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Adriana C. Ocampo: 1955—: Planetary Geologist

Joined Jpl As A Teenager

One of three daughters of Teresa Uria de Ocampo, a Montessori teacher, and Victor Alberto Ocampo, an electrical engineer, Adriana C. Ocampo was born on January 5, 1955, in Barranquilla, Colombia. She was raised in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where her interest in space exploration was evident at an early age. Ocampo turned her dolls into astronauts and built spaceships out of kitchen utensils. She never went to bed without looking at the stars and contemplating outer space. Her parents encouraged her interests.

Ocampo's family emigrated to the United States when she was 14. At school in Argentina Ocampo had been steered toward a career in business or accounting, but at her new high school in Pasadena, California, she was able to study physics and calculus. Still she found attitudes in the United States less conducive to female scientists than in Argentina. However, in 1973, after her junior year in high school, Ocampo got a summer job at JPL in Pasadena. She continued to work there part-time throughout college. She majored in aerospace engineering at Pasadena City College and participated in a JPL-sponsored science program. Switching her major, Ocampo graduated from California State University at Los Angeles with a B.S. in geology in 1983, having specialized in planetary science. She went to work at JPL as a full-time research scientist.

At a Glance . . .

Born Adriana C. Ocampo on January 5, 1955, in Barranquilla, Colombia; daughter of Teresa Uria de Ocampo and Victor Alberto Ocampo; married Kevin O. Pope (divorced). Education: California State University, Los Angeles, BS, geology, 1983; California State University, Northridge, MS, geology, 1997.

Career: Jet Propulsion Laboratory, NASA, Pasadena, CA, student researcher, 1973-83, research scientist, 1983-98; NASA, Washington, DC, program executive, 1998-02; European Space Agency, Noordwijk, Netherlands, senior research scientist, 2002–.

Memberships: American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics; Association of Women in Geoscience; "Embrace Space," NASA representative to international advisory board, 1998; Pan American Space Conference, founder; Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers; Society of Women Engineers; The Planetary Society; many other organizations.

Awards: Woman of the Year Award in Science, Comision Femenil, Los Angeles, 1992; Advisory Council for Women Award, JPL, 1996; Science and Technology Award, Chicano Federation, 1997.

While working at the JPL Multi-mission Image Processing Laboratory, Ocampo became an expert on processing images obtained via remote sensing. She was a member of the imaging team for the Viking mission to Mars, planning observations of the Mars moons, Phobos and Deimos, and searching for a ring and other Mars satellites. She worked on both sequence planning and data analysis of the Mars images and produced a photo atlas of Phobos. Published by NASA in 1984, it is the only atlas of Phobos and was used to plan the Russian Phobos mission.

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Brief BiographiesBiographies: Grace Napolitano: 1936—: Politician to Richard (Wayne) Peck (1934-) Biography - CareerAdriana C. Ocampo: 1955—: Planetary Geologist Biography - Joined Jpl As A Teenager, Worked On Numerous Planet Mapping Projects, Studied The Chicxulub Impact Crater