An Israeli student recently discovered previously unknown asteroids for US space agency NASA, which in turn honored her by naming them after her.
Aseel Nama, who’s studying biomedical engineering at the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, participated in the International Astronomical Search Collaboration, a citizen science program affiliated with NASA that invites the public to search for asteroids using astronomical data that it provides.
Nama used image segmentation techniques that she learned at university to pore over the data she received and managed to find two new asteroids.
“I received from NASA a set of photos and video clips and I had to find new asteroids in them. I called my ‘team’ ANI (Aseel Nama Israel) and the asteroids that I discovered will be called ANI1801 and ANI2001,” she says.
האסטרואידים של אסילאסיל נעמה, סטודנטית לתואר ראשון בפקולטה להנדסה ביו-רפואית בטכניון, גילתה שני אסטרואידים חדשים…
And yet, Nama’s team was in fact a one-woman show.
“I really wanted to participate in this campaign, which is sort of a competition, but NASA insisted that I have to recruit a team of three people,” she recounts.
“I explained to them that I didn’t manage to recruit anyone but that this is my dream, and in the end they became convinced and allowed me to participate. So it happened that I was the only one-person team and also the only Israeli among 116 groups from all over the world,” she adds.
The Technion published Nama’s success story on its Facebook page, where it reached thousands of people and garnered hundreds of positive and congratulatory comments.