W. Robert Binns

W. Robert Binns

Research Professor Emeritus of Physics
BS, University of OTTAWA
    View All People

    contact info:

    mailing address:

      MSC 1105-109-02
      ST. LOUIS, MO 63130-4899
    image of book cover

    Professor Binns' research is primarily in Cosmic Ray Astrophysics. 

    Binns was the Principal Investigator on the SuperTIGER experiment, which was flown over Antarctica in 2012-2013 on a record breaking 55-day-long flight, with the objective of measuring the elemental abundances of cosmic-ray nuclei heavier than Zinc, and is a co-investigator on the second flight of SuperTIGER planned for December, 2018. Binns is also a co-investigator on the Cosmic Ray Isotope Spectrometer (CRIS) experiment aboard the NASA ACE spacecraft that was launched in August 1997; the spacecraft is projected to have enough propellant to maintain its orbit until 2024. Binns and J. Epstein were responsible for the development of the scintillating fiber hodoscope, which is the trajectory detector on CRIS. The objective of the CRIS experiment is to measure the elemental  abundances of cosmic –ray nuclei with 3 < Z (charge) < 40 and isotopic abundances over the charge range of 3 < Z (charge) < 32  . He is a co-investigator on the CALET (Calorimetric Electron Telescope) experiment, a Japanese, Italian, and American experiment, located on the International Space Station. This experiment is designed to measure the cosmic-ray electron energy spectrum as well as nuclear abundances and energy spectra. He is also a co-investigator on the Antarctic Impulsive Transient Antenna (ANITA) experiment, a high energy neutrino experiment that was flown successfully on four long duration balloon flights over Antarctica from 2006 through 2016. 

    He was the Principal Investigator on the Trans-lron Galactic Element Recorder (TIGER) experiment, a predecessor experiment to SuperTIGER, which was designed to measure the elemental composition of cosmic rays heavier than iron. It was flown from Antarctica on long duration balloon flights in 2001 and 2003. In addition, he has been an investigator on numerous other balloon-borne experiments. 


    NASA Fellowship
    NASA Group Achievement Award for HEAO-3 Experiment
    NASA Group Achievement Award for ACE-CRIS Experiment
    Outstanding Achievement Award, Ottawa University, 2016

    Professional Activities


    Member of NASA Balloon Working Group
    2003—2005 Member of NASA Radiation Discipline Working Group
    2003—2004 COSPAR Main Scientific Organizer for Cosmic Ray sessions
    1990—2004 WU Universities Space Research Association representative
    1998—1999 NASA ACCESS Investigators Working Group
    1992 NASA Cosmic and Heliospheric Management Operations Working Group
    1990 Space Physics Strategy-Implementation Study Panel
    1989—1994 NASA Cosmic Ray Program Working Group
    1989 NASA Small-Class Explorer Program Peer Review Panel
    1985—1988       NASA Particle Astrophysics Magnet Facility Definition Team


    Hold That Thought Podcast

    Catching Cosmic Rays

    On December 9, 2012, a balloon the size of a football field ascended nearly 140,000 feet into the Antarctic sky. The balloon carried Super-TIGER, a two-ton instrument built to detect cosmic rays. W. Robert Binns and Martin Israel, who head the cosmic ray group within the physics department at Washington University in St. Louis, describe this record-breaking experiment and explain why they seek to know more about the origins of cosmic rays.