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An Introduction to Astrobiology


By: David A Rothery(Editor), Iain Gilmour(Editor), Mark A Sephton(Editor)

392 pages, 200 colour photos and colour illustrations

Cambridge University Press

Paperback | Feb 2018 | Edition: 3 | #237066 | ISBN-13: 9781108430838
Availability: Usually dispatched within 48 hours
NHBS Price: £44.99 $59/€51 approx

About this book

How did life on Earth begin? How common is it elsewhere in the Universe? Written and edited by planetary scientists and astrobiologists, this undergraduate-level textbook provides an introduction to the origin and nature of life, the habitable environments in our solar system and the techniques most successfully used for discovery and characterisation of exoplanets. This third edition has been thoroughly revised to embrace the latest developments in this field. Updated topics include the origins of water on Earth, the exploration of habitable environments on Mars, Europa and Enceladus, and the burgeoning discoveries in exoplanetary systems. Ideal for introductory courses on the subject, An Introduction to Astrobiology is also well-suited for self-study. It highlights important concepts and techniques in boxed summaries, with questions and exercises throughout the text, with full solutions provided. Online resources include selected figures from An Introduction to Astrobiology, self-assessment questions and sample tutor assignments.

Reviews of the second edition:

"Finally, an undergraduate level textbook on astrobiology that provides the perfect entry for students interested in this burgeoning field. The profuse and well-chosen illustrations, charts and tables, the clearly written text, and the comprehensive and balanced coverage make An Introduction to Astrobiology stand out. After twenty five years of teaching an undergraduate course in astrobiology, I finally will be able to use a single book that is authoritative and yet will captivate the student readers. Beautifully written and produced, this is certain to become the gold standard for introductory astrobiology textbooks."
– Professor John Scalo, University of Texas, Austin

"The authors of this book are to be congratulated on bringing scientific rigour to the concept of 'astrobiology' [...] The text is always clear, there are definitions in the margins; there are many questions and answers (indeed, some of the most interesting discussions are in the answers at the back); and all mathematics is confined to separate boxes or exercises. There are plenty of clear and colourful diagrams, and excellent images with preference for the most illuminating rather than the most familiar ones."
– Dr John Rogers, University of Cambridge

"I find the organization and flow of ideas in An Introduction to Astrobiology to be appealing in their logic and simplicity. In summary, it lives up to its title by providing an interesting overview of this developing field. I recommend it both as a primary text for upper division courses that aim to introduce undergraduate students to science and as a supplementary text for graduate level courses that explore more focused themes of this fascinating field of science."
– Professor Jack D. Farmer, Arizona State University

"[...] serves perfectly for both undergraduate and postgraduate courses, as well as more established researchers looking to read up on other fields, and is equally approachable for non-scientists interested in finding out a bit more about this young field. I've already recommended this book to a new student!"
The Observatory


1. Origin of life
2. Habitable world
3. Mars
4. Icy bodies: Europa and elsewhere
5. Titan
6. The detection of exoplanets
7. The nature of exoplanetary systems
8. How to find life on exoplanets
9. Extraterrestrial intelligence

Answers and comments
Further reading
Figure references

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David A. Rothery is a volcanologist and planetary scientist at The Open University, with a background in geological remote sensing and a special fascination for the satellites of the outer planets.

Iain Gilmour is Head of the Planetary and Space Sciences Research Institute at The Open University where he undertakes research on meteorites and large scale planetary impacts.

Mark A. Sephton is Professor of Organic Geochemistry and Meteoritics in the Department of Earth Science and Engineering at Imperial College London. His research interests focus on organic records on Earth and in space.

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