NSS 2021 Convention ~ June 28-July 2* Register

Photo: NASA, Lunar lander

Caves Across the Solar System

Since the founding of the National Speleological Society in 1941, cavers have branched out into ever-increasing fields of discovery and exploration. From deep oceans to Alpine peaks, NSS cavers have often taken the lead around the world to refine our understanding of these unique ecosystems. Following that spirit of discovery, a select group of cavers have now directed their focus to cave exploration beyond the confines of Earth.

Where will cave exploration go as humans achieve the technology to explore beyond our planet? What new science will need to be discovered to facilitate these expeditions? How can members of the National Speleological Society help these efforts?

Since the 1960s, researchers, examining low resolution imagery, have speculated about the presence of caves on the Moon and Mars. In 2007, researchers confirmed the first cave-like features on the Red Planet. To date, planetary scientists have identified more than 200 lunar and over 2,000 Martian cave-like features. The occurrence of caves (in either host rock or ice) on other planetary bodies in our solar system is reasonable.

Extraterrestrial caves will be high-priority targets for future robotic and human missions. Accurate identification and selection of candidate caves will be desirable for the establishment of astronaut shelters (temporary or permanent) on both the Moon and Mars. Martian caves may provide access to the deep subsurface where evidence of life is most likely to be preserved (provided life evolved on Mars), as well as significant water ice deposits for human consumption and for potentially generating hydrogen fuel to return humans to Earth.

Why CAVES - Astrobiology

This session will integrate topics across a wide range of scientific disciplines as they relate to exploring "Caves Across the Solar System".

Long-time NSS members, Penny Boston and Diana Northup, will moderate this exciting session on the frontier of speleology. Dr. Boston was recently named as Senior Advisor for Science Integration at the NASA-Ames Research Center in California. Dr. Northup is Professor Emerita of Biology at the University of New Mexico. Their academic specialties include the study of life in extreme environments.

Session Details

Session Moderator

Penny Boston, PhD

Senior Advisor for Science Integration, NASA

Session Moderator

Diana Northup, PhD

Professor Emerita of Biology, University of New Mexico

Call For Abstracts:

Opens: Monday, March 1, 2021
Closes: Saturday, May 1, 2021
Notifications of Acceptance: Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Session Moderators:

Penny Boston & Diana Northup
Email: penelope.boston@nmt.edu; dnorthup@unm.edu


How to write an abstract

Online Abstract Submissions:

Link will be available here after the call for abstract submission date. Check back.

Student Scientists:

The James G. Mitchell Fund was established in 1965 and is maintained by contributions to the National Speleological Foundation. This award includes a cash award for the best scientific paper presented at the NSS Convention by a student member (or members) of the society. Eligible papers shall be judged by an interdisciplinary panel appointed by the Mitchell Award sub-committee chair. For consideration, contact sub-committee chair, Dr. Kathy Lavoie at award-mitchell@caves.org.