Astrobiology: Future Perspectives

Front Cover
P. Ehrenfreund, W.M. Irvine, Luann Becker, Jen Blank, Tobias Owen, J.R. Brucato, L. COLANGELI (Ed), Sylvie Derenne, Anne Dutrey, Didier Despois, Antonio Lazcano, Francois Robert
Springer Science & Business Media, Jul 14, 2004 - Body, Mind & Spirit - 518 pages
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Astrobiology, a new exciting interdisciplinary research field, seeks to unravel the origin and evolution of life wherever it might exist in the Universe. The current view of the origin of life on Earth is that it is strongly connected to the origin and evolution of our planet and, indeed, of the Universe as a whole.

We are fortunate to be living in an era where centuries of speculation about the two ancient and fundamental problems: the origin of life and its prevalence in the Universe are being replaced by experimental science. The subject of Astrobiology can be approached from many different perspectives. This book is focused on abiogenic organic matter from the viewpoint of astronomy and planetary science and considers its potential relevance to the origins of life on Earth and elsewhere.

Guided by the review papers in this book, the concluding chapter aims to identify key questions to motivate future research and stimulate astrobiological applications of current and future research facilities and space missions. Today’s rich array of new spacecraft, telescopes and dedicated scientists promises a steady flow of discoveries and insights that will ultimately lead us to the answers we seek.

 

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Contents

THE SYNTHESIS OF THE ELEMENTS AND THE FORMATION OF STARS
1
ORGANIC MOLECULES IN THE INTERSTELLAR MEDIUM
17
CHEMISTRY OF PROTOPLANETARY DISKS Relation to Primitive Solar System Material
33
PLANET FORMATION Towards Estimating Galactic Habitability
67
FROM ELEMENTAL CARBON TO COMPLEX MACROMOLECULAR NETWORKS IN SPACE
97
ORGANIC MOLECULES IN PLANETARY ATMOSPHERES
127
OBSERVATIONS AND LABORATORY DATA OF PLANETARY ORGANICS
149
THE MOLECULAR COMPLEXITY OF COMETS
179
EARLY LIFE ON EARTH THE ANCIENT FOSSIL RECORD
287
HIGHLY ALTERED ORGANIC MATTER ON EARTH BIOSIGNATURE RELEVANCE
317
INSOLUBLE ORGANIC MATTER IN CARBONACEOUS CHONDRITES AND ARCHEAN CHERTS
333
THE CHEMISTRY OF THE ORIGIN OF LIFE
359
A NOVEL SYNTHESIS OF BIOMOLECULAR PRECURSORS
393
MARS EUROPA AND BEYOND
415
ASTROBIOLOGY IN THE UNITED STATES A Policy Perspective
445
ASTROBIOLOGY IN EUROPE
467

KUIPER BELT WATER AND ORGANICS
205
INTERPLANETARY DUST PARTICLES AND ASTROBIOLOGY
245
THE PREBIOTIC ATMOSPHERE OF THE EARTH
267
FUTURE PERSPECTIVES AND STRATEGIES IN ASTROBIOLOGY
477
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About the author (2004)

David Morrison is the head of space science research at the NASA Ames Research Center. He participated in the Mariner mission to Mercury, the Voyager mission to the outer planets, and the Galileo mission to Jupiter, in addition to astronomical studies of the planetary system. He received the NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal for his contributions to protection of the Earth from comet and asteroid impacts, and the Klumpke-Roberts award of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific for education and public service in astronomy. In additon to this book, Morrison is the author of seven other texts and popular books on space science.

Tobias Owen, Professor of Astronomy at the University of Hawaii, ranks among the world's leading experts on the solar system. Dr. Owen was a member of the Viking scientific team that studied the surface and atmosphere of Mars, and received NASA's medal for exceptional scientific achievement for this work in 1977. He led the group of Voyager scientists that discovered the rings of Jupiter in 1979 and is a member of the scientific teams for the Galileo, Comet-Rendezvous-Asteroid-Flyby, and Cassini-Huygens missions, while studying planets, satellites, and comets with the telescopes on Mauna Kea.

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