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Jim Murphy

Jim Murphy
Professor, Associate Dean for Research
Affiliate Faculty

Contact Info
murphy at
AY 202B

Expertise: Numerical Modeling, Mars Climatology




Dr. Murphy is actively involved in a wide array of research efforts focused upon the weather and climate of the planet Mars. These efforts involve analyses of data returned by orbiting and landed spacecraft and use of numerical (computer) models to simulate various aspects of the atmosphere (global and local-scale weather systems, near-surface environmental characterization for landed spacecraft, etc.). He also has been directly involved with numerous spacecraft missions as a competitively selected scientist (Mars Pathfinder, Mars Microprobe/Deep Space 2, Mars Polar Lander), as a member of an Aerobraking Advisory Group (AAG) (Mars Global Surveyor, Mars Climate Orbiter, Mars Odyssey, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter). In addition, Dr. Murphy has provided environmental characterization information for the Mars Exploration Rovers and subsequent landers.

Recent graduates

Bobby Edmonds, Adam McKay, Malynda Chizek, Sean Lindsay,


Dr. Murphy teaches undergraduate and graduate-level solar systems courses, including: ASTR 105G – The Planets, ASTR 330G – Planetary Exploration, ASTR 620 – Solar System Astrophysics, ASTR 698 – Special Topics (Solar System Formation). He has also been known to teach ASTR 506 and ASTR 500. The class ASTR 105G is an entry level solar system class in which Dr. Murphy strives to make the students more familiar with the world around them, increasing their appreciation of their own ability to understand what they see, and to anticipate what slightly different conditions would produce. In ASTR 330G, he covers the history of our exploration of the solar system, with significant emphasis upon the political aspects, as well as the scientific motivations and the technical challenges. Dr. Murphy is able to incorporate his experience in Mars mission involvement into class discussions. In ASTR 620, Dr. Murphy covers a smorgasbord of solar system focused topics, with the desire to illustrate the interdisciplinary nature of this research area for students who are and are not intending it as their career. For ASTR 698, he focuses the class on issues related to planetary system formation, both our own and the others being detected within our Galaxy.


Selected recent publications (student authors denoted by *): 

Recent Publications (late 2005 – 2007)

Dissecting the polar dichotomy of the non-condensable gas enhancement on Mars using the NASA-Ames MGCM
Nelli, S., Murphy, J., Sprague, A., Boynton, W., Kerry, K., Janes, D., Reedy, R., Metzger, A., Journal of Geophysical Research – Planets, 2007, (submitted October 2006, in revision)

Mars’ atmospheric argon: Tracer for understanding Martian atmospheric circulation and dynamics
Sprague, A., Boynton, W., Kerry, K., Janes, D., Kelly, N., Crombie, M.K., Nelli, S., Murphy, J., 2007, Journal of Geophysical Research-Planets, Vol. 112, No. E03S02, (doi:10.1029/2005JE002597)

Role of dust devils and orbital precession in closing the Martian dust cycle
Haberle, R., Kahre, M., Murphy, J., Christensen, P., Greeley, R., 2006, Geophysical Research Letters, Vol. 33, Num. 19, p. L19S04, (10.1029/2006GL026188)

Modeling the Martian dust cycle and surface dust reservoirs with the NASA Ames general circulation model
Kahre, M., Murphy, J., Haberle, R., 2006, Journal of Geophysical Research – Planets, Vol. 111, No. E06008, (doi:10.1029/2005JE002588)

Prediction of the structure of the martian upper atmosphere for the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) mission
Bougher, S., Murphy, J., Bell, J., Zurek, R., 2006, MARS, Vol. 2, p. 10-20, (doi:10.1555/mars.2006.0002)

Polar warming in the Mars thermosphere: Seasonal variations owing to changing insolation and dust distributions
Bougher, S., Bell, J., Murphy, J., Lopez-Valverde, M., Withers, P., 2006, Geophysical Research Letters, Vol. 33, No. 2, p. L02203, (doi:10.1029/2005GL024059)

Simulating the Martian dust cycle with a finite surface dust reservoir
Kahre, M., Murphy, J., Haberle, R., Montmessin, F., Scheaffer, J., 2006, Geophysical Research Letters, Vol. 32, P. L20204, (doi:10.10 29/2005GL023495)

Observing the martian surface albedo pattern: Comparing the AEOS and TES data sets
Kahre, M., Murphy, K., Chanover, N., Africano, J., Roberts, L., Kervin, P., 2005, ICARUS, Vol. 179, p.55062.

Topographic control of hydrogen deposits at low latitudes on Mars
Feldman, W., Prettyman, T., Maurice, S., Nelli, S., Elphic, R., Funsten, H., Gasnault, O., Lawrence, D., Murphy, J., Tokar, R. et al., 2005, Journal of Geophysical Research – Planets, Vol. 110, Num. E11009, (doi:10.1029/2005JE002542)


All Publications