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Life in the Solar System and Beyond : Space Exploration - Barrie William Jones

Life in the Solar System and Beyond

Space Exploration

Paperback Published: 11th February 2004
ISBN: 9781852331016
Number Of Pages: 317

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From the reviews:

"Bulging with concise explanations and 142 clarifying diagrams and photos, the book probably represents some of the best pedagogy in the solar system on these topics. ... just the right level for most undergraduates. ... Open-minded scientists looking for an authoritative tour of astrobiology will enjoy the book ... . The author's summary of exoplanet detection techniques is excellent ... . Jones keeps us interested with simple explanations ... . His approach is quite an achievement ... . " (Charley Lineweaver, Physics Today, February, 2005).

"This is a textbook suitable for university use. ... this is one of the best. ... includes excellent recent images of Mars, Europa and elsewhere, and is richly illustrated with explanatory diagrams. ... There is a useful index, a glossary and a list of 'resources' (websites and books)." (Malcolm Walter, Australian Physics, Vol. 42 (3) July/August 2005)

"What is required for life, and where might it have evolved? ... These are the questions that are addressed in this wide ranging, well written and thought provoking book. ... But for anyone wishing to follow ... Jones' book is an excellent start." (Dr. C.M.Linton, Contemporary Physics, Vol. 46 (3), 2005)

"This book centres on the search for life in the Solar System and beyond. It includes an overview of many of the disciplines involved in this field of research, which include astronomy, biology and geology. ... It was good to see that the astronomy has been kept fairly descriptive and not too mathematical. This keeps the flow of the book. ... As an overview of the key subjects involved in astrobiology for a university course, I think this book is successful." (James Silvester, Astronomy Now, March, 2005)

Although, at present there is no firm evidence for extraterrestrial life, enormous progress has been made in recent years, both in our understanding of life on Earth and of the potential for life existing elsewhere in the universe. Life in the Solar System and Beyond embaces aspects form all the osre related fields (astronomy, planetary science, chemistry, biology, and Physics). This excellent and thought-provoking introduction:

  • Addresses the important question of what is life, and discusses the origins and evolution of life on Earth, as well as its probable fate
  • Looks at places within our Solar System, beyond Earth, especially where life might exist, such as Mars and Europa
  • Includes the very latest data on searches for planets around other stars, the results of these searches, and discusses what conditions might be like
  • Speculates on possible life elsewhere in the Universe beyond our Solar system, and assesses our chances of making contact, if there is intelligent life out there
  • Includes end of chapter summaries to help the reader grasp the main concepts to carry forward
  • Provides a list of resources, including useful websites at the end of the book which will enable the reader to keep up to date in this rapidly moving field

From the reviews:

"This book ... provides a comprehensive overview of astrobiology. It is a course textbook, suited for a first year undergraduate course ... . The book is supported by a glossary, a bibliography of similar textbooks on similar and related areas, and a list of useful websites. The textbook has a strong emphasis on astronomy ... making this suitable as a course text in this subject with an emphasis on astrobiology. ... highly appropriate for courses in UK first year undergraduate programmes." (Alex Ellery, International Journal of Astrobiology, Vol. 3 (1), 2004)

"Bulging with concise explanations and 142 clarifying diagrams and photos, the book probably represents some of the best pedagogy in the solar system on these topics. ... Jones's book ... just the right level for most undergraduates. ... Open-minded scientists looking for an authoritative tour of astrobiology will enjoy the book ... . The author's summary of exoplanet detection techniques is excellent ... . Jones keeps us interested with simple explanations ... . His approach is quite an achievement ... . " (Charley Lineweaver, Physics Today, February, 2005).

"This book centres on the search for life in the Solar System and beyond. It includes an overview of many of the disciplines involved in this field of research, which include astronomy, biology and geology. ... It was good to see that the astronomy has been kept fairly descriptive and not too mathematical. This keeps the flow of the book. ... As an overview of the key subjects involved in astrobiology for a university course, I think this book is successful." (James Silvester, Astronomy Now, March, 2005)

"This is a textbook suitable for university use. ... this is one of the best. ... includes excellent recent images of Mars, Europa and elsewhere, and is richly illustrated with explanatory diagrams. ... There is a useful index, a glossary and a list of `resources' (websites and books)." (Malcolm Walter, Australian Physics, Vol. 42 (3) July/August 2005)

"The author of this book ... has definitively influenced the content and the presentation of this book. ... The public to which this book is directed is very diverse ... . The prerequisite knowledge is minimal ... . this book reveals some very fascinating observations. ... Reviewers found it very interesting to read that the earliest undisputed evidence for life ... . The book is nicely illustrated ... . this book can be highly recommended to all those interested in the scientific origins of life." (Fernande Grandjean, Gary J. Long, Physicalia, Vol. 57 (3), 2005)

