Planetary atmospheres are complex and evolving entities, as mankind is rapidly coming to realise whilst attempting to understand, forecast and mitigate human-induced climate change. In the Solar System, our neighbours Venus and Mars provide striking examples of two endpoints of planetary evolution, runaway greenhouse and loss of atmosphere to space.
The variety of extra-solar planets brings a wider angle to the issue: from scorching "hot jupiters'' to ocean worlds, exo-atmospheres explore many configurations unknown in the Solar System, such as iron clouds, silicate rains, extreme plate tectonics, and steam volcanoes. Exoplanetary atmospheres have recently become accessible to observations.
This book puts our own climate in the wider context of the trials and tribulations of planetary atmospheres. Based on cutting-edge research, it uses a grand tour of the atmospheres of other planets to shine a new light on our own atmosphere, and its relation with life.
Frederic Pont teaches astrophysics at the University of Exeter (UK). He has lived and worked in Switzerland, Japan, Chile and France, and has participated in the discovery of many extra-solar planets with fellow researchers in Europe and the US. He now studies the atmosphere of some of these planets, using the Hubble Space Telescope and the largest ground-based telescopes available. He has also worked as a science writer for the Rolex Awards for Enterprise in Geneva. Born Swiss, Pont loves mountains, cheese and, somewhat less predictably, books. He now spends most of his time on planet Earth (because he quite likes its atmosphere) and currently resides in the United Kingdom.
Earth's atmosphere: A new look at an old friend.- Venus and Mars.- Titan and life without water.- Gas giant planets: from Jupiter to hot Jupiters.- Exotic worlds.- Back to Earth.