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Reta Beebe

Reta Beebe grew up as the third of nine children on a working farm near Boulder, Colorado - and she might never have become an astronomer had it not been for the insatiable ways of the 8th graders she was teaching Earth Science to after her undergraduate degree. There had to be an easier way to earn a living, she figured, so she got her PhD in Astrophysics at the University of Indiana. She became fascinated by thoughts of what the climate is like on other planets and has worked on planetary atmospheres ever since, mostly at the New Mexico State University. Currently, she is doing research at NASA headquarters. She participated at both NASA's Voyager and Galileo missions. The question that bothers her is not wheter there is other life in the universe (she thinks there is somewhere, although she does not expect to meet an alien on good ole Earth any time soon), but whether a civilization on a hospitable planet can rake up enough of its resources to venture into space and develop a self-sustaining colony. She is not too sure that earthlings will accomplish that.

Actually, she is quite fond of our mother planet, though. She loves the outdoors as well as gardening and cooking, and spends a lot of time restoring an old adobe house in the Rio Grande Valley.There she can relax and contemplate the bigger and smaller successes of planetary astronomy in recent decades, including her personal triumphs like the one time she was giving a presentation at an elementary school. "Afterwards I had an argument with a 4th grader who insisted that nobody would pay me to do what I did!"