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.
From the reviews: "Of the book's chapters, sixteen are review papers of topics relevant to life's place on our planet and beyond. ! The remaining chapters, mostly about research efforts, refer to the potential for life on Mars and Europa ! . Together, the chapters aim to motivate collaborative multidisciplinary research for the framing of questions as to the character and forms of life in the Universe. ! the book as a whole is excellent! Recommended." (P.A.L. Chapman-Rietschi, The Observatory, Vol. 125 (1187), 2005)
Preface.- 1 The Synthesis of the Elements and the Formation of Stars.- 2 Organic Molecules in the Interstellar Medium.- 3 Chemistry of Protoplanetary Disks.- 4 Planet Formation: Problems and Prospects.- 5 From Elemental Carbon to Complex Macromolecular Networks in Space.- 6 Organic Molecules in Planetary Atmospheres.- 7 Observations and Laboratory Data of Planetary Organics.- 8 The Molecular Complexity of Comets.- 9 Kuiper Belt: Water and Organics.- 10 Interplanetary Dust Particles and Astrobiology.- 11 The Prebiotic Atmosphere of the Earth.- 12 Early Life on Earth: The Ancient Fossil Record.- 13 Highly Altered Organic Matter on Earth: Biosignature Relevance.- 14 Insoluble Organic Matter in Carbonaceous Chondrites and Archean Cherts. An Insight into their Structure by Electron Paramagnetic Resonance.- 15 The Chemistry of the Origin of Life.- 16 A Novel Synthesis of Biomolecular Precursors.
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