In a rare discovery, two schoolgirls from PP Savani Chaitanya Vidya Sankul in Surat, Gujarat, have stumbled upon a near-Earth asteroid, now christened as HLV2514 by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The global space organisation has also confirmed that the new asteroid is likely to pass the earth in the near future.
These bright girls- Vaidehi Vekariya Sanjaybhai and Radhika Lakhani Prafulbha- had participated in a science programme called the ‘All India Asteroid Search Campaign 2020′ which was organised in collaboration with the International Astronomical Search Collaboration (IASC) and Hardin Simmons University in Texas.
As part of this study, Vaidehi and Radhika ended up discovering the asteroid near planet Mars recently. It was Space India, the organiser of the programme that broke the news of this discovery, and NASA confirmed its success soon after.
“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. It is currently near the planet Mars, and over time (~10^6 years) will evolve into an Earth-crossing asteroid,” stated a Facebook post by Space India, a private organisation which aims to popularize Astronomy and Space Sciences in Indian education system.
Media reports state that the two girls deployed the Pan STARRS ( Panoramic Survey Telescope & Rapid Response System) advanced telescope in Hawaii to take the images of the asteroid. According to reports, this telescope takes images of the asteroid with high-grade CCD cameras, and can detect fainter objects in the space.
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“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 asteroid once its orbit is confirmed by NASA. It may, however, take a few years’ time,” the two girls have told The Times of India.
(Edited by Athira Nair)