Planetary Society: Funding innovative space exploration projects

Are we alone in the universe? Is there, or has there ever been, life on other planets? What is the origin, as well as the future, of the cosmos? These are just a few of the many questions that can be answered with the help of space exploration, and unanswered questions like these are why organizations like Planetary Society exist. 

Founded by Carl Sagan, Louis Friedman, and Bruce Murrary in 1980, Planetary Society is now the largest and most influential non-profit space organisation in the world. It’s comprised of thousands of volunteers and more than 50,000 members in more than 100 countries across the globe. Leading the way is CEO Bill Nye, a popular and charismatic scientist who inspires people of all ages.  

To learn more about what The Planetary Society is all about, and how it has been able to connect so many people from all over the world, we caught up with their partnerships manager, Whitney Pratz. 

Lightsail is one of The Planetary Society's projects

Based in the U.S. with a global reach

Based in the United States, The Planetary Society works to inspire citizens around the globe to embrace and advance space science. By bridging the gap between the general public and the scientific community individuals from all walks of life can discover the extraordinary insights that can be derived from venturing beyond Planet Earth. 

In addition to funding various science and engineering projects geared towards space exploration, the Society also helps guide space policy on a governmental level by working to ensure that NASA has the funding necessary to continue their work. 

The Society even gets ordinary people involved by crowdfunding space technologies and projects, and by giving citizens a stronger voice in advocating for space exploration. You certainly don’t need to be a science expert to support the work of this incredible group, and there are many ways that anyone can participate, from simply becoming a member, to volunteering, or even going on thrilling expeditions.     

“Carl Sagan founded the Society to keep citizens participating in, advocating for, and educating themselves on space exploration. We're trying to be the citizen link in the endeavor of space exploration. We can work with government agencies and private companies with the public to bring a cohesive voice to lawmakers to make sure space exploration is still happening.”

But The Planetary Society doesn’t only support efforts in the United States; it also aims to help other countries find ways of answering some of science’s biggest questions. Take, for example, their recent work in Australia. With the help of Planetary Society, the Australian government has created its own space agency, which officially commenced operations on July 1 2018.

The Planetary Society is supporting efforts to study outer space

Supporting innovative efforts to study outer space

According to Planetary Society, the individuals who make up their organisation “aim to foster a scientifically literate populace” and “provide seed-funding to innovative technologies.”

 

They also “fund astronomers hunting for hazardous asteroids and planets orbiting other stars,” which means they actively work in planetary defense, in addition to searching for extraterrestrial life. Fascinating!

The best part is that you can visit their website to see some of the projects that you can support. By taking action, you can help experts find answers to complex questions about life on Earth and on other planets. 

“People become members [because] they love space and they want to be involved even if they aren't an engineer or a scientist."

The Planetary Society educates the public on space exploration

Education is the key

The Society also places an emphasis on education, with a goal to inspire individuals to help fund projects that will focus on outer space. By showcasing all of the wondrous things that humanity has already discovered, and can continue to uncover, by going into space, more people can realize the importance of supporting this type of exploration. 

“We work to educate the public through our social media channels, and we have a quarterly journal and a podcast. Also, our blog is the biggest driver to our website. And we're hoping to work with children and get content out there to get kids excited about space, too. Then we also either create or seed fund science and tech projects that we think will really advance our ability to explore space.”
The Society's funding comes through their memberships

Receiving and giving much needed funding

Planetary Society raises money towards launching amazing endeavors in space. But how do they get all of the funding that they need for such large-scale projects?

“Funding mainly comes through our memberships, and then we do direct appeals to that membership for specific programs and projects. Membership is where the bulk of our funding comes from, so it’s almost all private donations that allow our projects to happen."

“The main reason why people become members of Planetary Society is that they love space and they want to be involved even if they aren't an engineer or a scientist.”

It’s all about being able to make an impact in the world of space exploration and scientific discovery, no matter where you are located or what you do for a living.

International space projects

Using OFX to fund international projects

Funding international projects is no easy task, but with the right money transfer service, a for-profit or non-profit business can send money securely and swiftly across borders. 

To help accomplish their mission of funding various space projects around the world, Planetary Society uses OFX. They’re able to set up transfers 24/7, so they can work globally without skipping a beat. And because they save money by avoiding high bank margins and fees, this strategy supports their ability to continue their not-for-profit mission of journeying into space and sharing their breakthroughs with the public.

Outer space

Ready to be part of The Planetary Society?

Being able to get involved in organizations like Planetary Society is empowering. After all, they’re working hard to inspire growth and positive change around the world through education, innovation, and the building of an active support network for projects that can make new discoveries about life in the universe.  

We can’t wait to see what new awe-inspiring projects will be funded with the help of Planetary Society and its members in the future!


Photo credit: NASA and Planetary Society 

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Welcome to the Where the World's Moving content series that celebrates what it means to be a global citizen told through the eyes of the people that are living and breathing this ethos every day.