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

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49 Citations (Scopus)


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 degrees 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. (C) 2010 COSPAR. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)811-829
Number of pages19
JournalAdvances in Space Research
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 15 Sept 2010


  • special regions
  • Mars
  • planetary protection
  • forward contamination
  • low temperature
  • water activity
  • upper Martian surface
  • South-Pole snow
  • sea-Ice
  • ground ice
  • bacterial-activity
  • water-vapor
  • spacecraft surfaces
  • high obliquity
  • near-surface


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