A pair of teenage schoolgirls from western India made quite the discovery recently when a joint project led to the shocking find of a previously unidentified Earth-bound asteroid orbiting near Mars.
Vaidehi Vekariya and Radhika Lakhani, both enrolled in 10th grade at the P.P. Savani Chaitanya Vidya Sankul school in the Indian state of Gujarat, initially made the discovery in June; however, it wasn’t until July 25 that private institute SPACE India announced the development.
At the time, the two teens were working on an asteroid search campaign that was being conducted by SPACE India and the International Astronomical Search Collaboration (IASC), a NASA-affiliated scientist group.
Since the discovery, the asteroid has been given the name HLV2514, its unofficial designation until NASA confirms its orbit and gives the go-ahead on choosing an official name for the roaming space rock, which is currently near the orbit of the red planet.
Fellow project partner Lakhani told the outlet that she was working hard on her education. “I don’t even have a TV at home, so that I can concentrate on my studies,” she said.
It’s presently unclear when the US space agency will provide clearance for the asteroid’s naming.
The asteroid find marks the first time in four years that a near-Earth observation has been made in India, according to SPACE India.