Salley Rayl head shot

A.J.S. Rayl

Contributing Editor, The Planetary Society

A.J.S. Rayl is an author, investigative journalist, and creative writer who has contributed to Planetary Society publications since 2002. She produced the monthly Mars Exploration Rovers Update from 2004 to 2019.

Her work has also appeared in Air & SpaceAstronomyDiscoverOMNIReader’s DigestRolling StoneSmithsonian, the Los Angeles TimesThe, and Wired, among others, as well as in medical and science journals, ranging from Applied Neurology to The Planetary Report.

Salley, as longtime friends and colleagues know her, has also authored and co-authored books, including Beatles ’64: A Hard Day’s Night in America (Doubleday, 1989), a unique collaboration with photojournalist Curt Gunter, deemed by Rolling Stoneas one of the “essential 11 books” on The Beatles, and The Commissioning of USS Minnesota SSN-783, co-author (Lifetouch, 2013). She has also authored special event publications, such as Nobel Conference journals (1996-’99, 2000-’09); Lindbergh, the official international publication celebrating the 75thanniversary of Charles Lindbergh’s pioneering solo Transatlantic flight from New York to Paris (Primarius Promotion, 2002); and contributed to others, including Give Peace A Chance: Music and the Struggle for Peace (Chicago Review Press, 1983); and NASA 50 (2008).

While some of her works are cited at ResearchGate and Wikipedia, as well as in academic books and papers, others have led to appearances on television and radio shows ranging from Todayto the Oliver North Radio Show.

Like many Earthlings, Salley took to Mars since her first ‘visit’ there with Ray Bradbury in The Martian Chronicles. But the rockets that could take her to the Red Planet for real were nowhere near ready when she finished work on her Master’s degree in journalism at the University of Arizona. So, she headed to California to launch her career, sights set on the planet of rock’n roll. 

After spending what she calls “the party of my youth” covering the music scene for various rock magazines, producing a nationally syndicated pop music news radio show, working as a writer-editor on staff at Rolling Stone, and west coast correspondent for People magazine, she transitioned to covering familial fields of science and medicine, writing for the venerated OMNI magazine, and other science and medical publications. 

Mars orbited back into view in 1991 when she launched from NASA Ames on a virtual cruise around the planet while on assignment for the Los Angeles Times Magazine, and Salley has been “seeing red” ever since. She covered Mars and other missions, as well as news events for, and penned features on Galileo, Voyager, ESA’s Mars Express/Beagle, JAXA’s Hayabusa, and MER for The Planetary Report. Then, in 2007 she began focusing her time at the Society on MER exclusively. 

Lucky enough to experience Martian gravity along with Buzz Aldrin on the maiden voyages of Zero Gravity Corp’s G-Force One near Los Angeles, a trip she embarked on for Air & Space magazine, she’s ready to suit up. But the rockets still aren’t ready. 

Nevertheless, however vicariously, Salley goes to Mars all the time these days with the MER team. In addition to The MER Update, she has also written about Spirit and Opportunity for Discover and Reader’s Digest, and is now working on a book about this legendary mission that will draw from the hundreds of exclusive interviews and stories she has accumulated since 2003. 

Latest Articles

The Mars Exploration Rovers Update: The Final Report

It’s a fall afternoon at Endeavour Crater. The summer winds finally lost their energy and the dust storm season is over. But there are no more signals coming from Earth. No more comm sessions with the orbiters. Nothing like it used to be.

The Mars Exploration Rovers Update Special Report: NASA Declares Opportunity and MER Mission 'Complete'

At around 8 pm February 12, 2019, Pacific Standard Time (PST), the final commands were transmitted to Opportunity, the Mars Exploration Rover that defied all odds.

The Mars Exploration Rovers Update: Opportunity Logs 15th Year in Silence, Team Begins 'Hail Mary' Efforts

As a string of dust storms moved through Meridiani Planum and over Endeavour Crater in January, Opportunity silently wrapped her fifteenth year on the surface of Mars.

Latest Planetary Radio Appearances

10 Years A Roving: A.J.S. Rayl on the Mars Exploration Rovers

What a long, wonderful trip it has been for Spirit and Opportunity, the Mars Exploration Rovers. Planetary Society reporter A.J.S. Rayl has been writing about their adventure every month for ten years. She looks back on this week’s show.