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Planetary Society Members

Collectively explore Mars and our future in space with our inspiring group of presenters. For two-days scientists, innovators, educators, performers, authors, and our own Bill Nye will gather to celebrate the Curiosity rover's landing on Mars.

Abby Fraeman
Abby Fraeman

Graduate Student, Washington University in St. Louis

Abby Fraeman is a graduate student at Washington University in St. Louis who is working with accomplished space robotics scientist Ray Arvidson in his Earth and Planetary Remote Sensing Laboratory. Members of the Arvidson laboratory have been or are currently involved in the Viking Lander, Mars Global Surveyor, Odyssey, Mars Exploration Rover, Mars Express, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, Mars Science Laboratory, and the European Space Agency's Mars Express (Omega instrument). Abby is at the front line of robotic space technology.

Saturday - Panel participant, So You Want to Work in Space

Aldo Spadoni
Aldo Spadoni

President, Aerospace Imagineering; Space Artist

Aldo Spadoni manages an award winning creative simulation team at Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems. His consulting company, Aerospace Imagineering, specializes in the conceptual design and visualization of advanced technology concepts. Aldo's visualizations have appeared in numerous magazines and television documentaries. As a technology consultant to the entertainment industry, he supported the production of Apollo 13, Supernova, Iron Man 1 & 2, and other movie projects.

Saturday - Panel participant, "Why Create Space Art"

Andrew Chaikin
Andrew Chaikin

Author and Space Historian

Award-winning science journalist and space historian Andrew Chaikin has authored books and articles about space exploration and astronomy for more than 25 years. Writer-director and explorer James Cameron (Titanic, Aliens of the Deep) called him "our best historian of the space age."

Saturday - Guest, Planetary Radio Live
Sunday - Talk, "The Bradbury Imperative: We Must Explore"

Artemis Westenberg
Artemis Westenberg

President, Director, and co-founder of Explore Mars, Inc

Artemis intends to see humans walk on Mars within the next two decades. Since 2000, Artemis has been involved in space exploration advocacy as President of the Mars Society Netherlands and Steering Committee member of The Mars Society Inc. In the Netherlands Artemis is often a spokesperson for the space community when Mars is in the Media. She has been quoted in numerous national and international newspapers and magazines and has appeared on national and international television and radio.

Saturday - Talk, "Robots now, Humans by 2030"

Bill Nye
Bill Nye

Scientist, Engineer, Author, and CEO of The Planetary Society

Nye's mission for many years has been to turn on the public in general, and kids in particular, to the "way cool" wonders of science. Scientist, comedian, teacher, and author, Nye became a household name with his innovative, fast-paced television series, Bill Nye the Science Guy. His latest TV program, 100 Greatest Discoveries, airs in eight installments on the Science Channel.

Saturday - Talk, "Your Place in Space"
Sunday - Talk, "Create, Educate, Advocate

Bruce Betts
Dr. Bruce Betts

Director of Projects for The Planetary Society

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 form Caltech. Before his current position at The Planetary Society, he spent several years working with NASA managing planetary instrument development programs. His work at The Planetary Society has both a the technical aspect, as the Imaging Team Lead for The Planetary Society's LightSail solar sail mission, and a public outreach aspect, overseeing or managing a number of additional projects designed to excite and involve the public in space exploration.

Saturday and Sunday - Master of Ceremonies

Charles Elachi
Dr. Charles Elachi

Director of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Dr. Charles Elachi has been director of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory since May 2001, and also serves as vice president of the California Institute of Technology. He has been a principal investigator on a number of research and development studies and flight projects sponsored by NASA. These include the Shuttle Imaging Radar series (science team leader), the Magellan Imaging Radar (team member) and the Cassini Titan Radar (team leader).

Dan Geraci
Dan Geraci

Chairman of the Board of Directors, The Planetary Society; CEO, IronAge Consulting Corp

A lifelong space enthusiast, amateur astronomer and collector, Geraci is a longtime member of The Planetary Society. He is CEO of IronAge Consulting Corp, providing management consulting, strategic planning, marketing and product development services to the asset management and financial services industries in North America.

