Dr. Amy Mainzer, astronomer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, USA, named Asteroid 316201 after Malala.
He said, “It is a great honour to be able to name an asteroid after Malala. My postdoctoral fellow Dr. Carrie Nugent brought to my attention the fact that although many asteroids have been named, very few have been named to honor the contributions of women (and particularly women of color).”
Dr. Mainzer discovered the asteroid, which gives her the right to name it, in the Main Belt between Mars and Jupiter. It orbits the Sun every 5.5 years; you can see its approximate location in the image below.
Mainzer also had some advice: ”My advice to young girls is that science and engineering are for everyone! We desperately need the brainpower of all smart people to solve some of humanity’s most difficult problems, and we can’t afford to reject half the population.”
The asteroid, located in the main belt between Mars and Jupiter, was discovered by Dr Amy Mainzer, an astronomer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, USA. The celestial body, named after Malala, is about 4km in diameter, and its surface is very dark, the colour of a printer toner. It orbits the Sun every 5.5 years, Dr Mainzer explained.
“Very few (asteroids) have been named to honour the contributions of women. It is a great honour to be able to name an asteroid after Malala,” Dr Mainze wrote in the blog of Malala Fund, a non-profit organisation, led and inspired by the 17-year-old Nobel laureate.
Malala was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in December 2014, becoming the youngest person and the first person from Pakistan to win the prestigious award. Malala, now 17 and the youngest recipient of the Nobel prize, is an education campaigner in Pakistan who was shot in the head by a Taliban gunman two years ago.
She has already received a host of awards, standing ovations and plaudits from the United Nations to Buckingham Palace.
— Malala Fund (@MalalaFund) April 9, 2015