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Dr. John Weirich

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Senior Scientist

Currently resides in AZ
jweirich [at]
Areas of Expertise
Targets: Asteroids, Enceladus, Iapetus, Mercury, Meteorites, Moon, Small satellites
Disciplines/Techniques: Geochemistry, Geology, Impacts, Mass spectrometry, Meteoritics, Mineralogy, Scanning Transmission Electron Microscopy, Shape modeling
Missions: OSIRIS-REx
Mission Roles: Spacecraft navigation
Instruments: Electron Microprobe, Mass spectrometers

Research Interests

Dr. John Weirich specializes in constructing hi-resolution topography of various small bodies such as asteroids, planetary satellites, the Moon, and Mercury. He uses spacecraft images to construct Digital Terrain Models (DTM) with the software suite Stereophotoclinometry (SPC) written by PSI’s Dr. Robert Gaskell. He is part of the OSIRIS-REx mission, which collected regolith from asteroid Bennu in 2020. In addition to certifying SPC as NASA Class B software, his DTMs guided the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft in orbit around Bennu and during its descent to Bennu's surface. He also has extensive experience with geochemistry of shocked extraterrestrial materials, age dating of impact melt using the 40Ar/39Ar chronometer, and Ar diffusion, though is no longer active in this field.

Professional History

Dr. Weirich received his Ph.D. in Planetary Science in 2011 from the University of Arizona in Tucson where he was involved in related projects involving geochronology, geochemistry, and diffusion in extraterrestrial rocks (mostly ordinary chondritic meteorites). He was a post-doctoral researcher at Arizona State University, studying geochronology and geochemistry of Apollo 17 samples and granite from Crazy Basin, Arizona. He was a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Western Ontario where he studied the geochemistry of Sudbury Breccia at the Sudbury Impact Structure, Canada. In 2015 he returned to Tucson and joined PSI to support the OSIRIS-REx mission.

Honors and Awards

Asteroid 129324 Johnweirich

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