Skip to content


Harry Y. McSweenHarry Y. McSween

Chancellor’s Professor
Planetary Geoscience

Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences
732 Strong Hall
1621 Cumberland Ave
Knoxville, TN 37996-1410

Phone: (865) 974-9805

Dr. Harry (Hap) McSween is Chancellor’s Professor Emeritus at the University of Tennessee. He was twice Head of the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences and twice Interim Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

Unlike most geologists, McSween's attention is drawn to rocks falling from the heavens rather than to those already underfoot. For 40 years NASA continuously funded his research on meteorites, and he has published more than 300 scientific papers dealing with the petrology and cosmochemistry of meteorites and their implications for understanding how the solar system formed and evolved. He was one of the original proponents of the idea that a handful of unusual meteorites came from Mars, and he has worked extensively on martian meteorites.

McSween was a member of the science teams for the Mars Pathfinder and the Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft missions. He was a Co-investigator for the Mars Exploration Rovers which operated for decades and for the Dawn spacecraft mission, which studied asteroids Vesta and Ceres from orbit. He is presently a Co-investigator for the THEMIS instrument on Mars Odyssey, which is mapping the Martian surface from orbit.

McSween is particularly interested in communicating the excitement of science to the public. He has lectured extensively and is the author of three popular books introducing planetary science, as well as three textbooks on geochemistry, cosmochemistry, and planetary geoscience.

Dr. McSween research has been recognized by receipt of the Leonard Medal of the Meteoritical Society, the J Lawrence Smith Medal of the US Academy of Sciences, and the Whipple Award of the American Geophysical Union. In 2013 he was named the Southeastern Conference Professor of the Year. He is the only planetary scientist to have been elected President of the Geological Society of America. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, American Geophysical Union, and Geological Society of America. He is also the namesake for asteroid 5223 McSween.

The Citadel - B.S. Chemistry, l967

The University of Georgia - M.S. Geology, l969

Harvard University - Ph.D. Geological Sciences, l977


  • McSween H. Y. (1987) Meteorites and Their Parent Planets 
    • First edition (1987) Cambridge University Press, New York, 237 p.
    • Second edition (1999) Cambridge University Press, New York, 310 p.
  • Richardson S. M. and H. Y. McSween (1989) Geochemistry: Pathways and Processes 
    • First edition, Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, 488 p. plus disk.
  • McSween H. Y., Richardson S. M., and Uhle M. E. (2003) Geochemistry: Pathways and Processes
  • Second edition, Columbia University Press, New York, 363 p.
  • McSween H. Y. (1993) Stardust to Planets: A Geological Tour of the Solar System 
    • First edition (hardcover), St. Martin's Press, New York, 256 p.
    • St. Martin's Griffin edition (paperback), published in 1995, 241 p.
    • Proszynski i S-ka edition (Polish translation), published in 1996, 287 p.
  • McSween H. Y. (1997) Fanfare for Earth: The Origin of Our Planet and Life 
    • First edition, St. Martin's Press, New York, 252 p.
    • Europontic edition (Romanian translation), published in 2001, 236 p.
  • Lauretta D. S. and McSween H. Y., editors (2006) Meteorites and the Early Solar System II University of Arizona Press, Tucson, 943 p.
  • McSween H. Y. and Huss G. R. (2010) Cosmochemistry Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, 549 p.
  • McSween H. Y., Moersch J. E., Burr D. M., Dunne W. M., Emery J. P., Kah L. C., and McCanta M. C. (2018) Planetary Geoscience Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, 334 p..


