At just eight years of age, the Brazilian girl – Nicole Oliveira has become the world’s youngest astronomer. Looking for asteroids as part of a NASA-affiliated program, attending international seminars with her country’s top space and science figures Oliveria has already found 18 asteroids, reports AFP (via Science Alert).
Oliveira is part of the project, called Asteroid Hunters, run by the International Astronomical Search Collaboration (a citizen science program affiliated with NASA, in partnership with Brazil’s ministry of science), which is meant to introduce young people to science by giving them a chance to make space discoveries of their own.
“I will give them the names of Brazilian scientists, or members of my family, like my mom or my dad,” said a girl who works on her computer studying images of the sky on two large screens.
As reported by AFP, when her findings will get certified (which may take several years), Oliveira will become the youngest person in the world to officially discover an asteroid, breaking the record of 18-year-old Italian Luigi Sannino.
“She really has an eye. She immediately spots points in the images that look like asteroids and often advises her classmates when they are not sure they have really found any,” said Heliomarzio Rodrigues Moreira, Oliveira’s astronomy teacher “The most important thing is that she shares her knowledge with other children. She contributes to the dissemination of science.”
Her Passion for astronomy
“When she was two, she would raise her arms to the sky and ask me, ‘Mom, give me a star,'” said her mother, Zilma Janaca. “We understood that this passion for astronomy was serious when she asked us for a telescope as a birthday present when she turned four. I didn’t even really know what a telescope was.”
Nicolinha was so set on getting a telescope that she told her parents she would swap it for all her future birthday parties. Still, such a gift was too expensive for the family and the girl got it only when she turned 7 and all her friends pooled money for the purchase, said her mother.
Aside from this, Nicolinha has also interviewed influential figures like the Brazilian astronomer Duilia de Mello (on her YouTube channel), who took part in the discovery of a supernova called SN 1997D.
Now the world’s youngest astronomer Nicole Oliveira wants to become an aerospace engineer.
“I want to build rockets. I would love to go to the Kennedy Space Center at NASA in Florida to see their rockets,” she said. “I would also like all children in Brazil to have access to science.”
With this, we hope that she will inspire millions of other kids around the world to have an interest in this field of science.