Photo of David Lawrence

David Lawrence

View All People
Physicist; Planetary Scientist
  • Ph. D., Physics
    1996, Washington University in St. Louis
  • M. A., Physics
    1992, Washington University in St. Louis
  • B. S. , Physics and Mathematics
    1990, Texas Christian University

I carry out a wide variety of research in planetary and space physics ranging from studies of planetary composition, solar and magnetospheric studies, fundamental physics, and development of instrumentation and analysis techniques needed to carry out these studies.  I am the science lead for three spaceflight instruments, the Psyche Gamma-Ray and Neutron Spectrometer (GRNS) for NASA's Psyche mission, the Mars-moon Exploration with GAmma-rays and NEutrons (MEGANE) gamma-ray and neutron spectrometer on the Japanese Martian Moons eXploration (MMX) mission, and Dragonfly Gamma-ray/Neutron Spectrometer (DraGNS) on the NASA-funded Dragonfly mission. My research uses orbital nuclear spectroscopy, including lunar science studies using Lunar Prospector gamma-ray and neutron data, studies of Mercury's surface composition using data from the MESSENGER GRNS, and studies of the asteroids Vesta and Ceres using data from Dawn's Gamma-Ray and Neutron Detector (GRaND). I have also used data from the MESSENGER GRNS to study magnetospheric and solar physics. In the area of fundamental physics, I am the Principal Investigator on a Department of Energy project to study the feasibility of measuring neutron lifetime using space-based data from the MESSENGER and Lunar Prospector Neutron Spectrometers.

Notable Awards and Leadership

Year(s) Description
1996 - Present Member American Geophysical Union
1994 - Present Member of American Physical Society
2009, 2013, 2016, 2017, 2018 JHU/APL Outstanding Publication Awards
1999, 1999, 2008, 2013, 2017 NASA Group Achievement Awards for Lunar Prospector, Deep Space 1, MESSENGER and Dawn
2008 JHU/APL Janney Publications Fellowship
2006 - 2007 Member of the National Research Council Committee on Lunar Science Priorities and Goals
1998, 2002, 2004 Los Alamos National Laboratory Distinguished Performance Awards
1998 Los Alamos National Laboratory Achievement Award

Scholarly Publications

Space-based measurements of neutron lifetime: Approaches to resolving the neutron lifetime anomaly

Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research Section A: Accelerators, Spectrometers, Detectors and Associated Equipment, 2021
David J. Lawrence, Jack T. Wilson, Patrick N. Peplowski, (2021), Space-based measurements of neutron lifetime: Approaches to resolving the neutron lifetime anomaly, Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research Section A: Accelerators, Spectrometers, Detectors and Associated Equipment , 988, 164919, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.nima.2020.164919

Planetary Neutron Spectroscopy for Metal-rich Compositions: Development of Analysis Framework for Measurements at the Asteroid (16) Psyche

2021

The Scientific Value of a Sustained Exploration Program at the Aristarchus Plateau

The Planetary Science Journal, 2021
Timothy D. Glotch, Erica R. Jawin, Benjamin T. Greenhagen, Joshua T. Cahill, David J. Lawrence, Ryan N. Watkins, Daniel P. Moriarty, Nandita Kumari, Shuai Li, Paul G. Lucey, Matthew A. Siegler, Jianqing Feng, Laura B. Breitenfeld, Carlton C. Allen, Hanna Nekvasil, David A. Paige, (2021), The Scientific Value of a Sustained Exploration Program at the Aristarchus Plateau, The Planetary Science Journal

Observations, Meteorites, and Models: A Preflight Assessment of the Composition and Formation of (16) Psyche

Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets, 2020
L. T. Elkins‐Tanton, E. Asphaug, III J. F. Bell, H. Bercovici, B. Bills, R. Binzel, W. F. Bottke, S. Dibb, D. J. Lawrence, S. Marchi, T. J. McCoy, R. Oran, R. S. Park, P. N. Peplowski, C. A. Polanskey, T. H. Prettyman, C. T. Russell, L. Schaefer, B. P. Weiss, M. A. Wieczorek, D. A. Williams, M. T. Zuber, (2020), Observations, Meteorites, and Models: A Preflight Assessment of the Composition and Formation of (16) Psyche, Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets , 125, 3, https://doi.org/10.1029/2019je006296

Chemically distinct regions of Venus’s atmosphere revealed by measured N2 concentrations

Nature Astronomy, 2020
Patrick N. Peplowski, David J. Lawrence, Jack T. Wilson, (2020), Chemically distinct regions of Venus's atmosphere revealed by measured N2 concentrations, Nature Astronomy , 4, 10, 947--950, https://doi.org/10.1038/s41550-020-1079-2

Space-based measurement of the neutron lifetime using data from the neutron spectrometer on NASA's MESSENGER mission

Physical Review Research, 2020
Jack T. Wilson, David J. Lawrence, Patrick N. Peplowski, Vincent R. Eke, Jacob A. Kegerreis, (2020), Space-based measurement of the neutron lifetime using data from the neutron spectrometer on NASA's MESSENGER mission, Physical Review Research

Position-dependent neutron detection efficiency loss in 3He gas proportional counters

Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research Section A: Accelerators, Spectrometers, Detectors and Associated Equipment, 2020
Patrick N. Peplowski, Zachary W. Yokley, Madison Liebel, Shuo Cheng, Richard C. Elphic, Shannon F. Hoogerheide, David J. Lawrence, Jeffrey S. Nico, (2020), Position-dependent neutron detection efficiency loss in 3He gas proportional counters, Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research Section A: Accelerators, Spectrometers, Detectors and Associated Equipment , 982, 164574, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.nima.2020.164574

GeMini: A High-Resolution, Low-Resource, Gamma-Ray Spectrometer for Planetary Science Applications

Space Science Reviews, 2020
Morgan T. Burks, Owen B. Drury, John O. Goldsten, Lisle B. Hagler, Lena E. Heffern, Nathan R. Hines, Geon-Bo Kim, David J. Lawrence, Karl E. Nelson, Patrick N. Peplowski, Zach W. Yokley, (2020), GeMini: A High-Resolution, Low-Resource, Gamma-Ray Spectrometer for Planetary Science Applications, Space Science Reviews , 216, 7, https://doi.org/10.1007/s11214-020-00746-y

MESSENGER Gamma Ray Spectrometer and Epithermal Neutron Hydrogen Data Reveal Compositional Differences Between Mercury's Hot and Cold Poles

Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets, 2019
Jack T. Wilson, David J. Lawrence, Patrick N. Peplowski, William C. Feldman, (2019), MESSENGER Gamma Ray Spectrometer and Epithermal Neutron Hydrogen Data Reveal Compositional Differences Between Mercury's Hot and Cold Poles, Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets , https://doi.org/10.1029/2018je005871

Measuring the Elemental Composition of Phobos: The Mars‐moon Exploration with GAmma rays and NEutrons (MEGANE) Investigation for the Martian Moons eXploration (MMX) Mission

Earth and Space Science, 2019
David J. Lawrence, Patrick N. Peplowski, Andrew W. Beck, Morgan T. Burks, Nancy L. Chabot, Michael J. Cully, Richard C. Elphic, Carolyn M. Ernst, Samuel Fix, John O. Goldsten, Erin M. Hoffer, Hiroki Kusano, Scott L. Murchie, Brian C. Schratz, Tomohiro Usui, Zachary W. Yokley, (2019), Measuring the Elemental Composition of Phobos: The Mars-moon Exploration with GAmma rays and NEutrons (MEGANE) Investigation for the Martian Moons eXploration (MMX) Mission, Earth and Space Science , 6, 12, 2605--2623, https://doi.org/10.1029/2019ea000811

