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Introduction Well Grounded in Planets Adriana Ocampo has always dreamed of exploring planets. As a geologist, she's curious about their rocks and canyons and cliffs, but it's the impact craters that give her thrills--and chills. Here on planet Earth, she helped find the Crater of Doom, a massive hole blasted out by a mountain-sized space rock 65 million years ago. This split-second collision led to a global disaster that killed off entire life forms, including the dinosaurs. Adriana is now searching Earth for the crater's ejecta--rock and debris from the blast that ended up all over our planet. Meanwhile, she explores planets other than Earth through the electronic eyes of robotic spacecraft. As a teenager, she landed a job at NASA, the U.S. space agency. There she had a front-row seat when a Viking lander beamed back our first clear images from the surface of Mars. She later commanded the spacecraft Galileo to peer down at the icy crust of Europa, a moon that might harbor life! All her science adventures began on a rooftop in Buenos Aires, Argentina, thousands of miles from NASA. How on earth did Adriana Ocampo make her dream of exploring space come true? ix
Adriana truly believes that people will go to other planets, and even to the stars, and she hopes with all her heart that she will be one of them.
1 LOS SUEñOS (DREAMS) BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA LA TERAZZA LAUNCH SITE MISSION COLONIA LUNAR : A driana Ocampo has waited a long time for this moment. Adriana Ocampo All day, in fact. For hours she sat quietly in her white (above) wore white for her first uniform, doing the necessary paperwork. Now it's finally communion, when time for some action. Her space mission is about to begin! Catholic children Adriana gulps down a café con leche, coffee with milk, and bread first take full part with her favorite treat, a caramel jam called dulce de leche. Then she in a mass. On a family trip to quickly gathers a handful of tools from drawers and cabinets. central Argentina, "Vamos, Tauro!" she calls to her copilot. Let's go! she was fascinated With Tauro close behind, she hops up three flights of stairs to la by a water hole (opposite) where terazza, the rooftop terrace where the launch pad is. Her spaceship swirling water is white except for the fuel tank, a round brown container of clear ground stones smooth against the liquid that's taller than she is. As the commander, Adriana has full rock wall. security clearance. She unhitches an iron guardrail and steps through the open door of the spaceship. Astronaut Tauro follows her inside. Astronaut Juanita, dressed in a shiny aluminum spacesuit, is already strapped into her seat. 1
Adriana sets down the tools, closes the hatch, and secures the red, black, and yellow clips that seal it. She makes a visual check of ROCKS the control room. There's no window, not even a peephole, but she likes it that way. It helps keep her mind focused on the mission. ACE "Todos los sistemas listos," she announces, as she takes the SP commander's chair. All systems go. The countdown begins almost immediately, in Spanish. Tres, dos, uno . . . FUEGO! LIFTOFF! Adriana bounces back and forth, up and down, as the capsule blasts into space. In seconds the three astronauts are on their way to the Moon! ~Anything Can Happen From past missions, Adriana knows that anything can happen in outer space. So she keeps a close eye on the oscilloscope An oscilloscope measures electrical [ah-SIL-uh-skope], a small but heavy metal box. It has a face signals. (Oscillate full of dials and a green screen that glows. Adriana relies on the means "to waver instrument to monitor activity outside the windowless space back and forth regularly.") capsule. She peers at the glowing screen. A thin green line is oscillating--wavering up and down--on a grid. The wave pattern is stable, she notes, with no change in frequency. Perfecto. She reaches over and adjusts a black dial. The wavy line starts jumping to a faster beat. Its peaks and valleys march quickly across the screen. There's something out there! "Qué es esto?" Adriana wonders aloud. What is it? She picks up the voltmeter, a smaller monitoring device, and sets the dial at 0.000001--one-millionth! It's the most sensitive level possible. Then she touches one end of a wire to the red button and the other end to the black button. The needle jumps from left to right before hovering in the middle. Adriana knows that this can mean only one thing: asteroide! 2
