Exploration of hydrothermal targets on Mars

Dirk Schulze-Makuch, James M. Dohm, Chaojun Fan, Alberto G. Fairén, J. A P Rodriguez, Victor Baker, Wolfgang Fink

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

66 Scopus citations


Based on various lines of geologic, geomorphic, topographic, geophysical, spectral, and elemental evidence, we conclude that hydrothermal environments have certainly existed on Mars and are likely to still exist. Here, we present candidate targets of endogenic- and exogenic-driven hydrothermal environments on Mars based on a set of selection criteria and suggest strategies for the detection of such targets. This includes a re-evaluation of potential targets using both existing and yet-to-be-released remote information provided by the instruments onboard the Mars orbiters and rovers. We also provide terrestrial analogs for possible martian hydrothermal environments to highlight the implications of these targets for potential martian life. This compilation and synthesis of data from martian localities indicating hydrothermal activity is timely and a first step towards prioritizing candidate targets for further investigation, which will likely add more targets to this list. Future in situ exploration will have to focus on the most promising of the hydrothermal targets and investigate them utilizing a novel integrated multi-tier, multi-agent reconnaissance mission architecture.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)308-324
Number of pages17
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2007



  • Astrobiology
  • Cratering
  • Exobiology
  • Mars
  • Thermal histories

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Astronomy and Astrophysics

Cite this

Schulze-Makuch, D., Dohm, J. M., Fan, C., Fairén, A. G., Rodriguez, J. A. P., Baker, V., & Fink, W. (2007). Exploration of hydrothermal targets on Mars. Icarus, 189(2), 308-324. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.icarus.2007.02.007