Some people wonder if their name will be known in the future. One incredible way to have your live adventure remembered is to have your name in the sky for all to see by having your name chosen for an asteroid; one of the hundreds of tiny planetoids in the solar system. For Malala Yousafzai, this has become a reality.
Malala Yousafzai is already well known for being the youngest Nobel Peace Prize winner, as well as for fighting for women’s rights in Pakistan, and now she has another claim to fame, as Asteroid 316201 will now be known as 316201 Malala.
Naming an Asteroid
Asteroid 316201 Malala was discovered by American astronomer Dr. Amy Mainzer, who works at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Mainzer says she is proud to be able to choose one of the asteroid names and to be able to give Malala Yousafzai the honor.
The person who finds an asteroid is the one who chooses the asteroid name, according to the rules of the International Astronomical Union. Dr. Mainzer believed that Malala deserved to be honored since very few planetary bodies have been named for women, and especially not women of color. She felt that the 17-year-old Malala’s battle for women’s rights deserved the recognition.
The new asteroid was discovered in the huge belt of asteroids in our solar system in between the planets Mars and Jupiter. It was measured at two and a half miles long and goes around the sun in an orbit that takes five and a half years to complete. It will now be known formally as either 316201 Malala or 2010 ML48.
More About Malala
Born in 1997, Malala Yousafzai had a life full of adventure long before asteroid names were added to her life’s accomplishments. The young woman began fighting for women’s right to get an education and in 2008 she gave a speech titled, “How dare the Taliban take away my basic right to education?” in Peshawar.
She also wrote a blog for the BBC under the name of Gul Makai in which she wrote about her life amid the Taliban surrounding her home and country in Pakistan. Plus, she was awarded the Pakistan National Youth Peace Prize in 2011.
Malala was nearly killed a year later when the Taliban shot her in the head while she was coming home from school. The miracle of her survival sparked more interest in women’s rights and in 2013 her autobiography was printed telling her story. She was then nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize that year, but ended up getting it a year later in 2014, becoming the youngest person to be awarded the prize.
So, as of Friday, April 10, there is a new addition to the solar system’s asteroid names and the adventure of a lifetime goes to Malala Yousafzai, a brave young woman from Pakistan who wanted an education and was willing to stand up to the Taliban to get it.