3rd International Planetary Caves Conference will be held on February 18–21, 2020 in San Antonio, Texas, USA.

International Planetary caves conference is organized by Southwest research institute (SwRI) in association with Lunar and Planetary Institute (LPI) and Universities Space Research Association (USRA).

USRA, a private, nonprofit organization under  National Academy of Sciences (NAS) started in 1969. The purpose of USRA is to strengthen and promote education and research work in technology, space and aeronautical sciences. USRA researchers are involved with university, government and industry scientists/engineers in several disciplines, including; earth sciences, life sciences, space technology, computer science, aeronautics, astrophysics, microgravity and astronomy.

3rd International Planetary Caves Conference aims to discuss recent insights to cave exploration and the exchange of knowledge between scientists and engineers for future cave missions.

Importance of Planetary Caves

Caves, subterranean features have been discovered on almost every planetary body since the last decade thanks to the remarkable improvement in spatial resolution of spacecraft technology. Planetary scientists have identified more than 200 lunar and thousands of cave-like features on Mars. The analysis of planetary caves helps in examining subsurface areas of planetary bodies without the use of costly drilling procedures. Moreover, caves provide potential habitats for life, including future Lunar and Martian habitation by humans.

Geologic features similar to caves (pit crater chains, lateral cave entrances, skylight entrances) have been found on Mars resulting from both volcanic and tectonic processes, these features will help us in studying subsurface habitability and biosignature potential. These cave like features might host significant water ice deposits for human consumption and hydrogen fuel for space missions.


1) Lunar and martian cave-like features

2) Types of speleogenic features that may be encountered on other planetary bodies

3) The potential to search for subterranean volatiles and determine subsurface habitability

4) Robotic access and exploration

5) The Astrobiology potential of planetary subsurface environments

6) Technologies required for human habitation

Conference Details

The conference consists of 1 day field trip, an offsite dinner, oral presentations, poster presentations, formal and informal discussions. Scientists and engineers with relevant theoretical, field and/or experimental backgrounds are encouraged to attend the event due to broad scope and interdisciplinary nature of the conference. Additionally, the conference will provide a platform to discuss and develop a strategy for research and robotic exploration of caves across the solar system.

Conference schedule includes; February 18 (Oral presentations and poster session), February 19 (Field trip), February 20 (Oral presentations and offsite San Antonio River Walk dinner and tour), February 21 (Oral presentations and wrap-up).

Travel awards are also expected to be available for students and early career scientists. Information on conference organizers, conveners and organizing committee can be found here. For people who are interested in receiving email updates related to the conference and events please submit indication of interest by using the electronic portal. Non-U.S. citizens are required to complete SwRI Notification of Visit by non-U.S. Person form and e-mail it to deanna.melendez@swri.org before January 15, 2020, without the form non-US persons will not be allowed to visit the event.

SwRI headquarters is located at 6220 Culebra Rd, San Antonio, Texas 78238. San Antonio has a rich cultural history with modern tourist attractions, for people who are interested in the event please check Visitor Information Package, the package consists of details regarding the venue, local restaurants and hotels. For list of hotels near the SwRI headquarters and downtown San Antonio area, click here for transportation options, visit ground transportation options and you can find more information regarding the San Antonio airport here.

Contact Information

Further information regarding the scientific content of the conference, contact;

Charity Phillips-Lander clander@swri.edu

For information regarding the field trip, contact;

Joe Mitchell Joe.mitchell@swri.org

Information regarding conference details and abstract submission, contact;

Debbie Mitchell dmitchell@hou.usra.edu (phone: 281-486-2106)

Official Link

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