Mars Surface Environments Research Cluster

How great would be the desire in every admirer of nature to behold,
if such were possible, the scenery of another planet!

                        Charles Darwin (Voyage of the Beagle, 1845)

When Darwin wrote these words, many parts of the Earth had still not been gazed upon by western eyes, and the scientific study of Earth’s landforms had hardly started.  Now, with the advent of satellite remote sensing, not only can we ‘gaze’ on the Earth’s scenery from a variety of perspectives, scales and electromagnetic wavelengths but over the last few decades it has been increasingly possible to observe the scenery of a variety of other planets and planetary bodies (e.g. large moons) in ever increasing detail.  This is particularly the case for Mars, our nearest planetary neighbour, where crude early drawings from telescope observations have been supplanted by a vast amount of visual imagery, topographic information, and geological datasets of ever increasing resolution from probes, orbiters, landers and rovers.  The recent unprecedented rate of data acquisition from Mars has lead to an explosion of interest in the Red Planet, with numerous articles appearing not only in traditional planetary science outlets and high profile science journals, but also in mainstream geographical and earth science journals.  Both physical and human geographers can contribute to, and learn from, these ongoing research endeavours.

The overarching aims of the DGES Mars Surface Environments Research Cluster are:

  1. to describe, quantify and explain the surface processes, landforms and landscape changes on the surface of Mars and other planetary bodies, with particular emphasis on fluvial, glacial, aeolian, lacustrine and volcanic landscapes;
  2. to clarify the similarities and differences between Mars, other planetary bodies and Earth in terms of the nature, rates and timing of the key surface processes leading to landform and landscape development;
  3. to examine how existing and emerging technologies can be used to improve measurement, monitoring and conceptualisation of surface processes on Mars, other planetary bodies and Earth;
  4. to explore the social and political context within which Mars/planetary science and Earth science is promoted, operates and develops.

Staff and postgraduates involved: Geoff Duller, Neil Glasser, John Grattan, Hywel Griffiths, Mike Hambrey, Tom Holt, Bryn Hubbard,  Andy Mitchell,  Stephen Tooth