It’s safe to say that seventeen-year-old high school student Wolf Cukier from New York didn’t have your average work experience week while at Nasa summer.
Forget making a good cuppa, getting petty lunch orders in, transcribing speedily – Wolf was planet hunting.
Also, pause for a sec… Wolf Cukier? I hope the MCU steals that name.
Cukier discovered a planet almost seven times the size of Earth on day three of his internship at Nasa’s Goddard Space Flight Center. DAY THREE. Can we just?
Apparently, Cukier had been looking at various satellite images brought to the attention of NASA by members of the public. He soon spotted something peculiar; a strange object seemed to be moving in front of a star on one of the images, blocking its light. After further exploration, the team realised that young Wolf had discovered a planet.
And I hope someone made him a f**king cup of tea after that.
“I was looking through the data for everything the volunteers had flagged as an eclipsing binary, a system where two stars circle around each other and from our view eclipse each other every orbit.
“About three days into my internship, I saw a signal from a system called TOI 1338. At first I thought it was a stellar eclipse, but the timing was wrong. It turned out to be a planet.”
Surely this means that they HAVE to call this planet, Wolf, right? So badass.
Nasa has named the planet TOI 1338 b. Roles off the tongue doesn’t it? According to Nasa experts, the planet is almost seven times larger than our planet and is located 1,300 light-years away. They also discovered Wolf’s planet is orbiting two stars (yes, like Tatooine in the Star Wars franchise, very good). TOI 1338 b orbits around these two stars approximately every 95 days.
Cukier told ABC News:
“Our confidence went up and down a couple of times, but by the end of the internship, we were confident that what we found was a planet.”
Cukier actually discovered the new planet last summer, but had to keep his discovery quiet until this week, when Nasa’s research was presented during the 235th American Astronomical Society meeting in Honolulu, Hawaii.
So what’s next for Wolf? Well, he needs to finish his final year at high school first, then he’s apparently looking to study physics or astrophysics at one of America’s top universities. I think we all can fathom a guess as to where he might go after that.
When I was 17, I did a couple of weeks of work experience at a media company in London. On my third or fourth day I was asked to take minutes in a meeting. I must stress, before I carry on, that when I was 17-years-old I was a clueless, pathetic excuse for a teenager. I mistook the meaning of “taking minutes” for timing the length of said meeting on my Blackberry.
It was 42 minutes and 37 seconds, btw. I thought I was hot s**t – they didn’t even ask for seconds.
I soon found out that recording the length of the meeting was actually not what they had asked of me. Thirteen years later, I still remember genuinely praying that the Earth would open up and swallow my dumb a**e, when I’d clocked my error. Miraculously, I ended up getting a job there and staying with the company for several years. Some of those co-workers are now friends, and have made a sacred oath that they will never let me live that down.
That’s real soul-sucking, painful work experience, kids.
I just wanted to tell you that story, so you could juxtapose it against someone of the same age in 2020 discovering a f**king planet at NASA during an internship.
Excuse me while I have a quiet “what is my life?” moment…
I really hope they let Wolf sneak a beer from the office fridge after his discovery. I know he’s 17, but come on…
Images via Nasa and Getty
Having worked in children's media and publishing for almost a decade, Ben is thoroughly excited to now be able to swear in stories and features. He is such a big fan of Disney and Horror films that he started an LGBTQ+ podcast called 'Once Upon A Scream'. His mum listens. You can contact Ben at email@example.com. Twitter: @PulsfordBen / Instagram: @thebenmidlerFollow