HALIFAX — Sara Seager has pledged to spend the rest of her life searching for another Earth among the billions of stars that inhabit our night sky.
“That’s our goal: to find life out there,” the Toronto-born astrophysicist says in a distinctly assured monotone, as if describing a walk to the local mall.
The highly acclaimed professor, who is scheduled to deliver a lecture on the heady topic later this week in Halifax, says the lofty objective is well within reach for the first time in human history.
And she should know.
“Forty years ago, people got laughed at when they searched for exoplanets,” she says, referring to planets found beyond our solar system. “It was considered incredibly fringe because it’s so hard … But there’s this shifting line of what is crazy.”
Seager, who teaches at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is considered one of the world’s leading experts on exoplanets. She has been profiled by The New York Times, CNN and Cosmopolitan, and won a MacArthur “genius” grant.
In the field of astronomy, she is a certified rock star.
Ultimately, her research could help answer some of the biggest questions facing humankind. But first, Seager and her team have plenty of work to do.
And that’s what she plans to talk about Friday when she delivers the third annual MacLennan Memorial Lecture at Saint Mary’s University.
Her mission to find alien life somewhere in the cosmos may sound like it was borrowed from an episode of “The-X Files,” but recent advances in astrophysics suggest this pioneer of planet hunting has good reason to be optimistic.