The first International Conference on Mars was held in 1973 as data were being returned from Mariner 9, the first mission to orbit another planet. Conferences were next convened in 1979 and 1981 as data were returned from the Viking missions, which consisted of two orbiters and two landers.

The fourth conference, in 1989, reviewed 10 years of analysis of the Viking data and resulted in the publication of the classic 1498-page volume entitled Mars.

The fifth conference was held in 1999 as data from Mars Pathfinder and Mars Global Surveyor, both launched in 1996, became widely available.

The sixth conference was held in 2003, and it was highlighted by four more years of data by Mars Global Surveyor and the initial observations from Mars Odyssey.

The seventh conference was held in 2007, a year after the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter entered martian orbit and began observing, and after three years of observations by the twin Mars Exploration Rovers (Spirit and Opportunity) and the Mars Express Orbiter.

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