NASA names planet after Kerala professor

May 2nd, 2008 - 5:04 pm ICT by admin  

New York/Kollam (Kerala), May 2 (IANS) In a rare honour, the US space agency NASA has named a ‘minor’ planet after a Kerala zoology professor in appreciation of his environmental research. Sainudeen Pattazhy, who teaches in a college in Kollam, received a phone call from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory run by the space agency Wednesday that the minor planet ‘5178 CD4′ has been named after him.

The planet was discovered in 1989 by US-based scientist Rajmohan, who - on coming to know of the research conducted by Sainudeen on many ecological and environmental issues - proposed that the planet be given Sainudeen’s name.

“I did not believe it (initially), but later came to terms with what the caller had said,” said Pattazhy, who teaches at the S.N.College here.

The minor planet will now be known as ‘5178 Pattazhy’.

Over the last several years, Sainudeen, an unassuming college professor, has done pioneering research work on environment related subjects that won him recognition.

He carried out research on the red rain that took place in the state in 2001. He also researched on the effect of mobile phone towers and the eco-biology of ‘holy groves’.

“I am happy that my little village has now got a new identity,” said Sainudeen.

The International Astronomical Union has allotted numbers to 185,685 minor planets or asteroids of the nearly 400,000 such items in the solar system.

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