Carl Sagan Net Worth at Death – Salary, Income, Earnings

Carl Sagan Net Worth

Carl Sagan had an estimated net worth of $3 million at death. Carl Sagan was one of the most well-known scientists of the 1970s and 1980s. He studied extraterrestrial intelligence, advocated for nuclear disarmament and co-wrote and hosted ‘Cosmos: A Personal Voyage.’ He earned most of his income from his work as a professor, researcher, and book royalties. 

Astronomer Carl Sagan graduated from the University of Chicago, where he studied planets and explored theories of extraterrestrial intelligence.

In 1968, he was appointed director of the Cornell Laboratory for Planetary Studies and worked with NASA on several projects. An anti-nuclear activist, Sagan introduced the idea of “nuclear winter” in 1983. He wrote a novel, several books and scientific papers, and the series Cosmos ( TV ), which was revived in 2014 at TV.

To calculate the net worth of Carl Sagan, subtract all his liabilities from his total assets. Investments, savings, cash deposits, and any equity he has in a house, car, or other similar asset are included in the total assets.

All debts, such as personal loans and mortgages, are included in total liabilities. 

Here’s the breakdown of his net worth:

Name: Carl Sagan
Net Worth: $3 Million
Monthly Salary: $40 Thousand
Annual Income: $1 Million
Source of Wealth: Scientist, Researcher

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Early Years

Carl Edward Sagan was the first of two children born on November 9, 1934, in Brooklyn, New York. Sagan’s interest in astronomy began when he was five years old, when his mother sent him to the library to look for books about the stars.

Soon after, his parents took him to the New York World’s Fair, where futuristic visions piqued his interest even more. He was also drawn in by reports of flying saucers, which suggested extraterrestrial life, and quickly became a fan of the popular 1940s science-fiction stories in pulp magazines.

Sagan graduated from high school at the age of 16 and went on to the University of Chicago, where he conducted experiments that fueled his interest in the possibility of alien life. Sagan received his B.A. in physics in 1955 and his master’s degree a year later.

After earning a Ph.D. in astronomy and astrophysics, Sagan relocated to California and accepted a position as an astronomy fellow at the University of California, Berkeley. He worked with a team to create an infrared radiometer for NASA’s Mariner 2 robotic probe.

Further Work With NASA and Fringe Science

Sagan spent the 1960s at Harvard University and the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, where he studied the physical conditions of the planets, particularly Venus and Jupiter. Sagan was appointed director of Cornell University’s Laboratory for Planetary Studies in 1968, and three years later, he was promoted to full professor.

Working once more with NASA, Sagan assisted in deciding where the Viking probes would land on Mars and in crafting the messages from Earth that were sent out with the Pioneer and Voyager probes beyond our solar system.

While still in his 30s, Sagan began speaking out on a variety of fringe issues, including the feasibility of interstellar flight, the idea that aliens visited Earth thousands of years ago, and the existence of creatures resembling “gas bags” high in Jupiter’s atmosphere.

During this time, he also testified before Congress about UFOs, which had captured the attention of the newspaper-reading populace, and proposed terraforming Venus into a habitable world.

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The Rare Celebrity Scientist

In 1968, by then a well-known figure in science, Sagan briefly served as a consultant on the Stanley Kubrick film 2001: A Space Odyssey, although a personal conflict ensured that this appearance was short-lived. In the 1970s and 1980s, Sagan was the best-known scientist in the United States, due in no small part to his books.

Works such as The Cosmic Connection: An Extraterrestrial Perspective (1973), Other Worlds (1975), The Dragons of Eden: Speculations on the Evolution of Human Intelligence (1977; winner of the Pulitzer Prize), and his 1985 novel Contact (which was made into a movie starring Jodie Foster in 1997) attracted the attention of the scientific community and the general public.

Later Career and ‘Cosmos’

Sagan co-founded the Planetary Society, an international nonprofit organization devoted to space exploration, in 1980, and he also wrote and hosted the hugely influential TV series Cosmos: A Personal Voyage. To accompany the series, he also wrote a companion book of the same name.

Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space (1994), the sequel to Cosmos, was inspired by the famous Pale Blue Dot photograph, which depicts Earth as a mere speck in space. Sagan uses a photo of the Voyager 1 probe as a jumping-off point to discuss humanity’s place in the vast universe and his future vision.

Sagan used his celebrity and scientific status to further his political goals, launching a campaign for nuclear disarmament and speaking out against President Ronald Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative.

In 1983, he co-wrote a paper that popularized the term “nuclear winter,” which was followed the following year by his co-authored book The Cold and the Dark: The World After Nuclear War.

Several awards were bestowed upon Sagan during his career, including NASA’s Distinguished Public Service Medal (1977, 1981) and the National Academy of Sciences’ Public Welfare Medal (1994), among many others.

On December 20, 1996, at the age of 62, he died of pneumonia, a complication of the bone-marrow disease myelodysplasia. Eighteen years later, Cosmos was brought back to television, this time with Neil DeGrasse Tyson as host, enthralling a new generation of viewers about what lies beyond Earth’s atmosphere.

Carl Sagan Quotes

“Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.” – Carl Sagan


“The nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies was made in the interiors of collapsing stars. We are made of star stuff.” – Carl Sagan


“Science is not only compatible with spirituality; it is a profound source of spirituality.” – Carl Sagan


“Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” – Carl Sagan


“If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe.” – Carl Sagan


“Imagination will often carry us to worlds that never were, but without it we go nowhere.” – Carl Sagan

View our larger collection of the best Carl Sagan quotes

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