Two girl students of Class 10 studying in a Surat school have been credited with the discovery of a Near Earth Object (NEO) asteroid, named HLV 2514, in the Mars orbit.
The discovery of Asteroid HLV 2514 by Radhika Lakhani and Vaideshi Vekarya, of PP Sawani School in Surat, has been confirmed by the International Astronomical Search Collaboration (IASC) and the International Astronomical Union, said Akash Diwvedi, senior educator and astronomer in SPACE organisation, which deals with education and research in the field of astronomy.
“Asteroids have been discovered by a lot of students but what makes it more important is this asteroid is changing its classification and over a period of time, it will change its course,” said Akash Dwivedi.
As a part of the All India Space Search Campaign 2020, over 175 students from different schools in Gujarat participated in the International Science Program, conducted by SPACE/India, SPACE/Surat, in collaboration with the IASC, Hardin Simmons University, Texas in the US.
Radhika and Vaidehi were selected by the teachers to be a part of SPACE organisation where they received training by senior educators in June.
“Both these students had discovered near earth object (NEO) asteroid. At present, it is lying in the orbit of Mars but it will change its path. After 10 lakh years, it can also come close to Earth. After the training, we give students images taken by Pan-Starrs telescope in Hawaii in USA. The students use advance software techniques to look for Asteroids. The Pan Starrs has an advanced telescope and camera system, state-of-the -art CCD cameras, which have higher field of view with ability to see fainter objects. The participant students search for asteroids under programs initiated by the NASA and Jet Propulsion lab that tract and monitor asteroids, looking for ones that my get perturbed out of their orbits and pose a threat to Earth,” Dwivedi added.
On July 23, IASC Director J Patrick Miller had,in the email sent to the SPACE organisation, confirmed that Vaidehi and Radhika discovered the asteroid.
Radhika Prafulbhai Lakhani is the eldest among three children and her father runs two showrooms of electronic items in Varachha of Surat. Vaidehi is the daughter of Sanjaybhai Vekariya who runs a textile business.
Radhika said, “We have made the discovery by analysing the datasets provided on the Astometrica software. Later, two more persons had also discovered same object. Finally, our discovery was termed as conceived discovery. It is a Near Earth Object moving in the orbit of Mars and such objects are rarely found. Till now, there are around 63 discoveries of such asteroids. Since the last four years, this is the first such discovery and in Gujarat, it is for the first time.”
She added, “We got 14 such datasets of images and based on one of them, we found the moving object asteroid. We used HD laptops on which we carefully analysed images of the dataset. Once the object is discovered, a report is automatically generated and we have to name the asteroid and send an email to IASC. NASA representatives contacted us, asking about our discovery.”
Vaidehi Vekarya said, “We are very happy with the discovery as we have not only made our school prod but our parents too. We both have planned to take courses in Astronomy and do Space research.
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