Like its predecessors, the Fourth Early Mars Conference will place a strong emphasis on interdisciplinary discussion and debate, bringing together scientists from fields as diverse as planetary geology, atmospheres, climate, meteoritics, microbiology, and molecular biochemistry to focus on the conditions that prevailed on Mars during its first billion years of geologic history.

The purpose of the conference is twofold:

(1) to consider how astronomical variations in insolation, impacts, volcanism, and the presence of water affected the nature of the early terrestrial and martian climates and the physical and chemical environments that existed on both planets >3.7 Ga — especially with regard to the geologic and mineralogical evolution of their surfaces, their hydrologic cycles, the development of life, and the preservation of its signature in the geologic record; and

(2) to discuss the investigations that might be conducted by present and future missions to test the hypotheses arising from (1).