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Saturday, Dec 14, 2019

Small planet named after Kerala scientist

A minor planet in the solar system, which earlier bore just the number 5718 CD4, has now been named after Kollam based scientist, Dr Sainudeen Pattazhy, reports Ramesh Babu.

india Updated: May 02, 2008 00:02 IST
Ramesh Babu
Ramesh Babu
Hindustan Times
Hindustantimes
         

A minor planet in the solar system, which earlier bore just the number 5718 CD4, has now been named after Kollam based scientist, Dr Sainudeen Pattazhy.

Pattazhy was surprised when a representative of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, run by the space agency NASA, telephoned him on Wednesday evening. “I’m not a space scientist and initially thought someone was pulling my leg,” he told Hindustan Times. “But the official explained that my name was chosen after going through my research papers.”

Pattazhy, who teaches zoology at a local college, has carried out pioneering research on many environment related issues such as the phenomenon of ‘red rain’ —which occurred in Kerala in 2001—the control of mosquitoes, the eco biology of ‘sacred groves’, and the health hazards posed by mobile phone towers.

Pattazhy’s suggestions on the health hazards posed by mobile towers are still pending with the Union Ministry of Environment. According to him, the radiation would affect people residing within 300 metres of the towers.

The minor planet — to be henceforth known as ‘5718 Pattazhy’ — was discovered by US-based space scientist Dr R Rajmohan in 1989. There are around 400,000 ‘minor planets’ or asteroids in the solar system, of which 185,685 have well defined orbits and have been allotted numbers by the International Astronomical Union (IAU). Around 14,000 of them have been given names.

“It seems the discoverer of the planet forwarded my name after going through my work,” said Pattazhy, adding that he had no idea why he was chosen.