Fourth landing site workshop for the Mars 2020 rover mission

The fourth and final landing site workshop for the Mars 2020 rover mission occurred October 16-18, 2018 at the Hilton Los Angeles North/Glendale in Glendale, CA. Further information and workshop logistics are available below.

Workshop Outcome:

Workshop Documents and Links:

Workshop Logistics:

Workshop will be available via Adobe Connect

The 4th Landing Site Workshop will be broadcast via Adobe Connect for those unable to attend in person. To connect:

  • Go to NASA Employees can log in using their NDC credentials. For those without NDC credentials, choose the "Enter as Guest" option, type your name in the field provided, and click "Enter Room".
  • For audio, a teleconference line is available: 1-844-467-4685, Passcode: 312989#.
  • To minimize noise on the call-in lines, all calls to the Workshop will be muted. If you have questions or comments, simply post them to the Adobe Connect chat room, and they will be conveyed to the presenters as time allows.

Parking at the Workshop Site

Hilton Los Angeles North/Glendale
100 West Glenoaks Blvd
Glendale, CA 91202

Reduced parking rates of $10 per day for self-park and $19 per day for valet have been negotiated with the Hilton. To receive the discounted rate, you must mention that you are a workshop participant to the parking attendant upon exit.

There is no street parking available directly adjacent to the Hilton. Street parking is available several blocks away; however, it may be difficult to find. Please plan accordingly.

