The Planetary Society Welcomes Britney Schmidt and Robert Picardo to Board of Directors

Planetary Scientist and “Star Trek: Voyager” Actor Bring Unique Skills, Expertise

For Immediate Release
June 21, 2016

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

Pasadena, Calif. (June 21, 2016) – The Planetary Society, the world’s largest non-profit space interest organization, announced the appointment of two new members to its Board of Directors: Britney Schmidt, assistant professor, School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Georgia Institute of Technology, and actor Robert Picardo.

Dr. Schmidt brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise in small bodies, solar system ices, and the habitability of ocean worlds to the Board. Schmidt has been involved with NASA Science Definition Teams for NASA missions, including the development of the Europa Flagship Mission (Clipper), the 2012 and current Europa Lander mission concepts, and the Large Ultra-Violet, Optical, Infra-Red (LUVOIR) space telescope. She is a co-investigator on the Europa Flagship Radar Instrument and associate of the Dawn Mission. Schmidt also does field work in Antarctica, leading the development and deployment of underwater robotic vehicles beneath thick ice shelves to understand the habitability of Europa’s ice shell and ocean and the fate of ice at Earth’s poles.

“Britney Schmidt's expertise as a scientist and her passion as an advocate will add new force to our space policy efforts to secure a robust future for space exploration," said Dr. Heidi Hammel, vice president of the Board. "Her work on Europa and other research will advance our goals to explore other worlds and seek answers to questions about other life in the cosmos.”

A distinguished actor, longtime friend of The Planetary Society and member of the Advisory Council since 1999, Mr. Picardo joins the Board excited to help influence the world of space science and exploration. He is recognized around the globe for his portrayal of the curmudgeonly Holographic Doctor on seven seasons of “Star Trek: Voyager.” One of the two Voyager episodes Mr. Picardo also directed, "One Small Step," was a moving tribute to the pioneers of space exploration. He has guest starred on many popular television series and starred as Commander Woolsey on “Stargate Atlantis.” Mr. Picardo has appeared in over two dozen films, including the 2016 Coen brothers comedy, “Hail Caesar.”

“Robert Picardo's talent as an actor and his influence around the world as an advocate for science and exploration have immediately begun to advance our mission,” said Dr. Jim Bell, president of the Board of Directors. “His ability to inspire people to explore space is invaluable, and he has already started engaging our audiences in very fun, informative ways.” For example, Picardo recently launched The Planetary Post, a monthly video newsletter from The Planetary Society.

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.

“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 two new members, the Board now comprises 14 leaders: chairman, Daniel T. Geraci; president, James Bell; vice president, Heidi Hammel; CEO, Bill Nye; secretary, C. Wallace Hooser; treasurer, Lon Levin; G. Scott Hubbard; Alexis Livanos; John Logsdon; Robert Picardo; Britney Schmidt; Bijal “Bee” Thakore; Neil deGrasse Tyson; 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