Guwahati: Two Indian high school students have discovered an asteroid that is gradually changing its orbit and moving towards the Earth.
Radhika Lakhani and Vaidehi Vekariya, both students of class 10, discovered the asteroid while working on a school project. Subsequently, they named it HLV2514.
The girls from Surat were taking part in a joint project between Space India and NASA that lets students analyze images from NASA's PAN Star telescope housed at the University of Hawaii.
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
Space India, sharing this discovery on Twitter, wrote, "DISCOVERY ALERT! 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 Near-Earth Object named HLV2514." The students involved in the project used special software to analyse the images and search for moving objects, as informed by Akash Dwivedi, senior educator and astronomer at Space India to CNN."
Talking about the discovery, 15-year-old Vekariya said, "We started the project in June and we sent back 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." The young girl aspires to become an astronomer in the future.
The asteroid is at the moment more aligned with Mars' orbit and is not expected to get closer to earth for about 1 million years. Even so, it will still be more than ten times the distance between the Earth and the moon; more than 2,389,000 miles. Still, experts don't rule out the possibility of a collision.
Although NASA'S confirmation might take years, once it confirms the celestial body's orbit, it will adopt the girls' name for the asteroid.