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Adriana C. Ocampo: 1955—: Planetary Geologist

Promoted International Involvement In Space Research

In an interview on the Planetary Radio Show on January 6, 2003, Ocampo explained that "space exploration is the ultimate tool for international cooperation." Under the sponsorship of TPS, she organized a program to bring planetary science to developing countries. The first course, held in Mexico City in 1987, proved so successful that TPS, the United Nations, and the ESA sponsored additional workshops in Costa Rica and Colombia in 1992, Nigeria in 1993, and Egypt in 1994. Ocampo worked with the United Nations to develop these workshops, which have now been conducted in various countries, including Argentina in 2002 and China in 2003. Ocampo also founded the Pan American Space Conference to promote international communication and cooperation in space science and technology. As a member of the JPL Speakers Bureau, she promoted space science and engineering in the United States and abroad, in English and Spanish.

Ocampo served on the board of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers for five years, as secretary for one year, and as vice president for two years. She also was a member of the society's space committee and chaired its international affairs committee, where she established cooperative technical programs and university student exchange programs between the United States and Mexico. Ocampo is a member of TPS's advisory council, which works to disseminate scientific results and increase awareness of planetary exploration among the general public.

In 1998 Ocampo moved to NASA headquarters in Washington, D.C., as a program executive in the Office of Space Science, where she worked on joint missions with the ESA, Russia, and Japan. She also worked in the Solid Earth and Natural Hazards Division of the Office of Earth Science. In NASA's Office of External Relations, Ocampo was desk officer for Spain, Portugal, Russia, and the former Soviet republics. She moved to the ESA's planetary division in 2002. There she is involved in the Mars Express mission, a Mars orbiter and lander that is carrying new types of radar.

At JPL Ocampo was a member of the Advisory Council for Women, reporting directly to the head of JPL. In 1996 she received JPL's Advisory Council for Women Award for her outreach and community work. Ocampo is a member of numerous professional organizations, including the Society of Women Engineers where she was involved in a mentoring program for girls. In 1992 Ocampo received a Woman of the Year Award in Science from the Comision Femenil of Los Angeles. In 1994 she represented JPL at the Leadership Conference for Women in Science and Engineering in Washington, D.C. Although Ocampo has not realized her dream of becoming an astronaut and space shuttle mission specialist, she believes that the future of hu-mankind lies in space exploration and the establishment of colonies on the moon and Mars.

Selected writings


(With Thomas C. Duxbury and John D. Callahan) Phobos: Close Encounter Imaging from the Viking Orbiters, NASA, 1984.

(With B. A. Ivanov, D. D. Badukov, O. I Yakovlev, M. V. Gerasimov, Yu. P. Dikov, and K. O. Pope) "De-gassing of Sedimentary Rocks due to Chicxulub Impact: Hydrocode and Physical Simulations," The Cretaceous-Tertiary Event and Other Catastrophes in Earth History, Geological Society of America, 1996.

(With Kevin O. Pope and Alfred G. Fischer) "Ejecta Blanket Deposits of the Chicxulub Crater from Albion Island, Belize," The Cretaceous-Tertiary Event and Other Catastrophes in Earth History, Geological Society of America, 1996.


(With Kevin O. Pope and Charles E. Duller) "Mexican Site for K/T Impact Crater?" Nature, 1991.

(With Kevin O. Pope, Gary L. Kinsland, and Randy Smith) "Surface Expression of the Chicxulub Crater," Geology, 1996.

(With Francisco J. Vega, Rodney M. Feldmann, and Kevin O. Pope) "A New Species of Late Cretaceous Crab (Brachyura: Carcineretidae) from Albion Island, Belize," Journal of Paleontology, 1997.

(With Louis Friedman and John Logsdon) "Why Space Science and Exploration Benefit Everyone," Space Policy, 1998.

(With Fraser P. Fanale and 21 other co-authors) "Galileo's Multiinstrument Spectral View of Europa's Surface Composition," Icarus, 1999.



Bailey, Martha J., American Women in Science: 1950 to the Present, A Biographical Dictionary, ABC-CLIO, 1998, pp. 291-2.

Notable Scientists: From 1900 to the Present, Gale Group, 2001.

Olesky, Walter, Hispanic-American Scientists, Facts On File, 1998.


Hispanic, September 1996, p. 36.


"Adriana C. Ocampo," NASA, http://ltp.arc.nasa. gov/women/bios/ao.html (May 25, 2003).

"Adriana C. Ocampo," Women of NASA, http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/people/bios/women/ao.html (March 24, 2003).

"Adriana Ocampo," Profiles of Women at JPL, www. jpl.nasa.go/tours/women/ocampo.html (March 24, 2003).

"Chain of Impact Craters Suggested by Spaceborne Radar Images," Jet Propulsion Laboratory, www. jpl.nasa.gob/s19/news80.html (April 7, 2003).

"Earth-Shattering Impacts," Planetary Radio Show, http://planetary.org/audio/pr20030106.html (April 19, 2003).

"More Evidence Points to Impact as Dinosaur Killer," Stardust, http://stardust.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news 10.html (April 7, 2003).


Information for this profile was obtained through personal communications between Adriana Ocampo and Contemporary Hispanic Biography in May of 2003; and the Women of Hope/Latinas Abriendo Camino/12 Ground Breaking Latina Women, Films for the Humanities, 1996.

—Margaret Alic

Additional topics

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