Ahmedabad— Two teenagers from India have discovered an asteroid heading to Earth by analyzing images taken with a telescope from the University of Hawaii, an astronomy education institute announced yesterday.
Currently the asteroid is located near Mars and is expected to cross Earth’s orbit in about a million years, said SPACE India, a private institute where the two 14-year-old students have received classes.
“I am eager … to have the opportunity to give the asteroid a name,” said Vaidehi Vekariya, who stated that he wants to become an astronaut.
The asteroid, currently named HLV2514, may be officially named if NASA confirms its orbit, a SPACE India spokeswoman said.
Radhika Lakhani, the other student, says she is working hard to get an education.
“I don’t even watch television at home so I can focus on my studies,” he said.
Asteroids and comets pose a potential threat to Earth, and scientists discover thousands of them each year.
In 2013, a heavier asteroid than the Eiffel Tower exploded over central Russia, leaving more than 1,000 people injured by its blast wave.
The two girls, who hail from the western Indian city of Surat, discovered the object as part of an asteroid search campaign conducted by SPACE India in conjunction with the International Astronomical Search Collaboration (IASC), a group of scientists affiliated with NASA.
IASC Director J. Patrick Miller confirmed the discovery, according to an email sent to the students and accessed by Reuters.
The teens used specialized software to analyze images taken by the Pan-STARRS telescope in Hawaii and made the discovery in June, SPACE India said.