"What is required for life, and where might it have evolved? ... These are the questions that are addressed in this wide ranging, well written and thought provoking book. ... memory is not overly taxed due to the inclusion of helpful summaries at the end of each chapter which identify the key points. ... It draws on all sorts of scientific knowledge ... . No great demands of the reader are made in terms of prior knowledge ... . But for anyone wishing to follow ... Jones' book is an excellent start." (Dr. C.M.Linton, Contemporary Physics, Vol. 46 (3), 2005)

"Can life exist anywhere other than on Earth? Jones (Open Univ., UK) works with well-defined parameters in the search for possible alien life forms, developing these parameters from a study of Earthly evolution of life and geological forms, and the evolution of the solar system as it is presently understood. He includes what data are available from studies on Earth, through telescopes, and from data available at the time of writing on space flights to the planets. He then searches data on solar system planets and the planetary satellites, trying to find conditions similar enough to those on Earth to support some form of life, before going beyond the solar system to search for nonsolar star systems that could contain such conditions. Jones set himself an imposing task that demands either a very large volume or concise writing; although written very well, his book does require some background in science to be completely understood. It contains much detail, including some mathematical derivations, together with excellent diagrams and photographs, references to pertinent Web sites, and summaries and questions at chapter-ends. Summing Up: Recommended. General readers; lower-division undergraduate through graduate students; two-year technical program students. -- P. R. Douville, emeritus, Central Connecticut State University

"Certainly, Barrie Jones covers a lot of ground in this concise summary of our state of knowledge with regard to extraterrestrial life. ... The book is generally very readable and easy to follow ... . each chapter includes a final summary and questions/answers that would be of value for students. ... as a one-stop reference on exobiology it is hard to beat." (Peter Bond, The Observatory, Vol. 125 (1188), 2005)