Final Program

Day 1/October 16, 2018

8:30 am Introduction
8:30 am M. Meyer and J. Grant
Welcome,Opening Remarks, Logistics (15 min)
8:45 am M.T. Wallace and J.B. McNamee
Project Status (15 min)
9:00 am A. Chen
Landing Safety Assessment (15 min)
9:15 am K. Farley, K. Williford, and K. Stack Morgan
Science Objectives, Landing Site Working Group Operation Scenarios, and Site Assessment Criteria (15 min)
9:30 am Broad Approaches to Site Selection I: Biosignatures
9:30 am F. Westall
How and Where to Find Signatures of Chemotrophic Microorganisms in Martian Rocks (10 min)
9:40 am D.C. Catling, T. Bosak, W.W. Fischer, J.P. Grotzinger, J.A. Hurowitz, D.D. Sasselov, R.E. Summons, J.D. Sutherland, J.W. Szostak, and the Simons Collaboration on the Origin of Life
A search for prebiotic signatures on Mars with the 2020 rover mission (10 min)
9:50 am J. Michalski
Managing Our Photosynthetic Bias in the Exploration for Biosignatures on Mars (10 min)
10:00 am M.P. Zorzano and J. Martin-Torres
Landing Sites and Mars Sample Return: Environmental Implications on Present Day Habitable Samples? (10 min)
10:10 am Broad Approaches to Site Selection II: Site Comparisons - Mineralogy
10:10 am F. Seelos, K. Frizzell, S. Cartwright, and the CRISM SOC
A regional view of surface spectral/color variability at the 2020 candidate sites derived from CRISM mapping data (10 min)
10:20 am M. Parente, Y. Itoh, A. Saranathan
A New Generation of CRISM Data Products (10 min)
10:30 am R. Arvidson
CRISM-based inter-comparisons of mineral absorption strengths for the four final 2020 rover candidate landing sites (10 min)
10:40 am F. Poulet, A. Martinez, D. Loizeau, J. Carter, L. Riu
Modal mineralogy of the terrains surrounding the Mars 2020 landing sites in Nili and implications on the past geochemical conditions (10 min)
10:50 am E. Noe Dobrea and R. Clark
Mineralogy of the Candidate Mars 2020 Landing Sites Using Tetracorder (10 min)
11:00 am M. Salvatore
Squeezing More Science Out of Our Orbiters: Using the Mars 2020 Rover and Returned Samples to Ground Truth Spectral Data Sets (10 min)
11:10 am B. Bruner
Meteorites and Minerals Associated with the Origin of Life (10 min)
11:20 am Discussion (30 min)
11:50-12:50 Lunch
12:50 pm Broad Approaches to Site Selection III: Site Comparisons - Chronology and Magnetics
12:50 am F. Calef, I. Daubar, and N. Warner
Potential for Absolute Age Dating a Volcanic Unit for Crater Retention Age Calibration at the Mars 2020 Proposed Landing Sites (10 min)
1:00 pm C. Quantin-Nataf, L. Mandon, B. Bultel, and S. Werner
Rock Age Diversity of Each Mars 2020 Site and Their Potential for Crater Chronology Calibration (10 min)
1:10 pm B. Bultel,C. Quantin-Nataf and S.C. Werner
Selection of Units to Obtain Reliable Calibration of the Martian Cratering Chronology: Lessons Learned from Lunar Science (10 min)
1:20 pm A. Mittelholz and B. Weiss
The Mars 2020 Candidate Landing Sites: A Magnetic Perspective(10 min)
1:30 pm Broad Approaches to Site Selection IV: Sample Cache Considerations
1:30 pm H.M. Sapers, A. Pontefract, G.R. Osinski, C.S. Cockell, C.M. Caudill, J.F. Mustard, K.M. Cannon, L.L. Tornabene
Science value and biogenetic potential of impact lithologies: relevance to Mars 2020 landing sites (10 min)
1:40 pm C.D.K. Herd, J. Filiberto, and T. Usui
Igneous lithologies at the Mars 2020 Landing Sites: Prospects for achieving MSR science goals (10 min)
1:50 pm M. Wadhwa, L. Borg, Y. Amelin, T. Kleine, and W. Cassata
Sample Requirements and Considerations for Future Geochronologic Investigations in Earth-Based Laboratories of Samples Cached During the Mars 2020 Mission (10 min)
2:00 pm Discussion (30 min)
2:30 pm Discussion of Final Candidate Sites
2:30 pm Columbia Hills I: Science Considerations
2:30 pm S.W. Ruff, V. Hamilton, D. Rogers, C. Edwards, B. Horgan, and M. Van Kranendonk
From Planetary Evolution to Potential Biosignatures: Achieving Mission Success with the Mars 2020 Rover and Instrument Suite at the Columbia Hills Site (20 min)
2:50 pm A. Longo, J.W. Rice, Jr., and S.W. Ruff
Science and Public Engagement Opportunities in the Columbia Hills Landing Ellipse (10 min)
3:00 pm K.A. Campbell, T. Djokic, M.J. Van Kranendonk, S.W. Ruff, J.D. Farmer, C. Sriaporn, K.M. Handley, M. Millan, B. Teece, D.M. Guido
Origin and Significance of Opaline Silica Deposits at Columbia Hills (15 min)
3:15 pm J.W. Rice, Jr., F. Chuang, D. Crown, D. Berman, V. Baker, T. Liu, P. Haughton, W. Nemec and R. Slingerland
New Results from Geologic Mapping of Gusev Crater: Implications for Extended Mission Targets (15 min)
3:30 pm M.J. Van Kranendonk, S. Ruff, K.A. Campbell, and T. Djokic
A Mars 2020 Mission to Columbia Hills: Risk Minimization through Ground Truth. (15 min)
3:45 pm Discussion (15 min)
4:00 pm Columbia Hills II: Operations Scenarios
4:00 pm Mars 2020 Landing Site Working Group
Operations Scenarios (60 min)
5:00 pm Discussion (45 min)
5:45 pm End of Day 1

