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Directory of Ambassadors: Loretta McKibben
Loretta McKibben
Loretta McKibben
Member Since 1997

El Sobrante, California

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Biographical Information:

In 1997, I signed up to be a NASA-JPL Ambassador to Jupiter, and I proudly informed a coworker, a research meteorologist at the National Severe Storms Laboratory. A rascal, he raised an eyebrow and said, "Oh? When do you leave?" and everyone laughed. Those Terran meteorologists joked about my ambassadorship for a long time, knowing that if it were possible I would indeed go to Jupiter, but many became intrigued by the ambassador events that explored Jupiter's atmosphere, Europa's ocean, and Io's volcanoes, in spite of their Earth-centric views. "You just won't find interesting storms on other planets!" one honked, an unbeliever. So I pulled out my overhead that compared dust devils on Mars, an Oklahoma F5 tornado, Hurricane Andrew, and the Great Red Spot on Jupiter, titled "Cyclonic Storms Around the Solar System," and pointed out the interesting features, talked about the formation of each, compared wind speeds, the life cycle and time span of each storm, and talked about atmospheric compositions. Soon these naysayers were bringing their kids to my events, and asking me where they could find more information. "My kids don't learn much about planetary science or astronomy in school," they said, "so we're glad you go and talk to their classes." And the adults liked knowing more about other planets, too, and comparing the other worlds to the beautiful planet we live on.

I have been a Solar System Ambassador since the program began, which grew out of the Ambassador to Jupiter (Galileo) volunteer program. Since 1971 I have enjoyed teaching children and adults about space exploration, and have done so through teaching at hands-on science museums, science fairs, organizing SpaceWeek and other pro-space events, and teaching model rocketry and space exploration.The Solar System Ambassador Program has been a joy to participate in, and it is fun to organize educational space-related events. Up until May, 2003, I served as Oklahoma's sole ambassador.

As a scientific programmer and computer systems administrator by trade, I have worked with a diverse set of scientists over the past twenty-plus years, including physicists, astrophysicists, planetary geologists, Terran geologists, and meteorologists. I have been fortunate to do a wide variety of interesting projects, including research on Earth's severe weather (mostly tornadoes and severe tornadic thunderstorms), the Martian polar caps, and my present job working with Mars 2001 Odyssey data from the Gamma Ray Spectrometer instruments.

Past Events Hosted By This Ambassador:

Goodbye, Galileo news story
Arizona Daily Star

Rotary Club Luncheon and meeting
Green Valley Country Club

Night at Observatory
Flandrau Science Center

MRO MOI Watch Party
Lunar and Planetary Laboratory

Night at the Observatory
Univ. of AZ Science Museum

Past Events Collaborated On By This Ambassador:

Eclipse Viewing Party at the California State Capitol
California State Capitol

Explore JPL
NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

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Ambassador Directory: M
Ambassador Directory: California

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Last Updated: 19 Mar 2019