Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

About the PNAS Member Editor
Name Canup, Robin M.
Location Southwest Research Institute
Primary Field Geophysics
 Election Citation
Canup is a leader in the theory of planetary satellite formation. The most significant accomplishments are the quantitative assessment of the conditions under which Earth's moon formed through a giant impact, and theoretical models for the formation of the giant planet satellite systems and the Pluto-Charon system.
 Research Interests
Using both numerical simulations and analytical methods, Canup studies how planets and their moons formed in the early protoplanetary disk around the Sun. She has modeled many aspects of the formation of the Moon, including hydrodynamical simulations of potential Moon-forming impacts, the accumulation of material in the protolunar disk into the Moon, and the Moon's earliest orbital evolution. She has also modeled the origin of the Pluto-Charon pair through a large early collision. Another interest is the development of new models for the origin of the large satellites of the gas giant planets that more consistently treat the coupled and concurrent growth of the planet and its circumplanetary disk within which the satellites form. Here a key interest has been exploring the potential loss of satellites due to the decay of their orbits through interaction with the gaseous circumplanetary disk, and how this process may select for the very similar observed ratios between the current satellite system masses and their host planets. Recently she has worked on the origin of Saturn's rings, advocating a new mechanism in which the ice rings were produced from tidal stripping of the outer layers of a large, primordial satellite as its orbit spiraled into Saturn.

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