The NASA-sponsored Martian Surface and Atmosphere Through Time Study Project convened its first major meeting at the University of Colorado in Boulder, September 23–25, 1991. The workshop, co-sponsored by the Lunar and Planetary Institute (LPI) and the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado, brought together an international group of 125 scientists to discuss a variety of issues relevant to the goals of the MSATT Program. The workshop program committee included co-convenors Robert Haberle, MSATT Steering Committee Chairman NASA Ames Research Center) and Bruce Jakosky (University of Colorado), and committee members Amos Banin (NASA Ames Research Center and Hebrew University), Benjamin Schuraytz (LPI), and Kenneth Tanaka (U.S. Geological Survey, Flagstaff, Ariz.).
The purpose of the workshop was to begin exploring and defining the relationships between different aspects of Mars science—the evolution of the surface, the atmosphere, upper atmosphere, volatiles, and climate. Specific topics addressed in the 88 contributed abstracts included the current nature of the surface with respect to physical properties and photometric observations and interpretations; the history of geological processes, comprising water and ice-related geomorphology, impact cratering, and volcanism; and the geochemistry and mineralogy of the surface with emphasis on compositional and spectroscopic studies and weathering processes. Also addressed were the present atmosphere, focusing on structure and dynamics, volatile and dust distribution, and the upper atmosphere; long-term volatile evolution based on volatiles in SNC meteorites (certain meteorites thought to have come from Mars) and atmospheric evolution processes; climate history and volatile cycles in relation to early climate and the polar caps, ground ice, and regolith; and future mission concepts.