The search for Signs of Life Beyond Earth

  • Duration: 60min
  • Language: English
  • Ages: All Ages
  • Date: October 21, 2020 20:00
  • Recorded: Live session with recording available afterwards
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For thousands of years, inspired by the star-filled dark night sky, people have wondered what lies beyond Earth. Today, the search for signs of life is a key factor in modern-day planetary exploration. Astronomers have found thousands of planets that orbit nearby stars, called “exoplanets”. Next-generation telescopes will enable us to study gases in rocky exoplanet atmospheres, including gases that might be attributed to life. Closer to home, astronomers have recently and unexpectedly detected phosphine gas on our sister planet Venus, which might possibly indicate the presence of life or may be explained by unusual chemistry. Professor Sara Seager, one of the world’s leading experts on the search for Earth-like planets and life beyond Earth, will share the latest advances in this revolutionary field.


Sara Seager is an astrophysicist and a professor of planetary science and physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Her research, which earned her a MacArthur Foundation “genius” grant, has introduced many foundational ideas to the field of exoplanets, and she led NASA’s Probe-class study team for the Starshade project. She is now at the forefront for the search for the first Earth-like exoplanets and signs of life on them. She is the author of “The Smallest Lights in the Universe: A Memoir”. She lives with her family in Concord, Massachusetts.