Sara Seager and the Search for Exoplanets: Background information when reading The Smallest Lights in the Universe

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The Smallest Lights in the Universe

A Memoir

by Sara Seager

The Smallest Lights in the Universe by Sara Seager X
The Smallest Lights in the Universe by Sara Seager
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    Aug 2020, 320 pages

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Sara Seager and the Search for Exoplanets

This article relates to The Smallest Lights in the Universe

Exoplanets that resemble Earth discovered by Kepler Sara Seager, the author of The Smallest Lights in the Universe, is an astrophysicist who served as a chairperson on NASA's Starshade Project, a mission to locate intelligent life on planets outside of our Solar System, a.k.a "exoplanets" ("exo" is a Greek prefix meaning "outside"). Exoplanets are challenging to discover, in part because the nearest ones are still light years away from Earth. As of this writing, astronomers have discovered over 4,000 exoplanets from 703 distinct planetary systems.

NASA describes the goal of its exoplanet research program as "to discover and characterize Earth-like planets around our nearest neighbors, search for habitable conditions on those planets, and uncover signatures of life." They've used a variety of tools to find these planets, perhaps most notably the Kepler telescope. Kepler was installed in space in March 2009 and decommissioned in November 2018. During its operation, the telescope discovered 2,682 exoplanets, plus an additional 2,900 ...

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