Robert Frederick Benson

Robert Frederick Benson

  • 301.286.4037
  • Mail Code: 673
  • Greenbelt , MD 20771
  • Employer: EMERITUS
  • Curriculum Vitae


    Dr. Benson's main research interests are in linear and nonlinear plasma wave phenomena, ionospheric and magnetospheric physics, and planetary radio emissions. His approach has been to use the terrestrial ionosphere and magnetosphere as a space plasma laboratory. This system is the most readily accessible space plasma for cost-effective high-resolution in situ and remote investigations and some of the processes operating there have similar counterparts elsewhere in astrophysical plasmas. A prime example is the stimulus provided by investigations of auroral kilometric radiation (AKR) to research into the cyclotron maser instability as an important astrophysical radiation mechanism. Another is the application of knowledge gained from the analysis of stimulated plasma emissions in the Earth's ionosphere to the understanding of natural emissions in the Earth's magnetosphere and Jupiter's Io plasma torus and using this knowledge to deduce electron number densities and magnetic field strengths. This research has been mainly based on the analysis of data from ionospheric topside sounders on the Alouette and ISIS satellites, passive receivers on ISSE 3, the low-power sounder (relaxation sounder) on the Ulysses spacecraft, and the bi-static sounder on the joint Canadian/US OEDIPUS C sounding-rocket experiment. Dr. Benson is leading an effort to produce digital records from a selected portion of the original Alouette/ISIS analog telemetry tapes see Since some of these data were never processed earlier, the project is essentially providing the unique opportunity of a new satellite mission with old data. He is also a participating scientist on the IMAGE mission (Imager for Magnetopause-to-Aurora Global Exploration) which has been selected for flight on the first Medium-class Explorer (MIDEX) where he is involved in the planning for the Radio Plasma Imager (RPI) to be flown as part of the IMAGE payload which is scheduled for launch on February 15, 2000

    Positions and Appointments

    Astrophysicist, Geospace Physics Laboratory
    Heliophysics Science Division
    NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
    1990 - 1993 -- Chair, International URSI Commission H (Waves in Plasmas)
    1988 - 1993 -- NASA member of NATO/AGARD Electromagnetic Wave Propagation Panel
    1984 - 1986 -- International URSI Comm. H Editor for Review of Radio Science
    1982 - 1984 -- Chair, US National Committee for URSI Commission H
    1965 - present -- NASA/GSFC Space Scientist
    1964 - 1965 -- NASA/NRC Postdoctoral Research Associate, GSFC
    1963 - 1964 -- Asst. Prof., Astronomy Dept., Univ. of Minnesota
    1963 -- Asst. Geophysicist, Geophysical Inst. Univ. of Alaska
    1959 - 1963 -- Research Associate, Geophysical Inst., Univ. of Alaska
    1958 - 1959 -- Teaching Asst. (Phys.); T & R Asst. (Astronomy), Univ. of Minn.
    1956 - 1958 -- IGY Scientist in Antarctica, Arctic Inst. of North America
    1955 - 1956 -- Research & Teaching Asst., Univ. of Minnesota


    B.S., Geophysics, Univ. of Minnesota, 1956
    M.S., Physics, Univ. of Minnesota, 1959
    Ph.D., Geophysics, Univ. of Alaska, 1963

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