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Research Scientist

Planetary Radar Science 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 NOV2015

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:

I specialize in studying the properties and evolution of the surfaces of small solar system bodies, with a particular interest in impact crater dominated terrains. My work includes the computation of gravitational/rotational asteroid surface conditions, and the analytical and numerical modeling of surface development, regolith growth, and cratering on these objects. This modeling work is compared directly to observations, either returned by spacecraft or gathered by Earth-based radar experiments, including such properties as overall shape, spin, topography, density, indications of regolith and boulders, and cratering records. My work at Arecibo includes both the conduct of new small-body observational experiments, as well as utilizing the extensive database of previous radar observations to advance these studies.

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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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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