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#Trending : Two 14-Year-Old Girls From Surat Discover An Earth-Crossing Asteroid Through The Images Of A Telescope. How Cool Is This?

July 28, 2020 | by Sadhika Sehgal
FI Two Girls In Gujarat Discover Asteroid

As a child, there are a lot of things that are fascinating and a cause of wonder. For some it is finding answers to questions we are too young to ask, for others it is finding what lies beyond what we can see with our naked eye, and sometimes, it’s both. And for me, one such fascination has always been that of the night sky. Strongly drawn to the cosmos and finding everything that space is made up of, I always been intrigued by what goes on beyond the stratosphere. Yes, there was a brief period of time when I convinced myself I could become an astronaut, but soon after my first failed trip to science camp when I couldn’t as much as spot one simple star or constellation, I realised that I was more suited for a rendezvous with words than with telescopes.

Although, that is definitely not something any of us can say for 2 bright 14-year-old girls, who recently surprised us with their commendable discovery of an asteroid during a space campaign conducted by SPACE India. These two teenagers from Surat, India discovered an Earth-bound asteroid by poring through images from a University of Hawaii telescope. Vaidehi Vekariya and Radhika Lakhani are two young names that have earned a celebration with this remarkable discovery, at such a young age.

Where we can’t spot the moon on the night of Karvachauth, these teenagers have found an asteroid called HLV2514, that is presently near the planet Mars. Its orbit is expected to cross paths with that of Earth’s in about a million years’ time as shared by SPACE India. The two young girls had been receiving training at SPACE India. Talking about what this discovery means to them, Vaidehi who aspires to become an astronaut said, “I look forward to… when we will get a chance to name the asteroid,” whereas Radhika shared her intention of working hard on her education and said, “I don’t even have a TV at home, so that specialised software to analyse the images snapped by the Pan-STARRS telescope in Hawaii, I can concentrate on my studies.”

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Having made this discovery under a space campaign organised by SPACE India along with the International Astronomical Search Collaboration (IASC), a NASA-affiliated citizen scientist group, the two girls were keen to spot any Earth-bound asteroid, considering how comets and asteroids usually pose a threat to Earth with their unannounced hits.

Making intelligent use of the specialised software to analyse the images snapped by the Pan-STARRS telescope in Hawaii, the girls were successful with their approach, as IASC Director J. Patrick Miller also confirmed this discovery through an email to the girls. Proving how age is just a number when you are committed to your work and ambitions, these girls have filled us with pride and inspiration! Guess we already have two space researchers in the making.

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Sadhika Sehgal

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