KECK INSTITUTE FOR SPACE STUDIES

       

Maria Camarca

Maria Camarca

Grad student in the Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences

Hometown: Fredericksburg, VA

Date of this Interview: June 15, 2022


What do you research?

My research is in planetary science. I primarily use data from radio telescopes to study and understand the thermal surface properties of Callisto, one of Jupiter’s moons. Callisto has an extremely old surface covered with impact craters, and because it is geologically inactive, this satellite provides one of the best records of heavy bombardment damage the Solar System has to offer. Other projects I’m involved in (or have worked on) include looking at optical aurora on Jupiter’s moons and the infrared spectroscopy of comets.

Why does space inspire you?

Space is inspiring because it is truly so interesting at every scale at which it is explored. Whether one wants to think about the little rounded pebbles on Mars or the collisions of galaxies, you will never be disappointed with what fascinating physics/chemistry/etc is operating. The big and the little pictures of the universe are all worth our attention.

If you could instantly travel to any point in the universe, where would you choose to go?

Just set me up with a foldout chair at any black hole outside the event horizon.

Where can you be found when you’re not conducting research?

I’ve come to really enjoy hiking since moving to Pasadena – so often on the weekends I try to make it to the San Gabriel mountains for some trail time with friends. I also enjoy sampling the local ice cream, doing Saturday morning runs with friends, and writing letters and postcards.

What book do you wish you could read for the first time again?

The Four Loves by C.S. Lewis, especially the chapter on friendship.


Image of Maria with Death Valley landscape in the background

Picture of Maria on the 2019 Ge-101 field trip to Death Valley.