Indian schoolgirls discover asteroids moving towards Earth

Radhika Lakhani and Vaidehi Vekariya, both studying in tenth grade, were working on a school project when they discovered the asteroid, which they named HLV2514.

The girls, from the city of Surat in western India’s Gujarat state, were participating in a Space India and NASA project, which allows students to analyze images taken by a telescope located at the University of Hawaii.

Aakash Dwivedi, a senior educator and astronomer at Space India, told CNN that students across India were taught how to detect heavenly bodies using software that analyzes images collected by NASA’s PAN Star telescope. The students then looked for moving objects in the images.

The project, Dwivedi explained, was intended to involve and educate students in science and astronomy.

“We started the project in June and sent 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,” Vekariya, 15, told CNN. .

Radhika Lakhani is on the left with her project partner Vaidehi Vekariya.

Dwivedi explained that the asteroid is currently close to the orbit of Mars, but in 1 million years, it will change its orbit and get closer to Earth, although it will still be at a distance of more than 10 times the distance between Earth and Moon.

“NASA takes asteroids very seriously. Since this asteroid is changing its orbit, it has become news,” Dwivedi said.

Asteroids, also known as minor planets, are small rocky objects that orbit the sun.

Vekariya said the students were unable to celebrate the discovery due to the pandemic, but added: “This was a dream. I want to become an astronaut.”

She said: “It is such a vast subject. There is no limit to searching in space, especially the black hole theory.”