You can watch the International Mars Society's 2020 convention online today for free

The planet Mars has been a target for space exploration for decades, but 2020 stands out with three different missions from the U.S., China and UAE now headed to the Red Planet. The International Mars Society will celebrate those missions, the search for life and more in a virtual convention this week and you can tune in live. 

The Mars Society's 2020 Convention is underway now and will run through Oct.18, with over 150 speakers over four days. The daily schedule is based on a U.S. Pacific Daylight Time, beginning at 9 a.m. PDT and ending at 10 p.m. PDT (12 p.m. EDT to 1 a.m. EDT/1600-0500 GMT). You can see a full schedule of events here.

Online registration is free (though the Society does encourage a $50 donation, if possible), with live webcasts, panels and discussions airing on YouTube and Facebook. 

Mars Society founder Robert Zubrin, author of 2019's "The Case for Space," will kicked the convention off with an opening plenary speech Thursday. 

SpaceX CEO and founder Elon Musk, who has said building a Mars settlement has been a longtime goal, will speak at the convention on Friday (Oct. 16) at 3 p.m. PDT (6 p.m. EDT/2200 GMT). 

A special panel on the search for life in our solar system will air on Friday night (Oct. 16) from 7:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. PDT (10:30-11:30 p.m. EDT/0230-0330 GMT). 

On Saturday (Oct. 17), NASA chief Jim Bridenstine will give a keynote address on the agency's Artemis program to return astronauts to the moon by 2024 and then aim for Mars. 

To learn more about the Mars Society, its 2020 convention and how to join or support the group, visit its website here:

Day 1 Plenaries

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Tariq Malik

Tariq is the Editor-in-Chief of and joined the team in 2001, first as an intern and staff writer, and later as an editor. He covers human spaceflight, exploration and space science, as well as skywatching and entertainment. He became's Managing Editor in 2009 and Editor-in-Chief in 2019. Before joining, Tariq was a staff reporter for The Los Angeles Times covering education and city beats in La Habra, Fullerton and Huntington Beach. In October 2022, Tariq received the Harry Kolcum Award for excellence in space reporting from the National Space Club Florida Committee. He is also an Eagle Scout (yes, he has the Space Exploration merit badge) and went to Space Camp four times as a kid and a fifth time as an adult. He has journalism degrees from the University of Southern California and New York University. You can find Tariq at and as the co-host to the This Week In Space podcast with space historian Rod Pyle on the TWiT network. To see his latest project, you can follow Tariq on Twitter @tariqjmalik.