PTYS/LPL Faculty

Erik Asphaug

Kuiper 428


Erik Asphaug


B.S., 1984, Rice University; Ph.D., 1993, University of Arizona

Years with LPL: 2017

Lunar Studies, Planetary Analogs, Planetary Geophysics, Planetary Surfaces, Small Bodies, Theoretical Astrophysics, Titan & Outer Solar System

I study giant impacts that dominate the late stage of planet and satellite formation, such as that which formed the Moon, that can explain why planets are so diverse and sometimes hemispherically dichotomous. I also study the geophysics of asteroids, comets and small moons, the 'small bodies' left over from accretion. I study the strength properties of meteorites and the origin of chondrules. Motivated students have led me to study other topics such as lakes and patterned ground on Mars, the delivery of volatiles to the lunar surface, and Saturn's rings. I am on the science team of NASA's Psyche mission, and ESA's Hera mission to Didymos, and JAXA's MMX mission to the Martian moons. I am Science PI of the SpaceTREx laboratory at U Arizona that is advancing miniaturized space exploration and small cubesat laboratories for low-gravity research.  

View LPL Evening Lecture from November 7, 2018, Impact Origin of the Moon?

Erik Asphaug was born in 1961 in Oslo. He grew up in various parts of the US and Norway. He majored in English and Math at Rice University, and then taught high school in Minneapolis and Tucson. He started graduate studies at LPL in 1988 and has been a planetary scientist ever since. In 1998 he was awarded the Urey Prize of the AAS/DPS, and asteroid 7939 Asphaug is named for his research on comet geophysics and planetary impacts. His first faculty appointment was in Earth Sciences at UC Santa Cruz, where he helped create the Planetary Sciences program and became Full Professor in 2006. In 2012 he became Ronald Greeley Chair of Planetary Science at Arizona State University. In 2017 he returned to Tucson and joined the faculty of LPL.

Current Grants

Principal Investigator:

Application of Machine Learning to Giant Impact Studies of Planet Formation 
Program name: NASA Planetary Science Division
Performance period: 04/15/19 – 04/14/22


Psyche: Journey to a Metal World
PI: Prof. Linda Elkins-Tanton (ASU)
Program name: NASA Discovery Program, Science Mission Directorate 
Performance period: 02/15/17 – 09/15/2027


A STEM Education Program Encompassing Near-Earth Asteroid Science, Technology, and Exploration
PI: Prof. Jekan Thangavelautham (UA)
NASA Office of STEM Engagement
Performance period: 6/1/2019 - 5/31/2022

Current Spacecraft Involvement

Former Spacecraft Involvement

  • Co-I, Lunar Cratering Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS), NASA Ames (2006-2010; PI: T. Colaprete)
  • Associate, Galileo Solid State Imaging Science Team (1996-2003; PI: M. Belton)

Current Graduate Students

Former Postdocs

  • Stephen Schwartz (2017-2021)
  • Alexandre Emsenhuber (2017-2019)
  • Alan Jackson (2013-2016)
  • Desiree Cotto-Figueroa (2013-2015)
  • Andreas Reufer (2013, 2014)
  • Naor Movshovitz (2013)
  • Shangfei Liu (2013-2015)
  • Martin Jutzi (2009-2011)
  • Lindsey Chambers (2008-2011)
  • Misha Kreslavsky (2006-2012)
  • Don Korycansky (2000-2002)
  • Craig Agnor (2002-2004)

Based on Google Scholar and NASA ADS: NASA ADS Author search: Erik Asphaug

Recent publications: Years 2019 through 2021

Rabbi, M. F., Garvie, L. A. J., Cotto-Figueroa, D., Asphaug, E., Khafagy, K. H., Datta, S., & Chattopadhyay, A. 2021, Meteoritics and Planetary Science. Understanding asteroidal failure through quasi-static compression testing and 3-D digital image correlation of the Aba Panu (L3) chondrite

