An asteroid, 2002 AR204, has been named after the pioneer of mRNA vaccine technology, Katalin Karikó. Csillagaszat.hu reports that along with multiple Hungarian astrologists, physicists, scientists of various disciplines, an architect and an athlete, the biochemists name is present on the newest list of asteroid names.
The Katalin Karikó asteroid, roughly 1.5 kilometers in diameter, is set to orbit the sun within 3.7 years. The naming of asteroids is an old tradition, in which the individual who discovers an asteroid is given the right to name it too.
Upon the confirmation of the asteroid’s existence, it is given a number, and its discoverer has ten years to name it.
For five consecutive years between 1930 and 1940, Hungary was considered an asteroid superpower thanks to the Konkoly Observatory’s discovery program, led by György Kulin.
Beginning her studies at the University of Szeged, Karikó moved to the United States in 1985. After facing countless hurdles in her path, including difficulty receiving funding and a battle with cancer, she made scientific history together with her colleague Drew Weissman when they developed the technology needed to create mRNA-based vaccines.
Thanks to her fantastic contribution to the development of mRNA Covid vaccines, Katalin Karikó has not only been awarded the Semmelweis Prize, the German ‘Future Prize’, the Breakthrough Prize, and a multitude of other awards, but she literally has an asteroid to her name.
Featured photo illustration by Péter Komka/MTI