Tech Women: Meet Adriana Ocampo, Science Program Manager, NASA

Adriana Ocampo

Are you aware of the gigantic heights women can reach? Meet Adriana Ocampo, one of the most promising women in Space Research. Born on January 20, 1955, Ocampo is a Colombian planetary geologist and the Science Program Manager at the NASA Headquarters.

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Early education

Interestingly, Ocampo was only 8 years old when she expressed her desire to work in space travel. She got her B.S. degree in Geology from California State University, Los Angeles, in 1983. Later, she pursued her M.S. degree in Planetary Geology from California State University, Northridge, in 1997. She finished her Ph.D. at the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam in the Netherlands.

“Space exploration was my passion from a very young age, and I knew I wanted to be part of it. I would dream and design space colonies while sitting atop the roof of my family’s home in Argentina.”

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  • Her career kicked off in the field of planetary science first as a volunteer at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).
  • The Juno mission to Jupiter, the New Horizons mission to Pluto, and the OSIRIS-Rex asteroid sample return mission were some historic projects she was a part of.
  • She also led NASA’s collaboration with the European Space Agency’s Venus Express mission and the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency’s Venus Climate Orbiter mission.
  • The Chicxulub impact crater could be comprehended because of her research.
  • She has led six research expeditions to the Chicxulub impact site. It is the signature of a catastrophic meteor strike that is known to have wiped out the dinosaurs and many other species on earth.

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  • She, along with her colleagues, discovered the Aorounga Crater Chain in Chad in 1996.
  • At NASA, she serves as the lead program executive for New Frontiers. And is working on Juno mission to Jupiter, the New Horizons mission to Pluto and the asteroid sample return mission OSIRIS-REx.

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She was named National Hispanic Scientist of the Year in 2016.

Her hard work, perseverance and passion to accomplish what she envisions to is an exemplar for other women aspiring to prove their mettle in space exploration.

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