Robin M. Canup

Assistant Vice President

Boulder Office/Planetary Science Directorate
Space Science and Engineering Division

B.S. in Physics, Duke University
Ph.D. in Astrophysics, Planetary and Atmospheric Sciences, University of Colorado.

Dr. Canup joined Southwest Research Institute in Boulder in 1998. Her research utilizes both numerical simulations and analytical models 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. She has also developed models for an impact origin of the satellite systems of Pluto and Mars. Canup was the recipient of the 2003 Urey Prize of the Division of Planetary Sciences and the 2004 Macelwane Medal of the American Geophysical Union. She was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2012 and to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2017. She and Professor Phil Christensen (ASU) have been selected by the National Academies to co-chair the 2023-2032 Planetary Science and Astrobiology Decadal Survey. Canup and her husband and their two children live in the foothills outside Boulder.

Downloadable reprints and preprints
Curriculum Vitae

Downloadable images and animations of potential lunar-forming impacts (from Canup 2004, Icarus)
E-mail address: robin (at)
Phone: (303) 546-9670