Dr. Sara Seager, Prof of Planetary Science at MIT
Why Sci Interviews
Sara Seager is an esteemed astrophysicist, planetary scientist, and a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Holding the Class of 1941 Professor Chair, her groundbreaking research has largely focused on exoplanets, specifically those orbiting stars other than the sun. Her work includes the detection of exoplanet atmospheres, formulating innovative theories about life on other worlds, and developing novel space mission concepts.
Professionally, Seager has been deeply involved in several significant space missions. She served as the Deputy Science Director of the MIT-led NASA Explorer-class mission TESS (Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite) and was the Principal Investigator (PI) for the JPL-MIT CubeSat ASTERIA. Furthermore, she leads the Starshade Rendezvous Mission, an ambitious project under technology development aimed at direct imaging discovery and characterization of Earth analogs orbiting Sun-like stars.
Seager’s research also includes pioneering work on the Seager Equation, a variation of the Drake Equation, which focuses on the detection of habitable planets and the potential for life beyond Earth. Her equation emphasizes the search for planets with biosignature gases that could indicate the presence of life.
In recognition of her extraordinary contributions to science, Seager has received numerous honors and awards, including the MacArthur “genius” grant. She is a member of the US National Academy of Sciences and an Officer of the Order of Canada. Her influence in the field is further underscored by the Magellanic Premium Medal and her election as a Legacy Fellow of the American Astronomical Society.
In addition to her scientific pursuits, Seager has authored “The Smallest Lights in the Universe: A Memoir,” blending her personal journey with her professional quest in the world of astrophysics. Her work continues to inspire and propel the field of exoplanet research, impacting our understanding of the universe and the potential for life beyond our planet.
For more detailed information about her professional journey and contributions, visit her MIT Physics profile and her personal website.