• Two students from India discovered an asteroid near Mars' orbit
  • NASA confirmed that the asteroid' trajectory is currently shifting
  • The asteroid is expected to approach Earth in a million years

Two students from India detected an asteroid that’s currently changing its orbit and moving closer to Earth. After reviewing the students’ discovery, NASA confirmed that the asteroid would approach Earth in the future.

The asteroid was identified as HLV2514. It was discovered by grade 10 students Radhika Lakhani and Vaidehi Vekariya from Surat, a city located in the western portion of the state of Gujarat in India.

The students came across the asteroid while participating in a project organized by NASA and Space India, which is dedicated to providing educational tools and programs about space.

As part of the project, students in India were taught how to identify various objects in space using the data and images gathered by NASA’s Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System (PAN STARRS). The facility, which is based in Hawaii, uses a system of cameras and telescopes to collect images of celestial objects.

While looking at the various cosmic objects in the images, Lakhani and Vekariya spotted a moving object. After their discovery was sent to NASA, the agency confirmed that the students spotted an asteroid.

“We started the project in June and we sent back our analysis a few weeks ago to NASA. On July 23, they sent us an email confirming that we had identified a near-Earth object,” Vekariya told CNN.

Aakash Dwivedi, an astronomer and senior educator at Space India, explained that the asteroid that the students identified is currently orbiting close to Mars. However, NASA confirmed that the asteroid is slowly shifting its orbit.

Although the agency did not mention the reason behind the change in the asteroid’s trajectory, this could be caused by various factors in space. One of them is the gravitational pull of nearby objects such as planets and larger asteroids. The heat from the Sun’s sunlight can also cause asteroids to change directions.

According to NASA, HLV2514’s directional change will cause the asteroid to move closer to Earth in a million years. The agency noted that the asteroid does not seem to be in danger of hitting Earth. Instead, the asteroid is predicted to fly past Earth from a distance that’s 10 times more than that between the Earth and the Moon.

“Asteroids are taken very seriously by NASA. Since this asteroid is changing its orbit it has become news,” Dwivedi told CNN.

Image: Artist illustration of an asteroid heading for the Earth Pixabay