Cambridge University Press, 2013. — 287 p.With current missions to Mars and the Earth-like moon Titan, and many more missions planned, humankind stands on the verge of exciting progress and possible major discoveries in our quest for life in space. What is life and where can it exist? What searches are being made to identify conditions for life on other worlds? If extraterrestrial inhabited worlds are found, how can we explore them? Could humans survive beyond the Earth? In this book, two leading astrophysicists provide an engaging account of where we stand in our quest for habitable environments, in the Solar System and beyond. Starting from basic concepts, the narrative builds scientiﬁcally, including more in-depth material as boxed additions to the main text. The authors recount fascinating recent discoveries, from space missions and observations using ground-based telescopes, of possible life-related artefacts in Martian meteorites, of extrasolar planets, and of subsurface oceans on Europa, Titan and Enceladus. They also provide a forward look to exciting future missions, including the return to Venus, Mars and the Moon; further explorations of Pluto and Jupiter’s icy moons; and placing giant planet-seeking telescopes in orbit beyond Jupiter, showing how we approach the question of ﬁnding out whether the life that teems on our own planet is unique. This is an exciting, informative read for anyone interested in the search for habitable and inhabited planets, and makes an excellent primer for students keen to learn about astrobiology, habitability, planetary science and astronomy.Introduction. What is life and where can it exist? Terrestrial planets and their diverging evolutions. Searching for habitable sites in the outer Solar System. A revolution in astronomy: the exploration of extrasolar planets. Extraterrestrial habitable sites in the future.
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