Proceedings of the 4th Australian Mars Exploration Conference

From the Red Centre to the Red Planet

‘An Australian Role in Mars Exploration’

JULY 31st – 1st August 2004

School of Natural & Built Environments, University of South Australia


The Australian Mars Exploration Conference (AMEC) series is the annual conference of the Mars Society Australia (MSA).  First held in 2001, it aims to draw together researchers, Mars Society members and interested members of the public from all around Australia, to meet and to share ideas. 

This year’s conference was the first to be held in South Australia.  It coincided with the presence of the International Space University in Adelaide, and the launch of a major MSA field excursion (Expedition 2) the following week.  Both these events enriched the conference by bringing to Adelaide national and international expertise in a variety of space related fields, making available many of the speakers you will hear in these proceedings.  Another welcome aspect of this international exchange was the unprecedented attendance of many international Mars Society members as AMEC delegates.

South Australia has a special place in Australian space history as the site of the former Woomera Rocket Range.  Its landscape has long been of interest to geologists seeking to understand the history of the earth, the role of meteor impacts in its geological history and the presence of ancient fossilised remains.  The Arkaroola region is internationally recognised as a place with unique geology where important lessons may be learned about how to search for evidence of ancient life on Mars. In the future, MSA hopes to undertake a number of research projects in the area and you can hear these described in detail some of the following talks. 

Mars research is characterised by its stimulating, interdisciplinary nature, and also by existing in a context of rapid change.  Keynote speaker, Mr Neal Newman (NASA representative to Australia and South-East Asia) discusses the recent dramatic developments in US space policy, with the announcement by the Bush administration of the new objectives of returning to the moon, and of ultimately going on to Mars.  Other speakers alluded to data recently obtained by orbiting probes and the still active surface rovers Spirit and Opportunity. 

MSA’s South Australian branch has been delighted to host this year’s AMEC. We hope that you enjoy listening to these proceedings. 


Marcia Tanner

Co-convenor, AMEC 2004

Nina Stansfield

Co-convenor, AMEC 2004

Guy Murphy

Co-convenor, AMEC 2004