Pioneer exoplanet research has helped turn the developing field into one of the fastest growing and most exciting fields in space science.
WITHIn 1941, Sarah Seager, a professor of planetary sciences, was elected a Canadian Order officer, one of the country’s highest civilian honors. The candidacy, announced by the Canadian governor-general last month, recognizes Seager “for his multifaceted research that has helped make the study of exotic planets a complete planetary science.”
Growing up in Ontario, Canada, Seager holds academic appointments in MIT’s Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences departments, in addition to dual U.S. and Canadian citizenship; Physics; and Aviation and Astronautics. The Canadian Order, consisting of eight comrades, 21 officers, one honorary member and 84 members, joins 114 newly appointed persons.
As a planetary scientist and astrophysicist, Seager is at the forefront of exoplanet research. When Seager began graduating from Harvard University in the mid-1990s, extraterrestrial research was a thriving field, largely based on theory. However, his pioneering work on planetary atmospheres, intra-planetary, and exoplanet transits paved the way for many little-known fields and contributed to its existence. His current research uses theoretical models to study in detail the exoplanetary atmospheres, their internal structure and composition, potential habitats, and gas signatures showing life.
His work on exoplanets and his motivation to find the first Earth-like world have led him to play a leading role in numerous space science missions, including the MIT leadership. NASA Mission Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), launched in April 2018, and the Starshade Rendezvous Mission, a space-based mission concept under the development of technology for the direct imaging discovery and characterization of underground analogues.
Seager’s work has received widespread acclaim, including being awarded the MacArthur Fellowship, the Raymond and Beverly Sackler Prize in Physical Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the National Academy of Sciences.
It brings together more than 7,000 people from all walks of Canadian society who have been recognized for their outstanding achievements, commitment to the community and service to the nation who have made an appointment for the Order of Canada. Upcoming honorary titles will be invited to receive the order’s iconic snowflake badges at a future ceremony.