Wolf Cukier was missing a year to finish high school in New York and with his 17 years, he managed to be part of a group of interns in the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
His achievement was not minor, however, it does not compare with what happened next: on his third day of practice, he was part of the team that discovered a planet.
It has two suns and is 1,300 light-years from Earth.
The young Cukier began an internship at the Goddard Space Flight Center, a NASA research institute in Greenbelt, Maryland (eastern United States).
His job was to examine the data from the TESS, which in Spanish is known as the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite.
The peculiarity of the TESS project is that it invites untrained people to volunteer to watch the online transmission of patterns in the brightness of the stars that might suggest the existence of a new planet.
The event was recently made public after verification, but it happened in the middle of last year.
Cukier had the mission of studying how two stars would cross creating an eclipse in the TOI 1338 solar system, but in his guard, he noticed something in the orbit of two stars that blocked the light.
According to NASA, after the discovery, experts in the area spent several weeks verifying their observation and finally concluded that Cukier had discovered a planet 6.9 times larger than Earth.
It is also the planet of its type number 13 identified in history.
“I was looking through the data for everything the volunteers had pointed out as a binary that eclipsed a system in which two stars rotate in a circle and from our point of view are eclipsed in each orbit,” said Cukier, according to a statement from NASA press.
Star Wars fan
An article was written by Cukier together with the team of scientists from the department where he collaborates explained the scope of the finding.
In it they explain that the TESS was able to detect the new planet by its constant monitoring capacity.
Cukier, a Star Wars fan, said he hopes this could be the beginning of his career in the field of aerospace exploration.
“Our confidence went up and down a couple of times, but at the end of the internship, we were sure that what we found was a planet,” Cukier told the American television network ABC.