Who We Are
Kerri Donaldson Hanna

Kerri Donaldson Hanna

Associate Professor, Planetary Sciences Group, Department of Physics, University of Central Florida

Abstract: Exploring silicic volcanism from the surface of the Moon at the Gruithuisen domes

The Gruithuisen domes were first identified as volcanic structures distinct from their surrounding mare basaltic flows based on their distinct morphology and unusually red-sloped ultraviolet-to-visible spectrum. Morphologic analyses of the steep-sided domes suggested they are composed of highly viscous magmas similar to terrestrial extrusive volcanic features, which are consistent with higher silica contents (> 52 wt.% SiO2) found in rhyolites, dacites and basaltic andesites. Further remote sensing observations by Lunar Prospector, Diviner Lunar Radiometer, and the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera have shown that the domes are enriched in Th (~17 to 40 ppm) and SiO2, and low in FeO (< 5 wt. %). However, the exact composition of the rock making up the domes has remained elusive, and questions remain about how these structures formed.

The Lunar Vulkan Imaging and Spectroscopy Explorer (Lunar-VISE) was recently selected through NASA’s Payloads and Research Investigations on the Surface of the Moon (PRISM) call to be delivered to the lunar surface on an upcoming Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) lander and rover. The UCF-led payload and team will investigate the regolith and boulders comprising the Gruithuisen Domes using a suite of cameras on the CLPS lander, and two multi-spectral imaging systems and a gamma ray and neutron spectrometer on a rover. In this talk, I will describe the proposed mission with a scheduled launch date in early-2027 and discuss how we look to answer fundamental questions about the Moon and its volcanism from the dome of a volcanic feature.


Dr. Donaldson Hanna received her B.S. in Space Sciences at Florida Institute of Technology and then her M.S. and Ph.D. in Geological Sciences at Brown University. After her Ph.D., she spent 5.5 years at the University of Oxford working as a postdoctoral researcher and UK Space Agency Aurora Research fellow within the Planetary Surfaces and Experiments group. Dr. Donaldson Hanna joined the Department of Physics at the University of Central Florida in March 2019 as an Assistant Professor and was promoted to Associate Professor in 2023.

Dr. Donaldson Hanna’s research group focuses on better understanding (1) the formation and evolution of airless bodies within our Solar System, (2) the distribution of planetary materials across the Solar System, and (3) the thermal infrared behavior of planetary materials. Her research group combines spacecraft and telescopic remote sensing observations of airless bodies with laboratory measurements of analog materials utilizing bespoke environment chambers. Currently Dr. Donaldson Hanna is the Principal Investigator of Lunar-VISE and a Co-Investigator on several space missions including the Diviner Lunar Radiometer Experiment, L-CIRiS, and Lunar Trailblazer, and was a participating scientist on the OSIRIS-REx mission.