Alan Stern & New Horizons Team Receive the Cosmos Award

CEO Bill Nye and Colleagues Present Planetary Society Award for Outstanding Public Presentation of Science

For Immediate Release
October 12, 2016

Erin Greeson
Phone: +1-626-793-5100

Pasadena, CA -- The Planetary Society today announced New Horizons Principal Investigator Alan Stern and mission team as recipients of the Cosmos Award for Outstanding Public Presentation of Science. Alan Stern and the New Horizons mission team will receive the award for their work to engage the public throughout the history-making New Horizons Pluto system flyby and subsequent phases of scientific discoveries.

Bill Nye, Planetary Society CEO, Jim Bell, president of the Board of Directors, and Emily Lakdawalla, senior editor and planetary evangelist, will present the award to Stern and the New Horizons team at the joint American Astronomical Society Division for Planetary Sciences (AAS/DPS) and European Planetary Science Congress (EPSC) annual meeting, which is occurring October 17-21, 2016 in Pasadena, CA.

“Alan Stern and the New Horizons team embraced the July 2015 Pluto system flyby as an immense opportunity to engage and energize audiences worldwide,” said Bell, also a professor in the School of Earth and Space Exploration at Arizona State University.  “Through spectacular first-time photographs and storytelling, the New Horizons team sparked massive public interest not only in Pluto and its moons, but also in the excitement of modern scientific exploration in general.” Bell’s experience with the public presentation of science includes popular science books and immersive space photography.

“The Pluto flyby was an encounter with a whole new kind of world. The New Horizons team rapidly shared all their high-resolution photos and were open about both their challenges and achievements, inviting the worldwide public on their adventure. Professional and amateur scientists alike delighted in each new image, discovering Pluto’s steep mountains, nitrogen glaciers, broad plains, and breathtaking skies together.” said Lakdawalla. Lakdawalla, who covers New Horizons and other robotic missions for The Planetary Society, reported from the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory during the historic New Horizons Pluto flyby on July 14, 2015.

The Planetary Society created the Cosmos Award to honor innovators who follow in the tradition of presenting science and scientists in an accurate -- yet entertaining and engaging -- way. Previous recipients include: astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, filmmaker James Cameron, NOVA producer Paula Apsel and theoretical physicist/cosmologist Stephen Hawking.

Bill Nye, CEO, congratulated the newest recipients of the Cosmos Award.

“Alan Stern and the New Horizons team brought this mysterious world to Earth,” said Nye. “While they were executing a fantastic science mission, they did extraordinary work to engage the public. The images alone are astonishing; the data from New Horizons will enrich our understanding of our place in space for years to come. This mission advances The Planetary Society’s mission, to empower the world’s citizens to know the cosmos. The flyby made history for science and for Earth’s citizens who joined the journey. ” Nye concluded.

Bell added, “It’s especially rewarding to be able to recognize Alan and the team with this award from The Planetary Society, since so many of our members and staff have worked so hard to advocate for a mission to Pluto over the past decades.”

Two Cosmos Award presentations will occur during the AAS/DPS and EPSC annual meeting: the first for a primarily scientific audience of conference attendees on Monday, October 17, and the second at an open-to-the-public session of the conference on Thursday evening, October 20.

Media Resources

Video: Emily Lakdawalla Reports Onsite at New Horizons Pluto Flyby Event, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory:

Blog: Jim Bell: Alan Stern and New Horizons Mission Team Receive The Planetary Society’s Cosmos Award

Press Room:



New Horizons Team Celebrates Historic Pluto Flyby
New Horizons Team Celebrates Historic Pluto Flyby Image: Navid Baraty / The Planetary Society
Alan Stern and Bill Nye celebrate the Pluto Flyby at Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory
Alan Stern and Bill Nye celebrate the Pluto Flyby at Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory Image: Navid Baraty / The Planetary Society

About The Planetary Society

With a global community of more than 2 million space enthusiasts, The Planetary Society is the world’s largest and most influential space advocacy organization. Founded in 1980 by Carl Sagan, Bruce Murray, and Louis Friedman and today led by CEO Bill Nye, we empower the public to take a meaningful role in advancing space exploration through advocacy, education outreach, scientific innovation, and global collaboration. Together with our members and supporters, we’re on a mission to explore worlds, find life off Earth, and protect our planet from dangerous asteroids. To learn more, visit