Press Release

Conference: Instrumental Precision in Robotic Studies of the Martian Surface

By SpaceRef Editor
February 13, 2001
Filed under ,

Further info at:

May 14-16, 2001 – Houston, Texas

Sponsored by

Lunar and Planetary Institute

NASA Mars Exploration Program

Mars Exploration Payload Analysis Group (MEPAG)

Curation and Analysis Planning Team for Extraterrestrial Materials

Jet Propulsion Laboratory

The Mars Exploration Payload Analysis Group (MEPAG) and the
Curation and Analysis Planning Team for Extraterrestrial Materials
(CAPTEM) – two scientific working groups chartered by NASA – are
convening a workshop to assess the capabilities of
state-of-the-art instruments used in the robotic in situ analysis
of martian rocks, soil, atmosphere, and organic matter and in the
geological and geophysical exploration of the martian surface. The
workshop will be held at the Lunar and Planetary Institute, which
is housed in the Center for Advanced Space Studies, 3600 Bay Area
Boulevard, Houston, Texas.

Over the past two years, the MEPAG has formulated a comprehensive
long-term set of scientific goals, objectives, and investigations
for NASA’s Mars Exploration Program. The MEPAG deliberations
showed that successful implementation of this scientific plan
requires a combination of orbital, robotic in situ, and sample
return missions. However, particularly in the case of
instrumentation for robotic surface studies, the capabilities of
the current and next generation of spacecraft instruments are not
well documented. As a result it is unclear how well these
instruments can achieve the program’s scientific goals. This
workshop will endeavor to document the capabilities of robotic
instrumentation, in part to determine which measurements can and
should be made by robotic techniques and which ultimately must be
made in Earth laboratories subsequent to sample return. It will do
this by organizing small breakout groups for the purpose of
independently evaluating measurement performance. Most
importantly, the workshop will identify critical areas where
technology must be advanced in order to achieve program goals.

The workshop will bring together leading members of the robotic
and laboratory analysis communities to assess the capabilities of
diverse robotic instrumentation (including relevant HEDS science
experiments) in the context of the Mars Program science plan. The
workshop will utilize a small number of presented papers together
with breakout discussion groups. The breakout groups will be
formulated along disciplinary lines (e.g., geochemistry,
mineralogy, geophysics). All participants must submit an abstract
describing their related work by March 27, 2001. Abstracts are
limited to two pages, and should be prepared in standard LPSC
format (detailed instructions will be posted later). These
abstracts are not about current individual research. Rather, they
should address specific analytical techniques and instruments that
can be applied (robotically or in the lab) to answer priority Mars
science questions, as defined by the MEPAG document cited above.
The analytical precision and state of readiness of particular
techniques/instruments should be addressed in detail. Because this
is a workshop rather than a conference, the majority of submitted
abstracts will not be presented orally but instead will serve as
input to the breakout groups.

The timing of the workshop is controlled in part by the need to
begin planning a 2007 Mars lander mission, which in turn is a
prelude to subsequent landers and Mars sample return missions.

There will be a registration fee of $50. Registration forms will
be available at this Web site by March 1, 2001.

To assist the meeting organizers in formalizing plans for the
workshop, interested members of the community should complete the
Indication of Interest Form no later than February 23, 2001.


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.
Participants are responsible for making their own hotel


February 23 Indication of Interest Form due to LPI

March 27 Abstract submission deadline, 5:00 p.m. U.S. Central
Standard Time

April 26 Accepted abstracts and discussion group assignments
posted on this Web site

May 7 Preregistration deadline

May 14-16 Workshop at the Lunar and Planetary Institute in
Houston, Texas


For further information on the scientific aspects of the meeting,
contact either of the organizers:

Ron Greeley (Chair, MEPAG)

Department of Geological Sciences

Box 871404

Arizona State University

Tempe AZ 85287-1404

ph: 480.965.7045

Glenn J. MacPherson (Chair, CAPTEM)

Department of Mineral Sciences

U.S. National Museum of Natural History

Smithsonian Institution

Washington DC 20560-0119

ph: 202.357.2260

For further information regarding logistics contact:

Mary Cloud

ph: 281.486.2143

fax: 281.486.2160

For information regarding preparing or submitting an abstract,

Renee Dotson

ph: 281.486.2188

fax: 281.486.2125

SpaceRef staff editor.