Adriana Ocampo : Scientist -NASA Solar System Exploration

How many times, it happens that you end up realizing your dreams? Yes, by hard work and determination! Of course, things become easier when lady luck also smiles on you, and this what exactly happens with Adriana Ocampo.

A teenage girl who immediately after reaching the United States of America inquired about the address of NASA now works as a Lead Program Executive at the Planetary Sciences Division of NASA since June 2005. Sounds inspiring? So, know more about the talented woman in science. 

Early Childhood

Born in Columbia in 1955, Adriana was the daughter of encouraging parents who raised her in Argentina.

During her childhood days, she often uses to gaze at the stars and make mock-up spaceships out of cables and pots as well as utensils.

When she was 14 years old, her family migrated to the United States to have a better fortune, and indeed, it proved to be the best decision of their life! 


At South Pasadena High School in California, Adriana studied physics and calculus. Being a bright student, she accidentally lands a summer job during her 3rd year of high school in 1973.

It was none another than at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory! Actually, she got her big break when she came to know about a program sponsored by Jet Propulsion Laboratory looking for volunteers and end up signing for the same.

Here, it is vital to note that the laboratory is a national research facility of NASA that has fascinated Adriana since her childhood.  

She continues to do her job as a part-time employee at NASA throughout her college days. Initially, she selected aerospace engineering as her major but later on, she changed it to geology.

Then she completed her graduation with a specialization in planetary science from the California State University, Los Angeles in 1983.

Then, she completed her master’s in planetary geology from California State University Northridge (CSUN).

Her quest for knowledge leads her to complete a Ph.D. at the prestigious Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam in the Netherlands. 

In 2008, she was honored with the distinguished alumni award by CSUN. She extensively wrote about the Chicxulub impact crater in her master’s and Ph.D.’s degree that was discovered due to her research at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Here, it is worthy to mention that this is the same crater that has caused the extinction of dinosaurs. 


As a research scientist for more than two decades at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Adriana worked on multiple space missions.

She devoted her energies to improve the existing international cooperation in the field of space exploration.

Bridging the wide gap in science between the developing and the developed nations across the world is something that inspires her to work more.

She also worked as a senior research scientist and remote sensing expert at the European Space Agency (ESA) in Netherland from 2002-2004. 


  • 1997-Science and Technology Award
  • 1996-Advisory Council for Women Award
  • 1992-Woman of the Year Award in Science

Today, she is also a member of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. She is also working tirelessly towards the promotion of space science in the US and other countries in English and Spanish languages.

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