Bruce Banerdt, Jet Propulsion Laboratory
David Beatty, Jet Propulsion Laboratory
James Blacic, Los Alamos National Laboratory
Geoffrey Briggs, NASA Ames Research Center
Michael Carr, U.S. Geological Survey, Menlo Park
Angioletta Coradini, Institute d'Astrophysique Spatiale
Francois Costard, Université de Paris
James Cutts, Jet Propulsion Laboratory
James Garvin, NASA Headquarters
John Grant, National Air and Space Museum
Ronald Greeley, Arizona State University
Robert Grimm, Blackhawk Geometrics
Walter Kiefer, Lunar and Planetary Institute
Philippe Lognonné, Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris
Humboldt Mandell, NASA Johnson Space Center
Gary Olhoeft, Colorado School of Mines
Roger Phillips, Washington University
Jeffrey Plaut, Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Larry Soderblom, U.S. Geological Survey, Flagstaff

The Conference on the Geophysical Detection of Subsurface Water on Mars will be held at the Lunar and Planetary Institute (LPI), housed in the Center for Advanced Space Studies, 3600 Bay Area Boulevard, Houston, Texas. Technical sessions consisting of invited and contributed talks, poster presentations, panel discussions, and special sessions will take place at LPI. Nightly social events, including group dinner outings to some of the Bay Area's finest waterfront restaurants, will supplement the conference activities.

Response to the first announcement has been outstanding, with nearly 200 indications of interest received so far. The respondents (from 13 countries) represent fields as diverse as astrobiology, glaciology, human exploration, planetary geology and geophysics, spacecraft design and instrumentation, and terrestrial exploration geophysics.

This high level of interest reflects the fact that the search for water has become the primary focus of Mars exploration. Its abundance and distribution (both as ground ice and groundwater) have important implications for understanding the geologic, hydrologic, and climatic evolution of the planet; the potential origin and continued survival of life; and the accessibility of a critical in situ resource for sustaining future human explorers.

For these reasons, the primary goal of the conference is to identify the most direct, unambiguous and cost-effective approach to assessing the three-dimensional distribution and state of water within the martian crust — at a resolution sufficient to permit reaching any desired volatile target by drilling. Although existing plans to address this goal will be reviewed and discussed, suggestions for alternative investigations and strategies (proposed independent of any current program requirements or constraints) are actively encouraged.

The purpose of this discussion is to:

  • Clarify the reasons why a global geophysical reconnaissance for water on Mars is needed (and to what desired depth and spatial resolution),
  • Identify the specific types and capabilities of potential investigations and platforms, as well as determine the most effective manner in which they might be employed (i.e., orbital, global surface network, and high-resolution local missions),
  • Assess the diagnostic limitations and potential environmental complications associated with such investigations, and
  • Determine what other areas of Mars science would benefit from the acquisition of this proposed suite of geophysical data.

The discussion of exploration strategies, techniques, and instruments will be based on consideration of a two-stage approach:  (1) orbital and surface network missions designed to characterize the large-scale global distribution of volatiles within the top ~10 km of the crust, and (2) high-resolution investigations of promising local sites identified from the data acquired by the initial global reconnaissance.

Potential platforms that might be employed in local, high-resolution studies range from high-density surface networks to aerial surveys conducted by aircraft, aerobots, or balloons. The principal requirement for this type of investigation is an operational one — that, whatever design is proposed, it be capable of identifying the distribution of subsurface volatiles at sufficiently high spatial resolution to guide the placement and operation of a drilling platform designed to investigate (and ultimately sample) whatever volatile targets may be present at depth.

As an aid for the discussion of these issues, several reference documents have been posted on this Web site, including: "A Proposal for an Integrated Geophysical Strategy to 'Follow the Water' on Mars," which presents a strawman strategy to serve as a starting point for discussing the best approach to assess the composition, state, and three-dimensional distribution of subsurface volatiles on Mars, and "Analysis of the Potential of a Mars Orbital Ground Penetrating Radar Instrument in 2005," which describes some of the scientific objectives and technical challenges that face an orbital sounder. Challenges and alternatives to the ideas described in these documents are actively encouraged.

The program will consist of a mix of invited and contributed talks, poster presentations, and panel discussions, emphasizing opportunities for extended discussion and debate. These presentations will be supplemented by several special sessions and social events that will be held throughout the meeting. We are also investigating the possibility of a mid-conference field trip to a Houston-area exploration geophysics research facility, for an introduction to the state-of-the-art techniques employed by the oil and gas industry in data acquisition and analysis. Further details (including any additional costs associated with this optional event) will be discussed in the final announcement.

