Second Announcement — February 2014

Meeting Location and Date

The Eighth International Conference on Mars will be held July 14–18, 2014, at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in Pasadena, California. To assist with long-range travel planning, the meeting will begin the morning of Monday, July 14, and is expected to end around noon on Friday, July 18.

Purpose and Scope

As of 2014, we will have completed a remarkable and unparalleled 15 years of concentrated scientific exploration of the Red Planet. This period includes nine successful missions [1996 Mars Global Surveyor, 1996 Mars Pathfinder, 2001 Mars Odyssey, 2003 Mars Exploration Rovers (Spirit and Opportunity), 2003 Mars Express, 2005 Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, 2007 Mars Phoenix, and 2011 Mars Science Laboratory (Curiosity)], as well as telescopic observations from Earth, studies of martian meteorites, and a variety of numerical and laboratory modeling activities. Two additional missions will be en route to Mars at the time of the conference (NASA’s 2013 MAVEN and ISRO’s 2013 Mars Orbiter Mission), and several other missions are actively under development for launch during the period 2016–2020. The Eighth International Mars Conference will be an ideal time to step back and summarize our current understanding of Mars, consolidate our primary paradigms for martian processes and history, and refocus the primary scientific questions that remain in front of us.

Meeting Format

The first four days of the conference will be structured with morning and afternoon oral sessions organized around topical themes, along with late afternoon poster sessions of broader scope. The final day will consist of presentations and discussion focused on the synthesis of the ideas presented, and on discussion of the future of Mars exploration. The oral sessions will be conducted in a single track, with the goal of giving all Mars scientists the chance to hear what is happening in other lines of scientific inquiry — this is key to reaching the multidisciplinary understandings we are seeking. The oral sessions will be held in Beckman Auditorium on the Caltech campus, and the poster sessions will be conducted nearby in Caltech’s Dabney Gardens and Hall.

Call For Abstracts

Introduction and Context

Our understanding of Mars has advanced dramatically over the last 15 years, as a result of remarkable period of concentrated scientific exploration.  It is important to step back periodically and review/consolidate these accomplishments.  The last such review was 7 years ago at the 7th International Mars Conference. The focus of the 8th International Mars Conference will be on integrating our new multi-disciplinary understandings of Mars, and identifying the large-picture scientific questions that have been (or will be) addressed by missions that are either ongoing or are in development.  We will also seek to define the new scientific questions that lie before us and that may form the basis for future lines of scientific inquiry.

We encourage contributions in all sub-disciplines of Mars science.  We welcome both specific data-driven abstracts and broader synthesis abstracts, especially those that focus on knowledge gained since the 7th International Conference on Mars (2007). In support of understanding Mars as a system, abstracts that synthesize and integrate knowledge from various disciplines are particularly encouraged.  Although the focus of the conference will be scientific results to date, contributions on potential future missions or instruments that can be used at Mars are also welcome.  The scope of the conference is intended to encompass not just spacecraft observations of Mars and their associated interpretations, but also Mars-related modelling, theoretical studies, Earth analog research, Earth-based telescopic observations of Mars, etc.

Because the essential goal of this conference is multi-disciplinary understanding, it will be run with a single track of oral talks, coupled with large poster sessions every day.  These poster sessions will be of central importance — a majority of the technical content of the conference will be there, including some of its most important papers, and the discussions around the posters have been one of the highlights of past conferences in this series. 

Key Topics of Interest

Contributions are specifically encouraged (but not limited to) in the following areas:

  • Martian geology at all scales
    • The evolution of Mars as a solid planet:  Accretion, differentiation, thermal, and tectonic evolution
    • The martian geologic record:  Chronology, igneous and sedimentary history, lithologic variation, impact cratering, history of aqueous processes, weathering/erosion, ice-related processes, mineralogy, geochemistry
    • Present-day surface processes
    • The use of terrestrial analogs to help understand our martian observations
    • Mars meteorite studies
  • The current state and history of the Martian climate
    • The history of surface volatiles, including evolution of the polar regions, atmosphere, and climate
    • The effects of surface/subsurface ice
    • Modeling the current climate, atmospheric dynamics; understanding the water, dust, and CO2 cycles; weather
    • Understanding past climates
    • Current processes and evolution in the upper atmosphere
  • The search for life on Mars
    • Assessing ancient and modern habitability of Mars
    • Lessons relevant to Mars gleaned from the search for evidence of early life on Earth, including lessons in preservation
    • Organics on Mars: Potential sources, sinks, and controls on preservation
    • Potential biosignatures
    • Strategies for understanding the possibility of pre-biotic chemistry
  • Cross-cutting themes.  Examples abound of topics that fundamentally affect two or more of life, climate, and geology, such as:
    • The role of geochemistry in the rock record, and it potential influence on life
    • Surface/subsurface ice and transient liquid water, and its role in geology and climate
    • The geologic and isotopic records of past climate
    • Understanding key periods of planetary change
  • Preparation for human exploration
    • Science measurements associated with closing strategic knowledge gaps
    • Precursor science needs

The specifics of the conference program will respond to the abstracts submitted.  The check-box “topics” on the abstract submission form are solely intended to help the program committee with its review process; we would be delighted to consider abstracts that fall in-between or across several of these topics (and these may be submitted under an appropriate high-level topic, including “Cross-cutting/Other”).  Abstracts will be assigned to oral, poster, or print-only presentation; the preliminary program will be available in electronic format and accessible via the conference webpage on May 30, 2014.  Authors will need to check the online program to find out where their abstract has been scheduled.

