Sara Seager

Class of 1941 Professor of Planetary Sciences
Secondary Appointments - Physics & AeroAstro

Contact Info:

Office Phone






Kayla Bauer 617.253.9641

Planetary scientist and astrophysicist leading the field of exoplanet detection, characterization, and the search for life on other planets.

Professor Sara Seager is an astrophysicist and a Professor of Physics, Professor of Planetary Science, and a Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where she holds the Class of 1941 Professor Chair.  She has been a pioneer in the vast and unknown world of exoplanets, planets that orbit stars other than the sun. Her ground-breaking research ranges from the detection of exoplanet atmospheres to innovative theories about life on other worlds to development of novel space mission concepts.

In space missions for planetary discovery and exploration, she was the Deputy Science Director of the MIT-led NASA Explorer-class mission TESS; she was PI of the JPL-MIT CubeSat ASTERIA; is a lead of the Starshade Rendezvous Mission (a space-based direct imaging exoplanet discovery concept under technology development) to find a true Earth analog orbiting a Sun-like star; and most recently has directed a mission concept study to find signs of life or life itself in the Venutian atmosphere and is PI of a small mission to Venus targeted for launch in 2023.

Her research earned her a MacArthur “genius” grant and other accolades including: membership in the US National Academy of Sciences; the Sackler Prize in the Physical Sciences, the Magellanic Premium Medal; and has been awarded one of Canada’s highest civilian honors, appointment as an Officer of the Order of Canada. Professor Seager is the author of, “The Smallest Lights in the Universe: A Memoir”.

Seager has been recognized in the media by Time Magazine’s 25 Most Influential in Space in 2012, Nature’s Top Ten in 2011, Discover Magazine’s “Best 20 under 40″ in 2008, and Popular Science Magazine’s Fifth Annual Brilliant Ten in 2006. She has Asteroid 9729 named in her honor.

Key Awards & Honors

  • 2021 • Magellanic Premium Medal, American Philosophical Society
  • 2020 • Officer of the Order of Canada
  • 2015 • Fellow, National Academy of Sciences
  • 2013 • MacArthur Foundation Fellow
  • 2012 • Raymond and Beverly Sackler Prize in the Physical Sciences