The Planetary Society and its members actively work to create the future we want to see in space. We expand public knowledge of space exploration, shape space policy and fight for future exploration, and invest in innovative space science and technology. Here are some of our current and past projects from our first 40 years. You can also view a timeline showcasing some of these projects here.

STEP Grants: Science and Technology Empowered by the Public

The Planetary Society's STEP Grants fund innovative science and technology projects that advance solar system exploration, bolster the search for life, and help defend Earth from dangerous asteroids.

LightSail, a Planetary Society solar sail spacecraft

LightSail is a citizen-funded project from The Planetary Society to send a small spacecraft, propelled solely by sunlight, to Earth orbit.

Gene Shoemaker Near-Earth Object Grants

The Planetary Society's Shoemaker NEO grant program funds advanced amateur astronomers to find, track, and characterize potentially hazardous near-Earth objects.


Since 2009, Planetary Society members have supported work by Debra Fischer, one of the world's top exoplanet researchers. These projects have greatly improved our ability to search for Earth-like exoplanets.


PlanetVac is a low-cost, Planetary Society-supported technology that simplifies the process of collecting samples from other worlds.

Cosmos 1

The Planetary Society's first solar sail launched in 2005 aboard an ill-fated Russian rocket.

Planetary Deep Drill

Planetary Deep Drill is designed to explore tens, hundreds or even thousands of meters below the Martian polar ice caps and Europa's icy crust.


Over the years we've sponsored many searches for signals from intelligent beings.

Laser Bees

The Planetary Society funded efforts to test a new method to deflect threatening asteroids from Earth impact.

Microrovers for Assisting Humans

The Planetary Society and Cornell University studied small rovers that could assist humans on Mars.

The Pioneer Anomaly

Something strange was happening to the Pioneer spacecraft in the outer reaches of the solar system. The Planetary Society helped solve the mystery.


The Living Interplanetary Flight Experiment was a project to investigate the potential for life to travel from planet to planet, safely ensconced inside rocks blasted from planetary surfaces by large impacts.

Mars Microphones

NASA's Perseverance sent home audio from Mars in 2021, fulfilling a 25-year Planetary Society effort that included a crowdfunded microphone sent to the Red Planet in 1999.


A Planetary Society expedition sent members to Belize to search for evidence of the Chixculub asteroid impact that wiped out the dinosaurs.

Rover Tests

In the early 1990s The Planetary Society sponsored Mars rover tests in California’s Death Valley, helping pave the way for NASA rover missions.

Mars Balloon

Planetary Society members supported testing of a Mars Balloon slated to fly on the Soviet Union’s Mars ‘96 mission. Although the mission was canceled, the effort led to the Society’s role in helping to develop rover technology.

The Congressional Planetary Science Caucus

The Planetary Science Caucus is a bipartisan, bicameral congressional caucus dedicated to the promotion of planetary science and exploration, increasing awareness of the benefits of planetary exploration to industry and academia, and the search for life.

The Pluto Campaign

The Planetary Society spent years advocating for a mission to Pluto, and ultimately helped NASA's New Horizons spacecraft reach the launch pad.

Humans Orbiting Mars

The Planetary Society's 2015 workshop brought together representatives from NASA, the scientific community, academia, and government to produce a report outlining a sustainable, affordable pathway to send humans to Mars.

The Planetary Exploration Budget Dataset

The cost per mission, per year, for every robotic planetary exploration effort in NASA's history.

Europa Mission

A mission to Jupiter's icy moon Europa was our top advocacy priority from 2013 until NASA safely funded Europa Clipper, which is scheduled to launch in the mid-2020s.

Mission Advocacy

The Planetary Society has advocated for countless space missions since our founding. One example: this 1983 letter from Carl Sagan urging NASA to send a mission to Saturn and Titan.

International Cooperation

During the Cold War between the United States and Soviet Union, The Planetary Society led and sponsored multiple efforts to bring scientists from the two nations together.

Planetary Radio

Subscribe to The Planetary Society's flagship podcast and radio show, which has been bringing you news and feature interviews from the world of planetary exploration for nearly 20 years.

The Planetary Report

The Planetary Report is the internationally recognized flagship magazine of The Planetary Society, featuring lively articles and full-color photos to provide comprehensive coverage of discoveries on Earth and other planets.

The Bruce Murray Space Image Library

The Planetary Society’s Bruce Murray Space Image Library is a unique collection of photos and videos from the world’s space agencies, as well as artwork, diagrams, and amateur-processed space images, many of which are not available elsewhere.


The latest stories from The Planetary Society, featuring humanity's quest to explore worlds, find life, and defend Earth.


The Planetary Society creates accessible educational videos to share the passion, beauty, and joy of space exploration. We also regularly host live events.

Online courses

Our free online courses will teach you to be a well-informed space advocate and how to defend Earth from dangerous asteroids.


The Planetary Society provided the initial seed funding for SETI@home, for which more than 5 million people participated donated spare computing power to help search for intelligent life.

Visions of Mars

Visions of Mars is a digital time capsule attached to NASA's Phoenix spacecraft on Mars, awaiting retrieval by future astronauts.

Red Rover Goes to Mars

The Planetary Society and the LEGO Company partnered to provide hands-on opportunities for students around the world to participate directly in real missions to Mars.

Messages from Earth

The Planetary Society has helped send millions of names on spacecraft throughout the solar system and beyond.

Planetary Defense Conferences

The Planetary Society has co-sponsored planetary defense conferences in Romania, Italy, Tokyo, and the United States—all in service of defending our planet from dangerous asteroids and comets.

Naming Contests

The Planetary Society has sponsored multiple naming contests for worlds and spacecraft over the years.


The Planetary Society has held multiple Planetfest celebrations for planetary encounters and landings since our founding.