Saturday - Opening Welcome

Don Davis
Don Davis

Space Artist

Don Davis is a space artist who worked first in oils and water based brush and airbrush media, then moved to computer based tools. He now creates space animations for full dome video projection Planetarium theaters. Don received an Emmy for his work on Cosmos, and the 2002 Klumpke-Roberts Award, presented by the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, for outstanding contributions to the public understanding and appreciation of astronomy. The asteroid 13330 Dondavis is named after him

Saturday - Panel participant, "Why Create Space Art"

Don Dixon
Don Dixon

Founder, International Association of Astronomical Artists; Art Director, Griffith Observatory

Don Dixon is a Fellow and founding member of the International Association of Astronomical Artists (IAAA). His artwork has been featured on the covers of Scientific American, Astronomy, Sky and Telescope, Bild der Wissenschaft, and dozens of books, ranging from physics compendiums to science fiction novels.His painting Red Mars, cover painting for the first book in Kim Stanley Robinson's award winning trilogy, rode the Phoenix spacecraft to a successful landing in the arctic region of the Red Planet on May 29, 2008 as part of Visions of Mars, The Planetary Society's digital "Martian library." Since 1991 he has served as Art Director at L.A's Griffith Observatory

Saturday - Panel participant, "Why Create Space Art"

David Brin
David Brin

Award Winning Science Fiction Author and Scientist

After graduating from Caltech in 1973 Brin went on to achieve a Masters of Science in applied physics and Doctor of Philosophy in space science. In the 80's Brin started work on novels in his uplift universe. His second book in the series, "Startide Rising", won both the Nebula and Hugo award for science fiction writing. His new book "Existence" leads with the hook, "Billions of planets may be ripe for life, even intelligence. So where is Everybody?"

Saturday - "Why the sudden activity in Space?"

Emily Lakdawalla
Emily Lakdawalla

Technology and Scientific Coordinator, The Planetary Society; Contributing Editor, Sky and Telescope magazine

Emily first blogged for the Planetary Society in 2002 as a member of a Society-funded team sent to Devon Island in the Canadian high Arctic to gather data to support future tests of autonomous software for Mars airplanes, and she hasn't stopped yet. For nearly as long, she has contributed to the weekly Planetary Radio podcast as well as acting as administrator of the forum UnmannedSpaceflight.com, which has made Emily a leader in a worldwide community of amateur space image processors. Since the installation of Bill Nye as the Planetary Society's new Executive Director, Emily has also started appearing in front of the camera, in webcasts, Google+ Hangouts, and on a regular video feature, Snapshots from Space, viewable from the Planetary Society's Youtube channel.

Saturday - Panel Moderator, "So You Want to Work in Space?"
Sunday - Live reporting from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory

George Whitesides
George T. Whitesides

CEO and President of Virgin Galactic; Former NASA Chief of Staff

From 2004 - 2008, Whitesides served as the Executive Director of the National Space Society, then he was named NASA Chief of Staff after serving on the transition team for the new administration. Now George leads Virgin Galactic and is on the cutting edge of commercial space travel.

Sunday - Panel, "New Visions for Humans in Space"

Erik Lopez
Erik Lopez

SEDS Director of Educational Outreach

Erik Lopez is a rising sophomore at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign majoring in Aerospace Engineering. He is currently the national educational outreach chair of Students for the Exploration and Development of Space "SEDS". In the past Erik has done research at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory where he developed an award winning Differential Scanning Calorimeter. Recently, Erik completed his internship with the Propulsion Academy at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center and is getting ready to begin his Cooperative Education Program at NASA's Johnson Space Center this upcoming January.

Saturday - Panel Participant, "So You Want to Work in Space?"

Dr. Jim Bell
Jim Bell

Professor, Arizona State University; President, The Planetary Society

Jim is an active planetary scientist and has been heavily involved in many NASA robotic space exploration missions, including the Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous (NEAR), Mars Exploration Rover, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, and the Mars Science Laboratory rover mission. Dr. Bell is currently a Professor in the School of Earth and Space Exploration at Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona.

Saturday - Talk, Introduction to Mars
Sunday - Talk, Postcards from Mars; Live updates from JPL

Dr. Jim Green
Jim Green

Planetary Science Division Director at NASA

Dr. Green has been Director of the NASA Planetary Science Division since 2006, and he has worked at NASA for more than 25 years. Over his career he has won numerous awards. In 1988 he received the Arthur S. Flemming award given for outstanding individual performance in the federal government. In 1996 he received Japan's Kotani Prize in recognition of his international science data management activities. He has written over 100 scientific articles in refereed journals and over 50 technical articles on various aspects of data systems and networks.

Saturday - Talk, "Year of the Solar System"

Jon Ramer
Jon Ramer

President, International Aassociation of Astronomical Artists

Jon Ramer is the President of the International association of Astronomical Artists. Jon spent 25 years traveling the world as a US Air Force officer as well as painting and photographing everywhere he went. He is also an avid space artist and writer, and recently edited and wrote portions of the space art book "The Beauty of Space."

