A Colombian woman will command NASA’s Juno mission, which will explore the magnetic fields of Jupiter, El Tiempo reported Saturday.
Born in the northern city of Barranquilla, Adriana Ocampo will lead a NASA mission that will send a probe to unravel how Jupiter formed and whether it formed in its current position or farther out in the solar system.
Ocampo said that one of the most important discoveries of the mission is how much water is present on Jupiter. “Undoubtedly the most important measurement from Juno is the water content of Jupiter,” said Ocampo. “If the planet formed where it is now, it should be nine times more water-rich than the sun, but if it formed on the edge of the solar system and migrated in, then the water content will be much lower.”
Ocampo joined NASA in 1973, and first became interested in planetary geology when her family moved to California. Ocampo was among the team that discovered the Chicxulub meteorite crater in the Yucatan peninsula, which was formed at the same time as the extinction of the dinosaurs.
The geologist has also worked to establish the Space Conference of the Americas, which seeks to integrate scientific talent across North and South America towards space exploration. Ocampo has said that it is her dream for a South American university to create a component or instrument that will be used in a future NASA mission.
“Space exploration is able to lift the standard of living of a nation, to inspire future generations and to identify innovative solutions to the problems countries face today,” said Ocampo.
The NASA Juno probe is scheduled to arrive at its destination in 2016.