  • Lang N. P., H. Y. McSween, L. L. Tornabene, C. J. Hardgrove, and P. R. Christensen (2010) Re-examining the relationship between Apollinaris Patera and basalts of Gusev crater, Mars. J. Geophys. Res.115, E04006, doi:10.1029/2009JE003397.
  • Dunn T. L., G. Cressey, H. Y. McSween and T. J. McCoy (2010) Analysis of ordinary chondrites using powder X-ray diffraction: 1. Modal mineral abundances. Meteorit. Planet. Sci. 45, 123-134, doi:10/1111/j.1945-5100.2009.01011.x.
  • Dunn T. L., H.  Y. McSween, T. J. McCoy and G. Cressey (2010) Analysis of ordinary chondrites using powder X-ray diffraction: 2. Applications to ordinary chondrite parent-body processes. Meteorit. Planet. Sci. 45, 135-156, doi:10.1111/j.1945-5100.2009.01012.x.
  • Dunn T. L., T. J. McCoy, J. M. Sunshine and H. Y. McSween (2010) A coordinated spectral, mineralogical, and compositional study of ordinary chondrites. Icarus 208, 789-797, doi:10.1016/j.icarus.2010.02.016.
  • Beck A. W. and H. Y. McSween (2010) Diogenites as polymict breccias composed of orthopyroxenite and harzburgite. Meteorit. Planet. Sci. 45, 850-872, doi:10.1111/j.1945-5100.2010.01061.x.
  • Milam K. A., H. Y. McSween and J. E. Moersch (2010) Distribution and variation of plagioclase compositions on Mars. J. Geophys. Res. 115, E09004, doi:10.1029/2009JE003495.
  • Mayne R. G., J. M. Sunshine, H. Y. McSween, T. J. McCoy, C. M. Corrigan and A. Gale (2010) Petrologic insights from the spectra of the unbrecciated eucrites: Implications for Vesta and basaltic asteroids. Meteorit. Planet. Sci. 45, 1074-1092, doi:10.1111/j.1945-5100.2010.01090.x.
  • Usui T., H. Y. McSween, D. W. Mittlefehldt and T. H. Prettyman (2010) K-Th-Ti systematics and new three-component mixing model of HED meteorites: Prospective study for interpretation of gamma-ray and neutron spectra for the Dawn mission. Meteorit. Planet. Sci. 45, 1170-1190, doi:10.1111/j.1945-5100.2010.01071.x.
  • Usui T., M. Sanborn, M. Wadhwa and H. Y. McSween (2010) Petrology and trace element geochemistry of RBT 04261 and RBT 04262 meteorites, the first examples of geochemically enriched lherzolitic shergottites. Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta 74, 7283-7306, doi:10.1016/j.gca.2010.09.010.
  • McSween H. Y., I. O. McGlynn and A. D. Rogers (2010) Determining the modal mineralogy of Martian soils. J. Geophys. Res. 115, E00F12, doi:10.1029/2010JE003582.
  • Riches A. J. V., Y. Liu, J. M. D. Day, I. S. Puchtel, D. Rumble, H. Y. McSween, R. J. Walker and L. A. Taylor (2011) Petrology and geochemistry of Yamato 984028: A cumulate lherzolitic shergottite with affinities to Y-000027, Y-000047, and Y-000097. J. Polar Sci. 4, 497-514, doi:10.1029/j.polar.2010.04.009.
  • Zipfel J., Schroder C., Jolliff B. L., Gellert R., Herkenhoff K. E., Rieder R., Anderson R., Bell J. F., Bruckner J., Crisp J. A., Christensen P. R., Clark B. C., de Souza P. A., Dreibus G., d’Uston C., Economou T., Gorevan S. P., Han B. C., Klingelhofer G., McSween T. J., McSween H. Y., Ming D. W., Morris R. V., Rodionov D. S., Squyres S. W., Wanke H., Wright S. P, Wyatt M. B., and Yen A. S. (2011) Bounce Rock – A shergottite-like basalt encountered at Meridiani Planum, Mars. Meteorit. Planet. Sci. 46, 1-20, doi:10.1111/j.1945-5100.01127.x.
  • McGlynn I. O., C. M. Fedo and H. Y. McSween (2011) Origin of basaltic soils at Gusev Crater, Mars, by aeolian modification of impact-generated sediment. J. Geophys. Res. 116, E00F22, doi:10.1029/2010JE003712.
