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Bruce Betts

Headshot of Bruce Betts

Bruce Betts

Director of Science and Technology / LightSail Program Manager

bruce.betts@planetary.org
+1-626-793-5100

Dr. Bruce Betts is Director of Science and Technology and LightSail Program Manager 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, the LIFE biology experiment that flew on the Russian Phobos sample return mission, and he led a NASA grant studying microrovers assisting human exploration.  He is the Program Manager for The Planetary Society’s LightSail solar sail missions.  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 planetary.org.  His twitter feed @RandomSpaceFact provides easy night sky astronomy and random space facts, and his Random Space Fact videos provide facts and humor in brief segments.  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: Near Earth Objects—The Killer Asteroid Threat

February 22, 2017 • 1:38:52

Leaders of the quest to find, understand and protect ourselves from the asteroids and comets called Near Earth Objects gathered with host Mat Kaplan for a live conversation about this existential threat from space.

Latest Blog Posts

Your Guide to the Great American Eclipse of 2017

July 17, 2017

The Moon will totally eclipse the Sun for the first time as seen from the continental United States in more than 40 years on August 21, 2017. What are eclipses, and what's special about this one?

Listen Up! Microphones to Fly to Mars

July 15, 2016

The Mars 2020 mission will carry microphones in its EDL package and its SuperCam instrument, which will enable us to finally hear the sounds of Mars. The Planetary Society has been trying to get microphones to Mars for 20 years and is ecstatic that these will fly.

A new hope for a microphone on Mars: Enhancing Mars 2020 science with sound

February 15, 2016

When the Mars 2020 rover lands, we may finally hear the first audio recordings from the Martian surface.

astronaut on Phobos
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