An Introduction to Astrobiology
Compiled by a team of experts, this textbook has been designed for elementary university courses in astrobiology. It begins with an examination of how life may have arisen on Earth and then reviews the evidence for possible life on Mars, Europa and Titan. The potential for life in exoplanetary systems and the search for extraterrestrial intelligence are also discussed. The text contains numerous useful learning features such as boxed summaries, student exercises with full solutions, and a glossary of terms. It is also supported by a website hosting further teaching materials. Written in an accessible style that avoids complex mathematics, this book is suitable for self-study and will appeal to amateur enthusiasts as well as undergraduate students. It contains numerous helpful learning features such as boxed summaries, student exercises with full solutions, and a glossary of terms. The book is also supported by a webstite hosting further teaching materials.
More astro than biology, October 21, 2004
This is an excellent textbook, with straightforward problems … and answers! There’s plenty of solid material here and very little fluff. The information is well presented, up-to-date, and easy to read.
Three of the nine chapters are about the potential for life elsewhere in our planetary system, in particular on Mars, Europa, and Titan. Another three chapters are on extrasolar planets: how to find them, what we’ve discovered so far about them, and what signatures of life we might try to look for on them in the future. There’s also a chapter on the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI). That leaves two chapters for the definition and origin of life, the Earth’s acquisition of the necessary water and carbon, and so on. I’d prefer to see quite a bit more on biology here. I’d like to see much more discussion of the development of multicellular life, the changes in the Earth’s environment caused by the production of oxygen, and the evolution of humans.
That said, I really liked the chapter on the origin of life. It was illuminating to read about the origin of chirality, written by a specialist in organic matter in meteorites. And I also especially liked the chapters on exoplanets.