MIT's Sara Seager aims to find extraterrestrials

Washington, Mar 31 (EFE).- Sara Seager, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor and MacArthur Foundation "genius" grant recipient, is convinced there is life on other planets and has decided to find it.

"I've decided to dedicate my life to finding life on another planet, to find planets like Earth and planets with life on them," the 42-year-old scientist, considered on of the most influential astrophysicists in the world by Time magazine, told Efe.

Seager joked that she has designated one of her doctorate students as her "successor" to continue her mission if she is unable to complete it.

"It could require more than a generation, as happened with the construction of the Great Wall of China or the great European cathedrals, and we're totally prepared for that," Seager said.

Seager fell in love with space when she was little and saw the moon for the first time through a telescope.

Scientists have discovered around 1,800 exoplanets, to which may be added several thousand additional "candidates" identified by the Kepler space observatory, the first NASA mission for the specific purpose of identifying exoplanets.

"It could be that we're not unique but that we're rare, definitely uncommon. For me that would be very surprising," Seager said.

Seager said she and her team have identified 12 potentially habitable exoplanets, about which is known up to now "only the mass, the size, sometimes only the size, and the distance from the star" around which it orbits.