Human rights hero, Nobel Peace Prize winner and now an asteroid — the girl who stood up to the Taliban is now immortalized in space.
Dr. Amy Mainzer, an astronomer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab, has named the asteroid she discovered after Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani girl who survived an assassination attempt and has become a champion for women’s rights everywhere.
“It is a great honor to be able to name an asteroid after Malala,” Mainzer writes on Malala’s blog. “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).”
Asteroid 316201 is now known as “Malala 316201.” It is located in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, and orbits the sun every 5.5 years, Mainzer writes.
Mainzer is hoping the move will spark interest in STEM for young women everywhere.
“My advice to young girls is that science and engineering are for everyone!” Mainzer continues. “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’s. Plus, it is a wonderful feeling to learn about the world around you – it’s a job you will fall in love with each day.”