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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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Outer Main Belt Asteroid 17195 Jimrichardson (1999 XQ234 = 1995 EO2)

  • Discovered 3 December 1999 by the Lowell Observatory Near-Earth Object Search at the Anderson Mesa Station.
  • Orbital parameter: a = 3.2 AU, e = 0.12, i = 6.1 deg, Period = 5.77 years
  • Physical parameters (JPL): absolute magnitude (H) = 14, Diameter = 4-9 km
  • Physical parameters (WISE): diameter = 6.2 +/- 0.2 km, albedo = 0.096 +/- 0.024
  • Likely asteroid family: Hygiea, Likely spectral class: C
  • Name announced in Minor Planet Circular 54564, 21 July 2005
  • Citation: James Richardson (b. 1961) has calculated models of the shaking of asteroids by impacts for his thesis research at the University of Arizona. As a side venture, he has provided simulation tools for reproducing the phenomenology seen by the Deep Impact mission, and these have been invaluable in planning observing sequences.

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