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? 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, extrasolar planets, and subsurface oceans on Europa, Titan and Enceladus. They also provide a forward look to future missions. This is an exciting, informative read for anyone interested in the search for habitable and inhabited planets, and an excellent primer for students in astrobiology, habitability, planetary science and astronomy.
Athena Coustenis is Director of Research at the French National Research Center (CNRS) and an astrophysicist at the Laboratoire d'Etudes Spatiales et d'Instrumentation en Astrophysique (LESIA) of Paris Observatory. She is Co-Investigator of three of the instruments (CIRS, HASI, DISR) aboard the Cassini/Huygens mission. Her expertise in space missions has allowed her to Chair and to contribute in several advisory groups within ESA and NASA. Dr Coustenis is currently President of the EGU Planetary Sciences Division and President of the International Association of Meteorology and Atmospheric Sciences, as well as Secretary of the Executive committee of the Division for Planetary Sciences. She is a member of several editorial boards and has been awarded several NASA and ESA achievement awards. She is also winner of the American Astonomical Society's 2014 Harold Masursky Award for outstanding service to planetary science and exploration. Therese Encrenaz is Senior Director of Research at CNRS and an astrophysicist at LESIA, Paris Observatory. She has been involved in many planetary space missions and has been a Mission Scientist of the European ISO (Infrared Space Observatory) mission. She has chaired the Science Advisory Committee of CNES for the exploration of the Universe. She is currently a member of the E-ELT Project Science Team and is also serving as Vice-President of the Scientific Council of the Region Ile de France. Dr Encrenaz is the author of more than 250 refereed articles, a few lecture books and a dozen of popular books. She has received several awards including the Silver Medal of CNRS and the David Bates Medal of the European Geophysical Union.
Preface; 1. Introduction; 2. What is life and where can it exist?; 3. Terrestrial planets and their diverging evolutions; 4. Searching for habitable sites in the outer Solar System; 5. A revolution in astronomy: the exploration of extrasolar planets; 6. Extraterrestrial inhabited sites in the future; Further reading; References; Index.
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