Saturday - Panel participant, "Why Create Space Art"

Louis Friedman
Louis D. Friedman

Co-Founder and Executive Director Emeritus, The Planetary Society

When Louis Friedman helped co-found The Planetary Society, he brought to his position as Executive Director a wealth of experience in the space exploration community, including 10 years at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and five at AVCO Space Systems Division. He was a guiding force with the Society for over 20 years and remains as excited as ever about humanity's journey into the solar system.

Sunday - Ray Bradbury Tribute

Mark Sirangelo
Mark Sirangelo

Executive VP, Sierra Nevada Corporation Chairman, SNC Space Systems

Mark Sirangelo is the Chairman of Sierra Nevada Space Systems, a leading producer of satellites, propulsion systems and space sub-systems and is also the Executive Vice President of Sierra Nevada Corporation, a billion dollar aerospace and defense firm. Mr. Sirangelo was the Chairman and CEO of SpaceDev, Inc. prior to its merging with Sierra Nevada Corporation. Prior to SpaceDev, he was the CEO of the QuanStar Group, an advanced technology commercialization and investment company that identified promising technology companies and actively assisted in their growth.

Sunday - Talk, "Rockets to Robots"

Matt Golombek
Matt Golombek

Senior Research Scientist, JPL; Co-chair Mars Exploration Program Landing Site Scientist

Matt Golombek has been at JPL for almost 20 years, during which he has been witness to almost all of JPL's robotic exploits on Mars. Now he is a senior research scientist and co-chair of the Mars Exploration Rover landing site selection committee. Recently he has become a Visiting Associate and Lecturer in the planetary science division of Geological and Planetary Sciences at Caltech. Over his distinguished career he has been awarded many accolades, including the University of Massachusetts Distinguished Alumni Award, the NASA Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal, and in 2011 the NASA Group Achievement Award.

Sunday - Talk, "How we selected the MSL Landing Site"

Mat Kaplan
Mat Kaplan

Radio Host, Journalist, Producer and Planetary Staff Member

He was just 17 when he got his first job in broadcasting. It wasn't until Planetary Radio that he was able to combine his love of space exploration with the fun and excitement of being on the air. A Planetary Society staff member for nearly five years, Mat is also who we look to when an event calls for audiovisual support or a live webcast. He lives in Long Beach, California, with his wife and two teenage daughters.

Saturday - Host, Planetary Radio Live

Melissa Rice
Dr. Melissa Rice

NASA Astrobiology Postdoctoral fellow, Caltech; MSL Curiosity Science Team Collaborator

Melissa Rice is a recent graduate of Cornell University with a PhD in Planetary Science. Her work focused on hydrated minerals uncovered by the MER Spirit rover and a detailed study of Eberswalde Crater, one of the four candidate landing sites for the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) rover. She currently works at Caltech as a postdoctoral scholar with John Grotzinger and is a member of the MSL Curiosity project science team. In her spare time she is a Payload Uplink Lead for the MER Opportunity rover.

Saturday - Panel participant, "So You Want to Work in Space?"

Rick Sternbach
Rick Sternbach

Space and Science Fiction Artist

Rick Sternbach has been a space and science fiction artist since the early 1970s. His clients include NASA, Sky and Telescope, Data Products, Random House, Smithsonian, Analog, Astronomy, The Planetary Society, and Time-Life Books. He is a founding member and Fellow of the International Association of Astronomical Artists (IAAA). In the late 1970s Rick added film and television illustration and special effects to his repertory, with productions like Star Trek: The Motion Picture, The Last Starfighter, Future Flight, and Cosmos, for which he and other members of the art team received an Emmy award, the first for visual effects.

Saturday - Panel participant, "Why Create Space Art"

Rob Manning
Rob Manning

Chief Engineer for the Mars Science Laboratory, JPL

Rob has been designing, testing and operating robotic spacecraft and rovers for 30 years at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena. His career has allowed him to live through some of JPL's most harrowing robotic moments. In the 1990's Rob became the chief engineer for a project called Mars Pathfinder, which became the first to send a little rover (named Sojourner) to Mars. In the process, he learned from past masters of the Apollo and Viking era what it took to safely land robots on another planet in an intricate process called "EDL" or Entry, Descent and Landing. As a result of his fortunes at JPL, Rob has received two NASA medals and is in the Aviation Week Magazine Space Laureate Hall of Fame in the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. In 2004, "SpaceNews" magazine named Rob as one of 100 people who made a difference in civil, commercial and military space since 1989. Rob is a graduate of Caltech and Whitman College where he studied math, physics, computer science, and control systems.

