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Thursday, September 26, 2013

Draper Congratulates Sara Seager, Exoplanet Expert, for MacArthur Fellowship

CAMBRIDGE, MA-- Draper Laboratory congratulates Sara Seager, an MIT professor who collaborated with the Lab on the development of a tiny spacecraft that could hunt for exoplanets, for her inclusion with the 2013 class of MacArthur Fellows.
Draper collaborated with Seager, an astrophysicist and planetary scientist, on the development of ExoPlanetSat, a cubesat just 10 centimeters tall, 10cm wide and 30cm long, that could look for planets that orbit stars other than the sun. ExoPlanetSat could enable NASA to dedicate relatively inexpensive assets to stare at a single star for long periods of time to look for transits – decreases in brightness that suggest a previously unmapped Earth-size planet passed between the viewer and the star.
Draper contributed expertise in optics, guidance, navigation and control technology to develop an arc-second (1/3600th of a degree) class pointing and stabilization system for ExoPlanetSat. The Lab also contributed funding to Seager’s work with MIT students to design the spacecraft’s platform, or bus.
In a Sept. 24 news release, the MacArthur Foundation credits Seager with “quickly advancing a subfield initially viewed with skepticism by the scientific community,” and hailed ExoPlanetSat for its potential to “open up a new avenue for wide-ranging space exploration.”

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