Four Indian scientists, including two from Gujarat, Rutu Parekh and Kumar Venkataramani, have been bestowed with a rare honour of asteroids being named after them. Aswin Sekhar and Ashok Verma are the two other Indians, honoured for their mammoth contributions to the field of astrophysics.
As many as 198 scientists were honoured by the Working Group Small Bodies Nomenclature (WGSBN) of the International Astronomical Union (IAU).
The occasion is a tribute to India taking rapid strides in space exploration. It may be recalled that in 2020, two teenage girls from India, Vaidehi Vekariya and Radhika Lakhani, discovered an Earth-bound asteroid by scanning images from a University of Hawaii telescope.
Parekh has carved a niche for herself in the field of planetary geology. Her expertise lies in comprehending the surface evolution of icy satellites and asteroids through meticulous analysis of various exogenic and endogenic processes.
After completing B. Sc from St Xavier’s College and working with esteemed institutions like Cept University and the Physical Research Laboratory (PRL) in Ahmedabad, Parekh pursued higher studies abroad. Currently serving as a post-doctoral researcher at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in the USA, she is overwhelmed with gratitude.
She believes this accolade not only boosts her morale but also opens doors to new research opportunities that should further enhance her knowledge and expertise in the fascinating field of planetary science.
Venkataramani has dedicated his career to unravelling the chemical composition and reflectance properties of small solar system bodies. With a PhD from IIT-Gandhinagar and a stint at the Physical Research Laboratory (PRL), Kumar’s research employs both ground-based and orbital telescopes to gain insights into comets and asteroids. His asteroid, 2000SM362, now named Kumar, is a reminder of his humbling contribution to the world of spectroscopic observation.
Kumar expressed delight at this unexpected honour. He believes the recognition should be a source of inspiration to achieve even greater milestones in his field of study.
Sekhar and Verma, too, stand proudly as representatives of India’s prowess in astrophysics. While their specific contributions are yet to be mentioned, their very inclusion on the prestigious list showcases their noteworthy achievements and India’s advances in this sphere. Sekhar and Verma’s respective asteroids now bear their names, immortalising their dedication and expertise in the vastness of space.
Also Read: ‘Taste’ Of Home For Modi In NY