The Planetary Society announced today that Dr. Wesley T.
Huntress, Jr. of the Carnegie Institution in Washington, D.C. and Dr.
Neil de Grasse Tyson of the Hayden Planetarium, New York, are taking
the helm of the organization as President and Vice-president of the
world’s largest space interest group. Dr. Bruce Murray, co-founder of
the Society and its president since 1997, is stepping up to the role
of Chairman of the Board of Directors.

Dr. Louis Friedman continues in his position as Executive Director of
The Planetary Society and as an officer on its Board of Directors.

"We are excited and gratified to have two outstanding leaders of
space science take over as principal officers of the Society,"
said Murray. "Both Wes and Neil are professionally identified
with the popularization of space exploration and are committed to the
vision of The Planetary Society. They insure a bright future for the
Society as we make our transition from founders of the organization
to successors."

The Planetary Society’s mission is to inspire the people of Earth
through education, research, and public participation to explore
other worlds and seek extraterrestrial life. Dedicated to the
peaceful, international exploration of space, the Society’s new
officers intend to lead the organization forward into a new era of
wonder and discovery throughout the solar system.

"I’m enthusiastic to take over as president of The Planetary
Society at a time when our message of peace and hope for the future
is more relevant than ever," said Huntress.

Huntress, who has served as Vice-President of the Society since 2000,
is elected as President of the Board for a five-year term. Tyson, a
member of the Board of Directors since 1997, is elected for a
three-year term as Vice-President.

"Having served as a board member for the past four years, I now
look forward to what more I can do for The Planetary Society in the
role of Vice President," said Tyson.

Huntress is the Director of the Geophysical Laboratory of the
Carnegie Institute of Washington, D.C.  As the Associate
Administrator for Space Sciences at NASA until 1998, he was a key
architect of the revitalization of the planetary exploration program
and of NASA’s new Origins program. Some of the planetary programs
that Dr. Huntress initiated while at NASA HQ include the Mars
mission, the Mars Surveyor Program for long-term
exploration of Mars, the Near-Earth Asteroid Rendezvous
mission, and the Discovery program of low-cost planetary missions.
Huntress enjoyed a 20-year career at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory as
an astrochemist before coming to NASA headquarters. While at JPL, Dr.
Huntress served as an investigator on the European Giotto
Halley’s Comet mission and was the pre-Project Scientist for the
Cassini mission, currently en route to Saturn.

Tyson is the first occupant of the Frederick P. Rose Directorship of
the Hayden Planetarium in New York. He is a Visiting Research
Scientist in astrophysics at Princeton University, where he also
teaches. Tyson was the project scientist for the reconstruction of
New York City’s Hayden Planetarium, which was re-born as part of the
acclaimed Rose Center for Earth and Space. Tyson’s professional
research interests are varied, but they include star formation,
exploding stars, and the chemical evolution of the Milky Way. He
writes a monthly column on the universe for Natural History
magazine and is frequently sought by the media to interpret cosmic
discoveries for the public. His recent books include a memoir, The
Sky is Not the Limit: Adventures of an Urban Astrophysicist
, and
the co-authored One Universe: At Home in the Cosmos, which won
the American Institute of Physics Science Writing Award for 2001.


Carl Sagan, Bruce Murray and Louis Friedman founded The Planetary
Society in 1980 to advance the exploration of the solar system and to
continue the search for extraterrestrial life. With 100,000 members
in over 140 countries, the Society is the largest space interest
group in the world.

For more information about The Planetary Society, contact Susan
Lendroth at (626) 793-5100 ext 237 or by e-mail at

The Planetary Society
65 N. Catalina Ave.
Pasadena, CA 91106-2301
Tel:  (626) 793-5100
Fax:  (626) 793-5528