Do you know your neighbors . .
. in outer space? Adriana Ocampo is getting to know them. She
is a space geologist. Her mission in life is to explore other
worlds. What she discovers about our next-door neighbors Mars
and Venus, as well as the more distant planets, helps us become
better acquainted with our neighborhood in the Universe-and with
grew up in Argentina. From her window half way around the world
she often wondered about the night sky. "I couldn't go to
sleep in the evening without looking at the stars and wondering
what those little points of light were," she says.
Adriana was always interested in how things work-on Earth and
in space. Her favorite subject in school was science. Schoolwork
was often hard, especially math, but her math teacher wouldn't
give up on her. "She would make me keep working until I understood
everything," Adriana remembers.
Adriana was still in school when humans landed on the Moon. She
remembers the exact date, July 20, 1969. She was watching TV as
it broadcast live pictures of astronauts walking around on another
world for the first time in history. What fascinated her most
was the surface of the Moon and its unusual rocks and soils. From
that moment she was hooked on the geology of other worlds.
When Adriana was 14 she arrived in the United States. She didn't
know any English, but she met a group of high school kids who
loved space science as much as she did. She joined their space
explorers club. Adriana still remembers the name- the JPL Space
Exploration Post #509. JPL stands for Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
JPL is a lab that specializes in space exploration. It is part
of NASA, the American space agency.
The space club launched Adriana into an exciting career. She
got a summer job with NASA working on the Viking Mission. It was
the first U.S. spacecraft to land on the planet Mars. It was named
after the ancient Vikings who set out to explore the New World.
The Viking spacecraft sent back pictures of the mysterious red
planet. Adriana's job was to examine those pictures to find out
more about Mars and its moons. Her dream of exploration had come
true, even though she never left Earth.
(excerpted from the biography written by Sarah Disbrow. The entire
biography is available on the Space Geologist CD-ROM.)