|By Business Wire||
|March 17, 2014 06:40 PM EDT||
The Planetary Society, founded by Carl Sagan and today the world’s leading space interest group, has announced a donation of $4.2 million, the largest single donation in its history. The donor, who wishes to remain anonymous, is a member of the Society.
“This remarkable gift from a Planetary Society Member will enable us to continue to advance space science and exploration for the betterment of humankind,” said Bill Nye, The Science Guy and Planetary Society CEO. “We want everyone everywhere to understand our cosmos and, importantly, our place within it. This gift will have a major impact on getting us there. I share our donor’s confidence that this gift will spur others to give, knowing their donations will go even further.”
The Society plans to use this generous donation to aggressively expand its unique portfolio of technology, research, advocacy and education programs, including:
- The LightSail® solar sail mission, developing two cubesat spacecraft at low-cost with revolutionary new solar sail technology to maneuver in space using pure sunlight.
Planetary Defense. The Society runs the Gene Shoemaker Near
Earth Objects Grant program, which to date has provided over $300,000
of needed funding to highly skilled amateur astronomers to discover
and track near-Earth objects.
This $4.2 million gift will continue the support of the Society’s Laser Bees project, an asteroid deflection concept using a swarm of small spacecraft to emit laser bursts to vaporize portions of the asteroid’s surface and push the asteroid slowly out of harm’s way.
- Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI). Partnered with Harvard professor Dr. Paul Horowitz, the program searches the skies for bursts of high-intensity light that could be the signature of intelligent civilizations.
- Exoplanet Detection. Supporting Yale researcher Debra Fischer and her team to search for exoplanets around our nearest stellar companions at Alpha Centauri.
- Space Advocacy. The Planetary Society plays a critical role in the education and empowerment of the public to participate in the political decisions of space exploration.
- Education and Outreach. This gift will support expansion of the Society’s education materials and websites, including the Society’s ad-free website, www.planetary.org; the newly created Bruce Murray Space Image Library; and the highly informative full-color quarterly magazine, The Planetary Report, including the popular student content weekly podcast and the public radio series, Planetary Radio, now in its 11th year.
- The Carl Sagan Fund for the Future. Named in honor of the Society’s co-founder Carl Sagan, this growing reserve fund ensures the long-term financial health of the Society.
The Planetary Society will also use the newly donated funds to increase staff in crucial areas, including education, marketing and development, which will help to grow membership and position the organization for continued expansion.
Bill Nye noted that the gift coincides with The Planetary Society’s strategic planning process. “The timing of this amazing gift is terrific, because our President Jim Bell just spearheaded a survey of our Members on where their Planetary Society should be heading. The additional funding enables us to think big and integrate our Members’ insights and recommendations.”
“This is a defining moment for The Planetary Society,” said Board Chair Daniel T. Geraci, “We now have the opportunity to make the kind of impactful decisions that will truly 'change the world.'”