The Planetary Society Announces Planetfest '21: To Mars and Back Again

Virtual conference and festival will feature experts and luminaries from across the space sector to celebrate the next era of Mars exploration.

For Immediate Release
February 02, 2021

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

Pasadena, CA (February 2, 2021) — With spacecraft from NASA, China, and the United Arab Emirates all arriving at Mars in February, The Planetary Society invites space enthusiasts from around the world to attend Planetfest '21: To Mars and Back Again, an unparalleled virtual conference and festival.

Taking place on 13 and 14 February, the virtual conference will feature panels and exclusive workshops by world-class experts from the space community. Attendees will learn more about the next era of Mars discovery and ways to level-up their involvement in the adventure of space exploration.

Speakers include:

  • Jim Bell, Principal Investigator of Perseverance’s Mastcam-Z
  • Brannon Braga, producer of Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey
  • Tory Bruno, CEO of United Launch Alliance
  • Bethany Ehlmann, President of The Planetary Society
  • Abigail Fraeman, Mars Curiosity Deputy Project Scientist
  • Mat Kaplan, Host of Planetary Radio
  • Omran Sharaf, Project Manager of the United Arab Emirates Hope Mars Mission
  • Katie Mack, Cosmologist
  • Rob Manning, Chief Engineer, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory
  • Derek Muller, Host of Veritasium
  • Hakeem Oluseyi, Astrophysicist
  • Britney Schmidt, Astrobiologist
  • Phil Plait, “The Bad Astronomer”
  • Bill Nye, CEO of The Planetary Society
  • Kim Stanley Robinson, Sci-fi author
  • Jessica Watkins, NASA astronaut
  • Andy Weir, Sci-fi author

All-access passes are $30 for the general public; $20 for Planetary Society members.

There are also two free public events being held as part of the festivities:

  • Saturday, 13 February, at 5:00pm PT / 1:30pm UTC - Planetary Society CEO Bill Nye will host Beyond the Horizon, a virtual fundraising gala to support The Planetary Society's mission to empower the world's citizens to advance space science and exploration. The virtual gala can be watched on YouTube, Facebook, and at

  • Thursday, 18 February, at 11:00am PT / 7:00pm UTC - Watch NASA's live stream of the Perseverance rover's dramatic descent to Mars with Bill Nye, Planetary Society President Bethany Ehlmann, and other special guests at The Planetary Society's landing watch party. The watch party can be viewed on YouTube, Facebook, and at

Planetfest ‘21 is proud to thank a growing list of sponsors who are helping to make this event possible, including Hypergiant, MOVA Globes, Celestron telescopes, Penguin Random House publishing, Caldwell Vineyard, Yugen, Spicy Ninja Sauce, Space Art Travel Bureau, and many more companies and non-profit partners.

Credentialed media are invited to attend the conference for free. Fill out this form to register.



Full speaker schedule:

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