Two Indian girls just discovered a 'near-Earth' asteroid: Details here
In a major development, two Indian schoolgirls, hailing from the city of Surat, have discovered an asteroid.
The body, named HLV2514, was detected by them as part of an international campaign and has been classified as a near-Earth object (NEO), which means it will be passing by our planet in the future.
Here is more about their incredible feat.
Discovery using images taken by telescope in Hawaii
As per reports, the two 14-year-olds, Vaidehi Vekariya and Radhika Lakhani, spotted the asteroid after scouring through the images captured by the Pan-STARRS space observatory in Hawaii.
They used specialized software to analyze the telescope's data, clear out the noise in it, and point out the space rock, which is currently said to be hurtling somewhere near Mars.
We had tagged around 20 objects, the duo said
"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 take a few years' time."
The girls took part in an 'asteroid search campaign'
The girls found HLV2514 while carrying out the study for the 'All India Asteroid Search Campaign' — a two-month program conducted by SPACE India and the International Astronomical Search Collaboration (IASC), a NASA-affiliated citizen scientist group.
SPACE India, one of the few space education institutes in India, announced the massive discovery on its social channels, noting that asteroid was first seen back in June.
Here's the official announcement
DISCOVERY ALERT!— SPACE India (@Spacian) July 25, 2020
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. pic.twitter.com/HXpOvrwxNY
What else we know about this asteroid?
While neither SPACE India nor IASC has detailed the size or chemistry of this space rock, they both have suggested it will eventually become an Earth-crossing asteroid.
Specifically, in about one million years' time, the body's orbit is expected to cross that of Earth, bringing the two in close proximity.
A report from TOI says that NASA has also acknowledged the asteroid's discovery.
Here's what IASC Director J Miller said on the discovery
"Your team reported HLV2514 as a new asteroid. It is, in fact, a near-Earth object (NEO). This NEO is near the planet Mars, and over time (~10^6 years) will evolve into an Earth-crossing asteroid. Mars-crossing asteroids are called Amors. Earth-crossing asteroids are called Apollos. Congratulations!!"
Such discoveries are essential to flag near-Earth objects
The discovery of near-Earth objects like these is critical to flagging select potentially hazardous space objects, which may pass closely by Earth and change their orbit over hundreds of years to even hit our planet.
Currently, as per NASA, no known asteroid poses a significant risk of impact with Earth for the next 100 years.