Two 14-year-old girls in India have discovered a new asteroid that appears to be making its way to Earth.
According to Reuters, the two were going over images from a University of Hawaii telescope when they spotted the space object. Vaidehi Vekariya and Radhika Lakhani are both students of SPACE India, a private institute, and were participating in an asteroid search campaign for SPACE India in partnership with the International Astronomical Search Collaboration (IASC).
The asteroid they found is currently called HLV2514 and is near Mars. Its expected orbit is still to be confirmed by NASA but so far it appears it will pass Earth’s orbit in one million years time.
We are proud to announce VAIDEHI VEKARIYA SANJAYBHAI and RADHIKA LAKHANI PRAFULBHAI, two students of P.P. SAVANI CHAITANYA VIDYA SANKUL (CBSE) from Surat with the help of SPACE-AIASC discovered a new Asteroid which is a Near-Earth Object named HLV2514. pic.twitter.com/HXpOvrwxNY
— SPACE India (@Spacian) July 25, 2020
The two girls are excited about their discovery and hope to be able to name the asteroid once NASA confirms its trajectory.
Monitoring and identifying asteroids is important work, as their impact should a big enough one explode above the Earth can be significant. Shockwaves from an asteroid’s impact can lead to severe property damage and injury. However, research has only been able to identify one possible death as a result of an asteroid impact.
NASA is working on a possible way to knock asteroids off their course, with experiments crashing objects into them.