Prefacep. xi
Acknowledgementsp. xiii
Abbreviationsp. xv
List of figuresp. xvii
List of tablesp. xxiii
List of platesp. xxv
The cosmosp. 1
The Solar Systemp. 1
The orbits of the planetsp. 1
The Sun as a bodyp. 5
The planets as bodiesp. 8
The large satellitesp. 11
The origin of the Solar Systemp. 13
The nebular theoryp. 13
Pluto, comets, and satellitesp. 16
The acquisition of volatile substances by the terrestrial planetsp. 17
The origin of the heavy elementsp. 17
Beyond the Solar Systemp. 18
The starsp. 18
The Galaxy (and others)p. 20
Summaryp. 22
Questionsp. 23
Life on Earthp. 25
The Earthp. 25
The Earth's interiorp. 25
The Earth's crust, lithosphere, and plate tectonicsp. 26
Atmosphere, oceans, and biospherep. 27
The chemicals of lifep. 29
Proteins and nucleic acidsp. 29
Polysaccharides, lipids, and small moleculesp. 32
The cellp. 32
The fundamental processes of lifep. 34
Chemical energyp. 34
Energy for the cellp. 35
Protein synthesisp. 38
Reproduction and evolutionp. 40
Diversity of habitatsp. 43
Non-extreme habitatsp. 43
Extreme habitatsp. 44
The tree of lifep. 49
Summaryp. 50
Questionsp. 51
The evolution and origin of life on Earthp. 53
The process of evolutionp. 53
Life on Earth since the last common ancestorp. 55
The major events and their timingp. 55
The causes of mass extinctionsp. 61
The effect of the biosphere on the Earth's atmospherep. 62
Radiometric datingp. 65
The origin of life on Earthp. 66
RNA worldp. 67
The origin of cellsp. 68
The role of mineralsp. 68
Chirality in biomoleculesp. 71
Where did life originate?p. 73
When did life originate?p. 74
Conclusionsp. 74
Summaryp. 75
Questionsp. 76
Where to look for life elsewhere in the Solar Systemp. 77
What sort of life are we searching for?p. 77
Potential habitats for carbon-liquid water lifep. 78
The habitable zone (HZ)p. 79
The HZ in the Solar Systemp. 82
Further considerationsp. 85
Potential habitats beyond the HZp. 86
Planetary interiorsp. 86
Tidal heatingp. 87
Tidally heated bodiesp. 89
Titanp. 95
Summaryp. 96
Questionsp. 97
Life on Mars?p. 99
The planet Mars todayp. 99
Mars in spacep. 99
The martian interiorp. 101
The martian atmospherep. 102
The martian surface from spacep. 104
Features that indicate the presence of liquid waterp. 108
The martian surface from landersp. 112
Mars in the pastp. 114
The three epochs of martian historyp. 114
Atmospheric change on Marsp. 114
The search for life on Marsp. 116
Before the space agep. 116
The Viking Landersp. 118
Martian meteorites and fossilsp. 120
Prospects for the futurep. 122
Summaryp. 123
Questionsp. 124
Life on Europa?p. 127
Europap. 127
Is there an ocean on Europa?p. 128
The potential of Europa as a habitatp. 133
Current knowledgep. 133
The future exploration of Europap. 134
Summaryp. 136
Questionsp. 136
The fate of life in the Solar Systemp. 137
The evolution of the Sunp. 139
The main sequence phase and the transition to the giant phasep. 139
The giant phase and afterp. 140
The effect of solar evolution on Solar System habitabilityp. 143
Planetary orbitsp. 143
The habitable zone (HZ)p. 143
Summaryp. 146
Questionsp. 147
Potential habitats beyond the Solar Systemp. 149
The variety of starsp. 150
The Hertzsprung-Russell (H-R) diagramp. 150
Stellar populationsp. 154
Suitable stars for lifep. 155
Main sequence lifetime and life detectable from afarp. 156
Metallicity and other considerationsp. 156
Main sequence M stars (M dwarfs)p. 157
The galactic HZp. 161
Summaryp. 162
Questionsp. 163
Searching for planets: direct methodsp. 165
The challenge of direct detectionp. 165
Coronagraphyp. 168
Signal-to-noise ratio (snr) in a telescope imagep. 169
The effect of one type of coronagraphp. 170
Atmospheric effects and their reductionp. 171
Atmospheric 'seeing' and its effectsp. 173
Adaptive opticsp. 173
Large optical telescopesp. 175
Ground-based telescopesp. 175
Telescopes in spacep. 176
Interferometersp. 177
The basic principle of interferometryp. 177
Imaging interferometersp. 180
Summaryp. 183
Questionsp. 184
Searching for planets: indirect methodsp. 185
Detecting a planet through the motion of its starp. 185
The effect of a planet on its star's motionp. 185
Astrometry: principlesp. 186
Astrometry: practicep. 190
Doppler spectroscopy: principlesp. 194
Doppler spectroscopy: practicep. 200
Transit photometryp. 203
Gravitational microlensingp. 205
Observations of circumstellar discs and ringsp. 208
Summaryp. 209
Questionsp. 209
Exoplanetary systemsp. 211
The discovery of exoplanetary systemsp. 211
The known (non-pulsar) exoplanetary systemsp. 214
The stars that host the known exoplanetary systemsp. 214
Exoplanet massesp. 216
Exoplanet compositionp. 217
Exoplanet orbitsp. 219
Migration of giant exoplanets and its consequencesp. 221
Migration mechanisms and consequences for giantsp. 221
Giant planet migration and the formation of Earth-mass planets in HZsp. 225
Earth-mass planets in HZsp. 226
The undiscovered exoplanetsp. 228
The known exoplanetary systems - a summaryp. 228
What planets await discovery and when might we discover them?p. 229
A note on evidence from circumstellar discsp. 232
Stars, planets, and life formsp. 233
Summaryp. 233
Questionsp. 234
How to find life on exoplanetsp. 237
Planets with habitable surfacesp. 238
Detecting biospheres from a distancep. 239
Is there life on Earth?p. 239
The infrared spectrum of the Earthp. 243
The infrared spectrum of Marsp. 247
The infrared spectra of exoplanetsp. 247
Exoplanet spectra at visible and near-infrared wavelengthsp. 249
Interstellar probesp. 252
Summaryp. 254
Questionsp. 254
Extraterrestrial intelligencep. 257
The number of technological intelligences in the Galaxyp. 257
Searching for ETIp. 259
Microwave and optical searchesp. 261
Microwave searchesp. 261
What a microwave signal from ETI might be likep. 264
The outcome of microwave searches and their futurep. 267
Searches at optical wavelengths (OSETI)p. 268
Spacecraft and other artefacts from ETIp. 270
Interstellar travelp. 270
Galactic explorationp. 272
Technological modifications by ETI of their cosmic environmentp. 273
The Fermi paradoxp. 274
Communicating with extraterrestrial intelligence (CETI)p. 275
Summaryp. 278
Questionsp. 279
Glossaryp. 281
Answers to questionsp. 287
Resourcesp. 303
Indexp. 309
Table of Contents provided by Publisher. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9781852331016
ISBN-10: 1852331011
Series: Space Exploration
Audience: Tertiary; University or College
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 317
Published: 11th February 2004
Publisher: Springer London Ltd
Country of Publication: GB
Dimensions (cm): 24.4 x 17.0  x 2.03
Weight (kg): 0.62