Sunday - Talk, "MSL Entry, Descent, and Landing and Beyond"

Robert Picardo
Robert Picardo

Actor and Director

Perhaps best known for his role as the holographic doctor in Star Trek: Voyager, Robert Picardo also has a strong interest in the reality of space exploration. Picardo played another doctor on the acclaimed television series, China Beach, so perhaps his entering Yale University as a pre-med student presaged his acting career to come! Picardo has appeared frequently on stage, from Broadway to the Pasadena Playhouse on the west coast.

Sunday - Ray Bradubury Tribute

Robert Zubrin
Robert Zubrin

Aerospace Engineer, Author, Founder and President of the Mars Society

For many years Robert worked as a senior engineer for Lockheed Martin. He holds a doctorate in nuclear engineering and has nine U.S. patents granted or pending. In addition, he is the author of the critically acclaimed nonfiction books The Case for Mars, Entering Space, and Mars on Earth; the science fiction novels The Holy Land and First Landing; and articles in Scientific American, The New Atlantis, American Enterprise, the New York Times, and the Washington Post. He has appeared on major media including CNN, C-SPAN, the BBC, the Discovery Channel, the Science Channel, NBC, ABC, and NPR.

Sunday - Talk, "Mars Direct"

Rosaly Lopes
Dr. Rosaly Lopes-Gautier

Planetary Scientist and Volcanologist, JPL

Dr. Rosaly M. C. Lopes is a Senior Research Scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. She is an expert on volcanoes on Earth and the planets and has worked on the NASA missions Galileo and Cassini. She enjoys bringing the excitement of her research to the general public via lectures, TV shows and books. Rosaly has obtained numerous awards for her work both in science and outreach. In 2005, she was awarded the Carl Sagan medal by the Division for Planetary Sciences of the American Astronomical Society in recognition of her success in communicating science to the general public.

Saturday - Talk, "Introduction to Mars: Martian Volcanoes"

Ryan Anderson
Dr. Ryan Anderson

Shoemaker Postdoctoral fellow, USGS; MSL Curiosity ChemCam Team Collaborator

Ryan Anderson is the current Shoemaker Postdoctoral fellow at the U.S. Geological Survey in Flagstaff, AZ. Ryan attended the University of Michigan, where he double-majored in Physics and Astronomy, and Cornell University where received his PhD in Planetary Science. His work on Gale crater helped lead to its selection as the landing site for the Mars Science Laboratory Rover (MSL), and he is a member of the ChemCam science team.

Saturday - Panel participant, "So You Want to Work in Space?"

Scott Hubbard
Scott Hubbard

Board Member, The Planetary Society; Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Stanford University

G. Scott Hubbard has been recognized as an innovator and leader in science, technology and management for more than 30 years – including 20 years with NASA where he was the first Mars Program Director and then Director of NASA's Ames Research Center. He currently is a Professor in the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics at Stanford University. Hubbard was elected to the International Academy of Astronautics (IAA) and is a recipient of the Engineering Science Award from the IAA. He is a Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA). He most recently was awarded the 2006 Carl Sagan Memorial Award by the American Astronautical Society.

Saturday - Guest, Planetary Radio Live
Sunday - Talk, "Exploring Mars: Following the Water"

Scott Maxwell
Scott Maxwell

Mars Rover Driver, Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Scott Maxwell works at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory on the Mars Exploration Rover team and also with the new Mars Science Laboratory, Curiosity. He published a diary he kept during the operations of Spirit and Opportunity, five years delayed, on his Mars and Me blog, which ended April 6, 2012.

Saturday - Talk, Driving a Mars Rover

Shelley Bonus
Shelley Bonus

Writer, Astronomical Historian and Lecturer

Shelley R. Bonus is an Astronomy Outreach Specialist and a writer. She teaches Astronomy and special writing courses at UCLA Extensionm serves as the session director of the Mt. Wilson Observatory 60-inch Telescope, and is the official "sky teacher" for Malibu Creek State Park and Leo Carrillo State Park. She received a NASA Group Achievement Award for her work as an Astronomy Educato. In 2002 while running the John Drescher Planetarium at Santa Monica College, Shelley was honored by having Asteroid 10028 BONUS named after her by the IAU for her work as an Astronomy Outreach Educator and her archiving expertise on behalf of the Palomar Observatory Plate Project for Caltech.

Saturday - Talk, "The Solar System and Mars, Mars, Mars!!!"