Richard P. Binzel

Professor of Planetary Sciences
Margaret Macvicar Faculty Fellow
Joint Appointment: Aeronautics and Astronautics; Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences
The inventor of the Torino Scale, a method for categorizing the impact hazard associated with near-Earth objects (NEOs) such as asteroids and comets.

Contact Info



Specialization and Research Interests

Study of asteroids and Pluto; spectral characterization of asteroids posing a potential hazard to Earth and those reachable by robotic, human missions; analysis of links between meteorite groups and formation, source locations.

Academic Degrees

B.A., Physics, Summa Cum Laude, Macalester College, 1980; M.A., Astronomy, University of Texas, 1982; Ph.D., Astronomy, University of Texas, 1986

Honors and Awards

National Aeronautics and Space Administration, NASA Silver Achievement Medal (2017) | National Air and Space Museum, Goddard Trophy (2016) | American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Space Ops Award (2016) | Space Foundation, Jack L. Sweigert Exploration Award (2016) | National Space Society, Space Pioneer Award (2016) | New Horizons Mission to Pluto, Team Award (2015) | Science Magazine: People’s Choice Award (2015) | Science Magazine: Top Ten Breakthroughs of the Year (2015) | Discovery Magazine: Top Science Story (2015) | Science News Magazine: Top Science Story (2015) | Fellow, Meteorlogical Society (2004) | Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science (1999) | MacVicar Faculty Fellow, MIT (1994) | Urey Prize, American Astronomical Society Division for Planetary Sciences (1991) | Dudley/Fullam Award, Dudley Observatory (1991) | Presidential Young Investigator, National Science Foundation (1990-1994) | Name “Binzel” bestowed to asteroid #2873, International Astronomical Union (1984) | Apker Award, American Physical Society (1980) | Viking Prize Grant, NASA (1978)

Affiliated Labs

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