Sciences and Exploration Directorate

Richard D Starr



Org Code: 691

Mail Code: 691
Greenbelt, MD 20771


Brief Bio

Richard Starr is a Research Associate Professor in the Physics Department at The Catholic University of America and has been funded through NASA grants to conduct X-ray, gamma ray, and neutron studies at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, MD since 1980. He has participated on many planetary missions, including NEAR (XGRS), Mars Odyssey (GRS) and MESSENGER (XRS). He is currently working on three flight missions: as a co-investigator on LunaH-Map, a CubeSat mission scheduled for launch in 2019, as a co-investigator on the Lunar Exploration Neutron Detector (LEND) which is part of the science payload on the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, and as a collaborator on the Dynamic Albedo of Neutrons (DAN) experiment on the Mars Curiosity Rover.


Research Associate Professor

The Catholic University of America - Washington, DC

1985 - Present

Senior Research Associate

The Catholic University of America - Washington, DC

1980 - 1985

NRC Postdoctoral Fellow

National Bureau of Standards - Gaithersburg, MD

1978 - 1980


Ph.D. Physics, University of Illinois, Urbana, IL 1978
M.S. Physics, University of Illinois, Urbana, IL 1974
B.S. Physics, New York University, New York, NY 1972


Mars Observer Payload Development/GRS
NEAR Shoemaker Mission Team
Mars Odyssey GRS Team
MESSENGER Mission Team
LRO Science Mission Team

Selected Publications


Starr, R. D., M. L. Litvak, N. E. Petro, et al. I. G. Mitrofanov, W. V. Boynton, G. Chin, T. A. Livengood, T. P. McClanahan, A. B. Sanin, R. Z. Sagdeev, and J. J. Su. 2018. Crater age and hydrogen content in lunar regolith from LEND neutron data Planetary and Space Science 162 105–112 [10.1016/j.pss.2017.08.001]

Pietrucci, F., J. C. Aponte Silva, R. D. Starr, et al. A. Pérez-Villa, J. E. Elsila, J. P. Dworkin, and M. Saitta. 2018. Hydrothermal Decomposition of Amino Acids and Origins of Prebiotic Meteoritic Organic Compounds ACS Earth & Space Chemistry [10.1021/acsearthspacechem.8b00025]

Nowicki, S. F., L. G. Evans, R. D. Starr, et al. J. S. Schweitzer, S. Karunatillake, T. P. McClanahan, J. E. Moersch, A. M. Parsons, and C. G. Tate. 2017. Modeled Martian subsurface elemental composition measurements with the Probing In situ with Neutron and Gamma ray instrument Earth and Space Science 4 (2): 76-90 [10.1002/2016ea000162]

Lim, L. F., R. D. Starr, L. G. Evans, et al. A. M. Parsons, M. E. Zolensky, and W. V. Boynton. 2016. Modeling orbital gamma-ray spectroscopy experiments at carbonaceous asteroids Meteoritics & Planetary Science 52 (1): 174-190 [10.1111/maps.12786]

Starr, R. D., C. E. Schlemm II, G. C. Ho, et al. L. R. Nittler, R. E. Gold, and S. C. Solomon. 2016. Calibration of the MESSENGER X-Ray Spectrometer Planetary and Space Science 122 13-25 [10.1016/j.pss.2016.01.003]

Mitrofanov, I. G., M. L. Litvak, A. B. Sanin, et al. R. D. Starr, D. I. Lisov, R. O. Kuzmin, A. Behar, W. V. Boynton, C. Hardgrove, K. Harshman, I. Jun, R. E. Milliken, M. A. Mischna, J. E. Moersch, and C. G. Tate. 2014. Water and chlorine content in the Martian soil along the first 1900 m of the Curiosity rover traverse as estimated by the DAN instrument Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets 119 (7): 1579-1596 [10.1002/2013je004553]

Starr, R. D., D. Schriver, L. R. Nittler, et al. S. Z. Weider, P. K. Byrne, G. C. Ho, E. A. Rhodes, C. E. Schlemm, S. C. Solomon, and P. M. Trávníček. 2012. MESSENGER detection of electron-induced X-ray fluorescence from Mercury's surface Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets 117 (E12): [10.1029/2012je004118]

Nittler, L. R., R. D. Starr, S. Z. Weider, et al. T. J. McCoy, W. V. Boynton, D. S. Ebel, C. M. Ernst, L. G. Evans, J. O. Goldsten, D. K. Hamara, D. J. Lawrence, R. L. McNutt, C. E. Schlemm, S. C. Solomon, and A. L. Sprague. 2011. The Major-Element Composition of Mercury's Surface from MESSENGER X-ray Spectrometry Science 333 (6051): 1847-1850 [10.1126/science.1211567]

Evans, L. G., R. C. Reedy, R. D. Starr, K. E. Kerry, and W. V. Boynton. 2006. Analysis of gamma ray spectra measured by Mars Odyssey Journal of Geophysical Research 112 (E3): E03S04 [10.1029/2005je002657]

Nittler, L. R., R. D. Starr, L. F. Lim, et al. T. J. McCoy, T. H. Burbine, R. C. Reedy, J. I. Trombka, P. Gorenstein, S. W. Squyres, W. V. Boynton, T. P. McClanahan, J. S. Bhangoo, P. E. Clark, M. E. Murphy, and R. Killen. 2001. X-ray fluorescence measurements of the surface elemental composition of asteroid 433 Eros Meteoritics and Planetary Science 36 1673-1695 [10.1111/j.1945-5100.2001.tb01856.x]