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Planets and Life


  • 250 b/w illus. 60 tables
  • Page extent: 628 pages
  • Size: 246 x 189 mm
  • Weight: 1.36 kg


 (ISBN-13: 9780521531023)

Astrobiology involves the study of the origin and history of life on Earth, planets and moons where life may have arisen, and the search for extraterrestrial life. It combines the sciences of biology, chemistry, palaeontology, geology, planetary physics and astronomy. This textbook brings together world experts in each of these disciplines to provide the most comprehensive coverage of the field currently available. Topics cover the origin and evolution of life on Earth, the geological, physical and chemical conditions in which life might arise and the detection of extraterrestrial life on other planets and moons. The book also covers the history of our ideas on extraterrestrial life and the origin of life, as well as the ethical, philosophical and educational issues raised by astrobiology. Written to be accessible to students from diverse backgrounds, this text will be welcomed by advanced undergraduates and graduates who are taking astrobiology courses.

• Compiled by world experts in their disciplines to create a truly comprehensive book • Accessible to students from a wide range of backgrounds • A welcome addition to this rapidly-growing field


Foreword; Preface; Contributors; Prologue; Part I. History: 1. History of astrobiological ideas W. T. Sullivan and D. Carney; 2. From exobiology to astrobiology S. J. Dick; Part II. The Physical Stage: 3. Formation of Earth-like habitable planets D. E. Brownlee and M. Kress; 4. Planetary atmospheres and life D. Catling and J. F. Kasting; Part III. The Origin of Life on Earth: 5. Does 'life' have a definition? C.E. Cleland and C. F. Chyba; 6. Origin of life: crucial issues R. Shapiro; 7. Origin of proteins and nucleic acids A. Ricardo and S. A. Benner; 8. The roots of metabolism G.D. Cody and J. H. Scott; 9. Origin of cellular life D. W. Deamer; Part IV. Life on Earth: 10. Evolution: a defining feature of life J. A. Baross; 11. Evolution of metabolism and early microbial communities J. A. Leigh, D. A. Stahl and J. T. Staley; 12. The earliest records of life on Earth R. Buick; 13. The origin and diversification of eukaryotes M. L. Sogin, D. J. Patterson and A. McArthur; 14. Limits of carbon life on Earth and elsewhere J. A. Baross, J. Huber and M. Schrenk; 15. Life in ice J. W. Deming and H. Eicken; 16. The evolution and diversification of life S. Awramik and K. J. McNamara; 17. Mass extinctions P. D. Ward; Part V. Potentially Habitable Worlds: 18. Mars B. M. Jakosky, F. Westall and A. Brack; 19. Europa C. F. Chyba and C. B. Phillips; 20. Titan J. I. Lunine and B. Rizk; 21. Extrasolar planets P. Butler; Part VI. Searching for Extraterrestrial Life: 22. How to search for life on other worlds C. P. McKay; 23. Instruments and strategies for detecting extraterrestrial life P. G. Conrad; 24. Societial and ethical concerns M. S. Race; 25. Planetary protection J. D. Rummel; 26. Searching for extraterrestrial intelligence J. C. Tarter; 27. Alien biochemistries P. D. Ward and S. A. Benner; Part VII. Future of the Field: 28. Disciplinary and educational opportunities L. Wells, J. Armstrong and J. Huber; Epilogue C. F. Chyba; Appendixes: A. Units and usages; B. Planetary properties; C. The geological time scale S. Awramik and K. J. McNamara; D. Astrobiological destinations on planet Earth J. Harnmeijer; E. Micro*scope web tool D. J. Patterson and M. L. Sogin; Index.


'The book brings a wealth of thought-provoking insights into how life developed on Earth, the mechanisms of its existence and destruction, and how we might direct our search for life in the future … This book successfully informs and inspires those students, professionals, and others with a curiosity about life in the Universe.' Astronomy Now

'… a good book to dip into for information and be confident that a question will be covered somewhere.' The Observatory

'The numerous references at the end of each chapter are up-to-date and particularly welcome in this new multidisciplinary field where most of us are struggling to integrate information from half a dozen disciplines. … I'd recommend…Planets and Life for graduate students.' Journal of Geological Magazine

'It's not easy to unify a multidisciplinary field whose main focus (extraterrestrial life) may not exist, but this new astrobiology textbook pulls it off. … well-organised … the combination of details and big picture thinking embodied in this new text will go far to describe our current understanding of how we came to be and how we fit into the universe.' Geological Magazine

'… an effective text book that deals nicely with the interdisciplinary nature of the field, moving fluently from philosophy to ethics to biochemistry.' Astrobiology Society of Britain


W. T. Sullivan, D. Carney, S. J. Dick, D. E. Brownlee, M. Kress, D. Catling, J. F. Kasting, C. E. Cleland, C. F. Chyba, R. Shapiro, A. Ricardo, S. A. Benner, G. D. Cody, J. H. Scott, D.W. Deamer, J. A. Baross, J. A. Leigh, D. A. Stahl, J. T. Staley, R. Buick, M. L. Sogin, D. J. Patterson, A. McArthur, J. Huber, M. Schrenk, J. W. Deming, H. Eicken, S. Awramik, K. J. McNamara, P. D. Ward, B. M. Jakosky, F. Westall, A. Brack, C. B. Phillips, J. I. Lunine, B. Rizk, P. Butler, C. P. McKay, P. G. Conrad, M. S. Race, J. D. Rummel, J. C. Tarter, S. A. Benner, L. Wells, J. Armstrong, J. Harnmeijer

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