Thursday, 8 May 2008

A ‘Minor’ Planet Named After a Kerala Zoology Professor!

We are used up seeing Indian streets and buildings named after politicians but now a rare honour has been bestowed upon a Keralite environmentalist, Dr. Sainudeen Pattazhy by naming a minor planet of the solar system after him which shall be now called "5718 Pattazhy".

Dr. Sainudeen Pattazhy is professor of zoology at the S.N. College in Kollam, Kerala. NASA has announced recently that it will name the minor planet in recognition to his pioneering work he has done in the field of environmental research. 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 mainly after their discoverer astronomers.

“I was so happy when NASA informed me that my name has been selected for naming a minor planet. It’s known as 5178 Pattazhy. Actually, a US-based scientist of Indian origin Mr. Rajamohan had discovered it in 1989. He proposed my name and NASA accepted it,” Pattazhy said.

Pattazhy came into prominence for his study on the red rain phenomenon of Kerala which occurred in 2001. His research proved that the red colour of the rains was due to a geological process and had nothing to do with alien life. Before his work there was an argument that it had some alien connections .He showed that the queer phenomenon was due to certain peculiar environment prevailing in Kerala during the period in question. 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 meters of the towers.

Sainudeen said that he felt elated that his non- descript village Pattazhy in Kollam district of Kerala was now in prominence and found a 'celestial niche' of its own.


Gyandutt Pandey said...

Interesting to know the process of naming the asteroids. Does agency other than NASA also has asteroids to its credit and named them. Anything done in discovery by Indian organisations?

arvind mishra said...

Gyan ji,International Astronomical Union (IAU)is an agency which take up and scrutinize such claims.Subrhamanyam Chandrshekhar ,nephew of Nobel winner
C.V Raman's brother and himself a Nobel laureate is another person of Indian origin in whose honour a man made celestial body -a space telescope has been given the name 'Chandra'.
I am not aware of any other Indian people /agency involved in naming of the celestial body.
Thanks for comments,

उन्मुक्त said...

आशा करता हूं कि हम भारतीय भी इससे सीख लेंगे।