Debate on Mars Exploration and Research

14th - 16th November 2018

Luleå University of Technology


Confirmed Participants

Tanya Keusen United Nations
Jorge del Rio Vera United Nations
Andy Spry NASA Planetary Protection Office, USA
Gerhard Kminek ESA Planetary Protection Office
Chris McKay NASA Ames, USA
Yoshifumi Inatani JAXA (Japanese Space Agency), Japan
Sherry Cady Astrobiology Journal, USA
Rafael Navarro-Gonzalez Autonomous National University of Mexico, Mexico
Kathleen Campbell University of Auckland, New Zealand
Cassie Conley NASA, USA
Henry Sun Desert Research Institute, USA
Dirk Schulze-Makuch Washington State University, USA
Michael A. Mischna Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), USA
James J. Wray Georgia Tech University, USA
John Rummel SETI Institute, USA
Alfred McEwen Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, Arizona University, USA
Alex Pavlov NASA Goddard, USA
Petra Rettberg DLR (German Space Agency), Germany
Maria Paz Zorzano Mier Luleå University of Technology, Sweden
Abdelgadir Abuelgasim United Arab Emirates University, United Arab Emirates
Eizo Nakamura Okayama University, Japan
Usui Tomohiro JAXA - Dept. of Solar System Sciences, Japan
Jun Huang China University of Geosciences, China
Yan Su National Astronomical Observatories of China, China
Pierluigi Cocco University of Cagliari, Italy
Javier Martin-Torres Luleå University of Technology, Sweden
Monica Grady Open University, United Kingdom
Charles S. Cockell University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Frances Westall National Centre for Scientific Research, France
Anshuman Bhardwaj Luleå University of Technology, Sweden
Lydia Sam Luleå University of Technology, Sweden
Shaktiman Singh Luleå University of Technology, Sweden
Jose Antonio Gordillo Martorell Luleå University of Technology, Sweden
Juan Francisco Buenestado Castro Luleå University of Technology, Sweden
Elizabeth Escamilla Roa Luleå University of Technology, Sweden
Juan Antonio Ramirez Luque Luleå University of Technology, Sweden


November 14 09:00 - 9:15 Reception and Welcome
09:15 - 10:00 Presentation of the goals and format of the Debate
10:00 - 10:45 Presentation of the HABIT/ExoMars Tour
10:45 - 11:00 Where on Mars?
What are the local resources that we should visit with landed platforms (water? minerals? organics?)?
RSL wet markers or dry-activity regions? Regions to visit or to avoid?

Chairs: Michael Mischna and Usui Tomohiro
11:00 - 11:15 PP Protocols:
Should we reinforce/reduce Planetary Protection protocols ?
Should we adopt global policies on planetary exploration?
What mechanisms?

Chairs: Gerhard Kminek and Cassie Conley
11:15 - 11:30 Mars Exploration and Research Advantages of Sample Return:
Do we need more robotic missions before humans are on Mars?
Before Mars Sample Return ? What kind of missions?
What are the scientific goals that justify Mars exploration in the next decades?

Chairs: Dirk Schulze-Makuch and Monica Grady
11:30 - 11:45 Private vs Space Agencies-led Mars Exploration, Research, ISRU. Advantages/disadvantages
How the space exploration pie should be divided between Space Agencies and private companies
(on planetary protection, resources and exploitation, policies, technologies, UN space treaties, market, return of samples, space junk..) ?

Chairs: Mª Paz Zorzano
11:45 - 12:00 Moon and Deep Space Gateway before Mars:
Benefits/Dissadvantages: Would that cause a delay to Mars Exploration and Research?

