Phillips Professor of Astronomy
Director, Origins of Life Initiative
Senior Advisor in the Sciences for Advanced Study
Research Interests: Professor Sasselov studies, among other things, extrasolar planets, and he's a co-investigator on NASA's Kepler mission, which is monitoring 100,000 stars in a three-year hunt for exoplanets -- including Jupiter-sized giants. Sasselov watches for exoplanets by looking for transits, the act of a planet passing across the face of its star, dimming its light and changing its chemical signature. This simple, elegant way of searching has led to a bounty of newly discovered planets.
Professor of Astronomy [on leave, 2013-14]
Astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
Research Interests: Detecting and characterizing planets orbiting other stars—worlds known as "exoplanets." He is fascinated by planets in edge-on orbits, such that the planet periodically passes in front of its star. These systems offer unparalleled opportunities to determine the properties of the planet and its atmosphere.