Plasma discharges have been used for more than 60 years to simulate the physical and chemical conditions in planetary atmospheres including the terrestrial ionosphere. However in recent years there has been an increase in such studies engendered by observational data from Titan, Saturn’s largest moon, revealing a complex ionosphere and results from Mars revealing a more complex chemistry than its simple CO2 atmosphere first suggested. Furthermore the development of astrobiology as a mature and rigorous scientific discipline, and with it studies of both the origin of life on Earth and potential for life on exoplanets, has led to the need for studies of chemistry in a wide range of planetary atmospheres. Plasma discharges have been used to explore the prebiotic chemistry of Earth since the classic Urey-Miller experiments of the 1960s and are now being updated to explore prebiotic chemistry in exoplanetary atmospheres and to test various scenarios of early Earth. In this presentation I will review this growing application of plasma science, discuss its strengths and weaknesses as a planetary atmosphere model and discuss how it may be developed in the future.