Aseel Nama, and undergraduate student in the Technion Faculty of Biomedical Engineering, recently discovered two previously unknown asteroids during NASA’s International Astronomical Search Collaboration, a citizen science program that invites the public to search for asteroids using astronomical data provided by the agency. In recognition of her discoveries, NASA has named the asteroids “ANI1801” and “ANI2001.” The names are offshoots of “ANI” (Aseel Nama Israel).
“I really wanted to participate in this campaign, which is a kind of competition, but NASA insisted that I had to recruit a team of three people,” said Ms. Nama. “I explained to them that I wasn’t able to recruit anyone else, but that this is my dream, and finally I convinced them to allow me to participate alone. It turns out that I was the only team of one person as well as the only Israeli among 116 teams from all over the world.”
Ms. Nama, who grew up in Deir al-Asad in the Galilee and now lives in Haifa, carries out research in Professor Dan Adam’s laboratory, where she has learned about segmentation, i.e. dividing images into sections. This skill, she says, helped her locate the asteroids. “I got a set of photos and videos from NASA and was told to find new asteroids. I called my ‘team’ ANI (Aseel Nama Israel) and the asteroids I discovered will be called ANI1801 and ANI2001.”
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