Radhika Lakhani and Vaidehi Vekariya, both in 10th grade, were working on a school project when they discovered an asteroid called HLV2514.
Aakashas Dwivedi, a senior educator and astronomer at Space India, told CNN that students across India were trained to observe celestial bodies using software that analyzed images collected by NASA’s PAN Star telescope. Students then searched for moving objects in the pictures.
The project, Dwivedi explained, was designed to engage and educate students in science and astronomy.
“We started the project in June and sent our analysis to NASA a few weeks ago. On July 23, they sent us an email confirming that we had identified a nearby Earth object,”; CNN told 15-year-old Vekariya. .
Dwivedi explained that the asteroid is currently close to the orbit of Mars, but in 1 million years it will change its orbit and approach Earth, although it will still be more than 10 times the distance between the Earth and the moon.
“NASA takes asteroids very seriously. As this asteroid changes its orbit, it has become news,” Dwivedi said.
Asteroids, also called small planets, are small rocky objects that orbit the sun.
Vekariya said the students could not celebrate the discovery because of the pandemic, but added, “It was a dream. I want to become an astronaut.”
She said: “It’s such a broad topic. There are no limits to the search for space, especially for black hole theory.”