May 2009

                                                     RICHARD J. GREENBERG


Professor of Planetary Sciences

University of Arizona

Tucson, Arizona




            B.S., Physics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1968

            Ph.D., Planetary Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1972

               Thesis Advisor:  Irwin I. Shapiro




      Planetary dynamics and celestial mechanics with emphasis on:

        (a)     Processes of formation and long-term evolution of the solar system

        (b)     Resonant coupling between the motions of planetary bodies

        (c)     Impact processes and their effect on dynamics of planetary rings, asteroids, delivery of meteorites to Earth, and the formation of the solar system

        (d)     Tidal effects on the geophysical and dynamical evolution of satellites

        (e)     Tidal evolution of extrasolar planets




      University of Arizona

      Director, Science and Mathematics Education Center, 1989-2001


      Faculty of Science, University of Arizona

      Associate Dean of Science, 1988 - 1989.


      Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, University of Arizona

      Senior Research Scientist, 1986 - 1989.


      Universite de Paris VII

      Professor, 1987, 1992


      Reparto Planetologia, Istituto Astrofisica Spaziale, Rome

      Visiting Professor, 1984, 1986, 1992


      Planetary Science Institute, Science Applications, Inc.

      Senior Scientist, August 1976 - June 1986.


      Observatoire de Paris, France

      Astronome Titulaire, March-June 1979, April 1983.


      Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, University of Arizona

      Research Associate, 1972-1975.

      Assistant Professor, 1975-1976.


Selected Innovations and Scholarly Achievements:



Discovered the orbital inclination and eccentricity of the orbit of Uranus' satellite Miranda.


Discovered and explained the process of runaway accretion of planets, now widely accepted, by which growing planets likely formed by rapidly beating the competition in accreting small bodies.


Invented and promoted the "Home Institution Image Processing System", by which the science team for the Galileo Mission to Jupiter would receive image data electronically distributed to processing sites at their widely distributed home institutions, to replace the reliance on photographic hardcopy.  The concept was eventually adopted by Galileo, and has become the standard method of operation for most space exploration missions.


Developed an initially unpopular theory that the Galilean satellites are evolving away from the deep resonance that drove even stronger tidal effects in the past than at present, a model vindicated twenty years later by observations of orbital evolution (Aksnes and Franklin), and by models of formation of the satellites (Peale and Lee).


Invented the concept of "Dynamic Ephemeral Bodies" to explain the size distribution of particles in Saturn's rings.  This idea of a steady-state population of temporary agglomerations, continually disrupted by tides, is now part of the standard understanding of ring processes and structure.


Founded and developed a University-wide initiative in support of pre-college science and mathematics education, later becoming founding Director of the Science and Mathematics Education Center.  This organization and its activities have been widely emulated at universities across the country.


Founded the Image Processing for Teaching project, which gave students (>100,000 of them) in classrooms across the nation the power to engage in substantive scientific exploration and discovery using state-of-the-art digital image processing, via curriculum materials and extensive teacher education.  The project is widely emulated; its products remain in wide use and demand.


Proposed that small asteroids are much more resistant to collisional destruction than had been previously believed, due to their intrinsic physical weakness.  The result has been confirmed and generally accepted, with important implications for the evolution and size distribution of the asteroid belt.


Led the development of a new secondary-school science-teacher preparation program within the College of Science at the University of Arizona, including proposing the program to the University administration, promoting a necessary cultural change across the Science departments, chairing the search committee, and managing the program development.  The program integrates science content into pedagogical preparation.

1997 -2009

Developed the thin-ice model for Europa, based on tidal-tectonic theory, to explain the observed character of this satellite of Jupiter.  The idea of a liquid water ocean with continual and various linkages to the surface is now receiving wide acceptance.  With its implications for the possibility of life it is receiving considerable attention.


Richard Greenberg              


            Richard Greenberg is Professor of Planetary Sciences at the University of Arizona.  He leads an active research program in planetary sciences.  As a Principal Investigator in NASA's Planetary Geology and Geophysics program, he and his research team carry out investigations of the dynamical evolution of the solar system, including studies of asteroids, meteorites, planetary rings, and the formation of the planets.  He has had a long-term research program, dating back to his doctoral dissertation, in tidal processes and orbital resonances among natural satellites, and their implications for the history and physical character of the satellites.  Recent work has included studies of the tidal evolution of extra-solar planets and the implications for planetary-system formation and planetary properties.


            Greenberg was a member of the Imaging Team for NASA's Galileo spacecraft mission from 1977 until 2003, where his research became focused on characterizing and interpreting Jupiter's satellite Europa.  He has continued interpretation of the processes that have shaped Europa and make it the most likely place for the first discovery of extra-terrestrial life.  His new book “Unmasking Europa” has received numerous favorable reviews including those in Sky and Telescope, Nature, and NASA’s Astrobiology magazine.


            Greenberg also led the University of Arizona's campus-wide initiative in support of pre-college science, mathematics, and technology education as founder and director of the Science and Mathematics Education Center from 1989 until 2000.  Accomplishments include reform of the teacher-preparation program, unique new procedures for appropriate evaluation and reward for faculty efforts in education, cultivation and coordination of sponsored projects across the campus, and integration of the K-12 science and mathematics teaching communities into the education activities of the University.  Greenberg founded and directed the Image Processing for Teaching (IPT) project, and was founding CEO of the non-profit Center for Image Processing in Education, Inc., the dissemination entity for IPT.  IPT gave students in classrooms across the nation the power to engage in substantive scientific exploration and discovery using state-of-the-art digital image processing.