Professor Sara Seager of MIT leads an exciting research project involving exoplanet discovery and atmospheric analysis. Sara Seager is a very accomplished Professor of Planetary Science, Astrophysics and Aerospace Engineering. Sara and her team are developing a probabilistic framework for analyzing biosignature gases in the atmospheres of exoplanets as they transit in front of their distant sun-like star. They are focusing their search for the presence of suitable biologically-produced oxygen caused by life but not naturally occurring in a harsh environment due to volcanoes or other non-life sources.
Team Seager’s search to discover planets in the “Goldilocks zone” is being done through several means. Miniature satellite cubes will be deployed via the ASTERIA (Arcsecond Space Telescope Enabling Research in Astrophysics) prototype CubeSat program. The Seager team and colleagues have developed a new method to stabilize telescopes and improve pointing precision on low-cost satellites. The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) is planned for launch on a SpaceX rocket in the Spring of 2018 as part of NASA’s Explorers program mission. She has also secured telescope time on the James Webb Next Generation Space Telescope to observe one of the recently discovered TRAPPIST planets and to help characterize prime targets located by TESS.
We are exceedingly honored to announce this new partnership with MIT. It is a great pleasure for the Change Happens Foundation to support such a remarkable catalyst in the search for another world that might support life beyond Earth.