From A Slum In Delhi To Discovering An Asteroid, This Teen Prodigy Is Inspiring People Across The World
“Your dreams are your wings that help you to fly, go face the world and reach for the sky!”
Aryan Mishra is not the usual 16-year-old. At an age when most of us are confused, anguished creatures just coherently driving towards existence, Aryan is busy scaling the night sky, discovering asteroids and giving inspirational talks across the world. At the young age of 15, this passionate space enthusiast discovered a near-Earth asteroid in a nation-wide search campaign (International Astronomical Search Collaboration). His discovery has been designated as 2014 00372 and is soon to be made a part of the world’s minor body catalogue maintained by the International Astronomical Union in Paris.
The ‘Near-Earth Objects’ discovered are asteroids that have been nudged by the gravitational attraction of nearby planets into orbits that allow them to enter earth’s neighbourhood.
The Logical Indian sat down for a talk with him, to know more about the dreams and achievements of this firebrand.
What invoked your interest in space?
I first got interested in the subject of space when I saw the planet Saturn from a telescope. I was 11 years old then, and the beauty and magnificence of the planet left me amazed. It was then that I decided that I want to become an astronaut, if not for that an aerospace engineer.
I have been scouring the night sky ever since then; that is also how I took part in the NASA Space Camp and made the discovery.
Why do you think astronomy is important?
Astronomy is important not just for scientific reasons that are space research but is also essential for increasing economics, trade and business. In the old days the sailors and navigators would rely on the position of the stars for directions, in the vast expanse of the oceans, this was their only beacon, wasn’t it? In India, the farmers have always been using the sky and space for farming. It is inherently ingrained in our culture and needs to be taken up by more students.
Do you have a role model?
I have always been inspired by the late astronaut Kalpana Chawla; she is not only amazing in astronomy but her values… she’s wonderful! I still remember reading that she used to sleep on the floor when she was living in Colorado, the United States while she was studying. She had no furniture in her apartment; her room was filled only with books. She used the money she earned from her odd jobs to either fund her tuition or to help other friends of hers who couldn’t afford it. She used to make sketches of aircraft at the age of six instead of Barbie girls. So, that’s why she has taught me not just to be passionate and determined but also to be a good human being. And I think that’s the most important life lesson.
Do you have any hobbies?
I like to play badminton and basketball. I love music…EDMs, my friends force me to watch movies (laughs). I love astrophotography. Oh! and my new interest is aircraft, I know how to perform take-off and landing.
“You give many seminars and interact with young students like you across the globe. How is that experience?”
Yes, I do, mainly high school students. I try to inspire them to look up, explore the vast expanse of the space. I talk about the Sun, Universe, Planets and extraterrestrial life forms. How astronauts live in space, how planets were made, the benefit of space science…it’s interesting to see their reactions! They have this astounded wonderment on their faces, I can’t describe the expression, it’s amazing. I have interacted with students from countries like USA, Egypt, Israel and Australia. The feeling of curiosity and awe I experience when they question me is inexpressible.
“Tell us about any moving incident that you may have experienced at such occasions. Maybe something that the audience said?”
“Well, I remember this one time, while asking questions one girl proposed to me, and she said it very sweetly, it still touches my heart. She said, “Spaceship of Earth is Blue, Mars is Red, Pluto has a Heart and I Love You.” Believe me, it was awesome, I’ve never heard such a line, I was so flattered. The entire audience, all the professors and students were clapping. I didn’t say yes to her (laughs) but it was moving.”
“Well it’s interesting to see Aryan, that your speeches connect so well with the audience.” “We saw that you’ve engaged recently in some charitable donations. Could you elaborate?”
Yes, sometimes my friends gift me books. Other genres apart from science. And instead of just keeping them on my bookshelf I donate them to the needy. I do the same every year with my school textbooks. I don’t give it to my friends, who can afford to buy it but to those who can’t. Actually one of my friend volunteers in Afghanistan, she teaches students there. A lot of the children there want to read and write. So, I donated 140 books for them this year. I interacted via Skype, they were happy to receive the books. In fact, right now I have donated all my books, I only have 10 with me. My favourites, I’m hoping to buy some new.
“Do you have any message for the youth reading this interview?
“To all the youth out there, I believe that one should always follow their passion, be hardworking. I even tell that one should draw a balance between their studies and ambitions.” Never disqualify yourself, belief in yourself. There is a quote I always say at the end of my speeches,“Your dreams are your wings that help you to fly, go face the world and reach for the sky!”
Interviewer : Koshika Krishna