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Indian Students Discover An Asteroid – Radhika Lahkani and Vaideshi Vekarya

Discovery Asteroid moving towards earth

Are you a star gazer? Would you like to explore space with a telescope? Then look no further.

Here’s how your hobby rooted in curiosity can work for you!

Have you heard of the names Radhika Lahkani and Vaideshi Vekarya? If you’ve nodded in disagreement then look no further. This article will tell you all you need to know. So bring out your telescopes and start exploring.

Radhika Lahkani and Vaideshi Vekarya have recently become famous. Stay tuned to know more.

Do You Know What An Asteroid Is?

• Asteroids are small, rocky objects that orbit the Sun. Although asteroids orbit the Sun like planets, they are much smaller than planets.

• Asteroids aren’t all round like planets and have irregular shapes.

• Some asteroids are hundreds of miles in diameter, but many more are as small as pebbles.

• Most asteroids are made of different kinds of rocks, but some have clays or metals, such as nickel and iron.

Now that you understand what an asteroid is, you’ll be keen to know that Radhika and Vaideshi have recently discovered an asteroid near Mars that appears to be moving towards Earth. You can merely imagine their excitement at the moment, can’t you?

Well, let’s get to know more about this discovery:

• Both of the girls are 10th standard students.

• They are from the city of Surat in the western Indian state of Gujarat.

• During a project sponsored by Space India and NASA they made this discovery. This program allows students to analyze images taken by a telescope positioned at the University of Hawaii.

• The project was started in June and the analysis was later sent to NASA, and on July 23, the girls received an email confirming that they had identified a near Earth object.

• Although the asteroid is currently close to the orbit of Mars, in 1 million years, it will change its orbit and move closer to Earth. It will still be at a distance of more than 10 times the distance which exists between the Earth and the Moon.

• The asteroid is named HLV2514.

• There have only been around 63 discoveries of similar asteroids and this is the first such discovery from Gujarat, India, in the last four years.

• The Pan-STARRS telescope was used to discover this asteroid.

• The girls used specialized software to analyze the images.

• As part of the program, the students across India were taught how to spot the celestial bodies using software which analyzes images collected by NASA’s Pan-STARRS telescope.

• Both girls say that they want to pursue studies in astronomy and space research.

Their story surely caught you attention. Would you like to explore space and probably, have some discoveries to your name?

Great! Here are some questions that may be on your mind:

Q. How old do you have to be to attend Space Camp?
Generally, student Camp programs are for anyone between the ages of 9 to 18.

Q. How much does it cost to send a kid to Space Camp?
A trip to NASA Space Camp may cost a student Rs 1.6 lakh to Rs 2.5 lakh. Normally, a return ticket costs Rs 1 lakh. For visa, a student will have to shell out Rs 10,000 to 15,000, and medical insurance would cost Rs. 1,200 to Rs. 4,000.

Q. Can a kid be an astronaut?
A child can become an astronaut and explore space from home with NASA.

Q. How old do you have to be to go to space?
There are no age restrictions for the program. Adult candidates selected in the past have ranged between the ages of 26 and 46, with the average age being 34.

Fun Activities

Now that you have all the knowledge and inspiration, let’s get busy with some fun activities to cater to that space explorer within you:

• Build a rocket and don’t forget to give it a unique name.

• Get familiar with the cycles of the moon throughout the year.

• Design a crew mission patch, learn about engineering rockets, how to conduct a spacewalk and even design your own space station.

• Contribute to ongoing experiments on the space station by looking at photos and videos and share your findings with scientists.

• Take a virtual tour if you’re feeling enthusiastic. NASA has everything from tours of the space station and its research facilities to the Hubble Space Telescope and its flying SOFIA observatory.

• NASA’s Kids’ Club hosts fun but educational games that let your child drive a Mars rover and prepare to be an astronaut.

• NASA’s sharing ebooks for your favourite bookworm to study up on their areas of interest, from Hubble’s discoveries to the secrets of aeronautics and spaceflight.

• If you’re looking for ways to learn without the screen-time, NASA also has several podcasts that share the latest news, science and technology.

Did You Know?

In 2013, an asteroid heavier than the Eiffel Tower broke over central Russia, injuring over 1000 people in its aftermath. 

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