Any scientist with relevant theoretical, experimental, or field experience is strongly encouraged to participate in the conference and submit an abstract. Abstracts may be submitted for oral, poster, or print-only presentation. Contingent upon their review and acceptance by the program committee, abstracts will be published as part of an abstract volume that will be distributed to conference participants at the meeting. Note that, because of the time constraint and the anticipated number of conference participants, it may not be possible to schedule all abstracts submitted for oral presentation. In that event, the program committee may request that an abstract be presented as a poster.

The conference abstracts and preliminary program will also be available in electronic format and will be posted on this Web site on or around June 1, 2001. These files will be in PDF format, viewable with version 4.0 (or higher) of Adobe's Acrobat Reader, available free of charge from the Adobe home page (

Abstracts may address any relevant aspect of terrestrial or martian exploration geophysical research, including, but not limited to:

  • Potential volatile targets (including massive ground ice, saturated/unsaturated frozen ground, groundwater, gas hydrates, and liquid CO2)
  • Terrestrial analogs
  • Exploration strategies, techniques, and instruments
  • Ambiguities and potential environmental complications associated with the interpretation of exploration geophysical data
  • Collateral science opportunities (variations in local, regional, and global subsurface lithologies and structure; compositional information that might be deduced from the penetration depth and character of the returned signal, e.g., the presence of iron oxides, carbonates, brines, etc.)

Read and follow the instructions below for preparation and submission of your abstract. If you have any questions regarding abstract preparation or submission, please contact the LPI at 281-486-2161, -2188, or -2164 (or send an e-mail message to

Abstracts should not exceed two pages (including figures, tables, and references), and should be submitted using the electronic abstract submission form by April 27, 2001, 5:00 p.m. (CDT). Abstracts can be submitted in any of the following formats: PDF; PostScript; Microsoft Word for PC or Mac; Rich Text Format (RTF); WordPerfect 7 or 8 for PC. Templates and detailed instructions for formatting and submitting your abstract are provided.

NOTE:  The electronic abstract submission form is only supported by Netscape Navigator (version 2.0 or higher) and Internet Explorer (version 4.0 or higher). If you are using any other browser, you will not be able to electronically submit your abstract. Please contact your systems administrator for assistance in downloading and installing one of these browsers on your machine.

WARNING:  Electronic transmission of files is not always instantaneous; gateways can temporarily be shut down, local routers can fail, network traffic can be very heavy, etc. Because your abstract file must be RECEIVED at the LPI by 5:00 p.m. CDT, it is in your best interest to submit early to allow for possible delays in transmission. The server will be very busy on the day of the deadline. Please DO NOT wait until the last minute to access the system; access to the Web form will TERMINATE at 5:00 p.m. CDT.

The preregistration fee for the conference is $250.00 for professionals and $200.00 for students. The deadline for registering at this rate is July 6, 2001. Beginning July 7, 2001, all registrations will be assessed a $20.00 late fee. The fee includes a social event accompanying Monday night's technical poster session, group dinner outings Tuesday through Thursday, daily continental breakfasts, and conference services. A guest fee of $125.00 will allow guests who will not be attending or participating in conference technical sessions to join conference participants in nightly dinners and social functions.

Please return the downloadable preregistration form with your payment before July 6, 2001, to avoid the $20.00 late fee, or you may use the electronic preregistration form if paying by credit card. Foreign participants who state on the preregistration form that they have a currency exchange problem may pay in cash at the meeting and avoid the $20.00 late fee if they return the preregistration form by the July 6, 2001, deadline.

Cancellations with requests for refunds will be accepted through July 25, 2001.

On-Site Registration
Walk-in registration will be allowed at the fees shown above plus the $20.00 late fee beginning on Monday, August 6, 2001, at 7:30 a.m. in the Great Room of the Lunar and Planetary Institute. Walk-in registration will continue throughout the conference.

Participants are responsible for making their own travel and hotel reservations. For your convenience, we have provided a list of local hotels and a map showing the location of area hotels and LPI.

Further details about the program will be included in the final announcement, which will be sent out in June 2001.

For further information regarding the format and scientific objectives of the meeting, please contact one of the conveners:

Questions concerning meeting logistics should be addressed to the LPI meeting coordinator:

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