Analog Sites for Mars Missions II: past, present and future missions to Mars

Washington, DC - August 5th to 7th 2013
Supported by:
National Aeronautics and Space Administration & Carnegie Institution for Science


A limited number of travel grants are available to qualified students to attend the workshop. Reimbursable costs include transportation (airfare or mileage in one’s personal vehicle, compact rental car, and fuel costs), lodging, meals and incidental expenses, and the conference registration fee. In most cases, actual expenses will exceed the funding provided.

  • Undergraduate and graduate students
  • Students must be either U.S. citizens or formally affiliated with a U.S. college or university at the time of the conference, or the semester immediately following the conference, if during break.

Applications must include proof of applicant’s affiliation with a U.S. institution. You must submit documentation (a copy of your student ID, registration confirmation, departmental letter, etc.) with your application to be eligible.

APPLICATIONS MUST BE RECEIVED BY THE DEADLINE OF JUNE 30, 2013. Applicants will be notified of their award by July 5, 2013.

Note: Students who are depending on travel assistance should NOT pay the registration fee or make travel arrangements until they have been notified that they have received an award.

Click here for student travel grant application.

Workshop Overview:

The Analog Sites Workshop is planned as an interactive process that consists of online discussions that will take place in advance of the in-person meeting and breakout sessions during the workshop with assessment of proposed analog sites against the science objectives. The workshop will be held on August 5th-7th at the Carnegie Institution of Washington in Washington, DC.

The open online forum will be used to discuss and identify outstanding Mars science questions that might be answered through previous, ongoing, or future missions, including the 2020 rover mission. The discussion will then turn to how our ability to address these questions could be augmented with analog research on Earth. The online discussion will be open in May and will remain open until the end of the workshop. On June 5th the topics discussed will be summarized and identified as science objectives to be addressed through abstracts on analog research.

Purpose and Scope:
During the last decade, the Mars Exploration Program Analysis Group (MEPAG) has formulated three major science goals relevant to understanding of Mars as a planetary system (

  • Life—Understand the potential for life elsewhere in the universe;
  • Climate—Characterize the present and past climate and climate processes; and
  • Geology—Understand the geological processes affecting Mars’s interior, crust, and surface.

Some of the overarching science questions related to these major topics have been addressed through ongoing Mars missions and our knowledge about Mars as a planet is continuously evolving. The goal of this workshop is to revisit how these science questions can be addressed through mission data that is supplemented by a healthy program of Mars analog science. Studies of terrestrial analogs offer natural systems that resemble particular planetary, Mars settings, enabling to build scientific hypotheses and to test instruments constructed to explore planetary environments. However, there is no ideal or perfect terrestrial analog and our goal is to evaluate usefulness of potential terrestrial analog sites and to improve our capacity to leverage results from multiple sites to augment the weaknesses any one site possesses.

Online survey / forum:
The goal of the online discussion is to reach out to the planetary community to identify outstanding science questions that should be addressed through specific measurements (methods) already obtained through Mars missions, and to gather information on analog sites that will be particularly useful in assisting mission operations and data interpretation toward this end. The summary of discussion will be used towards analog testing of future Mars mission instruments, and the resulting research will improve future mission operations and data interpretation. Another goal is to foster a closer relationship between the analog science and planetary mission communities.

The workshop will include invited presentations on missions, terrestrial analog sites and analog materials. Abstracts will be solicited from participants through the second announcement, which will follow the online discussions. The goal of the workshop is to allow assessment of proposed analog sites against the science objectives identified through online discussions as the most important for the future missions. Particular attention will be given to assessment of the relative merits of different sites. NASA’s Planetary Science Division is currently reviewing strategic investments in analog research; this online survey and subsequent workshop will be used as input from the community in the review process.

Tentative schedule 

Start of forum discussion May 21st
Wrapping up the forum August 7th
Abstract deadline Jun 25th
Final announcement with program and abstracts posted on this website July 15th
Workshop August 5th

Scientific Organizing Committee:
Mary Voytek, NASA Headquarters
Michael New, NASA Headquarters
Shawn Domagal-Goldman, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
Pamela Gales Conrad, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
Andrew Steele, Carnegie Institution of Washington
Mihaela Glamoclija, Carnegie Institution of Washington
Verena Starke, Carnegie Institution of Washington
Lisa Pratt, Indiana University, Bloomington
Tom McCollom, University of Colorado, Boulder
Penny Boston, New Mexico Tech



Contact Information:
Mihaela Glamoclija, Carnegie Institution of Washington

Mary Voytek, NASA Headquarters

Shawn Domagal-Goldman, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center