MIT EAPS Directory

Sara Seager

Class of 1941 Professor of Planetary Sciences
Secondary Appointment - Physics

Sara Seager is an astrophysicist and planetary scientist. Her science research focuses on theory, computation, and data analysis of exoplanets. Her research has introduced many new ideas to the field of exoplanet characterization, including work that led to the first detection of an exoplanet atmosphere. Professor Seager’s space instrumentation group is focusing on “ExoplanetSat”, a 3U CubeSat capable of high precision pointing, with the science goal of detecting small transiting exoplanets orbiting bright, sun-like stars. The prototype is intended to be the first of a planned fleet of nanosatellites, aimed to demonstrate the graduated growth of a constellation as a new paradigm for space science missions. In addition to being the PI of ExoplanetSat, Professor Seager is co-leading CommCube, a platform to demonstrate novel small satellite space communication technology, and is involved in the MIT-Harvard REXIS instrument on NASA’s OSIRIS-REx asteroid sample return mission.

Before joining MIT in 2007, Professor Seager spent four years on the senior research staff at the Carnegie Institution of Washington preceded by three years at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, NJ.

Seager has been recognized in the media by Popular Science Magazine’s Fifth Annual Brilliant Ten in 2006, Discover Magazine’s “Best 20 under 40″ in 2008, Nature’s Top Ten in 2011, and Time Magazine’s 25 Most Influential in Space in 2012.

Wikipedia

Publications

Seager S., Bains W., and Petkowski J.J. (2016), Toward a List of Molecules as Potential Biosignature Gases for the Search for Life on Exoplanets and Applications to Terrestrial Biochemistry, Astrobiology. April 2016, ahead of print. doi: 10.1089/ast.2015.1404

Demory, B. O. and Ehrenreich, D. and Queloz, D. and Seager, S., et al. (2015) Hubble Space Telescope search for the transit of the Earth-mass exoplanet a Centauri B b Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, vol. 450, no. 2, pp. 2043-2051, doi: 10.1093/mnras/stv673

Desert, J. M. and Charbonneau, D. and Torres, G. and Fressin, F., et al. (2015) LOW FALSE POSITIVE RATE OF KEPLER CANDIDATES ESTIMATED FROM A COMBINATION OF SPITZER AND FOLLOW-UP OBSERVATIONS Astrophysical Journal, vol. 804, no. 1, doi: 10.1088/0004-637x/804/1/59

Hu, R. Y. and Demory, B. O. and Seager, S. and Lewis, N. and Showman, A. P. (2015) A SEMI-ANALYTICAL MODEL OF VISIBLE-WAVELENGTH PHASE CURVES OF EXOPLANETS AND APPLICATIONS TO KEPLER-7 B AND KEPLER-10 B Astrophysical Journal, vol. 802, no. 1, doi: 10.1088/0004-637x/802/1/51

Hu, R. Y. and Seager, S. and Yung, Y. L. (2015) HELIUM ATMOSPHERES ON WARM NEPTUNE- AND SUB-NEPTUNE-SIZED EXOPLANETS AND APPLICATIONS TO GJ 436bAstrophysical Journal, vol. 807, no. 1, doi: 10.1088/0004-637x/807/1/8

Awards

Honorary Ph.D., University of British Columbia (2015) | Fellow, National Academy of Sciences (2015) | MacArthur Fellow (2013) | Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science (2012) | John Bahcall Lectureship, STScI and GSFC/HST (2009) | Helen B. Warner Prize, American Astronomical Society (2007) | Bok Prize in Astronomy, Harvard University (2004) | Keck Fellowship, Institute for Advanced Study (2000-2002) | NSERC Science and Technology Fellowship (Canada) (1990-1994)