Two girls studying in Class 10 helped discover the presence of a near-earth asteroid recently. The said asteroid, now christened as HLV2514 by NASA, will be passing by our planet in the future.
The two students, Vaidehi Vekariya Sanjaybhai and Radhika Lakhani Prafulbhai, both from Surat, Gujarat, did this discovery as a part of an international campaign. The girls from a CBSE school called PP Savani Chaitanya Vidya Sankul participated in a two-month science programme called the ‘All India Asteroid Search Campaign 2020’.
The two-month programme was conducted by SPACE India in collaboration with International Astronomical Search Collaboration (IASC) and Hardin Simmons University in Texas. The social media division of SPACE India announced the news on July 24, 2020.
In a "discovery alert" post, the body wrote that Vaidehi and Radhika had discovered a near earth object (NEO) that is presently near the planet Mars. It also said that the HLV2514 will "over time (~10^6 years)" evolve into an "Earth-crossing asteroid".
In order to make the discovery, the students had used the Pan Starrs telescope in Hawaii. This advanced telescope takes images of the asteroid with its high-grade CCD cameras, and higher Field of View. With its advanced camera settings, the telescope is extremely suited to see fainter objects out in the space.
NASA acknowledged the girls' rare asteroid discovery and sent a confirmation mail across, a report in TOI stated.
Wishes and congratulatory messages for the girls outpoured on social media with many Facebook users commenting on the welcome deed. While one comment read: "Congratulations. Proud moment for us"; another comment read: "Proud work girls".