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Solar System Ambassador Profile

Loretta McKibben


Ambassador Since 1997

Albany, Oregon 97321
Click Here To Email Loretta McKibben.

Biographical Information:


Photo of Ambassador Loretta McKibben 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:

News story, University of Arizona News

Curiosity Star Party for Americorps Youth Volunteers
Sonoran Glass Art Academy

Tucson Festival of Books
University of Arizona campus

Weather Around the Solar System talk

Westercon 62- FiestaCon
Tempe Mission Palms Hotel


Click here to view all upcoming events


View other Solar System Ambassadors in Oregon
View Solar System Ambassadors by state

This page was last updated October 11, 2013
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