Ellen Ochoa was born on May 10, 1958 in Los Angeles, California. As a young girl she enjoyed school. In 1980 Ochoa earned a bachelor’s degree in physics at the San Diego State University. By 1985 she had earned her doctorate in electrical engineering from Stanford University. During her studies she specialized in optics.
Ochoa became part of an international team of astronauts for NASA’s Mission to Planet Earth project. She was the first Hispanic woman in space. In 1993 she was one crew member of five who flew on the Discovery space shuttle. Ochoa developed an interest in optics and researched the use of light as a guide for robots.
As an astronaut Ochoa, like Sally Ride, was trained to use a shuttle’s robotic arm to perform various tasks in space. She used the arm to release and collect satellites, one of which gathered information about the sun’s power and natural changes.
She also studied the affect man has upon the ozone layer of our atmosphere. Changes in our atmosphere can cause changes in the weather and various environments on earth. She is involved in research to determine solar radiation’s affect on the earth over an 11 year period. By determining the type and amount of damage the human race causes our atmosphere and the resulting solar power change, Ochoa is helping to create a better world for future generations.
Books for Children
- Ellen Ochoa: The First Hispanic Woman Astronaut (Great Hispanics of Our Time) by Maritza Romero - A nice biography for children 8 and older. This author also has other books about famous Hispanic individuals which are appropriate for children 8 and up. (amazon.com has it)
- Ellen Ochoa Biographical Data by the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center - a short biographical data sheet about Ochoa and her accomplishments at NASA.
- Ellen Ochoa A Higher Education by Stanford University School of Engineering reports some of Ochoas views through quotes and highlights her educational accomplishments.
- Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month by Scholastic has biographical information on Hispanic peoples of importance such as Ellen Ochoa, as well as interviews and cultural information.
- Hispanic Heritage Month by the Montgomery County Public Schools - This page has links to museums, magazines, census bureau information, television series, and more.