Radhika Lakhani and Vaidehi Vekariya, both 10th-grade students from the city of Surat in the western Indian state of Gujarat, discovered the asteroid, which they named HLV2514

By Nicholas Rice
July 29, 2020 11:51 AM
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Two Indian schoolgirls working on a school project have reportedlty discovered an asteroid that is slowly shifting its orbit and moving toward Earth.

Radhika Lakhani and Vaidehi Vekariya, both 10th-grade students from the city of Surat in the western Indian state of Gujarat, discovered the asteroid, which they named HLV2514, according to CNN.

The two young girls were participating in a Space India and NASA project, which allows students to analyze images taken by a telescope that is positioned at the University of Hawaii, when they discovered the asteroid.

The asteroid may be officially christened only after NASA confirms its orbit, a SPACE India spokeswoman said according to Reuters.

Vekariya, 15, told CNN, "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."

Vekariya said she and her friends could not celebrate the discovery amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, but added, "This was a dream."

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Vekariya, who wants to become an astronaut when she is older, noted how space "is such a vast topic," and added, "There is no limit to search in space, especially the black hole theory."

Meanwhile, Lakhani said that she is focusing on her studies at the moment.

"I don’t even have a TV at home, so that I can concentrate on my studies," she said, per the New York Times.

Aakash Dwivedi, senior educator and astronomer at Space India, told CNN that students across India were taught how to spot the objects using software that analyzes images collected by NASA's PAN Star telescope before they search for moving objects within the pictures.

The project, Dwivedi explained to the publication, was intended to involve students and educate them in both science and astronomy.

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Dwivedi explained that the asteroid is currently close to the orbit of the nearby planet Mars but in 1 million years it will change its orbit and move closer to Earth, though it will still be at a distance of more than 10 times the distance that exists between Earth and the Moon, CNN reported.

"Asteroids are taken very seriously by NASA. Since this asteroid is changing its orbit it has become news," Dwivedi added.