Microstructure-workshop – University of Copenhagen

Forward this page to a friend Resize Print Bookmark and Share

Mars Group > Microstructure-workshop


After the Worshop

A Workshop on The Microstructure of the Martian Surface was held August 27-29, 2009, at the Niels Bohr Institute, University of Copenhagen, Denmark.


The Phoenix Mars Lander spent the summer of 2008 analyzing the northern polar Martian soil using both a combination of imaging techniques to look at the Martian surface at the sub centimeter scale. The optical microscope took over 1000 color images of the soil and lag deposits taken from different locations within the dig area of the lander, and the atomic force microscope completed more than fifty scans. These images are placed in context by the robot-arm camera of Phoenix.


The workshop aims to start the development of a taxonomy of the microstructure of the Martian surface, bringing together results from Phoenix and past and present missions and placing it in the context of existing terrestrial soil science. This was intendedly a small but focused meeting of about 30 planetary and terrestrial scientists from all relevant disciplines.  Invited/contributed talks had focus on the following objectives:

  • Share what has been learned from Phoenix and other missions.
  • Build up a framework to better develop our understanding of the Martian surface.
  • Discuss the impact of ongoing and planned investigations such as MSL, both in the areas of science and engineering.
  • Attempt to understand the broader implications of the findings in areas such as Mars' aqueous history, geology, biology, climate and human exploration.
  • Point to needed experiments in the laboratory and on Mars.
  • Look at what can be achieved in planetary science by studies at the microscopic level.


The two-day workshop included invited and contributed talks on Thursday. After talks and discussion on Friday morning there was a field trip in the afternoon to the island of Hven, home of the observatories of Tycho Brahe. On Saturday discussions focused on synthesizing the results of the workshop in the broader context of our understanding of Martian surface processes. The small group setting was designed to facilitate intensive and productive discussions.