"Planet Mars IV"

20-25 October 2013

Les Houches, France

Workshop rationale

In the last few years, our understanding of Mars state and evolution has been greatly improved by the observations made by missions such as the ESA mission Mars Express or the NASA missions Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, the Mars Exploration Rovers and Phoenix. Models describing the atmospheric dynamics are now constrained by long term monitoring of the characteristics of the Martian atmosphere. High resolution images and infrared spectroscopic data lead to geomorphologic models of the Martian surface that enable us to test models of its evolution, and to revisit the Martian history. After the successful landing of  Mars Science Laboratory/Curiosity in August 2012, new data on the detailed composition of key geological structures are being acquired. MAVEN is due to be launched in November 2013, with the goal of deciphering the atmospheric escape and its role on the climate. The selection of the InSight mission promises the acquisition of unique geophysical measurements, including seismic observations, that will improve our understanding of Mars' interior structure and dynamics. The ExoMars mission, led by ESA and Russia, includes an orbiter for atmospheric studies to be launched in 2016 and a rover, dedicated to exobiology analyses, to be launched in 2018. Finally, a MSL-2020 mission is in preparation on the NASA side. 

The school « Planet Mars IV », as its previous three editions, will address all fields of investigations of the red planet, and discuss the prospects for the next steps of its exploration.

When and where

The workshop will be held on October 20-25, 2013, at the Centre of Physics of Les Houches, Valley of Chamonix, France


In April-May 2003, a 12-day workshop devoted to the study of Planet Mars took place in Les Houches. About 75 participants, including 30 speakers, attended the workshop. In May-June 2005, a second edition of this workshop took place. Its objective was to gather what we presently know (and do not know) about the planet as a global system, from its internal structure to its interaction with the solar wind. This workshop was organized in order to get the community, including the recently qualified scientists, best prepared for exploiting the forthcoming space missions devoted to Mars at that time: Mars Express and the two Mars Exploration Rovers.  The third edition of the Mars workshop took place on March 28 – April 2, 2010, still in Les Houches, with the goal of updating our understanding of Mars in the light of the results of these new missions. The location of hydrated minerals, their age, the H2O content of the subsurface, the possible presence of methane are some among the recently revealed discoveries which were presented and discussed.  

The goals of the fourth edition of the Mars workshop are to integrate the main results of both the recent Earth-based observations and the missions to Mars (Mars Express, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, Phoenix, the MERs and MSL/Curiosity) into a new global picture of Mars evolution. With the same spirit of the previous workshops, discussions among scientists of different disciplines will be encouraged and it is foreseen that they will help refine the scientific goals of the future missions to Mars. This workshop is an opportunity for the young scientists to be updated on the most recent results and to be trained in some specific data processing techniques. In addition to the previous editions, a specific session will be devoted to comparative analyses of Mars, Venus, the Earth and Titan in all their aspects (internal structure; atmospheric composition and photochemistry; climatology; this session will take advantage of recent results acquired, in particular, by the Venus Express and Cassini missions, as well as recent developments on global climate models of Venus and Titan.

As in the case of the previous editions, the format of the workshop will encourage discussions. Leading scientists in the interpretation of data and in modelling processes will present their views on key topics, such as (1) internal structure and magnetism; (2) geomorphology, geology, mineralogy and petrology; (3) atmosphere, climate,  water cycle and atmospheric escape; (4) origin of the Martian moons; (5) exobiology. We have also introduced the topic of comparative planetology. Finally, special attention will be given to the discussion of the MSL/Curiosity results, and the prospect of future planetary missions to Mars.  Posters from students and scientists will be displayed and will be discussed during dedicated poster sessions and coffee breaks. A specific session on data processing (MSL/ChemCam analysis in particular) will also be organised.

List of confirmed speakers

T. Appéré (AIM/CEA), S. Atreya (Univ.Michigan), B. Banerdt (JPL-Caltech), D. Brain (LASP), D. Breuer (DLR), V. Dehant (Royal Observatory of Belgium), F. Forget (CNRS-LMD), O. Forni (CNRS-IRAP), A. Giménez (ESA/ESAC), F. Gómez (INTA-CSIC), E. Hauber (DLR), P. Lognonné (CNRS-IPGP), R. Lundin (IRF), S. Maurice (CNRS-IRAP), D. McCleese (JPL-Caltech), P. Mahaffy (NASA Goddard), N. Mangold (CNRS-LPG Nantes), M. Mischna (JPL-Caltech), F. Montmessin (CNRS-Latmos), F. Poulet (CNRS-IAS), F. Rocard (CNES), P. Rosenblatt (Royal Observatory of Belgium), V. Sautter (CNRS-MNHM), C. Sotin (JPL-Caltech), J.Vago (ESA/ESTEC), A. Vasavada (JPL-Caltech), O. Witasse (ESA/ESTEC).

Programme available

Pdf file is available

Scientific Organizing Committee

The international Scientific Organizing Committee is composed of:

Thérèse Encrenaz, Emeritus Senior Scientist at CNRS, LESIA, Observatoire de Paris, Meudon, France 
Christophe Sotin, Chief Scientist for Solar System Exploration, JPL-Caltech, Pasadena, USA (leave of absence from University of Nantes, France) - Web page
Olivier Witasse, Mars Express and Exomars Trace Gas Orbiter Project Scientist, European Space Agency, ESTEC, The Netherlands

Registration and Important dates

Second Announcement

May 7, 2013

Deadline for registration and poster abstract submission

May 31, 2013

Notification and final programme release

June 30, 2013


October 20 – 25, 2013

Practical information

Les Houches is a remote area in the French Alps. From the dining room, you will enjoy an incredible view on massif du Mont-Blanc. For more information see: