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Conference Location and Dates

We are happy to announce the 3rd International Planetary Caves Conference scheduled for February 18–21, 2020 at Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) in San Antonio, Texas.

Purpose and Scope

During the last decade, caves and subterranean features have been discovered on nearly every planetary surface as the spatial resolution of spacecraft instrumentation has markedly improved. To date, planetary scientists have identified more than 200 lunar and several thousand martian cave-like features. These features allow us to access and examine subsurface without costly deep-drilling payloads. Moreover, caves provide potential habitats for life, including future human habitation on the Moon and Mars.

Cave-like features on Mars formed from volcanic processes, tectonic processes, or both. Together, these features represent significant void space in the subsurface. Pit crater chains, lateral cave entrances, and skylight entrances represent potential access to the deep subsurface enabling us to address key questions about subsurface habitability and biosignature potential. These caves may also host significant water ice deposits for human consumption and for potentially generating hydrogen fuel to return humans to Earth.

The 3rd International Planetary Caves Conference captures advances in the current state of the art cave exploration and continues the exchange of knowledge and ideas between scientists and engineers for future cave missions. Topics include:

  • Lunar and martian cave-like features
  • Types of speleogenic features that may be encountered on other planetary bodies
  • The potential to search for subterranean volatiles and determine subsurface habitability
  • Robotic access and exploration
  • The astrobiology potential of planetary subsurface environments
  • Technologies required for human habitation


Additionally, the conference will provide a forum to discuss the longer-term objective of developing a strategy for research and robotic exploration of caves across the solar system.

Note: All electronic submission forms are part of the Meeting Portal, which requires users to set up a personal profile to access our electronic forms (setting up a profile is quick and easy, requiring only a few minutes of your time).