A little girl from Alagoas has drawn attention for having identified 7 asteroids. Nicole Oliveira, 8 years old, is still awaiting the evaluation to find out if the discovery is unprecedented.
In addition, Alagoas is the youngest person to join the International Astronomical Search Collaboration IASC, a program of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
Nicole is also two-time champion of the Brazilian Astronomy and Astronautics Olympiad.
The dream of knowing more about the space began when Nicolinha, as she is known, was just two years old.
“I always asked dad and mom for a star and they always gave me stuffed and toy, they didn’t understand that I really wanted one from heaven”, he says. According to Nicole’s mother, Zilma Oliveira Simião.
She and her husband did not know the subject or had family members who knew about astronomy, which was the girl’s own desire to study more about space.
At the age of four, Nicolinha made an unusual request to her parents: she would exchange all her birthday parties for a telescope.
“We were surprised, mainly because it is a very high value equipment and she herself had the idea of not having the parties. So, we bought it because she loves it so much and soon decided that she wanted to take an astronomy course,” says Zilma.
From then on, the little girl never stopped, at the age of six she joined an astronomy course at the Center for Astronomical Studies of Alagoas (CEAAL), “with adults and without missing any classes”, as she proudly says.
Nicole asked her parents to post videos on YouTube where she explained what she learned in the courses, and then began a saga of teaching what she knew to other children in love with the stars.
During the pandemic, Nicole founded the Nicolinha&Kids science club, where she and other children could share their studies.
Zilma says that her daughter created a talk show on her YouTube channel.
“She and two (virtual) friends present the program and have already interviewed great names such as Duilia de Mello, Alessandra Pacine, Carlos Moura, Marcos Palhares and other important scientists in the area”.
The child scientist was watching a live of the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovations (MCTI), when she heard for the first time about the “Asteroid Hunting” program, in partnership with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). “I researched it and saw that I needed a team, so Mom and Dad joined me, I was very happy, because I really wanted to participate”, says Nicole Oliveira.
Nicolinha has participated in the project since 2020, being the first year that she has been in a team with her parents.
This year, in May, with a team made up only of children from the science club created by her.
In all, the small science publisher has identified seven asteroids, which if confirmed, make them the youngest person to discover an asteroid.
“The research is all done by the software that the IASC makes available, so we were able to observe the images, all of which I discovered are already under preliminary analysis”, he explains.
The recognition process is carried out by NASA, in the Inter-Agency Standing Committee program (Interinstitutional Standing Committee, in Portuguese) and is a process that takes up to eight years to complete.
“Nicole has achieved a lot in the last two years, in addition to the courses, lectures and events she attended. It would be impossible not to support her, with her having so much love for what she does,” says Zilma.
“I want to major in aerospace engineering, to build rockets and take people into space. My biggest dream is that all children in the world can have access to science, technology, astronomy and everything else they dream of”, reveals the young scientist.