An asteroid orbiting between Mars and Jupiter has been named after Nobel Peace Prize-winning Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai.
The NASA astronomer who discovered the asteroid in 2010 said she chose the name because she was so inspired by the 17-year-old who had been targeted by the Pakistani Taliban for campaigning for girl’s education in the country.
Dr Amy Mainzer said she had been surprised to find that disappointingly few asteroids were named after women or people from ethnic minority backgrounds.
Dr Mainzer said she hoped the asteroid’s name would remind young people that “science and engineering are for everyone”.
“We desperately need the brainpower of all smart people to solve some of humanity’s most difficult problems, and we can’t afford to reject half the population’s,” she wrote.
Asteroid 316201 was discovered in June 2010. It is four kilometres wide and orbits the sun every five-and-a-half years as part of the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.