5 Significant Achievements of Carl Sagan

Have you heard of the astronomer Carl Sagan? He was an American astrophysicist, astronomer, researcher, and author. His contributions to popularizing astronomy to the public were very significant and he has written over 600 scientific papers and several books concerning the subject matter, as well as the natural sciences. Read on to find out about the 5 significant achievements of this astronomer.

Early Life and Education

Born in 1934, Carl Sagan was born to Samuel Sagan and Rachel Molly Gruber. They took him to the 1939 New York World’s Fair when he was four, and that was when his interest in skyscrapers, science, space, and the stars first blossomed.  His parents were very encouraging and bought him chemistry sets and books to broaden his mind. He graduated from Rahway High School in 1951, and furthered his studies in 3 different sciences, graduating with degrees in all of them.

For most of his later life, Sagan went on to lecture at prestigious institutions like Harvard University and Cornell University. He continued to conduct his research and became the director of the Laboratory for Planetary Studies. He remained as director and professor at Cornell until 1981.

His Pulitzer Prize for His Research on Space and the Universe

Carl Sagan has authored over 20 books about space and the universe. As a result of his research, he won a Pulitzer Prize.

His TV Series Cosmos

His TV series Cosmos is still one of the most-watched shows in the history of television.

Assisting NASA with U.S. Space Missions

Sagan has assisted NASA in space missions to Jupiter, Venus, and Mars. In particular, his role in the discovery of Venus’ high surface temperatures was highly regarded. His research on the atmospheres of Venus and Jupiter as well as the seasonal changes on Mars were invaluable to NASA’s research.

Contributions to Pop Culture on Extraterrestrial Life Forms

Sagan’s book, Contact, inspired the film of the same name, which proposed that aliens would be friendly and benevolent, as opposed to the other popular belief at the time: that aliens would be hostile and dangerous. Though he thought aliens would be friendly, he also argued that the probability of alien space vehicles coming down to Earth was astronomically small.

Public Welfare Medal

Sagan was one of the earliest scientists to first make the proposal that there might be extraterrestrial life and so encouraged NASA to explore the solar systems. He was awarded the Public Welfare Medal, the highest award of the National Academy of Sciences in 1994.

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