Preparation of Abstracts

Abstract submitters should limit their contributions to TWO pages.  All abstracts must be submitted in U.S. letter size format (8.5” × 11”) and must include a one-inch margin on all four sides; A4 submissions will be rejected by the system. File sizes are limited to 1.5 MB.  Print-only abstracts may be submitted.  Abstracts must be submitted in following PDF format. A template is provided. If not using the template provided leave a one-inch margin on all four sides of your document. After you prepare your abstract file, you will have to fill out the electronic abstract submission form and upload the file containing your abstract (instructions are provided on the form). Abstracts sent by e-mail will NOT be considered.

The abstract deadline is 5:00 p.m. U.S. Central Daylight Time (i.e., local time in Houston, Texas; see time zone map) on Thursday, April 24, 2014. No exceptions will be made for late abstracts. Whether the problem is loss of electricity, a computer crash, or anything else beyond your control, your abstract must be RECEIVED by MPS staff by the deadline in order to be considered by the program committee. If you discover that you are having difficulty submitting your abstract on the website, please e-mail or call Katy Buckaloo immediately ([email protected] or 281-486-2106) so that she will have time to assist you.

Authors who are unable to produce a PDF file may send their source files (must be in Word or PostScript format) to USRA no later than April 17, 2014. A PDF file will be created and returned to the author, but it is the author’s responsibility to submit that PDF file by the time of the abstract deadline. Source files should be sent to [email protected].

Student Abstracts

The abstract form has a check-box for abstracts where the senior author is a student.  The Scientific Organizing Committee requests this information for potential use in student awards.


In accordance with new conference guidelines recently issued by NASA, the meeting will not charge a registration fee. This decision was reached in large part to help enhance attendance by the Mars exploration community on a global basis. Although we will have the capability for walk-up registration the day of the conference, we request that everybody please consider June 13, 2014 to be the registration deadline — we will base our final logistical preparations, including the printing of conference materials, based on the count at that point.

Participants can register using the secure electronic registration form.

All NASA civil servant and contractor participants must register in the NASA Conference Tracking System, NCTS (https// Grantees and other participants need not register. The NCTS number is 18598-14.

Student Support

NASA’s Mars Program Office has announced that travel funding awards are available for ~15–20 students. Students who are U.S. citizens or legal residents, and who are engaged in Mars-related research, are eligible for this program. An application (including a submitted abstract) must be submitted by April 11 to be considered for this funding (note the abstract deadline for everybody else is April 24). NASA Headquarters will make the selections and students will be notified in May. For more information and the application, see Questions about this program should be directed to Serina Diniega.


We have made special arrangements for a large block of discounted rooms at a hotel in the Old Pasadena area, the Westin Pasadena. The group rate is $133/night + taxes, and this is valid until June 13, 2014, or until the block is sold out. To reserve a room in this block, visit There are two advantages to concentrating our hotel activity at this facility:

  • The hotel has small conference rooms available for team meetings, as needed, during the conference week or the bracketing weekends (we recognize that this will be a unique opportunity where a lot of martians will be together in one place).
  • If there is sufficient interest, we will look into a shuttle to transport participants from the hotel to the conference venue. This would help us with potential parking issues at Caltech.

To express interest in either of these points, please contact Serina Diniega.

A registration table will be set up the evening before the conference to hand out name badges and conference materials.

Travel and Maps

Directions to Caltech from Los Angeles International Airport, the Bob Hope Airport (formerly the Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport), and the Ontario Airport can be found at


For further information regarding the scientific content of the meeting:

David Beaty
Jet Propulsion Laboratory/California Institute of Technology
E-mail:  [email protected]

For further information regarding meeting logistics or announcements:

Amy Hale
Jet Propulsion Laboratory/California Institute of Technology
Phone: 818-393-1186
E-mail:  [email protected]

Serina Diniega
Jet Propulsion Laboratory/California Institute of Technology
Phone: 818-393-1487
E-mail:  [email protected]

For further information regarding abstracts or registration:

Katy Buckaloo
Universities Space Research Association
Phone: 281-486-2106
E-mail:  [email protected]


Student travel grant application deadline April 11, 2014
Abstract submission deadline April 24, 2014
Final announcement with program and abstracts posted on this website May 30, 2014
Deadline for registration to guarantee conference materials June 13, 2014
Deadline for hotel reservations at group rate June 13, 2014
Eighth International Conference on Mars July 14–18, 2014


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