Seventh International Conference on Mars Polar Science and Exploration

Seventh International Conference on Mars Polar Science and Exploration

In mid-January, 50 Mars scientists and 21 students gathered in Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego, Argentina, to bring together the state of knowledge for Mars Polar Science. The meeting consisted of 13 plenary oral sessions and 1 poster session. There were also panel discussions on the topics of the upcoming Decadal Survey and how the Mars Polar Community would prepare for that by engaging with the Mars Exploration Analysis Group (MEPAG) and by writing white papers.

Topics covered in the conference ranged from atmosphere, surface-atmosphere interactions, polar geology, the stored climate record, laboratory experiments that teach us about Mars polar science, and terrestrial field investigations that reveal secrets about Mars by virtue of their analog processes and morphology.

This meeting was the seventh in the International Conference on Mars Polar Science and Exploration series, following the sixth meeting in 2016. The two primary organizers are affiliated with Planetary Science Institute and York University (Smith) and the University of Bern (Becerra). They were supported by local organizers, especially Jorge Rabassa and Andrea Coronato, from two Argentina research institutions: el Centro Austral de Investigaciones Científicas (CADIC) and Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (CONICET).

Travel grants for early career researchers and students (who numbered almost 30% of the total attendees) were supported by the International Association of Cryosphere Sciences (IACS), the International Association of Geomorphologists (IAG), and by funds collected from registration fees. In total, eight students were supported at varying levels.

Two of the hallmarks of this conference series are extended discussion sessions. During this seventh conference we had over five hours of discussion open to all attendees, and produced a summary report that includes the major scientific questions facing the Mars Polar Community today. During the meeting, a group of synthesizers collected notes and interacted to record the primary scientific findings and discussions that we had. During the last session, a panel shared a synthesis of the notes with the assembly and solicited feedback. The compilation of notes and feedback will become the outline for the summary report. This and the major open questions will be published later this year as a summary document.

— Text courtesy of Isaac Smith (Planetary Science Institute and York University, Toronto) and Patricio Becerra (University of Bern)