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Headshot of Bruce Betts

Bruce Betts

Director of Science and Technology

Dr. Bruce Betts is Director of Science and Technology for The Planetary Society, the world’s largest space interest group.  Dr. Betts is a planetary scientist who earned a B.S. in physics and math and an M.S. in Applied Physics from Stanford and a Ph.D. in Planetary Science with a minor in Geology from Caltech.  He spent several years with San Juan Institute/Planetary Science Institute as a Research Scientist, and later Senior Research Scientist.  He studied planetary surfaces, including Mars, the Moon, and Jupiter’s moons, using infrared and other data, and published several scientific papers on these subjects.  Dr. Betts spent three years at NASA headquarters managing planetary instrument development programs to design spacecraft science instruments. 

At The Planetary Society, he has had copious project management experience, having managed a number of flight instrument (both science and public outreach) projects, including silica glass DVDs on the Mars Exploration Rovers and Phoenix lander carrying millions of names and Mars literature, and the LIFE biology experiment that flew on the Russian Phobos sample return mission.  He is the Imaging Team Lead for The Planetary Society’s LightSail solar sail mission, and led a NASA grant studying microrovers assisting human exploration.  He has also overseen or managed a number of additional projects designed to excite and involve the public in space exploration. 

He regularly writes for The Planetary Society member magazine The Planetary Report, and on his blog on  His twitter feed @RandomSpaceFact provides easy night sky astronomy and random space facts.  He also co-hosts the "What's Up?" feature on the weekly Planetary Radio show (150 radio stations, XM/Sirius satellite radio, and podcast).  He is a frequent guest on History Channel’s The Universe.  Dr. Betts is an Adjunct Professor with California State University Dominguez Hills and his recent Introduction to Astronomy and Planetary Science course is available online. He is an Alumnus Senior Scientist with Planetary Science Institute

Latest Planetary Radio Appearance

Planetary Radio Live at the New Horizons Pluto Encounter

07/21/2015 | 28:50

Join our live audience for highlights of an amazing evening, featuring Jim Bell, Bruce Betts, Mike Brown, Emily Lakdawalla, Linda Spilker, and Bill Nye the Science Guy.

More Planetary Radio shows »

Latest Blog Posts

Mega Hemorrhaging Total Lunar Eclipse Sept 27-28, 2015

Posted 2015/09/24 08:25 CDT | 1 comment

There will be a spectacular total lunar eclipse on the night of Sept. 27-28, 2015, a newly dubbed Mega Hemorrhaging Eclipse. Here is info on what lunar eclipses are and how to observe the eclipse.

Opening the New Horizons Time Capsule

Posted 2015/07/07 10:03 CDT | 3 comments

The New Horizons digital time capsule is opened, with the New Horizons Pluto flyby only one week away, showing images from Earth 2006 – the year New Horizons launched. Fifty images and captions from people in 17 countries were selected to be in the time capsule to reflect things expected to change by 2015.

5 Steps to Preventing Asteroid Impact

Posted 2015/06/30 12:33 CDT | 2 comments

For Asteroid Day, Bruce Betts reviews 5 steps needed to prevent asteroid impact, as well as how The Planetary Society is involved in those.

Older blog posts »

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