ROBIN M. CANUP (NAS) is assistant vice president of the Planetary Sciences Directorate at Southwest Research Institute. Dr. Canup is a theoretician that utilizes numerical simulations and analytical methods to study the formation and early evolution of planets and their moons. She has modeled many aspects of the formation of the Moon, including hydrodynamical simulations of lunar-forming impacts, the accumulation of the Moon and its initial composition and orbital evolution, and how bombardment may have affected Earth-Moon isotopic compositions. Her models for the origin of the large satellites of the gas giant planets have emphasized the potential early loss of satellites due to gas-driven orbital decay, and how this process may both select for the similar observed ratios between the current satellite system masses and their host planets and provide a potential mechanism to produce icy rings at Saturn. Dr. Canup has also developed models for an impact origin of the satellite systems of Pluto and Mars. She was the recipient of the 2003 Urey Prize of the Division of Planetary Sciences and the 2004 Macelwane Medal of the American Geophysical Union, and was elected to NAS in 2012 and to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2017. She earned her Ph.D. and M.S. in astrophysics and planetary sciences from the University of Colorado, Boulder. She served on the Academies’ 2015 and 2018 J. Lawrence Smith Medal Selection Committees, and the 2014 and 2017-2019 NAS Class I Membership Committees. She is co-chair of the 2023-2032 Planetary Science and Astrobiology Decadal Survey.

Research Interests

Moon origin and early evolution; satellite formation; compact exoplanetary system formation; giant impacts.

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Primary Section

Section 16: Geophysics