  • Mayne R. G., J. M. Sunshine, H. Y. McSween, S. B. Bus and T. J. McCoy (2011) The origin of Vesta’s crust: Insights from spectroscopy of the Vestoids. Icarus 214, 147-160, doi:10.1016/j.icarus.2011.04.013.
  • McSween H. Y., R. L. McNutt and T. H. Prettyman (2011) Spacecraft instrument technology and cosmochemistry.  Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. 108 (48), doi/10.1073/pnas.1013476108.
  • Crumpler L. S., R. E. Arvidson, S. W. Squyres, D. Blaney, T. McCoy, M., Powell, A. Yingst, K. Lewis, J. F. Bell, N. A. Cabrol, B. Cohen, D. DesMarais, P. deSouza, W. Farrand, J. Farmer, R. Gellert, J. Grant, R. Greeley, E. A. Guinness, K.E. Herkenhoff, J. Hurowitz, J. R. Johnson, G. Klingelhöfer, A. McEwen, H. Y. McSween, D. W. Ming, R. V. Morris, J. W. Rice, Jr., M. Rice, S. Ruff, C. Schröder, A. E. Wang, and A. Yen (2011) Field reconnaissance geologic mapping of the Columbia Hills, Mars: Results from MER Spirit and MRO HiRISE observations.  J. Geophys. Res., 116, E00F24, 2010JE003749.
  • Beck A. W., D. W. Mittlefehldt, H. Y. McSween, D. Rumble, C-T. Lee, and R. J. Bodnar (2011) MIL 03443, a dunite from asteroid 4 Vesta: Evidence for its classification and cumulate origin. Meteorit. Planet. Sci. 46, 1133-1151, doi:10.1111/j.1945-5100.20111.01219.x.
  • McSween H. Y., D. W. Mittlefehldt, A. W. Beck, R. G. Mayne and T. J. McCoy (2011) HED meteorites and their relationship to the geology of Vesta and the Dawn mission. Space Sci. Rev. 163, 141-174, doi:10.1007/s11214-010-9637-z.
  • Prettyman T., W. C. Feldman, H. Y. McSween, R. D. Dingler, D. C. Enemark, D. E. Patrick, S. A. Storms, J. S. Henricks, J. P. Morgenthaler, K. M. Pitman and R. C. Reedy (2011) Dawn’s Gamma Ray and Neutron Detector.  Space Sci. Rev. 163, 371-459, doi:10.1007/s11214-011-9862-0.
  • Zuber M. T., H. Y. McSween, R. P. Binzel, L. T. Elkins-Tanton, A. S. Konopliv, C. M. Pieters and D. W. Smith (2011) Origin, internal structure and evolution of 4 Vesta. Space Sci. Rev.163, 77-93, doi:10.1007/s11214-011-9806-8.
  • Mittlefehldt D. W., A. W. Beck, C.-T. Lee, H. Y. McSween and P. C. Buchanan (2012) Compositional constraints on the genesis of diogenites. Meteorit. Planet. Sci. 47, 72-98, doi:10.1111/j.1945-5100.2011.01314.x.
  • McGlynn I. O., C. M. Fedo and H. Y. McSween (2012) Soil mineralogy at the Mars Exploration Rover landing sites: An assessment of the competing roles of physical sorting and chemical weathering. J. Geophys. Res. 117, E01006, doi:10.1029/2011JE003861.
  • Beck A. W., K. C. Welten, H. Y. McSween, C. E. Viviano and M. W. Caffee (2012) Petrologic and textural diversity among the PCA 02 howardite group, one of the largest pieces of the Vestan surface. Meteorit. Planet. Sci. 47, 947-969, doi:10.1111/j.1945-5100.2012.01360.x.
  • Marchi S., H. Y. McSween, D. O’Brien, P. Schenk, M. C. DeSanctis, R. Gaskell, R. Jaumann, S. Mottola, F. Preusker, C. A. Raymond, T. Roatsch and C. T. Russell (2012) The violent collisional history of asteroid 4 Vesta.  Science 336, 690-694, soi:10.1126/science.1218757.
  • Jaumann R., Williams D. A., Buczkowski D. L., Yingst R. A., Preusker F., Hiesinger H., Schmedemann N., Kneissl T., Vincent J. B., Blewett D. T., Buratti B. J., Carsenty U., Denevi B. W., De Sanctis M. C., Garry W. B., Keller H. U., EKernten E., Krohn K., Li J.-Y., Marchi S., Matz K. D., McCord T. B., McSween H. Y., Mest S. C., Mittlefehldt D. W., Mottola S., Nathues A., Neukum G., O’Brien D. P., Pieters C. M., Prettyman T. H., Raymond C. A., Roatsch T., Russell C. T., Schenk P., Schmidt B. E., Scholten F., Stephan L., Sykes M. V., Tricarico P., Wagner R., Zuber M. T., and Sierks H. (2012) Vesta’s shape and morphology. Science 336, 687-694, doi:10.1126/science.1219122.
