Johns Hopkins University Press, 2006. - 259 p. Informed by new planetary discoveries and the findings from recent robotic missions to Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn, scientists are rapidly replacing centuries of speculation about potential extraterrestrial habitats with real knowledge about the possibility of life outside our own biosphere - if it exists, and where. This book incorporates the latest research in astrobiology to bring readers the most comprehensive, up-to-date, and engaging introduction to the field available. Plaxco and Gross expand their examination of the origin of chemical elements, the developments that made the Universe habitable, and how life continues to be sustained. They discuss in great detail the formation of the first galaxies and stars, the diverse chemistry of the primordial planet, the origins of metabolism, the evolution of complex organisms, and the feedback regulation of Earth's climate. They also explore life in extreme habitats, potential extraterrestrial habitats, and the current status of the search for extraterrestrial life. Weaving together the relevant threads of astronomy, geology, chemistry, biophysics, and microbiology, this broadly accessible introductory text captures the excitement, controversy, and progress of the dynamic young field of astrobiology. All these make 'Astrobiology' an ideal primer for students and, indeed, for anyone curious about life and the Universe.
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