Vaidehi Vekariya Sanjaybhai (top right), and Radhika Lakhani Prafulbhai (bottom right) who discovered the asteroid HLV2514 (Pic source: Space India)
Two 14-year old Surat school girls have discovered an Earth-bound asteroid by scanning through images from the University of Hawaii telescope. Their discovery was announced by Space India institute on Monday. Space India wrote "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", on Twitter.
Both Vaidehi Vekariya and Radhika Lakhani hail from Surat and study at Savani Chaitanya Vidya Sankul. They discovered the object as part of an asteroid search campaign conducted by SPACE India along with the International Astronomical Search Collaboration (IASC), a NASA-affiliated citizen scientist group. The discovery by the two Surat girls has caught the attention of the world and are receiving accolades from all over for their efforts and interest.
Speaking to the media Vaidehi Vekariya said
, “I look forward to… when we will get a chance to name the asteroid” and added that she wants to become an astronaut when she is older. Radhika Lakhani, her partner in the search campaign, said she was concentrating on her studies right now and astronomy was her favorite hobby. “I don’t even have a TV at home so that I can concentrate on my studies.”
Vaidehi Vekariya and Radhika Lakhani received their training in astronomy and far-object discovery from Space India. The girls used specialized software to analyse the images taken by the Pan-STARRS telescope in Hawaii, and made the discovery in June, SPACE India said. Reuters has reported that IASC Director J. Patrick Miller confirmed the discovery, according to an email from him to the girls.
The asteroid HLV2514 is presently near Mars and its orbit is expected to cross that of Earth in about one million years’ time, as per the information shared by Space India. The asteroid will be officially named only after NASA confirms its orbit.
Asteroids and comets pose a potential threat to Earth and scientists discover thousands of them each year. In 2013, an asteroid heavier than the Eiffel Tower exploded over central Russia, leaving more than 1,000 people injured from its shockwave.