Chairs: Javier Martín-Torres
12:00 - 13:30 Lunch Break
13:30 - 14:30 Where on Mars?
General Discussion
14:30 - 15:00 Coffee Break
15:00 - 16:00 PP Protocols:
General Discussion
16:00 - 17:00 Mars Exploration and Research Advantages of Sample Return:
General Discussion
17:15 - 18:00 Visit Teknikens Hus
End of day 1
November 15 10:00 - 11:00 Private vs Space Agencies-led Missions
General Discussion
11:00 - 12:00 Moon and Deep Space Gateway before Mars
General Discussion
12:00 - 13:30 Lunch break
13:30 - 16:00 Splinter Sessions for discussions in every topic
16:00 - 17:00 Summary of sessions by every topic´s rapporteurs
17:00 - 17:30 Communicating Mars
Speakers: GAS Science Communication Team; Juan Francisco Buenestado and José Antonio Gordillo Martorell
End of day 2
19:00 All together dinner
November 16 09:00 - 12:00 Splinter Sessions for discussions in every topic
12:00 - 13:00 Lunch break
13:00 - 15:00 General discussion
15:00 - 16:00 Wrap-up and actions for papers preparation
End of Conference

The Debate

During the second week of November 2018 a Mars Exploration international Debate will take place in Luleå, Sweden, hosted by the Group of Atmospheric Science (GAS) of the Luleå University of Technology. It has been convened with the aim of defining key guidelines for the upcoming investigations to be carried out on the planet by the next scheduled missions, in which GAS is a highly involved actor.

GAS is the responsible of the instrument HABIT (Habitability: Brines, Irradiation, and Temperature), which will fly in the ESA/IKI´s module (the Surface Platform) of the ExoMars 2020 mission. We are also co-Is of the Curiosity rover, the Atmospheric Chemistry Suite (ACS) instrument on board the Trace Gas Orbiter (ExoMars 2016 mission), and of the Infrared Spectrometer for ExoMars (ISEM) instrument, that will be part of the scientific payload on the ExoMars rover, among other missions.

The purpose of this meeting is to foster discussion about six current hot topics which will mark the development of the near future exploration of Mars. Despite their importance, they are controversial in many aspects, and consensus about the most appropriate approach to outline the related investigations is still far to be reached. Hence, taking into account their foreseeable impact on the near future exploration of Mars, it is of the major interest to fix some well-seeded criteria to face the ways and objectives of the research to be performed.

The Debate on Mars Exploration and Research is designed in a unique fashion where every invited participant will work on a team in one (or several) of the 6 topics, to reach a common consensus or set of recommendations that will be published in the form of articles on a special Issue on the journal Astrobiology after the conference. To accomplish this goal, researchers defending different positions with respect to these topics have been invited, as well as representatives from NASA, ESA, IKI, JAXA, Chinese Space Agency, Emirates Space Agency, UNOOSA, COSPAR, ...

We believe that the best way to promote a unique advance on Mars exploration is through providing a friendly framework for debate and collaboration among institutions, researchers and engineers from different disciplines related to Mars exploration.

The Debate Dynamics

The Debate will be organised with a previous agenda of work to be executed remotely, while minimising the work load of participants so that the activity during the days of the meeting at Luleå is more focused on face-to-face discussion and walking through the previously defined issues. The procedure will be the following:

  • Attendants will be previously asked to join at least one of the 6 groups of discussion, focused on the following subjects: a, b, c, d...
  • The responsibility of each member of a team will be to prepare 2 slides with images/concepts/data references etc. which, in her or his opinion, are relevant for the topic.
  • Two chair persons will be chosen for each group, and they will be on charge of maintaining remote meetings with their respective teams. They will gather their team slides, which will be presented and discussed in a team telecom.
  • After the telecom, the chairs will summarise the points of views, agreements and disagreements in a 2-page abstract which will be circulated within the team for comments and approval, together with a merged power point that will be attached as visual information.
  • Once this process has been followed, the organisers of the debate will recirculate the material from all the teams to all the participants of the conference, so that every participant has the information before meeting at Luleå.
  • The agenda of the debate will be adapted to the hot-topics that have been previously detected along this process.

The Venue

The Organizers

Professor Javier Martín-Torres
Professor María Paz Zorzano

and The Group of Atmospheric Science (GAS)
Luleå University of Technology
Luleå, Sweden