Don’t panic, but two Indian schoolgirls have found an asteroid approaching Earth. The girls said the asteroid has changed its orbit and is now moving slowly toward the planet. Both girls are part of a project of Space India and NASA, meant for students to study outer space.
How Did the Indian Schoolgirls Discover the Asteroid?
CNN reports that the two girls are in the 10th grade. They are Radhika Lakhani and Vaidehi Vekariya, from Surat city in Gujarat, India. As members of the Space India and NASA project, they studied images of space taken by a telescope at the University of Hawaii. During this project, Radhika and Vaidehi saw the asteroid. They named it HLV2514.
Radhika Lakhani and Vaidehi Vekariya, both in 10th grade, were working on a school project when they discovered an asteroid that is slowly shifting its orbit and moving towards Earth. https://t.co/hUy198LBqf
— CNN (@CNN) July 29, 2020
How Did NASA and Space India Help the Girls Find the Asteroid?
Aakash Dwivedi told CNN that Space India lets students use software to study the images from the NASA PAN Star telescope. Dwivedi is a senior educator and astronomer at Space India. They also teach the students to spot celestial bodies in the pictures. For one project, students looked for any moving objects in the photos.
Moreover, Dwivedi said that they wanted to encourage more students to study science and astronomy.
When Will the Asteroid Reach Planet Earth?
No need to panic, because Dwivedi said it wouldn’t reach Earth for “1 million years.” Right now, it is still close to Mars, but it will change course to Earth after a million years. Even then, the asteroid will just be over ten times farther than the distance between Earth and the moon.
However, Dwivedi also said that NASA takes asteroids “very seriously.” Meanwhile, Vekariya noted that finding the asteroid was a dream. She also said that she wants to be an astronaut someday.