WIRED Science

Season 2007 Episode 10.17.07

Interview: Rosaly Lopes: Volcanologist

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Interview: Rosaly Lopes: Volcanologist
AIRED:
Some people take their time figuring out what they want to do with their lives. Rosaly Lopes, on the other hand, was more directed than most of us. As she recalled in a recent NASA webchat, "I wanted to study astronomy since I was about 5 years old!" Born in Rio de Janeiro in 1957, Lopes' childhood fascination with the cosmos was fueled by media coverage of the Space Race during the 1960's. The beaches of Rio afforded few options for an aspiring stargazer, so she left Brazil to study astronomy at the University of London. There, the budding researcher found the objects of her intellectual desire: volcanoes, and not just of the Earthly variety, anywhere they happen to be. For her doctoral thesis. Lopes compared the volcanic processes on Earth and Mars. She received her Ph.D. in Planetary Science in 1986, and has been studying molten rock all over the solar system ever since. oday, Lopes is the Principle Scientist on the Cassini RADAR team for which she plans the scientific observations of Saturn, its moons, and rings. Saturn's largest moon, Titan, has captured her interest, as its volcanoes are the result of ice volcanism (cryovolcanism) and operate altogether differently than their terrestrial counterparts.moreless
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