Miyamoto, Hideaki, Niihara, Takafumi, Wada, Koji, Ogawa, Kazunori, Senshu, Hiroki, Michel, Patrick, Kikuchi, Hiroshi, Hemmi, Ryodo, Nakamura, Tomoki, Nakamura, Akiko M., Hirata, Naoyuki, Sasaki, Sho, Asphaug, Erik, Britt, Daniel T., Abell, Paul A., Ballouz, Ronald-Louis, Banouin, Olivier S., Baresi, Nicola, Barucci, Maria A., Biele, Jens, Grott, Matthias, Hino, Hideitsu, Hong, Peng K., Imada, Takane, Kameda, Shingo, Kobayashi, Makito, Libourel, Guy, Mogi, Katsuro, Murdoch, Naomi, Nishio, Yuki, Okamoto, Shogo, Ota, Yuichiro, Otsuki, Masatsugu, Otto, Katharina A., Sakatani, Naoya, Shimizu, Yuta, Takemura, Tomohiro, Terada, Naoki, Tsukamoto, Masafumi, Usui, Tomohiro, & Willner, Konrad 2021, Earth, Planets and Space. Surface environment of Phobos and Phobos simulant UTPS

Emsenhuber, Alexandre, Mordasini, Christoph, Burn, Remo, Alibert, Yann, Benz, Willy, & Asphaug, Erik 2021, Astronomy and Astrophysics. The New Generation Planetary Population Synthesis (NGPPS). II. Planetary population of solar-like stars and overview of statistical results

Emsenhuber, Alexandre, Mordasini, Christoph, Burn, Remo, Alibert, Yann, Benz, Willy, & Asphaug, Erik 2021, Astronomy and Astrophysics. The New Generation Planetary Population Synthesis (NGPPS). I. Bern global model of planet formation and evolution, model tests, and emerging planetary systems

Asphaug, Erik, Emsenhuber, Alexandre, Cambioni, Saverio, Gabriel, Travis S. J., & Schwartz, Stephen R. 2021, The Planetary Science Journal. Collision Chains among the Terrestrial Planets. III. Formation of the Moon

Emsenhuber, Alexandre, Asphaug, Erik, Cambioni, Saverio, Gabriel, Travis S. J., & Schwartz, Stephen R. 2021, The Planetary Science Journal. Collision Chains among the Terrestrial Planets. II. An Asymmetry between Earth and Venus

Cambioni, S., Delbo, M., Poggiali, G., Avdellidou, C., Ryan, A. J., Deshapriya, J. D. P., Asphaug, E., Ballouz, R. -L., Barucci, M. A., Bennett, C. A., Bottke, W. F., Brucato, J. R., Burke, K. N., Cloutis, E., DellaGiustina, D. N., Emery, J. P., Rozitis, B., Walsh, K. J., & Lauretta, D. S. 2021, Nature. Fine-regolith production on asteroids controlled by rock porosity

Cambioni, Saverio, Jacobson, Seth A., Emsenhuber, Alexandre, Asphaug, Erik, Rubie, David C., Gabriel, Travis S. J., Schwartz, Stephen R., & Furfaro, Roberto 2021, The Planetary Science Journal. The Effect of Inefficient Accretion on Planetary Differentiation

Cambioni, S., Jacobson, S. A., Emsenhuber, A., Asphaug, E., Rubie, D. C., Gabriel, T. S. J., Schwartz, S. R., Furfaro, R. 2021, The Planetary Science Journal The Effect of Inefficient Accretion on Planetary Differentiation

McKinnon, William B. and Asphaug, Erik 2020, Nature Astronomy. H. J. Melosh

R. T. Nallapu, S. R. Schwartz, E. Asphaug and J. Thangavelautham, "Robust Spin Control Design for the AOSAT+ Mission Concept," in IEEE Journal on Miniaturization for Air and Space Systems, vol. 1, no. 1, pp. 10-31, June 2020, doi: 10.1109/JSTARS.2020.2974615.

Ballouz, R. -L., Walsh, K. J., Barnouin, O. S., DellaGiustina, D. N., Asad, M. Al, Jawin, E. R., Daly, M. G., Bottke, W. F., Michel, P., Avdellidou, C., Delbo, M., Daly, R. T., Asphaug, E., Bennett, C. A., Bierhaus, E. B., Connolly, H. C., Golish, D. R., Molaro, J. L., Nolan, M. C., Pajola, M., Rizk, B., Schwartz, S. R., Trang, D., Wolner, C. W. V., & Lauretta, D. S. 2020, Nature. Bennu's near-Earth lifetime of 1.75 million years inferred from craters on its boulders

Asphaug, Erik 2020, Nature. Eye of a skull reveals details of cometary materials

Cheng, Bin, Yu, Yang, Asphaug, Erik, Michel, Patrick, Richardson, Derek C., Hirabayashi, Masatoshi, Yoshikawa, Makoto, & Baoyin, Hexi 2020, Nature Astronomy. Reconstructing the formation history of top-shaped asteroids from the surface boulder distribution