  • De Sanctis, M. C., Ammannito E., Capria M. T., Tosi F., Capaccioni F., Zambon F., Carraro F., Fonte S., Frigeri A., Jaumann R., Magni G., Marchi S., McCord T. B., McFadden L. A., McSween H. Y., Mittlefehldt D. W., Nathues A., Palomba E., Pieters C. M., Raymond C. A., Russell C. T., Toplis M. J., and Turrini D. (2012) Spectroscopic characterization of mineralogy and its diversity across Vesta. Science 336, 697-700, doi:10.1126/science.1219270.
  • Reddy V., Nathues A., Le Corre L., Sierks H., Li J.-Y., Gaskell R., McCoy T., Beck A. W., Schroder S. E., Pieters C. M., Becker K. J., Buratti B. J., Denevi B., Blewett D. T., Christensen U., Gaffey M. J., Gutierrez-Marques P., Hicks M., Keller H. U., Maue T., Mottola S., McFadden L. A., McSween H. Y., Mittlefehldt D., O’Brien D. P., Raymond C., and Russell C. (2012) Color and albedo heterogeneity of Vesta from Dawn. Science 336, 700-704, doi:10.1126/science.1219088.
  • Schenk P., O’Brien D. P., Marchi S., Gaskell R., Preusker F., Roatsch T., Jaumann R., Buczkowski D., McCord T., McSween H. Y., Williams D., Yingst A., Raymond C., and Russell C. T. 2012. The geologically recent giant impact basins at Vesta’s south pole. Science 336:694-697, doi:10.1126/science.1223272.
  • Russell C. T., Raymond C. A., Coradini A., McSween H. Y., Zuber M. T., Nathues A., De Sanctis M. C., Jaumann R., Konopliv A. S., Preusker F., Asmar S. W., Park R. S., Gaskell R., Keller H. U., Mottola S., Roatsch T., Scully J. E. C., Smith D. E., Tricarico P., Toplis M. J., Christensen U. R., Feldman W. C., Lawrence D. J., McCoy T. J., Prettyman T. H., Reedy R. C., Sykes M. E. and Titus T. N. (2012) Dawn at Vesta: Testing the protoplanetary paradigm. Science 336, 684-686, doi:10.1126/science.1219381.
  • Viviano C. E., J. E. Moersch and H. Y. McSween (2012) Evidence for the carbonation of serpentine in Nili Fossae, Mars: Implications for hydrothermal processes. J. Geophys. Res. 117, E7, doi:10.1029.2011JE003985.
  • Prettyman T. H., D. W. Mittlefehldt, D. J. Lawrence, N. Yamashita, A. W. Beck, W. C. Feldman, T. J. McCoy, H. Y. McSween, M. J. Topis, T. N. Titus, P. Tricarico, R. C. Reedy, J. S. Hendricks, O. Forni, L. Le Corre, J.-Y. Li, H. Mizzon, V. Reddy, C. A. Raymond and C. T. Russell (2012) Elemental mapping by Dawn reveals exogenic H in Vesta’s howarditic regolith. Science 338, 242-246, doi:10.1126science.1225354.
  • McCord T. B., Li J.-Y., Combe J.-P., McSween H. Y., Jaumann R., Reddy V., Tosi F., Williams D., Blewett D. T., Turrini N. D., Palomba E., Pieters C. M., De Sanctis M. C., Ammannito E., Capria M. T., Le Corre L., Longobardo A., Nathues A., Mittlefehldt D. W., Schroder S. E., Hiesinger H., Beck A. W., Capaccioni F., Carsenty U., Keller H. U., Denevi B. W., Sunshine J. M., Raymond C. A., and Russell C. T. (2012) Dark material on Vesta: Delivering carbonaceous volatile-rich materials to planetary surfaces. Nature 491, 83-86, doi:10.1038/nature11561.
  • Reddy V., Le Corre L., O’Brien D. P., Nathues A., Cloutis E. A., Durda D. D., Bottke W. F., Bhatt M. U., Nesvorny D., Buczkowski D., Scully J. E. C., Palmer E. M., Sierks H., Mann P. J., Becker K. J., Beck A. W., Mittlefehldt D., Li J.-Y., Gaskell R., Russell C. T., Gaffey M. J., McSween H. Y., McCord T. B., Combe J.-P., and Blewett D. (2012) Delivery of dark material to Vesta via carbonaceous chondritic impacts. Icarus 221, 544-559.
  • Patzer A. and H. Y. McSween (2012) Ordinary (mesostasis) and no-so-ordinary (symplectites) late-stage assemblages in howardites. Meteorit. Planet. Sci. 47, 1475-1490, doi:10.1111/j.1945-5100.2012.01408.x.
