Red Planet Bound

Blog: Mars Ambassadors are Catalysts for Change

By James Melton, PhD, Mars Society Chief Ambassador

Red Planet Bound Blog


In the dark stillness of the night, zero four hundred hours a Zoom link is clicked in Pakistan. Nasir reaches for his notepad for the call. Simultaneously, in Australia, at 0700 hours at dawn, Jonathan is ready for work, but before leaving, he clicks on the Zoom link. In the United Kingdom, at 10:00 PM, Emma and Steve join in. At 4:00 PM in Austin and San Antonio John and Ron are ready. Click, click, click around the world, every time zone.

Suddenly our Zoom link goes live: “Welcome to the Mars Society Ambassador Briefing. It’s 2:00 PM Pacific Time. I’m James Melton, Chief Ambassador for the Mars Society. The Mars Society Ambassador program serves as a professional team of volunteers, Mars Ambassadors, dedicated to elevating public awareness of our mission to send humans to Mars and begin settling the Red Planet. To help move this initiative forward, this is your invitation to join the Mars Society Ambassadors.

Our Mars Society monthly virtual meetings are one-hour programs where Mars Society Ambassadors interact with and support other Ambassadors, sharing stories of events they organized or attended; chapter meetings, the people they met, and insights they gained from their presentations. Guest speakers share current space endeavors and events relating to Mars. Our Mars Society currently has 42 Ambassadors in 17 countries around our home planet. Participating ambassadors are encouraged to join in monthly meetings to connect with, learn, and share their experiences in Mars advocacy.

The Mars Society Ambassador program was initiated on January 10th, 2020. After completing a lecture, Why Mars? Why Now? at the Denver Country Club, my wife, Dana, and I visited Dr. Robert Zubrin, President, and Founder of the Mars Society. We enjoyed a couple of hours talking about the upcoming International Mars Society Convention. Then the topic switched to, “Robert, what would you think about starting a volunteer ambassador program for the Mars Society? Ambassadors can help expand our visibility and generate and inspire new ideas and methods to further the organization’s mission of settling humans on Mars.” Robert said, in his simple and succinct manner, “Good idea, Jim.” Robert is always very much to the point, I believe you might call it, focus, dedication, and discipline.


That started our volunteer ambassador program. I began by writing a detailed manual of procedures, policies, and criteria; created a distinctive Ambassador Patch, and then designed an interview process to qualify to be a Mars Society Ambassador. Being 21 years of age and a member of the Mars Society are two of the requirements. Another is to give at least three public or virtual presentations a year. Our manual includes guidelines for effective short presentations to potential audiences.

The overall umbrella of ambassador responsibilities is to raise awareness of the Mars Society’s mission to land humans on Mars. Our volunteers communicate the excitement of NASA, SpaceX, Blue Origin, and other space exploration missions. This includes sharing information about current news and recent space discoveries in their communities or countries. Ambassador Jonas Narh of Arizona has started a Mars Society chapter partnering with his local college. Ambassador Ron Storie of Texas holds regular meetings with the chapter he established. Ambassador Ashton Zeth of Washington reaches out to a wide audience through her monthly video podcast, Red Planet Live. I also share my enthusiasm for this initiative with my monthly global broadcasts, writings, and lectures. People are clearly eager to hear the latest details about Mars and space exploration.

As an ambassador, you could attend in-person science fairs, trade shows, service clubs, astronomy group meetings, and other events where you would promote the Mars Society vision. You may also do all of this virtually, so it’s important to be familiar with social media platforms and how to best reach our mission’s target audience.

As an ambassador, you will need a thorough understanding of the Mars Society and its mission in order to be able to answer questions from the general public. This information includes the basics about when the Mars Society was formed, having access to the Founding Declarations of 1998 and being willing to engage knowledgeably in conversations. Our general understanding involves the Mars Society’s focus on its analog programs – the Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS) and the Flashline Mars Arctic Research Station (FMARS) – and its STEM education projects, along with its recently announced initiative – the Mars Technology Institute (MTI).

As an ambassador, you will work closely with the Mars Society Chief Ambassador (that would be me – Jim Melton), as well as Executive Director James Burk, and Public Relations Director Michael Stoltz to ensure that your work meets the goals of the Mars Society. A solid understanding of networking, good people skills, and a well-established social media presence are also very beneficial.


We are embarking on the greatest human endeavor in the history of our civilization. Soon, as humans set foot on the planet Mars, we will finally become a multi-planet species — a great achievement realized. In the entire future history of our solar system, this is the event and history that will be remembered. Not the invention of the light bulb. Not the polarization of our political system. Not even the winner of “Dancing with the Stars.” The people of the future will have imprinted in their history books how and when humanity first became a multi-planet species. They will remember what we did to make their civilization possible.

We are all playing a vital role that will allow this to unfold. The Mars Society Ambassadors are at the forefront of this movement to be the “change you wish to see in our world” (Gandi). We the people are the example that our children will follow as they create our future world. This is the most important thing we could do in our time. Only one question before we close. Can you make a difference? I believe you can. As Dr. Zubrin said, “If you have it in your ability to do something great, something important, something wonderful, then you must.” We are going to the Red Planet, and we are going soon! We need you now! To make a difference, Become a Mars Society Ambassador. Thank you!