She pictures the asteroid, a giant rock flying through space straight toward the capsule. If it hits, all three astronauts are doomed! Adriana warns Tauro and Juanita to hold on tight. Then she steers the capsule sharply off course, fighting to keep herself balanced. She is just in time. The asteroid zooms harmlessly past the capsule and off into outer space. ~Just as She Imagined Back on course, the spaceship soon lands on the Moon. Adriana puts on her helmet and adjusts the communications antenna. Tauro's helmet has come loose, and Adriana orders him to be still: "No te muevas, Tauro!" She tightens the straps on his headgear. "Listos," she says. We're ready. Adriana releases the metal clips on the hatch, opens the iron guardrail, and steps out onto the Moon. It is just as she imagined: an eerie land of rocks and craters with mountains on the horizon. She pictures the asteroid, a giant She surveys the lunar colony rock flying through space straight near the landing site. A big glass toward the capsule. If it hits, all dome provides living quarters for three astronauts are doomed! all the colonists. Smaller domes include a laboratory for making oxygen, a barn for animals, and a greenhouse for growing vegetables. Lunar rovers are lined up neatly, ready to wheel across the rocky surface. Today's mission, Adriana informs her crew, is to investigate a large crater that no human has ever visited. She and Tauro will drive to the rim and then climb down on foot to collect rocks and explore. Juanita will monitor the mission from the lunar colony. Adriana retrieves her tools from the capsule, selects a rover, and heads out toward the crater. She hopes that one day she and Tauro will encounter more than rocks and craters. She daydreams about meeting intelligent life from other worlds. She wonders what she would say to them. Or what they might say to her! She considers how they will communicate. They won't LOS SUEÑOS (DREAMS) 3
speak Spanish, that's for sure. Aliens would be more intelligent than humans, she reasons, since they know how to travel from star ROCKS to star. And thinking is faster than speaking or writing. Telepatía! They'll use telepathy! Adriana imagines sending thoughts directly ACE from mind to mind as she and Tauro step down into the crater. SP Time passes quickly on the Moon. The Sun soon sets, and Adriana (in the Adriana hurries to complete the mission and return to the white hat) sits with spaceship. As she prepares for liftoff, a distant voice calls out. her mother and "Adriana! Adrianita!" sisters on the rooftop terrace where she built Spell Is Broken her Moon colony. ~The The comic book she's holding is about a boy who The voice belongs to her mami, her mother. It's late evening, has a nutty inventor for an uncle and dinnertime in Argentina. Mami calls up the stairs again, and Tauro dreams of being barks in reply. Adriana's copilot is her new puppy, a white fox rich and famous. terrier with brown and black spots. She removes her dog's little plastic helmet and tells him to be patient. Then she takes off her own helmet, a colander for straining water from pasta. The helmet's antenna is a meat skewer. The spaceship, the lunar colony, the crater, the intelligent life forms--all of it melts from Adriana's mind. The ship transforms back into an old white sheet hung over an iron bar. The brown fuel tank becomes a water tank. The domed habitat, the oxygen lab, the barn, and the greenhouse return to kitchenware: upside-down bowls, painted jars and cans, saucers, and pot covers. The Moon rovers are toys made out of corks and wires. The tools are spatulas, tongs, and other utensils from Mami's kitchen. The Moon mission is make-believe, of course, a typical play session for a girl with a very big imagination. Adrianita, which means "little Adriana" in Spanish, is about eight years old and plays in her rooftop lunar colony every day after school. It's the 4
mid-1960s, and the Ocampos live in a townhouse near Buenos Aires, Argentina. Adriana picks up astronaut Juanita and tosses her into the The Ocampos spaceship. Juanita is a doll, a gift from Tío Ricardo, Adriana's visited a tall ship uncle and godfather in Colombia. The doll has long, light brown called the Sarmiento hair and big eyes and came wearing a Scottish plaid outfit. when Adriana (standing in front Adriana can't stand dolls, so she made a little spacesuit out of of Mami) was about aluminum foil, fashioned a tiny helmet out of a plastic bowl, and 8 years old. taped on another meat-skewer antenna. Juanita was no longer a doll. She was una astronauta! Along with tools from Mami's kitchen, Adriana borrows supplies for her missions from Papi's workshop. Her father, Victor, is an electrician. He holds two jobs, sometimes three, often working from dawn until 11 P.M. In his workshop, he teaches people how to build and repair radios and televisions. The room is filled with so many interesting parts: wires, tubing, dials, magnets, antennae, voltmeters, glass vacuum tubes, and colored clips with "alligator teeth" for gripping. It doesn't take too much imagination to turn these gadgets into space equipment! Adriana especially loves the oscilloscope. Papi uses it to measure electrical signals from outlets and machines. To Adriana it is the ultimate instrument for space exploration. With its dials and glowing green screen, it fits right into any science fiction adventure. ~We're Not Alone Sometimes, Adrianita climbs up to the terrace just to look at the stars. She can pick out the Southern Cross, the most famous constellation in the Southern Hemisphere. She knows Las Tres Marias--the three stars of Orion's belt. But what really amazes her, night after night, is the extraordinary number of stars. Even in LOS SUEÑOS (DREAMS) 5
