January 25, 2022

Asteroid Gets Name of Adventist Teen in Brazil

Bruna Pontes is one of the youngest people to officially lend her name to an object in space.

Jeane Barboza, South American Division, and Adventist Review

In 2019, then 13-year-old Bruna Pontes excelled in an international astronomy project in Campos dos Goytacazes, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and received a National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) certificate. 

Only recently, however, has her nomination become official and been published widely.

Who Is Bruna Pontes?

Bruna Pontes is a 15-year-old girl who cultivates simple habits. In her academic life, her preference is for the disciplines of geography and the sciences. And it was in this area she went through an unforgettable experience, as Pontes ended up with an asteroid named after her.

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Certificate awarded to Bruna Pontes. [Photo: courtesy of Municipality of Campos dos Goytacazes]

Pontes lives with her family in the state of Rio de Janeiro. In her spare time, she likes to walk and read. In the Seventh-day Adventist congregation she attends, she volunteers as a deaconess and youth ministries associate. She is also an active member of Caleb Mission, an initiative that gets young people involved in outreach and mission projects across South America.

Pontes is a student at a public school near her home. In that area, public schools include a program that fosters research and discovery in what is known as the "Living Science at School" initiative.

The program formed a partnership with the Campos Astronomy Club, and, in 2019, Pontes was one of the students selected to be a member of the club. For a month, she spent three hours a day observing images of astronomical objects.

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Bruna Pontes (third from left) and her friends participate in outreach and mission activities under the Caleb Mission initiative. [Photo: courtesy of Bruna Pontes] 

As part of the process, Pontes participated in the International Astronomical Search Collaboration (IASC) and excelled in asteroid discoveries and observations. For her performance, she was nominated to receive a special award. In her honor, the asteroid 2013 EG44 was named “Brunapontes.” Pontes entered the history of astronomy as one of the youngest people in the world to lend her name to an asteroid.

The award, for which she was nominated more than two years ago, has been formally published by the International Astronomical Search Collaboration (IASC) and WGSBN Bulletin, publication of the International Astronomical Union(IAU). Pontes received a NASA certificate for participating in the program.

A Name in the Stars

Duly certified and with her name written on the stars, Pontes is considering astronomy as a career. She is scheduled to start using her Project Young Stars of Tomorrow scholarship, which has the support and funding of the Consulate of the United States in Rio de Janeiro.

After her achievement became public, Pontes was interviewed and featured by local media outlets.

Pontes never imagined that this project would take her so far, so it wasn’t easy to put her feelings into words. “I felt an extraordinary joy,” she said. “I never imagined that this would ever happen to me. I don’t even know what to say.”

The original version of this story was posted on the South American Division Portuguese-language news site.