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Sungrazer Project Volunteer Turned Professional Wins the Harold C. Urey Prize 

Black and white image from a telescope with light streaming down from the upper left corner over a few white dots. One small faint white dot in the middle of the image is circled.
This tiny white dot was the first comet discovered by then-teenager Quanzhi Ye in 2005, looking at images from the LASCO C3 telescope on the joint ESA-NASA SOHO spacecraft.
Credit: ESA/NASA/NRL. Image processing by Karl Battams.

In 2005, high school student Quanzhi Ye reported the discovery of a tiny "sungrazing" comet via the NASA-funded Sungrazer Citizen Science Project. It was the first of several such discoveries for him via this project, and was the project's 1,019th comet discovery. Ye went on to pursue planetary science related studies at university, eventually earning a Ph.D. in Astronomy in 2016 from the University of Western Toronto. Last week, Dr. Ye was awarded the prestigious Harold C. Urey prize from the American Astronomical Society Division of Planetary Sciences. This prize "recognizes outstanding achievement in planetary research by an early-career scientist" and celebrates Dr. Ye’s reearch on meteor showers, interstellar comets, near-Earth asteroids and outreach in both English and Chinese.

The Sungrazer Project's 21+ years have seen several young participants move on to STEM - particularly astronomy-related - degrees and careers.  This NASA-funded citizen science project enables anyone to look for, report, and hopefully discover, new comets in images returned by NASA and European Space Agency space missions. Go to https://sungrazer.nrl.navy.mil/about-sungrazer to learn more!

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