The Planetary Society, a nonprofit founded in 1980 by Carl Sagan, Bruce Murray, and Louis Friedman to inspire and involve the world's public in space exploration through advocacy, projects, and education, has announced a gift of $4.2 million — the largest in its history — from a society member who wishes to remain anonymous.
The organization will use the gift to expand its portfolio of technology, research, advocacy, and education programs, including the LightSail solar sail mission and a program that supports the efforts of skilled amateur astronomers to discover, track, and characterize near-Earth objects. The gift also will support the Laser Bees project, an asteroid-deflection concept that envisions a swarm of small laser-carrying spacecraft able to vaporize portions of an asteroid, this deflecting it out of harm’s way; the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) project; exoplanet detection; the Carl Sagan Fund for the Future; and advocacy, education and outreach efforts.
"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'."