At 18, a student from Minas Gerais discovers asteroid in a NASA project

Brazilian student Laysa Peixoto Sena Lage, 18, discovered an asteroid through a campaign by the new NASA, the American space agency.

Recognition of the discovery took place in August and the star was named LPS, according to his initials. In the future, the young woman will be able to choose another name for him.

Lage lives in the city of Contagem, in the metropolitan region of Belo Horizonte. She has always studied in public schools and is currently in the second period of the physics course at UFMG (Federal University of Minas Gerais), where she also monitors at the Frei Rosrio Astronomical Observatory.

Since February, A student from Minas Gerais participates in NASA’s asteroid hunting program in partnership with the IASC (an acronym in English that names an international program for collaboration in astronomical research).

Images from the space that Lage and the others Participants receive are generated by the Pan-STARRS telescope, located at the Institute of Astronomy, University of Hawaii.

The images they send are processed by the Astrometrica software and, through it, I do the analyses. The images are in black and white and I need to analyze each pixel, because there are very small things that can go unnoticed, explains the young woman.

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After months of searching, the student identified some objects and reports of these findings for the project sent. One of the spots she located was finally confirmed by NASA as being an asteroid.

When I saw my name on the list, I was so happy and emotional, I could hardly believe it. It was difficult months, I spent nights doing the analysis to be able to send some in time. It is very gratifying to be able to contribute to science in this way, she says.

Since she was a child, she likes to watch the stars and is interested in astronomy, according to her. But it was during high school that she had the opportunity to participate in some scientific olympics and, as a result, she felt more motivated to deepen her studies in this area.

In 2020, the young woman from Minas Gerais was a silver medalist at the Brazilian Astronomy and Astronomy Olympiad. This year, she won the bronze medal at the International Astronomy and Astronomy Olympiad.

I think it is very important that students are aware of the scientific olympics, because they can encourage and transform the lives of students, especially of public” schools, she says.

For the future, the student wants to take NASA’s Advanced Space Academy course. This is an immersive training in an astronaut’s work routine, which results in a mission simulated space.

To achieve her dream of studying at NASA, the young woman created a virtual kitty. She intends to raise R$ 15 thousand for pay the costs of the course and travel to the United States.

This is one of my next steps. But I also want to finish my degree and continue in the field of astrophysics and cosmology, as a researcher, to find more things and contribute in the best way possible, summarizes.

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