Despite just spending 8 years on Earth, one girl has already left a significant impact on the solar system. Nicole Oliveira, a Brazilian astronomer, has been dubbed the “world’s young astronomer.” Nicolina told AFP that she has already found 18 preliminary detections that could be asteroids in a recent interview. The preliminary observations must still be certified, which can take months or years. If any of the detections are confirmed, she will become the world’s youngest person to discover an asteroid. This will surpass Luigi Sannino’s record of discovering an asteroid now known as 12575 Palmariaat at the age of 18 in 1999. She plans to name the asteroids after great Brazilian scientists and members of her family if her instructions hold up under investigation.
Nicolinha recently participated in the Asteroid Hunters initiative, a collaboration between the International Astronomical Search Collaboration (IASC) and Brazil’s Ministry of Science aimed at attracting people to astronomy. Hundreds of citizen scientists from all around the world — from India and Iraq to Spain and Nigeria – have already made at least 185 preliminary detections, with 85 objects discovered so far. Nicole made seven preliminary detections in the most recent campaign, according to IASC.
“When she was two years old, she would raise her arms to the sky and ask, ‘Mom, give me a star,'” her mother, Zilma Janaca, told AFP. “When she asked for a telescope as a birthday present when she was four, we realized she was serious about astronomy.” Janaca continued, “I didn’t even know what a telescope was.”
A brief glance into Nicolinha’s room will reveal that she is seriously captivated with space, just like any other young buck with his head in the stars. Her room is decorated with Star Wars toys, astronomy posters, and astronaut-themed decorations, in addition to the computer she uses to scan through photos of space to search asteroids. She also broadcasts her YouTube channel from this computer, where she has interviewed a number of notable people, including Brazilian astronomer Dulia de Mello and Andressa Costa Ojeda, an aspiring female astronaut from Brazil.
Nicolinha has accomplished a lot in her young life, but it appears that her astronomical dreams are just getting started. “I’d like to construct rockets. I would like to visit NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida to witness their rockets “she stated.