India Radhika Lakhani and Vaidehi Vekariya, two 10th graders in the city of Surat, Gujarat state, discovered a new asteroid named Coach2514.
Radhika Lakhani (left) and Vaidehi Vekariya are part of a joint project between NASA and SPACE India. Photo: CNN.
Coach2514 is classified as the Near-Earth Object (NEO) group discovered by two female students while participating in a project of NASA and SPACE India organization, CNN on July 29 reported. This project allows students to analyze images recorded by the Pan-STARRS telescope in Hawaii.
According to Aakash Dwivedi, an astronomer at SPACE India, Indian students are taught how to recognize celestial bodies using a telescope image analysis software. Students then look for the moving object in the photo.
The new project aims to provide students with scientific knowledge, especially in the field of astronomy. “We started the project in June and sent our analysis to NASA a few weeks ago. On July 23, they sent an email confirming we had found an object near Earth,” Vekariya said.
Asteroids are small rocky objects that move around the Sun. Coach2514 is currently located near Mars orbit. However, in the next million years, the asteroid will change orbit and fly closer to Earth. Even so, it would still be at a location 10 times farther than the distance between the Earth and the Moon.
The students were unable to celebrate the new discovery made by Covid-19, Vekariya said. “I want to become an astronaut. There is no limit to studying the universe, especially the black hole hypothesis,” Vekariya said.