The 22-year-old Brazilian girl, Verena Paccola, received an award for the discovery of 25 new asteroids, one of them with the possibility of colliding with Earth. The medical student discovered a “weak asteroid”, considered rare, in the asteroid hunting program developed by NASA in partnership with the MCTI (Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation) of Brazil.
The effort of the Brazilian was recognized during the program, which earned her the award. The faint asteroid gets its name because it is a celestial body with slower orbital motion than normal. NASA scientists will follow the asteroid to monitor its approach to Earth.
Verena told in an interview with the UOL portal who discovered the International Astronomical Search Collaboration asteroid hunting program while studying for the USP medical entrance exam in 2020.
I have always been a very curious girl with a desire to learn new things. When I found out about the possibility of participating in the program, I signed up and took the training to learn how to use the monitoring software – Verena, in an interview with UOL
During the program, Verena analyzed images from a telescope located in Hawaii. Analyzing the photographs captured in sequence, the Brazilian began to dedicate herself to the detection of asteroids.
Don’t forget to look up
After discovering 25 asteroids, Verena was called to Brasília to receive an award from the MCTI for her discoveries. The trophy was given to her by the Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, Marcos Pontes. In the city, she was also honored, as one of the asteroids (the “weak asteroid”) had a trajectory towards Earth.
Contrary to what happens in the plot of the movie Don’t Look Up, from Netflix, starring Leonardo di Caprio and Jennifer Lawrence, the NASA will give full attention to the celestial body discovered by the Brazilian.
Verena is now preparing the documentation to name the rare asteroid after her grandmother, Rochelle. Nathalia, mother of the medical student, will also be named after another asteroid.
As the US Space Agency keeps an eye on asteroid Rochelle, Verena continues to think about her future: “Actually, I’m not an astronomer, my interest is in medicine. But now, I’m already thinking about knowing more about space medicine.”
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