By Dr Athena Coustenis, Dr Thérèse Encrenaz
What's existence and the place can it exist? What searches are being made to spot stipulations for all times on different worlds? If extraterrestrial inhabited worlds are chanced on, how will we discover them? during this booklet, prime astrophysicists supply an attractive account of the place we stand in our quest for liveable environments, within the sunlight procedure and past. ranging from uncomplicated suggestions, the narrative builds scientifically, together with extra in-depth fabric as boxed additions to the most textual content. The authors recount interesting fresh discoveries from area missions and observations utilizing ground-based telescopes, of attainable life-related artefacts in Martian meteorites, extrasolar planets, and subsurface oceans on Europa, Titan and Enceladus. in addition they offer a ahead glance to destiny missions. this is often an exhilarating, informative learn for someone attracted to the hunt for liveable and inhabited planets, and a very good primer for college kids in astrobiology, habitability, planetary technological know-how and astronomy
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Additional info for Life Beyond Earth: The Search for Habitable Worlds in the Universe
19 20 w h a t i s l i f e a n d w h e r e c a n i t e x i s t ? 56 billion years ago. Lost in some nondescript suburb of the Milky Way, this piece of rock was about to witness a unique phenomenon: life. Our planet hosts more than 8 million species today. Exactly how and when this proliferative life appeared remains a mystery in spite of regular discoveries and progress made on the subject in the past years, as we shall see hereafter. A few theories have been established based on observational evidence, numerous hypotheses and scarce facts.
The composition of the medium, however, was different from the putative primordial atmosphere of the Earth, which was probably dominated by carbon dioxide; laboratory experiments starting with an oxidizing medium led to poor results. Hydrogen, nevertheless, might have been present in the primitive atmosphere, as a result of a series of chemical reactions (the serpentinization process) between water and rocks below the surface, possibly also leading to the formation of methane and ammonia. In any case, the Miller–Urey experiment was a major milestone in our understanding of the role of prebiotic chemistry in the apparition of life.
Our understanding of these constraints and the way that terrestrial life has to push these boundaries has expanded greatly in only the past 30–40 years. The search for living organisms that survive and even thrive in extreme environments on Earth has brought us new insights as to the possibilities of life elsewhere in the cosmos and the form it might take. When we try to deﬁne an ‘extreme’ environment, we can imagine places where one would be exposed to drought, excessive heat or cold, large radiation doses or lack of nutrients, and where any living organisms would have to adapt in order to survive.
Life Beyond Earth: The Search for Habitable Worlds in the Universe by Dr Athena Coustenis, Dr Thérèse Encrenaz