Conference on Early Mars:  Geologic and Hydrologic Evolution,
Physical and Chemical Environments, and
the Implications for Life

April 24-27, 1997
Houston, Texas

Final Announcement
March 1997

Purpose and ScopeMeeting FormatPark-and-Ride Service
RegistrationHotel ReservationsMessages


Lunar and Planetary Institute
National Aeronautics and Space Administration


Stephen Clifford and Allan Treiman
Lunar and Planetary Institute
3600 Bay Area Boulevard
Houston TX 77058-1113
Phone:  281-486-2146 or 281-486-2117
Fax:  281-486-2162
E-mail: or

Horton Newsom
Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences
Institute of Meteoritics
University of New Mexico
Albuquerque NM 87131-1126
Phone:  505-277-0375
Fax:  505-277-3577

Jack Farmer
Mail Stop 239-4
NASA Ames Research Center
Moffet Field CA 94035
Phone: 415-604-5748
Fax: 415-604-1088

Scientific Organizing Committee
Michael Carr
U.S. Geological Survey
Ted Maxwell
National Air and Space Museum
Benton Clark
Lockheed Martin
George McGill
University of Massachusetts
Roger Clark
U.S. Geological Survey
Christopher McKay
NASA Ames Research Center
Michael Drake
University of Arizona
David McKay
NASA Johnson Space Center
Fraser Fanale
University of Hawai’i
Richard Morris
NASA Johnson Space Center
Matthew Golombek
Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Susan Postawko
University of Hawai’i
James Gooding
NASA Johnson Space Center
Carl Sagan
Cornell University
Virginia Gulick
NASA Ames Research Center
Peter Schultz
Brown University
Bob Haberle
NASA Ames Research Center
Everett Shock
Washington University
Alan Howard
University of Virginia
Steven Squyres
Cornell University
Bruce Jakosky
University of Colorado
Carol Stoker
NASA Ames Research Center
James Kasting
Pennsylvania State University
Kenneth Tanaka
U.S. Geological Survey

“Each of us is a tiny being, permitted to ride on the outermost skin of one of the smaller planets for a few dozen trips around the local star . . . We are fleeting, transitional creatures, snowflakes fallen on the hearth fire. That we understand even a little of our origins is one of the great triumphs of human insight and courage.”

- from Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors

In Memory of Carl Sagan

Since the Conference on Early Mars was first announced last fall, our goal has been to construct a meeting that would address some of the most critical and controversial issues in Mars science, while maximizing the opportunity for extended discussion and debate. To that end, we have made several changes to the traditional meeting format that have resulted in a program where approximately 50% of the time has been reserved for Q&A and moderated discussion.

To accommodate this emphasis on discussion, it was necessary to restrict the number of scheduled oral presentations to approximately six or seven per day. For this reason, we made the early decision that all scheduled talks would be by invitation only and that all contributed presentations would be in the form of posters.

Our selection of invited speakers and panelists reflects an effort to address a variety of key issues in the fewest talks, to provide a common foundation and framework for the conference participants to explore and flesh out during the subsequent discussion. The selection process was complicated by the limited number of speaking opportunities, the scope of the issues we wished to address, and the enormous breadth and depth of talent that exists within the planetary and terrestrial communities.

Given these constraints, we have constructed a program that represents our best effort to consider the context, interdisciplinary nature, and differing perspectives regarding some of the most critical issues in early Mars research. Ultimately, the success of this effort will depend not on the formal program, but on the extent to which it stimulates conference participants to join in the debate.

Purpose and Scope

The purpose of the conference is twofold:

(1)  To consider how impacts, volcanism, and the presence of abundant water affected the physical and chemical environment that existed on early Mars (particularly as it relates to the nature of the global climate, the origin of the valley networks, the geologic and mineralogic evolution of the surface, the aqueous geochemistry of groundwater, panspermia, the potential development of indigenous life, and the preservation and detection of life’s signature in the geologic record).

(2)  To consider what observations or experiments might be included in future Surveyor-class missions to test the ideas and expectations arising from (1).

While pertinent issues of early atmospheric and solar evolution will be addressed, the primary discussion will focus on the evidence and constraints provided by the geologic records of the Earth, Moon, and Mars and analysis of the SNC meteorites.

In addition to the regular Mars community, the meeting will draw on the participation and expertise of researchers from a wide range of fields in terrestrial and planetary science. Click here for the program and abstracts.

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Meeting Format

To encourage discussion, promote the exchange of new ideas, and rigorously assess our current understanding of the early martian environment, the conference format will place a heavy emphasis on discussion and debate. Each morning will begin with a review of the day’s agenda and the key questions. Formal talks will be kept to a minimum (averaging about six per day) and will emphasize both the current state of research and important issues that remain outstanding. These talks will be supplemented by a number of special events:

Three Special Sessions

Two Formal Debates Three Panel Discussions

In addition, two evening poster sessions (with refreshments) will be held on Thursday and Saturday evenings (all posters will be on display throughout the entire meeting).