Day 2/October 17, 2018
8:30 am Talks Related to Jezero, NE Syrtis and Midway
8:30 am J.F. Mustard, M.S. Bramble, C.H. Kremer and A.C. Pascuzzo
Outstanding Mars and Planetary Science Questions from Returned Samples Collected from NE Syrtis, Midway and/or Jezero Delta (15 min)
8:45 am E. L. Scheller and B. L. Ehlmann
Composition, Impact Deformation, and Geological History of Noachian Basement in the Surrounding of the Isidis Impact Basin (15 min)
9:00 am L. Hallis, A. Macartney, L. Daly, A. O'Brien, N. Mari, B. Cohen, and M. R. Lee
Carbon Sequestration on Mars: Possible Insights from the MG Carbonate/Olivine Lithologies at NE Syrtis or Jezero Crater (15 min)
9:15 am C. H. Kremer, J. F. Mustard, M. S. Bramble
Possible Clastic Origin for Olivine-Rich Rocks in the Nili Fossae Region: Implications for NE Syrtis, Midway, and Jezero Landing Site Science (15 min)
9:30 am Discussion (15 min)
9:45 am NE Syrtis and Midway I: Science Considerations
9:45 am J.R. Skok
The Environmental Evolution of the NE Syrtis Region (15 min)
10:00 am E. S. Amador and B. L. Ehlmann
The Circum-Isidis Olivine-Carbonate Unit and its Expression in and Around the NE Syrtis Landing Site (15 min)
10:15 am M. S. Bramble, J. F. Mustard, and C. H. Kremer
Geological Continuity Between the Midway and NE Syrtis Candidate Landing Sites for the Mars 2020 Rover Mission (15 min)
10:30 am D.P. Quinn and B.L. Ehlmann
Sedimentary Units Accessible in the NE Syrtis Extended Mission Area and Recent Finding on the History of Surface Water in the Broader Region (15 min)
10:45 am B.L. Ehlmann
Mapping the Decadal Survey Drivers for Sample Return to Geologic Units Accessible in the Primary and Extended Missions from NE Syrtis and Midway (15 min)
11:00 am T. C. Onstott, B. L. Ehlmann, and H. Sapers, J. Marlow, M. Ivarsson, A. Neubeck, D. Nisson, R. Harris, Z. Garvin, P. Niles and M. Coleman
How Mars 2020 Could Look for Life in the Noachian Stratigraphy at NE Syrtis or Midway (15 min)
11:15 am Discussion (15 min)
11:30-12:30 Lunch
12:30 pm NE Syrtis and Midway II: Operations Scenarios
12:30 pm Mars 2020 Landing Site Working Group
Operations Scenarios (60 min)
1:30 pm Discussion (45 min)
2:15 pm Jezero Crater I: Science Considerations
2:15 pm N. Mangold, G. Dromart, F. Salese, V. Ansan, and M. Massé
Constraints on the duration of fluvial and lacustrine activity at Jezero crater (15 min)
2:30 pm K. L. Lynch, J. J. Wray, K. A. Rey, and R. J. Bond
Habitability and Preservation Potential of the Bottomset Deposits in Jezero Crater (15 min)
2:45 pm T. A. Goudge, D. Mohrig, B. T. Cardenas, C. M. Hughes, and C. I. Fassett
Examining the Record of Fluvial Activity on Early Mars: Extended Mission Targets at Channel Deposit Outcrops of the Jezero Delta (15 min)
3:00 pm K. M. Kinch and S. Shahrzad
The Dark-Toned, Mafic Floor Unit in Jezero Crater: Morphology, Cratering Statistics, and Formation Hypotheses (15 min)
3:15 pm B. Horgan, R. Anderson, M. Rice, E. Amador, and G. Dromart
The Mineralogy of Jezero Crater: Implications for Fluvio-Lacustrine History and Biosignature Preservation (15 min)
3:30 pm A. Brown, T. Goudge, and C. Viviano
Exploring the Olivine-Carbonate Association in the Jezero Crater Region, Possible Serpentinization and its Astrobiological Potential (15 min)
3:45 pm J. D. Tarnas, J. F. Mustard, H. Lin, E. S. Amador, T. A. Goudge, M. S. Bramble, and X. Zhang
Application of Dynamic Aperture Factor Analysis/Target Transformation for Mineral Detection: Presence of Opaline Silica in Jezero Crater and the Surrounding NE Syrtis Region (15 min)
4:00 pm Discussion (15 min)
4:15 pm Jezero Crater II: Operations Scenarios
4:15 pm Mars 2020 Landing Site Working Group
Operations Scenarios (60 min)
5:15 pm Discussion (45 min)
6:00 pm End of Day 2

Day 3/October 18, 2018
8:30 am Mars 2020 Landing Site Working Group
Extended Mission Traverse Between Jezero and Midway (45 min)
9:15 am Discussion (45 min)
10:00 am Summary Discussions and Assessment(90 min)
11:30-12:30 Lunch
12:30 pm Community Assessment of Final Candidate Landing Sites(120 min)
2:30pm End of Workshop

Second Announcement - 10 August 2018:

Dear Colleague:

The fourth and final landing site workshop for the Mars 2020 rover mission will be October 16-18, 2018, at the Hilton Los Angeles North/Glendale in Glendale, CA. Workshop logistics and registration information can be found at:, along with this announcement. Additional details related to the workshop, such as webcast information and the workshop program, will also be posted at this site in advance of the workshop.

The workshop format will include oral presentations and discussion related to the science potential of the remaining candidate landing sites: Columbia Hills, Jezero Crater, and NE Syrtis, including an additional landing ellipse within the NE Syrtis region dubbed “Midway.” Midway is located closer to Jezero crater than the original NE Syrtis ellipse and is being proposed as a site by the Mars 2020 Science Team that might enable achieving the science objectives of the mission by accessing Regions of Interest (ROIs) relevant to both Jezero crater and NE Syrtis.

