Third International Conference on the Exploration of Phobos and Deimos

First Announcement: The Third International Conference on the Exploration of Phobos and Deimos, subtitled The Science, Robotic Reconnaissance, and Human Exploration of the Two Moons of Mars, was the third international meeting focused on Phobos and Deimos, and on how their exploration relates to that of other small bodies, Mars, and the rest of the Solar System.

The conference was an open international forum gathering scientists, engineers, space exploration professionals and students interested in discussing the status and advancement of the exploration of Mars’ natural satellites, the investigation of other small bodies in relation to Phobos and Deimos, the exploration of Mars itself via its moons, and the importance of exploring these moons for Solar System science.

The conference was convened at a time of growing interest in the exploration of Phobos and Deimos, with several international robotic spacecraft missions and concept studies underway, in particular in Europe, Japan, Russia, and the United States. Important new scientific data relating to Phobos have also been obtained recently by NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) mission and ESA’s Mars Express (MEX) mission.

The human exploration of Phobos and Deimos is also under serious consideration in the international context of the Global Exploration Roadmap. In the United States, the human exploration of Phobos was considered an attractive goal in the Augustine Commission’s “Flexible Path” option, and on 15 April, 2010, President Barack Obama announced: “By the mid-2030s, I believe we can send humans to orbit Mars and return them safely to Earth. And a landing on Mars will follow...” Since then, NASA, in particular its Moons of Mars Human Exploration Architecture Team (HAT), industry, and academia have been investigating potential ways to explore Phobos and Deimos with humans, and to use the moons of Mars to pave the way or optimize future human Mars exploration.

The conference was an opportunity to

  1. Review our scientific knowledge and identify outstanding remaining unknowns regarding Phobos and Deimos, including their connection to Mars and to the rest of the Solar System.
  2. Hear updates on, and coordinate, upcoming robotic mission efforts to explore Phobos and Deimos.
  3. Discuss the exploration of other small bodies in the Solar System that may help advance our understanding and exploration of Phobos and Deimos.
  4. Discuss the human exploration of Phobos and Deimos, and the potential role of Mars’ moons in future human Mars exploration.

  5. The conference resulted in a better and shared understanding of our current scientific knowledge and remaining unknowns about Phobos and Deimos, and increased awareness and coordination of plans worldwide to explore these moons with future robotic systems and humans.

President Barack Obama examines a model of Phobos
presented to him by Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin.

Poster Information
The space available for poster displays was 48” x 48”. The poster area was open during all normal meeting hours, and authors were required to be at their posters during at least one poster session. Poster authors were also encouraged to bring several press-ready copies of their abstract for the media.


Greg Schmidt (Chair), NASA, SSERVI
Pascal Lee (Co-Chair), Mars Inst., SETI Inst., & NASA Ames Research Center (ARC)
Michael Bicay, NASA ARC
Ben Bussey, NASA HQ, Human Exploration & Operations Mission Directorate
Jim Green, NASA Headquarters, Science Mission Directorate
David Korsmeyer, NASA ARC
Yvonne Pendleton, NASA, SSERVI

Technical Organizing Committee

Pascal Lee (Chair), Mars Inst., SETI Inst., & NASA ARC
Greg Schmidt (Co-Chair), NASA, SSERVI
Daniel Britt, University of Central Florida
Nancy Chabot, Johns Hopkins University
Michael Chaffin, University of Colorado - Boulder
Prakash Chauhan, Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO)
Anthony Colaprete, NASA ARC
Masaki Fujimoto, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)
Michael Gernhardt, NASA Johnson Space Center (JSC)
Butler Hine, NASA ARC
Stephen J. Hoffman, SAIC & NASA JSC
Detlef Koschny, European Space Agency
Scott Murchie, Applied Physics Laboratory, Johns Hopkins University
Carol Raymond, Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Pascal Rosenblatt, Royal Observatory of Belgium
Peter C. Thomas, Cornell University
Stephan Ulamec, German Aerospace Center (DLR)
Konrad Willner, German Aerospace Center (DLR)
Hajime Yano, JAXA
Alexandr Zakharov, Space Research Institute