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About the Scientist

Adriana Ocampo searches through Belize and neighboring Mexico for traces of a crater caused by an asteroid that hit Earth 65 million years ago. As a space geologist, Adriana compares craters that exist on other planets with ones that are known to exist on Earth. Her discovery helped scientists prove that an asteroid caused the extinction of the dinosaurs.

Biography of Adriana Ocampo

Find out more about Adriana on the Space Geologist CD-ROM. The complete biography is 2 pages and includes a glossary.

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 ourselves.

Adriana 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.)

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This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 9909496.
Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and
do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation (NSF).