Barnouin, O. S., et al. 2020, Nature Geoscience. Author Correction: Shape of (101955) Bennu indicative of a rubble pile with internal stiffness

Asphaug, Erik 2020, Nature Communications. Interiors of small bodies and moons

Elkins-Tanton, L. T., Asphaug, E., Bell, J. F., Bercovici, H., Bills, B., Binzel, R., Bottke, W. F., Dibb, S., Lawrence, D. J., Marchi, S., McCoy, T. J., Oran, R., Park, R. S., Peplowski, P. N., Polanskey, C. A., Prettyman, T. H., Russell, C. T., Schaefer, L., Weiss, B. P., Wieczorek, M. A., Williams, D. A., & Zuber, M. T. 2020, Journal of Geophysical Research (Planets). Observations, Meteorites, and Models: A Preflight Assessment of the Composition and Formation of (16) Psyche

Gabriel, Travis S. J., Jackson, Alan P., Asphaug, Erik, Reufer, Andreas, Jutzi, Martin, & Benz, Willy 2020, The Astrophysical Journal. Gravity-dominated Collisions: A Model for the Largest Remnant Masses with Treatment for "Hit and Run" and Density Stratification

Emsenhuber, Alexandre, Cambioni, Saverio, Asphaug, Erik, Gabriel, Travis S. J., Schwartz, Stephen R., & Furfaro, Roberto 2020, The Astrophysical Journal. Realistic On-the-fly Outcomes of Planetary Collisions. II. Bringing Machine Learning to N-body Simulations

Marsset, Michaël, et al. 2020, Nature Astronomy. The violent collisional history of aqueously evolved (2) Pallas

Wright, Esteban, Quillen, Alice C., South, Juliana, Nelson, Randal C., Sánchez, Paul, Martini, Larkin, Schwartz, Stephen R., Nakajima, Miki, & Asphaug, Erik 2020, Icarus. Boulder stranding in ejecta launched by an impact generated seismic pulse

Marchi, S., Durda, D. D., Polanskey, C. A., Asphaug, E., Bottke, W. F., Elkins-Tanton, L. T., Garvie, L. A. J., Ray, S., Chocron, S., & Williams, D. A. 2020, Journal of Geophysical Research (Planets). Hypervelocity Impact Experiments in Iron-Nickel Ingots and Iron Meteorites: Implications for the NASA Psyche Mission

Asphaug, Erik 2020, Journal of Astronomical History and Heritage. Book Review: Evolving Theories on the Origin of the Moon

Emsenhuber, Alexandre & Asphaug, Erik 2019, The Astrophysical Journal. Graze-and-merge Collisions under External Perturbers

Sava, Paul & Asphaug, Erik 2019, Advances in Space Research. Seismology on small planetary bodies by orbital laser Doppler vibrometry

Cambioni, Saverio, Delbo, Marco, Ryan, Andrew J., Furfaro, Roberto, & Asphaug, Erik 2019, Icarus. Constraining the thermal properties of planetary surfaces using machine learning: Application to airless bodies

Emsenhuber, Alexandre & Asphaug, Erik 2019, The Astrophysical Journal. Fate of the Runner in Hit-and-run Collisions

Cambioni, Saverio, Asphaug, Erik, Emsenhuber, Alexandre, Gabriel, Travis S. J., Furfaro, Roberto, & Schwartz, Stephen R. 2019, The Astrophysical Journal. Realistic On-the-fly Outcomes of Planetary Collisions: Machine Learning Applied to Simulations of Giant Impacts

Barnouin, O. S., et al., & OSIRIS-REx Team, 2019, Nature Geoscience. Shape of (101955) Bennu indicative of a rubble pile with internal stiffness

Walsh, K. J., et al., & OSIRIS-REx Team, 2019, Nature Geoscience. Craters, boulders and regolith of (101955) Bennu indicative of an old and dynamic surface

Dellagiustina, D. N., et al., & OSIRIS-REx Team, 2019, Nature Astronomy. Properties of rubble-pile asteroid (101955) Bennu from OSIRIS-REx imaging and thermal analysis

  • When The Earth Had Two Moons (365pp., HarperCollins 2019)
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Last updated on September 24, 2021