a big city, with millions of electric lights washing out the night sky, there are far too many stars to count. ROCKS There has to be intelligent life out there somewhere, Adriana Three bright stars in a row--known believes. "No estamos solos en el universo," Papi often assures her. ACE as Las Tres Marias We're not alone in the universe. SP (the three Marias) Some kids think that's weird, so Adriana keeps her space to Adriana--make the constellation missions mostly to herself. Her older sister Sonia, who is 11, says Orion easy to find. there are too many problems on Earth to worry about outer space. These stars form She thinks it's better to help real people who are sick or poor than the belt of a hunter figure. to dream about things that don't exist. Adriana can't help it. She looks up at all those stars and has to ask, "Quién vive allí?" Who lives out there? Adriana isn't the first person to ask that question. A lot of her ideas come from books. Every Saturday the Ocampos take turns reading something aloud--a poem, a chapter, or an original 6
writing. On the terrace, when Adriana is by herself, she reads to Tauro. One of her favorite authors is Jules Verne. Mami gave her a book called From the Earth to the Moon. Verne wrote it more than a century ago, in 1865, yet the hero, Michel Arden, predicts, "Before twenty years are over, half the Earth will have visited the Moon!" So far, in the mid-1960s, no one has set foot on the Moon. No one has even left Earth's orbit. Still, Adriana truly believes that people will go to the Moon, to other planets, and even to the stars. She hopes with all her heart that The science fiction stories of Jules she will be one of them. Verne have been Mami and Papi always say, "Hay que seguir los sueños." You have translated from to follow your dreams. And space exploration has been Adriana's French into 148 languages! As a dream for as long as she can remember. child, Adriana read them in Spanish. ~The This illustrated Centipede Dream English version of From the Earth to the Moon was One night Sonia and Adrianita are tucked into their bunk beds, printed in 1920. fast asleep. But Adriana is a restless sleeper. She is always tossing and turning, which annoys Sonia sometimes. Out of nowhere, an image pops into Adriana's sleeping head. In her mind she finds herself picturing a new kind of Moon rover! Adriana wakes up with a start, jumps out of bed, and grabs a pencil and paper. She starts sketching, quickly, before the mental picture fades away. On the paper a centipede begins to take shape, or rather a vehicle that looks like that multilegged creature. LOS SUEÑOS (DREAMS) 7
It has a series of glass spheres that are filled with breathable air and connected by a tube. Astronauts can walk from one bubble to ROCKS the next through the tube. On the outside each bubble has two legs, one on either side, that fold up when the centipede isn't ACE moving and come back down when it's time to go. SP The rover can crawl slowly over the lunar surface, but Adrianita isn't finished. She has an extraordinary idea. Each sphere, she decides, can break off from the main part and zip around on its own. That way two astronauts can take off, explore a crater, and then zoom back to rejoin the centipede. Fantástico! Adrianita thinks about how to build this incredible machine. In her mind she rifles through the kitchen drawers and cabinets. The tubing, she knows, she can find in Papi's workshop. Papi! She has to show him her centipede! She runs into the next room and taps on her father's shoulder. He's fast asleep. Adriana knows he has to get up at dawn to go to work, but she just can't wait that long. Curious Scientists and Clever Engineers When Adriana designed, built, and to know? Everything. They investigate how tested a rover, she was engineering. the universe works. They ask questions and When she explored a Moon crater in seek answers by experimenting, observing, her mind, she was imagining herself as and gathering data. Science is about being a scientist. curious. What's the difference between an The word engineer is related to the word engineer and a scientist? Here's one ingenious, which describes someone with way to think about it: An engineer natural cleverness or skills. Engineers use designs spaceships that can take human science and math knowledge to invent, beings to the Moon. A scientist wants design, build, test, and improve things. to know what the human beings will Like what sorts of things? Look around. find when they get there. Engineering involves any object not found Science comes from the Latin word for in nature, such as buildings, roads, bridges, "knowledge." So what do scientists want chemicals, and every kind of machine. 8
"Papi!" she says. Papi worked three He rolls over and sleepily jobs--as a teacher, an electrician, and mumbles, "Anita?" Anita is a salesman--but he Papi's nickname for her. still found time Adriana proudly shows to teach Adriana to rollerskate. He also him her drawing. bought her a Papi glances at it and tells chemistry set and a her it's very good. He little telescope with a carrying case. promises to take a closer look Adriana treasured in the morning. How can such both gifts. a small child be thinking these things? he wonders before falling back to sleep. Adriana can't wait to build and test her rover. How will she make the legs fold up and down? How will the spheres detach and reattach? Her mind never stops wondering, tinkering, and imagining--often all at the same time. Many of her earliest thoughts, as a very young child, led to both discovery and danger. One idea was downright deadly. LOS SUEÑOS (DREAMS) 9