Catherine A. Dukes

Laboratory for Astrophysics and Surface Physics (LASP), Director & Nanoscale Materials Characterization Facility (NMCF), Research Scientist


Catherine Dukes directs the Laboratory for Astrophysics and Surface Physics (LASP) and provides expertise in X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) for the University of Virginia's Nanoscale Materials Characterization Facility (NMCF). Her NSF and NASA funded research focuses on the interaction of radiation (ions, electrons, and photons) with surfaces and the resulting physical and chemical effects. Our emphasis is on understanding the fundamental physics at work in our solar system, particularly the effects of solar-wind particles on the surfaces of airless bodies such as our Moon, Mercury, asteroids, and comets, by simulating planetary regolith environments in the laboratory. We are currently part of a consortium of researchers preparing to investigate unopened lunar core samples collected during the Apollo 17 Mission near Lara crater. Dukes has recently joined the sample analysis team for the OSIRIS-REx Mission, returning regolith grains from the carbonaceous asteroid Bennu, and is a member of the Virginia Initiative for Cosmic Origins.



  • BS in Physics (High Honors in Physics) - University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
  • MS in Engineering Physics – University of Virginia, Charlottesville

Research Interests

  • Laboratory Planetary Science: the Moon, Mercury, Ceres, Eros, and other airless bodies
  • Surface and near-surface analysis of returned extraterrestrial materials with a focus on Space Weathering
  • Ion-Surface / Photon-Surface Interactions / Astrochemistry
  • Surface Analysis/Electron Spectroscopy & Materials Characterization
  • Instrument Development

Selected Publications

  • Laczniak, D., Thompson, M., Christoffersen, R., Dukes, C., Clemett, S., Morris, R., & Keller, L., Investigating Space Weathering Effects on Carbonaceous Asteroids Using High-flux and Low-flux Ion Irradiation of the Murchison Meteorite, Microscopy & Microanalysis, 27(S1), 2538-2541, (2021)
  • Laczniak, D., Thompson, M., Christoffersen, R., Dukes, C. A., Clemett, S., Morris, R., & Keller, L., Characterizing spectral, microstructural, and chemical effects of solar- wind irradiation on carbon-rich asteroids: Coordinated analysis of H+ and He+-irradiated Murchison carbonaceous chondrite, Icarus 364, 114479, (2021)
  • L. Daly, M. R. Lee, L. J. Hallis, H. A. Ishii, J. P. Bradley, P. A. Bland, D. W. Saxey, D. Fougerouse, W. D. A. Rickard, L. V. Forman, N. E. Timms, F. Jourdan, S. M. Reddy, T. Salge, Z. Quadir, E. V. Christou, M. A. Cox, J. Aguiar, K. Hattar, A. Monterrosa, L. P. Keller, R. Christoffersen, C. A. Dukes, M. J. Loeffler and M. S. Thompson, Solar contributions to Earth’s oceans, Nature Astronomy - accepted (2021)
  • Laczniak, D., Thompson, M., Dukes, C., Morris, R., Clemett, S., Keller, L., & Christoffersen, R., Investigating Space Weathering Effects Using Coordinated Analysis of a H - and He -Irradiated Carbonaceous Chondrite, Microscopy & Microanalysis, 26, 2598-2601 (2020)
  • C. Bu, G. Rodriguez Lopez, C.A. Dukes, O. Ruesch, L.A. McFadden, & J-Y. Li, Stability of Hydrated Carbonates on Ceres, Icarus 320 (Occator Crater), 136-149 (2019).
  • C. Bu, G. Rodriguez Lopez, C.A. Dukes, O. Ruesch, L.A. McFadden, & J-Y Li, Search for Sulfates on the Surface of Ceres, Meteor. Planet. Sci. 53 (DAWN Ceres), 9, 1946-1960 (2018).
  • M.J. Schaible, C.A. Dukes, A.C. Hutcherson, P. Lee, M.R. Collier, R.E. Johnson, Solar wind sputtering rates of small bodies and ion mass spectrometry detection of secondary ions, JGR: Planets, 122, 1968–1983 (2017).
  • C.A. Dukes and R.E. Johnson, Contribution of Surface Processes to the Lunar Exosphere: Laboratory Experiments, in Encyclopedia of Lunar Science, Springer International, ed. B. Cudnik, 1 - 7 (2017).
  • C. Bu, D. Bahr, C. A. Dukes and R. A. Baragiola, Effects of Cracking on the Surface Potential of Icy Grains in Saturn’s E-ring: Laboratory Studies, ApJ 825.2: 106 (2016).
  • C. A. Dukes and D. Hurley, Sampling the Moon, Science 351, 6270, 232-233 (Invited Perspective) (2016).
  • M.J. Loeffler, C.A. Dukes, R. Christoffersen and R.A. Baragiola, Space Weathering of Silicates Simulated by Laser Irradiation, Meteoritics and Planetary Science (2016).
  • C. A. Dukes and R. A. Baragiola, The Lunar Exosphere-Surface Connection: Measurements of Secondary Ions from Apollo, Icarus 255, 51 - 57 (2015).
  • P. Vernazza, D. Fulvio, R. Brunetto, J. P. Emery, C. A. Dukes, F. Cipriani, O. Witasse, M. J. Schaible, B., Zanda, G. Strazzulla, R. A. Baragiola, Paucity of Tagish Lake-like parent bodies in the Asteroid Belt and among Jupiter Trojans, Icarus 225, 1, 517-525 (2013).
  • E. H. Mitchell, U. Raut, D. Fulvio, M. J. Schaible, C. A. Dukes and R. A. Baragiola, Ultraviolet photodesorption driver for water migration on the lunar surface, Planetary & Space Sci. 89, 42-46 (2013)
  • C.A. Dukes, W.Y. Chang, M. Famá, and R. Baragiola, Laboratory studies on the sputtering contribution to the sodium atmospheres of Mercury and the Moon , Icarus, 212, 2, p. 463-469 (2011).

Interests / Hobbies

  • Scientific Instrument Research and Development
  • UVa Cavaliers' Basketball and Soccer (Go Hoos!), U.S. Women's Soccer, Rail-Trail Biking, Naval History Novels, and Home Improvement Projects


NMCF Instrumentation Tour

Process solutions, defect analysis, and materials characterization for academia and industry.....

Moon Dust

As a child, Catherine Dukes watched the liftoff of Apollo 17, not knowing that her life would be tied to this historic mission and the secrets it would hold for nearly 50 years.