered an asteroid en-route to Earth.
Radhika Lakhani and Vaidehi Vekariya, from the city of Surat in the western Indian state of Gujarat, were working on a school project when they found the asteroid, which they named HLV2514.
The 10th grade pupils were taking part in a SPACE India and NASA project, in which they got the chance to decipher and analyse images taken by a telescope at the University of Hawaii. It’s safe to say, these girls didn’t miss a thing.
In a tweet, SPACE India wrote: ‘DISCOVERY ALERT! We are proud to announce VAIDEHI VEKARIYA SANJAYBHAI and RADHIKA LAKHANI PRAFULBHAI, two students of P.P. SAVANI CHAITANYA VIDYA SANKUL (CBSE) from Surat with the help of SPACE-AIASC discovered a new Asteroid which is a Near-Earth Object named HLV2514.’
The students participating in the project, which aimed to give them a wider education on science and astronomy, were handed images taken by NASA’s PAN Star telescope. From there, they were taught how to use software that assists with spotting celestial bodies such as asteroids.
Aakash Dwivedi, senior educator and astronomer at SPACE India, explained to CNN the pupils then aimed to find moving objects in the photographs.
Vekariya, 15, also explained: ‘We started the project in June and we sent back our analysis a few weeks ago to NASA. On July 23, they sent us an email confirming that we had identified a near Earth object.’
While considered a near-Earth object, it’s not quite the end of the world as we know it. Dwivedi assured the asteroid is closer to the orbit of Mars. However, it’s t-minus one million years until it shifts its course towards our planet.
Again though, this isn’t cause for concern. Firstly, because anyone reading this will be dead by that point, and secondly, the asteroid will still be far, far in the distance, 10 times further away than the moon.
Unfortunately, due to the current pandemic, Vekariya and Lakhani couldn’t quite celebrate in the fashion such a discovery warrants. Nevertheless, they’re still chuffed with their discovery, and it appears to have ignited some career aspirations.
Vekariya added: ‘This was a dream. I want to become an astronaut. It is such a vast topic. There is no limit to search in space, especially the black hole theory.’
I’ll keep the rest of my Armageddon puns at Bay for now.
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CreditsCNN and 1 other