August 19, 2022
The 22-year-old Brazilian is awarded after discovering 25 asteroids in a NASA project |  Ribeirao Preto, France

The 22-year-old Brazilian is awarded after discovering 25 asteroids in a NASA project | Ribeirao Preto, France

Brazilian student Verena Bacola, 22, received an award for discovering 25 asteroids after participating in a project before. NASAUS space agency. She said one of the bodies might hit the ground.

It is the so-called weak asteroid that moves in the orbit slower. However, its size and potential collision history are still being studied in the United States.

“I still don’t have time to analyze which of the 25 asteroids is the faint asteroid, which has a different orbit than the rest. But when I analyze this, I’ll be able to make the diameter, probably, and have an idea of ​​the orbit. Because to identify these things, there’s Many observations over the years, from different parts of the Earth, to identify more things about asteroids,” he said g 1.

Verena Bakula, a medical student at the University of the South Pacific in Ribeirão Preto, and an astronomy enthusiast – Image: Personal Archive

The story of Verena, who is in her second year of medicine USP in a Ribeirao Preto (SP), similar to the pair of astronomers in the movie “Don’t Look” (2021), Netflix. However, in fiction, American scientists struggle to alert the authorities after the discovery. In real life, the case is already known and attached.

The student, who now dreams of interviewing NASA, commented, “The science references in the movie are very good. They show the same software you used to find asteroids. They talk about Harvard Center and everything.”

Verena says that, in 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic, she was studying for her medical entrance exam at home, at Indayatuba (SP), but I wanted an alternative activity to distract my head from the stress of attending college.

Tired of high school content, I decided to sign up for the NASA internship I had seen online.

“I got a recording of an asteroid hunting program. They started handing over packages of images taken from a telescope in Hawaii for analysis. This program can find many celestial bodies, many things in space, but what I learned to discover was an asteroid. There was programming that I did With them in the program, the images are played. Each image package consists of four images taken sequentially from space,” he explained.

The program transmitted pictures to her. The stars, for example, were stationary. On the other hand, asteroids were moving.

“So if you see something moving, I shall analyze the digital so the body and see whether it is possible to have an asteroid or not. This led to the creation of a report in the program itself, which was sent to Harvard University, a global center, which analyzes this kind of things , and they sent it to NASA to see if it was really an asteroid or not.”

Verina Bakula discovered 25 asteroids in a NASA project – Photo: Personal Archive

In her reports, the numbers matched a margin of what could be asteroids. Subsequently, NASA confirmed that the student discovered at least 25 bodies, one of which is of great interest to the US space agency.

“I found out that there were classifications of asteroids, which I didn’t actually know about, because I’m in healthcare. I ended up discovering, then, a different asteroid, moving slower and called a weak asteroid in this group, which are the most important asteroids. Usually the asteroids that Falling to Earth are weak asteroids so they require more attention.”

Because of the discovery two years ago, it was awarded in Brasilia in December 2021. It has received an award from NASA’s “Asteroid Hunt” program coordinator and from Minister Marcos Pontes for Science, Technology and Innovation.

“I never imagined such a thing happening in my life. Even when I was training, when I was looking, never think it will work well the way it was, especially with this asteroid is important. It is much more than I imagined.”

Student Verena Bakula, of the University of the South Pacific Ribeirão Preto, received the Brasilia Prize – Photo: Personal Archive

The future doctor still doesn’t know when she’ll be able to name the bodies she’s discovered. However, she has already mentioned that one of the asteroids will be named after her grandmother, Rochelle Bakula, one of the student’s main supporters.

“I am now looking to name them, because it takes a few years for these documents to come out, and it could take up to 8 years (…) My grandmother, who is still alive, is the most important person in my life, the greatest example. So no There is nothing fairer than sustaining it in Heaven.”

Verena and Grandma Rochelle – Photo: Personal Archive

Verena always wanted to be a doctor. It’s a childhood dream that started to come true after getting a place in USP From Ribeirao Preto. If nothing changes, it will be a neurosurgeon.

But a rock in the way, or rather a few asteroids on the way, could make the young woman combine her two passions: medicine and astronomy.

“This is something that catches my eye, because while I was in Brasilia for the awards, I had the opportunity to have a private meeting, myself and the head of the Brazilian Space Agency. With him, I was able to talk about space medicine, an area we don’t talk about much here, because the Brazilian space program has not It is announced as it is today. But there was an interest in me in the bottom of my heart. So, I search further, and see what the area looks like, and how I can get there. But it revealed a choice, yes, to combine these two passions.

NASA’s conclusions about the asteroids it discovered and the medical graduation will happen in practice together. These two, according to Verena, already make family and friends proud and convey jokes on social networks. Mimi should not want to be her cousin.

My grandmother is very proud of me and my accomplishments. For example, now we were in the bakery and she makes sure to tell the clerk what bakery I do in medicine USP, I discovered the asteroid and everything. So they think it’s cool and I love it too because it encourages them to learn more about science. My friends are now very engaged, it’s really cool. My Instagram is that now. In my photos, a lot of people commented: “I don’t want to be your cousin,” he joked, “I’m glad I’m not your cousin.”

Student Verena Bakula, of the University of the South Pacific Ribeirão Preto, receives an award in Brasilia – Photo: Personal Archive

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