Table 1. Remaining Candidate Landing Sites for Mars 2020 Mission. Ellipse center point, elevation and ellipse size with the long axis oriented east-west.

Location Lat (degN) Long (degE) Approx MOLA
Elevation (km)
Approx Buffered
Ellipse Axes (km)
Columbia Hills -14.5711 175.4374 -1.9 9 x 8
Jezero 18.4463 77.4565 -2.6 9 x 8
Midway 18.2747 77.0480 -2.0 9 x 8
NE Syrtis 17.8899 77.1599 -2.0 9 x 8

Presentations focusing on unique/new science content, increasing confidence in the interpretations of the science potential of the sites, and/or detailing potential extended mission targets are encouraged. Overview talks related to the sites and topics that have been discussed at prior workshops are discouraged. The Mars 2020 Project will provide detailed mission scenarios for each site that includes discussion of potential exploration targets, observations, and sampling strategies relative to mission goals and important Mars science described in the 2013-2022 Planetary Science Decadal Survey.

Persons wishing to make a presentation (focused as described above) at the workshop should submit the title of their talk to John Grant ( and Matt Golombek ( by September 15th, 2018. Depending on the number and topics submitted, we may consolidate some presentations or parts thereof to ensure that unique, new science content can be presented with minimal repetition, thereby maximizing time for productive discussion of the sites. The workshop program will be distributed in a third announcement that will be posted at shortly before the workshop.

Workshop attendees will be asked to review the new material presented, including the extensive work by the 2020 project on regions of interest in and near each site. Presenters and attendees should discuss for example where data are correctly or incorrectly interpreted or ambiguous and where arguments are weak or strong with regard to science criteria adopted by the 2020 project science group ( Results, including any community consensus on the merits of each site, will be factored into subsequent deliberations that will conclude with the Mars 2020 Project recommendation of the landing site to NASA Headquarters.

Additional information on the science of the final candidate sites, including prior science presentations related to these and other candidate 2020 landing sites, and information on how the 2020 engineering constraints map to the previously considered eight candidate sites can be found at:

Descriptions of the 2020 mission and a summary of NASA’s Mars exploration strategy can be found on this website and also at:

All members of the scientific community are encouraged to participate in the Mars 2020 site selection process, as input from the science community is critical to identification of optimal landing sites for the mission. We look forward to your continued involvement in these activities!

John Grand and Matt Golombek
Co-Chairs, Mars Landing Site Steering Committee

First Announcement - 23 April 2018:

Dear Colleagues:

The fourth and final landing site workshop for the Mars 2020 rover mission will be October 16-18, 2018, at the Hilton Los Angeles North/Glendale in Glendale, CA. The workshop will focus on discussion of the science potential of the three remaining candidate sites under consideration: Columbia Hills, Jezero Crater, and NE Syrtis.

New results related to analyses of the science potential of the sites as well as presentations on potential extended mission targets at each of the final sites are encouraged. We anticipate that the Mars 2020 Project will provide detailed mission scenarios for each site that includes discussion of potential exploration targets, observations, and sampling strategies relative to mission goals and important Mars science described in the 2013-2022 Planetary Science Decadal Survey.

Additional details related to the workshop, such as hotel room block and webcast information, and a call for workshop presentations will be posted at: during the upcoming summer. For those planning to attend in-person and who typically forecast for conference attendance, please put your forecast into your institution’s system for NCTS# 34492-19 before May 18.

Information related to the science objectives of the Mars 2020 mission, engineering constraints, each of the ~30 candidate landing sites considered for the mission, and the outcome of each of the prior three landing site workshops can be viewed at:

A community assessment will be made at the end of the workshop for the final three candidate landing sites and will be factored into subsequent deliberations that will conclude with the Mars 2020 Project recommendation of the landing site to NASA Headquarters.

Please save the dates and we look forward to your participation in the October workshop!


John Grant and Matt Golombek
Co-chairs, Mars Landing Site
Steering Committee

Past Deadlines:

Student Travel Grant Requests Due 29 Aug
Presentation Title Submissions Due 15 Sep
Hotel Block Reservations Due 17 Sep (or until sold-out)
Workshop Registration 5 Oct


Landing Site Workshop: John Grant (, Matthew Golombek (