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Virtual Conference: Mars – a new geological frontier

02 - 04 November 2021
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Event type:
Virtual event, Conference
Organised by:
Geological Society Events, 2021 Year of Space
Event status:

In recent decades, a plethora of orbital and landed robotic missions to Mars have provided new insights into all aspects of martian geology, geomorphology and mineralogy. These data have radically altered our understanding of the geological systems and palaeoclimate evolution, and habitability of the planet.  In parallel, advances in analytical techniques on Earth have enabled the production of geochemical and mineralogical data from martian meteorites with unprecedented precision and accuracy. Improvements in the availability and coverage of high-resolution martian and terrestrial remote-sensing data have enhanced comparative analyses of analogous features and processes on Earth and Mars. In addition, laboratory experiments simulating processes under martian conditions have revealed key similarities and differences between the two planets. Ultimately, these new insights provide a picture of martian geological and climatic evolution, as well as potential habitability through time. 

This year, both NASA’s Perseverance and Curiosity rovers are exploring new geological terrains, the InSight lander is collecting seismic and meteorological data, and the first detailed geological maps of the ESA ExoMars landing site are due to be published. Meanwhile, orbital missions continue to return new data from all regions of the surface of Mars, from the poles to the equator, as well as its subsurface and atmosphere. Martian samples are due to be returned from the surface in 2031, hence the role of geoscientists in collecting and interpreting martian data is becoming more central than ever, and the opportunities for terrestrial experts to be involved in Mars science are multiplying. For these reasons, this is the perfect time to showcase the latest Mars geoscience results, combine them with the study of terrestrial sites that host comparable features and processes, and to look further ahead into what is becoming a golden age for Mars exploration.  

The aim of this meeting is to discuss the latest findings related to all aspects of Mars geoscience, and related terrestrial studies. The meeting will bring together specialists working on Mars missions, remote sensing, modelling and meteorites, with experts studying analogous systems here on Earth. 

Key points for discussion will include: 

• New data from the NASA Perseverance and Curiosity rovers, the InSight lander, and as orbital observations. 

• The preservation of the martian geological record, from the Noachian period to present day, what do we know and what are the key outstanding questions.  

• What do the geological, glacial, and periglacial records tell us about the history of water and other volatiles, and their role in the climate evolution of Mars? 

• The current state of knowledge, and key unanswered questions, relating to the structure and composition of Mars, especially in light of the InSight findings. 

• What do observations and numerical modelling tell us about the nature and distribution of water in the martian near-surface environment today, and how could these resources be used for in situ resource utilisation to help human exploration? 

• How can geoscience help us to answer the question “was (or is) there life on Mars?” 

We welcome contributions that are focused on Mars geoscience, as well as laboratory, modelling and terrestrial analogue studies relevant to past and/or present Martian settings.  

Confirmed keynote speakers include

Prof. Nicolas Thomas, University of Bern, CaSSIS 

Dr Anna Horleston, University of Bristol, InSight 

Dr Nicolas Mangold, University of Nantes, Curiosity and Perseverance 

Free Public Lectures

In addition to this conference, there will be two Public Lectures taking place on 2 November and 3 November that are free to attend. 

Tuesday 2 November - Exploring Mars’ Habitable Past with the Curiosity Rover with Dr Abigail Fraeman. Register for free

Wednesday 3 November - The geological history of a Martian volcano with Dr Luke Daly. Register for free

Careers in Mars Science & Engineering event

mars science careers event poster

Careers in Mars Science & Engineering

Join us for a special careers event aimed at GSCE and A-Level students interested in exploring science and engineering careers on Mars! Sign up for a chance to ask geologists, astrobiologists, Mars rover team members, meteorite scientists questions about their career path and experience.

In conjunction with ENGIE

ENGIE logo

Thursday 4 November 17.30 - 19.30 GMT Register here


Professor Matt Balme – The Open University
Dr Frances Butcher – The University of Sheffield
Dr Joel Davis – Natural History Museum
Professor Sanjeev Gupta – Imperial College London
Dr Lydia Hallis – The University of Glasgow
Professor Peter Grindrod – Natural History Museum
Dr Susanne Schwenzer - The Open University


Registration will close 24 hours before the event takes place.


The programme is now live.


A special thank you to our generous sponsors UKSA and SAGEs 

UK space agency logo 



This event will be held virtually.


Please email with any enquiries.

Register now

Registration rates

£ 60.00
£ 80.00
£ 70.00
£ 65.00
£ 45.00
£ 5.00
£ 25.00

Geolsoc Contact

Conference Office

The Geological Society
Burlington House