The Planetary Society Welcomes Bethany Ehlmann to Board of Directors

Planetary scientist brings Mars, space policy and public outreach expertise

For Immediate Release
February 20, 2019

Danielle Gunn
Email: [email protected]
Phone: +1-626-793-5100

Pasadena, CA (February 20, 2019) — The Planetary Society, the world’s largest independent space interest organization, announced the appointment of Bethany Ehlmann, professor of planetary science at Caltech and research scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, to its Board of Directors.

Dr. Ehlmann brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise in Mars’ environmental history, the mineralogy and the chemistry of planetary surfaces, remote sensing techniques and instruments, astrobiology, science policy and public outreach. She is a member of the science teams for the Mars Exploration Rovers, the CRISM imaging spectrometer on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover, and the upcoming Mars 2020 rover. She was an affiliate of the Dawn orbiter mission team exploring Ceres, is on the EMIT space station-based imaging spectrometer team that will measure mineralogy of Earth’s dust source regions, and is working to propose mission and instrument concepts for Europa, Venus, the Moon, the Mars moons, asteroids, and Earth. In 2018, she published Dr. E’s Super Stellar Solar System with National Geographic.

"I'm excited to join the Planetary Society’s Board of Directors. Humans are fundamentally explorers, and space is indeed the final frontier,” said Dr. Ehlmann. “I'm looking forward to sharing the excitement of exploration and discovery, and laying the foundation for expanding space exploration for generations to come."

She is a 2013 National Geographic Emerging Explorer, a former Mineralogical Society of America Distinguished Lecturer, a recipient of the American Geophysical Union’s Macelwane medal, the American Astronomical Society Planetary Science Division Urey prize, and COSPAR’s Zeldovich medal, as well as NASA Group Achievement Awards.

Originally from Tallahassee, FL, after bachelor’s and masters degrees at Washington University in St. Louis and the University of Oxford, respectively, she earned her Ph.D. and master’s in geological sciences as a National Science Foundation graduate fellow at Brown University. She was a European Union Marie Curie Fellow at the Institut d’Astrophysique Spatiale, Orsay, France.

Responsible for governing and setting the organization’s policies and future directions, The Planetary Society’s volunteer Board of Directors is made up of leaders chosen for their passion for and knowledge of space exploration and business leadership.

“Our Board of Directors is extraordinary,” said Bill Nye, CEO. “We have world-class leaders in academia, the arts, astronomy, astrophysics, planetary science, geology, investing, space policy, education, and history. There are a few patent holders, too. They bring the essential expertise and a powerful perspective that empowers the world’s citizens to advance space science and exploration. That’s what we do.”

With the new addition, the Board now comprises 12 leaders: Daniel T. Geraci, chairman; James Bell, president; Heidi Hammel, vice president; Bill Nye, CEO; C. Wallace Hooser, secretary; Lon Levin, treasurer; Bethany Ehlmann; John Logsdon; Robert Picardo; Britney Schmidt; Bijal “Bee” Thakore; Fillmore Wood.

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