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Research Scientist

Planetary Radar Group

James E. (Jim) Richardson Jr.

B.S. degree in Physics: Spring, 2000,
from Florida State University

Ph.D. in Planetary Sciences: Spring, 2005,
from the University of Arizona

Jim Richardson JAN2014

Contact Information

Arecibo Observatory
HC 3 Box 53995
Arecibo, Puerto Rico
PR 00612-8346

Office: (787) 878-2612 Ext. 315
Quaters: (787) 878-2612 Ext. 230
Mobile: (607) 280-3355 (when off-site only)
Email: jerichardsonjr (at)

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Research interests:

My current research interests include the geology, geophysics, and geomorphology of the terrestrial planets and other solid solar system bodies (particularly asteroids, comets, and planetary satellites), specializing in impact cratering, regolith generation, and other surface processes. This interest has led to multiple lines of scientific investigation, utilizing spacecraft and ground-based radar observations, laboratory impact experiments, and analytical and numerical modeling techniques to answer outstanding questions regarding the surfaces, internal structure, and developmental history of these objects.

Research highlights:

  • Described the erosional process whereby spin and gravity combine to minimize topographic relief on asteroid surfaces (Icarus, 2014)
  • Determinted the surface properties of comet 9P/Tempel 1 via measurements of the crater produced by Deep Impact (Icarus, 2013)
  • Solved the long-standing question of how crater density equilibrium is reached on heavily-cratered terrains (Icarus, 2009)
  • Determined the density of comet 9P/Tempel 1 via the expansion rate of the ejecta plume produced by Deep Impact (Icarus, 2007)
  • Linked the paucity of small craters on asteroid 433 Eros to the effects of impact-induced seismic shaking (Science, 2004, Icarus, 2005)
  • Extracted surface features of Saturn's moon Titan hidden within the Orange-fliter images taken by Voyager 1 (Icarus, 2004)

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My awesome new workplace (June 2014)

National Astronomy and Ionospheric Center (NAIC)
Arecibo Observatory, Puerto Rico

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"To consider the Earth as the only populated world in infinite space is as absurd as to assert that on a vast plain only one stalk of grain will grow"

-- Metrodoros of Chios, 4th century B.C.

"There is a theory which states that if ever anyone discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable."

" There is another theory which states that this has already happened."

-- Douglas Adams, 1980

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