Approximately 50% of the program has been reserved for Q&A and moderated discussion.

Opportunities for Participation
This conference is not intended for the timid or faint of heart. If you have strongly held beliefs regarding any aspect of early Mars, come well prepared to defend your position.

Conference attendees will have the opportunity to offer substantive oral comments during the Q&A period following each invited talk and during the many moderated discussion periods identified throughout the program.

Participants in these discussions should have any evidence, calculations, or arguments that they wish to present available in a form that can be effectively shared with the rest of the conference attendees (e.g., slides, viewgraphs, or handouts). They should also be prepared to argue their case as persuasively and succinctly as possible, identify convincing tests of their principal conclusions, and be willing to rebut or acknowledge real-time critiques by other conference participants. Note that these discussions are not intended to force a consensus, but to help clarify our current understanding of specific issues, identify points of conflict, and stimulate ideas for ways of resolving these conflicts for inclusion in future missions.

Poster Presentations
Authors of abstracts scheduled for poster presentation will have the opportunity to present their work during one of the two dedicated sessions scheduled for Thursday and Saturday evenings. Posters have been divided between the two sessions to allow all authors the chance to view and discuss other posters. Authors of papers selected and scheduled for poster presentation should plan to be available to display and discuss their results in the poster area during their assigned poster session. There will also be opportunities to discuss posters during breaks. A listing of all abstracts accepted for poster presentation is included in the enclosed program. This is the only notification that authors of poster presentations will receive, and they should inform their co-authors.

Each poster will have a designated 44" × 44" space; posters can be mounted using push pins, which will be available at the LPI. The poster display panels are white, so use a colored background to most effectively display your information. Posters may be installed beginning Wednesday evening, April 23, during early registration, and may remain on display throughout the conference. Requests for tables, computers, etc., cannot be honored due to the limited space available for poster displays.

Projection Information
Two 35-mm carousel slide projectors and two overhead projectors will be available to support dual-screen projection. There is a rear-screen projection system in the Lecture Hall, and slides should be marked appropriately for loading in the trays that will be available from the meeting projectionists. Please contact Elizabeth Gary at or at 281-486-2123 if you need other audio-visual equipment.

Policy in the Event of Oversubscription
Given the intense interest in the conference, there is a possibility that it will become oversubscribed. In that event, preference for participation will be given to invited speakers and the authors of contributed abstracts scheduled for poster presentation whose completed preregistration forms have been received by LPI.

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The deadline for early registration without the $20 late fee has passed, but participants are still encouraged to register prior to the meeting because of the possibility of oversubscription. The conference registration fee, including the late charge, is $115 ($95 for students). You may register either by mailing or faxing the completed
downloadable preregistration form or by submitting the electronic registration form. Preregistrations will be accepted until a week before the meeting. Participants registering by credit card may use the electronic registration form found on the meeting Web site. Requests for cancellation and a refunded fee will be accepted through April 21, 1997.

Note:  Those who fail to attend and do not notify the LPI Publications and Program Services Department prior to the April 21, 1997, deadline will forfeit their full fee.

On-Site Registration and Poster Setup
Registration will begin Wednesday evening, April 23, 1997, from 6:00 to 8:30 p.m. at LPI. Poster boards will be available during this time for authors to set up their poster presentations. Participants may also register on Thursday morning beginning at 7:30 a.m, and each subsequent day of the meeting beginning at 8:00 a.m.

Hotel Reservations

A block of rooms has been reserved at the Nassau Bay Hilton at a special group rate of $78.00 (tax inclusive) for the conference. To obtain this special rate, you MUST make your reservation by April 9, 1997, and MUST identify yourself as an Early Mars Conference participant. YOU are responsible for making your own hotel reservations. Click here for a list of local hotels and a map of the area.

Park-and-Ride Service

We anticipate an overflow of legal parking spaces at or near the LPI. We encourage you to contact your colleagues staying at the same hotel or nearby to arrange for car pooling. Additional conference parking is available at the University of Houston-Clear Lake parking lot D (rows 31-40). This parking location is shown on the enclosed map. A shuttle bus will be available to transport attendees from the University of Houston-Clear Lake parking lot to the LPI before the morning sessions, during the lunch break, and at the end of the daily sessions.


A message center will be established in the registration area. You may receive phone messages during the meeting at 281-486-2139. A fax machine will also be available for incoming faxes only. Faxes should be sent to 281-244-2061. Telephone and fax messages will be posted on a bulletin board near the registration desk; technical sessions will not be interrupted for messages except in the case of an emergency.

April 9, 1997Deadline for hotel reservations to receive group rate
April 21, 1997Deadline for cancellation of registration with refund of fee
April 24-27, 1997Conference at LPI

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