  • Udry A., H. Y. McSween, P. Lecumberri-Sanchez, and R. J. Bodnar (2012) Paired nakhlites MIL 090030, 090032, 090136, and 03346: Insights into the Miller Range parent meteorite. Meteorit. Planet. Sci. 47, 1575-1589, doi:10.1111/j.1945-5100.2012.01420.x.
  • Baziotis I. P., L. Yang, L. A., P. DeCarli, H. J. Melosh, H. Y. McSween, R. J. Bodnar, and L. A. Taylor (2013) The Tissint Martian meteorite as evidence for the largest impact excavation. Nature Comm., doi:10.1038/ncomms2414.
  • Liu Y., J. B. Balta, C. A. Goodrich, H. Y. McSween and L. A. Taylor (2013) New constraints on the formation of shergottite Elephant Moraine 79001 lithology A. Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta 108, 1-20, doi:10.1016/j.gca.2013.01.008.
  • Singerling S. A., A. L. Modi, B. McFerrin, E. A. Worsham, H. Y. McSween, L. A. Taylor, R. Rumble and R. Tanaka (2013) Two new eucrite breccias from Northwest Africa. Meteorit. Planet. Sci. 48, E1-E9 (online only).
  • McSween H. Y., E. Ammanito, V. Reddy, T. H. Prettyman, A. W. Beck, M. C. De Santis, A. Nathues, L. Le Corre, D. P. O’Brien, N. Yamashita, T. J. McCoy, D. W. Mittlefehldt, M. J. Toplis, P. Schenk, E. Palomba, D. Turrini, F. Tosi, F. Zambon, A. Longobardo, F. Capaccioni, C. A. Raymond and C. T. Russell (2013) Composition of the Rheasilvia basin, a window into Vesta’s interior. J. Geophys. Res. 188, 335-346, doi:10.1002/jgre.20057.
  • He Q., L. Xiao, W. Hsu, J. B. Balta, H. Y. McSween and Y. Liu (2013) The water content and parental magma of the second chassignite NWA 2737: Clues from trapped melt inclusions in olivine. Meteorit. Planet. Sci. 48, 474-492, doi:10.1111/maps.12073.
  • Marchi S., W. F. Bottke, B. A. Cohen, K. Wunnemann, D. A. Kring, H. Y. McSween, M. C. De Sanctis, D. P. O’Brien, P. Schenk, C. A. Raymond, and C. T. Russell (2013) High velocity collisions from the lunar cataclysm recorded in asteroidal meteorites. Nature Geosci. 6, 303-307, doi:10.1038/NGEO1769.
  • Singerling S. A., H. Y. McSween and L. A. Taylor (2013) Glasses in howardites: Impact melts or pyroclasts?  Meteorit. Planet. Sci. 48, 715-729, doi:10.1111/maps.12099.
  • Beck A. W., H. Y. McSween, and R. J. Bodnar (2013) In situ laser ablation ICP-MS analyses of dimict diogenites: Further evidence for harzburgitic and orthopyroxenitic lithologies. Meteorit. Planet. Sci. 48, 1050-1059, doi:10.1111/maps.12129.
  • Viviano C. E., J. E. Moersch, and H. Y. McSween (2013) Implications for early hydrothermal environments on Mars through the spectral discrimination of a carbonation and chloritization process in the Nilli Fossae region. J. Geophys. Res. 118, 1-15, doi:10.1002/jgre.20141.
  • Balta J. B., M. Sanborn, H. Y. McSween, and M. Wadhwa (2013) Magmatic history and parental melt composition of olivine-phyric shergottite LAR 06319: Importance of magmatic degassing and olivine antecrysts in Martian magmatism. Meteorit. Planet. Sci. 48, 1359-1382, doi:10.1111/maps.12140.
  • Balta J. B. and H. Y. McSween (2013) Water and the composition of martian magmas. Geology 41, 1115-1118, doi:10.1130/G34714.1.
  • Johnson C., S. McLennan, H. Y. McSween and R. E. Summons (2013) Smaller, better, more: Five decades of advances in geochemistry. Web of Geological Sciences: Advances, Impacts Interactions, Bickford M. E., ed., Geol. Soc. Amer. 125th Anniversary Volumes: Spec. Paper 500, pp. 259-303.


The flagship campus of the University of Tennessee System and partner in the Tennessee Transfer Pathway.