Concepts and Approaches for Mars Exploration

July 18–20, 2000
Houston, Texas

First Announcement
May 2000

Scott Hubbard, NASA Headquarters

Hosted by
Lunar and Planetary Institute

NASA Headquarters
Lunar and Planetary Institute


NASA's Space Science Enterprise is openly considering all facets of its Mars Exploration Program starting with the 2005 opportunity and carrying through 15 years and beyond. In order to cast a wide net for capturing ideas and potential participants for missions, mission elements, and experiments that fit within the broadly defined scope of this program, NASA is sponsoring a two-and-a-half-day workshop to be held at the Lunar and Planetary Institute (LPI), which is housed in the Center for Advanced Space Studies, 3600 Bay Area Boulevard, Houston, Texas. The dates for this workshop are July 18–20, 2000.

The workshop is open to scientists, engineers, technologists, and other colleagues from academia, NASA centers, federal laboratories, the private sector, and international partners. The intent of the workshop is to provide an open forum for presentation, discussion, and consideration of various concepts, options, and innovations associated with a strategy for Mars exploration. This strategy not only highlights "life, climate, and resources," calling for "following the water" as part of a "quest for life," but also includes studies of the martian environment as it relates to short- and long-term human presence.

Ideas are sought in three broad areas, each of which will be considered in depth by associated working groups during the workshop:

  1. Specific mission elements (the "WHAT" groups), including experiments and instrumentation to conduct the basic research (e.g., geology/geophysics, biology) to be conducted in the timeframe under consideration. Discussion in this area will focus on key scientific objectives associated with "following the water" and the "quest for life," and will assess relative timing of suites of scientific activities. Also included in this category is the topic of planetary biocompatibility in its broadest sense, i.e., environmental characterization (soil, dust, atmosphere, radiation, etc.), as well as long-term human sustenance (living off the land utilizing in situ resources).
  2. Specific mission concepts (the "HOW" group) that describe approaches to key program objectives such as robotic sample return, in situ analysis, deep subsurface access and sampling, and global reconnaissance including surface or atmospheric mobility.
  3. Specific architectures (the "WHEN" group) for the Mars Exploration program that integrate mission concepts (specifically those that validate critical phases and elements of future potential science and human missions) into a time-phased sequence with specific definition of mission approaches, experiments, and expected results.

The objective of the workshop is to identify the most compelling approaches in the three categories listed above using a set of selection criteria that balance science content, development risk, affordability, and overall program integration. This identification will be accomplished using assessments from the working groups as well as by a team of NASA-designated reviewers who will be present at the workshop. Concepts that emerge from the workshop will be input to NASA's overall planning for robotic exploration of Mars.

The workshop format will consist of brief (10 minutes, including clarifying discussion) oral presentations of concepts in any of the above three categories, with the presentations being given in the appropriate working group sessions. These presentations will be given by authors of contributed abstracts. All the ideas presented will be considered and evaluated in the working group, which will in turn bring consensus concepts forward to plenary meetings of the workshop. Working groups associated with mission elements and overall concepts will meet on all three days of the workshop, while the working group on specific program architectures will meet only the final two days. Members of the architecture working group will be assigned to participate in one of the other two working groups on the first day of the workshop.


Abstracts were due on June 14. Attendees at the workshop were selected from the submitted abstracts.


Speakers' Information
DUAL slide and overhead projectors will be available for presentations during the plenary sessions. SINGLE slide and overhead projectors will be available for contributed oral presentations during the working group sessions. For questions regarding audio-visual support, please contact LeBecca Simmons using the contact information given at the end of this announcement.

While we hope to accommodate all possible ideas, the workshop venue is limited to roughly 185-200 participants. If the number of abstracts exceeds this limit, a NASA-designated program panel will review the abstracts and develop the final workshop attendee list. The attendee list is now available. In order to encourage broad participation, industry and government laboratories (including NASA centers) will be asked to limit participation to individuals presenting ideas/concepts. University research groups are encouraged to send principal investigators as their representatives, and to recognize that the limited attendance will prevent student participation.

Participants are encouraged to arrive at the Institute at 7:30 a.m. on Tuesday, July 18, to pick up name badges and a copy of the compiled volume of contributed abstracts. A continental breakfast will be served at 7:30 a.m. each morning of the meeting for the convenience of attendees. The workshop sessions will begin at 8:00 a.m.

Local Accommodations and Maps
We have provided a list of local area hotels with their current room rates. A map of the local area that indicates the location of these hotels in relationship to the Lunar and Planetary Institute is also provided to assist you with your travel plans.

Parking at the Institute is limited. A shuttle will be operating throughout the workshop to take people from a park-and-ride location at the University of Houston-Clear Lake to the Institute. The park-and-ride map shows the location of this parking lot. Please arrange with your colleagues to car pool from the local hotels to avoid the need to use the "spill-over" parking and shuttle service available from the nearby University parking lot.


For further logistical information, contact LeBecca Simmons (phone:  281-486-2158; fax:  281-486-2160; e-mail: For information on preparing or submitting an abstract, contact Renee Dotson (phone:  281-486-2188; fax:  281-486-2125; e-mail: For further program information contact Dr. Ramon P. DePaula at NASA Headquarters (phone:  202-358-4692; e-mail:  [email protected]).


June 14Electronic abstract submission deadline, 6:00 p.m. EDT (5:00 p.m. CDT)
June 30Participant list posted on Web site
July 18-20Workshop at the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston, Texas


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