Report of the COSPAR mars special regions colloquium

G. Kminek, J. D. Rummel, C. S. Cockell, R. Atlas, N. Barlow, D. Beaty, W. Boynton, M. Carr, S. Clifford, C. A. Conley, A. F. Davila, A. Debus, P. Doran, M. Hecht, J. Heldmann, J. Helbert, V. Hipkin, G. Horneck, T. L. Kieft, G. KlingelhoeferM. Meyer, H. Newsom, G. G. Ori, J. Parnell, D. Prieur, F. Raulin, D. Schulze-Makuch, J. A. Spry, P. E. Stabekis, E. Stackebrandt, J. Vago, M. Viso, M. Voytek, L. Wells, F. Westall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


In this paper we present the findings of a COSPAR Mars Special Regions Colloquium held in Rome in 2007. We review and discuss the definition of Mars Special Regions, the physical parameters used to define Mars Special Regions, and physical features on Mars that can be interpreted as Mars Special Regions. We conclude that any region experiencing temperatures > -25 °C for a few hours a year and a water activity > 0.5 can potentially allow the replication of terrestrial microorganisms. Physical features on Mars that can be interpreted as meeting these conditions constitute a Mars Special Region. Based on current knowledge of the martian environment and the conservative nature of planetary protection, the following features constitute Mars Special regions: Gullies and bright streaks associated with them, pasted-on terrain, deep subsurface, dark streaks only on a case-by-case basis, others to be determined. The parameter definition and the associated list of physical features should be re-evaluated on a regular basis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)811-829
Number of pages19
JournalAdvances in Space Research
Issue number6
StatePublished - Sep 15 2010


  • Forward contamination
  • Low temperature
  • Mars
  • Planetary protection
  • Special regions
  • Water activity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Geophysics
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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