Over the moon

NASA names asteroids after Israeli student who found them

Aseel Nama says taking part in monthlong search project was her ‘dream’; hers was the only 1-member team allowed, of 116 total

Aseel Nama (Technion)
Aseel Nama (Technion)

NASA has named two asteroids after an Israeli woman who found them during a monthlong asteroid hunt program, the Technion — Israel Institute of Technology said Friday in a statement.

Aseel Nama, a BA student in biomedical engineering at the Technion, the renowned research university in Haifa, took part last month in the International Astronomical Search Collaboration citizen science program, affiliated with the US space agency.

Nama, who grew up in the Arab town of Deir al-Asad and now resides in Haifa, said she was the only one-member team allowed to register for the event.

“I really wanted to participate in this campaign, which is sort of a competition, but NASA insisted that I have to recruit a three-member crew,” she said, according to the statement by the Technion.

Illustrative asteroid (photo credit: Courtesy NASA)
Illustrative: An asteroid (Courtesy NASA)

“I explained to them that I didn’t manage to recruit partners but this is my dream, and eventually they were convinced and allowed me to take part,” she added.

“That’s how I became the only one-member team and also the only Israeli among 116 teams from around the world.”

האסטרואידים של אסילאסיל נעמה, סטודנטית לתואר ראשון בפקולטה להנדסה ביו-רפואית בטכניון, גילתה שני אסטרואידים חדשים…

Posted by ‎הטכניון – מכון טכנולוגי לישראל | Technion‎ on Thursday, April 8, 2021

Nama is taking part in research at Prof. Dan Adam’s lab in the Technion, where she learned image segmentation. She said this skill helped her locate the asteroids.

“I received a set of photos and videos from NASA and I needed to find new asteroids in them,” she said.

Nama called her “team” ANI (Aseel Nama Israel), and the two asteroids she discovered will be known as ANI1801 and ANI2001.

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