Image Reconstruction Techniques in Neutron and Gamma Ray Spectroscopy: Improving Lunar Prospector Data

Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets, 2018
J. T. Wilson, D. J. Lawrence, P. N. Peplowski, J. T. S. Cahill, V. R. Eke, R. J. Massey, L F. A. Teodoro, (2018), Image Reconstruction Techniques in Neutron and Gamma Ray Spectroscopy: Improving Lunar Prospector Data, Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets , https://doi.org/10.1029/2018je005589

Compositional variability on the surface of 1 Ceres revealed through GRaND measurements of high-energy gamma rays

Meteoritics & Planetary Science, 2018
David J. Lawrence, Patrick N. Peplowski, Andrew W. Beck, William C. Feldman, Thomas H. Prettyman, Chris T. Russell, Michael J. Toplis, Jack T. Wilson, Eleonora Ammannito, Julie C. Castillo-Rogez, M. C. DeSanctis, Scott C. Mest, Adrian Neesemann, (2018), Compositional variability on the surface of 1 Ceres revealed through GRaND measurements of high-energy gamma rays, Meteoritics & Planetary Science , 53, 9, 1805--1819, https://doi.org/10.1111/maps.13124

Opening a Window on ICME-driven GCR Modulation in the Inner Solar System

The Astrophysical Journal, 2018
Reka M. Winslow, Nathan A. Schwadron, Noé Lugaz, Jingnan Guo, Colin J. Joyce, Andrew P. Jordan, Jody K. Wilson, Harlan E. Spence, David J. Lawrence, Robert F. Wimmer-Schweingruber, M. Leila Mays, (2018), Opening a Window on ICME-driven GCR Modulation in the Inner Solar System, The Astrophysical Journal

Statistical Study of Mercury's Energetic Electron Events as Observed by the Gamma-Ray and Neutron Spectrometer Instrument Onboard MESSENGER

Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics, 2018
Romina Nikoukar, David J. Lawrence, Patrick N. Peplowski, Ryan M. Dewey, Haje Korth, Daniel N. Baker, Jr. Ralph L. McNutt, (2018), Statistical Study of Mercury's Energetic Electron Events as Observed by the Gamma-Ray and Neutron Spectrometer Instrument Onboard MESSENGER, Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics , https://doi.org/10.1029/2018ja025339

Compositional terranes on Mercury: Information from fast neutrons

Icarus, 2017
David J. Lawrence, Patrick N. Peplowski, Andrew W. Beck, William C. Feldman, Elizabeth A. Frank, Timothy J. McCoy, Larry R. Nittler, Sean C. Solomon, (2017), Compositional terranes on Mercury: Information from fast neutrons, Icarus , 281, 32--45, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.icarus.2016.07.018

A tale of two poles: Toward understanding the presence, distribution, and origin of volatiles at the polar regions of the Moon and Mercury

Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets, 2017
David J. Lawrence, (2017), A tale of two poles: Toward understanding the presence, distribution, and origin of volatiles at the polar regions of the Moon and Mercury, Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets , 122, 1, 21--52, https://doi.org/10.1002/2016je005167

Energetic Electron Acceleration and Injection During Dipolarization Events in Mercury's Magnetotail

Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics, 2017
Ryan M. Dewey, James A. Slavin, Jim M. Raines, Daniel N. Baker, David J. Lawrence, (2017), Energetic Electron Acceleration and Injection During Dipolarization Events in Mercury's Magnetotail, Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics , 122, 12, 12,170--12,188, https://doi.org/10.1002/2017ja024617

FIRST LIGHT: MeV ASTROPHYSICS FROM THE MOON

The Astrophysical Journal, 2016
Richard S. Miller, David J. Lawrence, (2016), FIRST LIGHT: MeV ASTROPHYSICS FROM THE MOON, The Astrophysical Journal , 823, 2, L31, https://doi.org/10.3847/2041-8205/823/2/l31