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An Introduction to Astrobiology Paperback – May 24, 2004

ISBN-13: 978-0521546218 ISBN-10: 0521546214 Edition: 0th

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 364 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (May 24, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521546214
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521546218
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 8.1 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,322,055 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"This book does an admirable job...excellent. This is perhaps the best book on the market as a course resource in astrobiology. Highly recommended." P.K. Strother, Boston College, CHOICE

"The diverse interdisciplinary threads that make up the fascinating science of astrobiology are brought together in this outstanding introduction to the science. The study of the planets in our Solar System, including the Earth, and the discovery of planets orbiting distant stars has forced us to try to understand life in its cosmic context. This book provides a beautifully illustrated and clearly described reference for existing and new scientists in the field of astrobiology." Dr. Charles Cockell, British Antarctic Survey (Chair, Astrobiology Society of Britain)

"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 a standout...[this book] is certain to become the gold standard for introductory astrobiology textbooks." Professor John Scalo, University of Texas at Austin

Book Description

Compiled by a team of experts, this textbook has been designed for elementary university courses in astrobiology. It begins with an examination of how life may have arisen on Earth and then reviews the evidence for possible life on Mars, Europa and Titan. The potential for life in exoplanetary systems and the search for extraterrestrial intelligence are also discussed. Written in an accessible style that avoids complex mathematics, this book is suitable for self-study and will appeal to amateur enthusiasts as well as undergraduate students.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Jill Malter on October 21, 2004
Format: Paperback
This is an excellent textbook, with straightforward problems ... and answers! There's plenty of solid material here and very little fluff. The information is well presented, up-to-date, and easy to read.

Three of the nine chapters are about the potential for life elsewhere in our planetary system, in particular on Mars, Europa, and Titan. Another three chapters are on extrasolar planets: how to find them, what we've discovered so far about them, and what signatures of life we might try to look for on them in the future. There's also a chapter on the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI). That leaves two chapters for the definition and origin of life, the Earth's acquisition of the necessary water and carbon, and so on. I'd prefer to see quite a bit more on biology here. I'd like to see much more discussion of the development of multicellular life, the changes in the Earth's environment caused by the production of oxygen, and the evolution of humans.

That said, I really liked the chapter on the origin of life. It was illuminating to read about the origin of chirality, written by a specialist in organic matter in meteorites. And I also especially liked the chapters on exoplanets.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Jim on January 15, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Twenty-five years ago the study of astrobiology was quite "fringe". Much has occurred since then, as technology has continually improved and we have taken further, somewhat less tentative steps off this planet. We now have claims of life in a Martian meteorite (not yet accepted), the discovery of over 400 exoplanets to-date (and counting), and interesting possibilities for possible life that may yet be found on Mars (under the surface), Europa (in a putative ocean) and possibly on Titan (assuming life could adapt to the extreme cold there).

This book by Gilmour and Sephton presents the study of Astrobiology in a very straightforward and concise way, offering the reader an introductory look into this burdgeoning area of study. In particular, the textbook includes (a) early chapters on the origin of life and on habitability (ie., in "water" zones about planets and otherwise based on other mechanisms about planetary satellites), and (b) a great overview of Earth's extremeophiles. The textbook includes expanded chapters on Mars, Europa and Titan, where the authors go into greater detail on the possibilities for life on these bodies. The book concludes with chapters devoted to the potentiality of life on exoplanets, including yet-to-be-discovered exo-Earths.

I read the Gilmour text alongside three other books on this subject - (a) "The Living Cosmos" by Chris Impey, (b) "Astrobiology: A Multidisciplinary Approach" by Jonathan Lunine, and (c) "Looking for Life: Searching the Solar System" by Clancy et. al. The Gilmour and Lunine books would - in my view - be properly classed as true "textbooks" on this subject, while the Impey and Clancy books are presented as more general reading.
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