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Every night, above our heads, a drama of epic proportions is playing out. Diamond planets, zombie stars, black holes heavier than a billion Suns. The cast of characters is extraordinary, and each one has its own incredible story to tell. We once thought of our Earth as unique, but we have now discovered thousands of alien planets, and that's barely a fraction of the worlds that are out there. And there are more stars in the Universe than grains of sand on every planet in the Solar System. But amid all this vastness, the Milky Way Galaxy, our Sun and the Earth are home to the only known life in the Universe - at least for now. With a foreword from Professor Brian Cox, and access to all the latest stunning NASA photography, Andrew Cohen takes readers on a voyage of discovery, via the probes and telescopes exploring the outer reaches of our galaxy, revealing how it was formed and how it will inevitably be destroyed by the enigmatic black hole at its heart. And beyond our galaxy, the expanding Universe, which holds clues to the biggest mystery of all - how did it all begin? We now know more about those first moments of existence than we ever thought possible, and hidden in this story of how it all began are the clues to the fate of the Universe itself and everything in it.
In The Smallest Lights in the Universe, MIT astrophysicist Sara Seager interweaves the story of her search for meaning and solace after losing her first husband to cancer, her unflagging search for an Earth-like exoplanet and her unexpected discovery of new love. Sara Seager has made it her life's work to peer into the spaces around stars - looking for exoplanets outside our solar system, hoping to find the one-in-a-billion world enough like ours to sustain life. But with the unexpected death of her husband, her life became an empty, lightless space. Suddenly, she was the single mother of two young boys, a widow at forty, clinging to three crumpled pages of instructions her husband had written for things like grocery shopping - things he had done while she did pioneering work as a planetary scientist at MIT. She became painfully conscious of her Asperger's, which before losing her husband had felt more like background noise. She felt, for the first time, alone in the universe. In this probing, invigoratingly honest memoir, Seager tells the story of how, as she stumblingly navigated the world of grief, she also kept looking for other worlds. She continues to develop ground-breaking projects, such as the Starshade, a sunflower-shaped instrument that, when launched into space, unfurls itself so as to block planet-obscuring starlight, and she takes solace in the alien beauty of exoplanets. At the same time, she discovers what feels every bit as wondrous: other people, reaching out across the space of her grief. Among them are the Widows of Concord, a group of women offering consolation and advice, and her beloved sons, Max and Alex. Most unexpected of all, there is another kind of one-in-a-billion match with an amateur astronomer. Equally attuned to the wonders of deep space and human connection, The Smallest Lights in the Universe is its own light in the dark.
This book provides a comprehensive review of the soft X-rays emitted when the solar wind interacts with exospheric neutrals at Venus, Mars, comets, the Moon, and Earth. It shows how observations can be used to address research problems ranging from the nature of magnetic reconnection at the Earth's magnetopause to atmospheric loss at other planets. The book provides the theoretical basis for soft X-ray emission and describes simulations of the expected emissions, past observations by narrow field-of-view X-ray telescopes, and current efforts to develop a new generation of wide field-of-view telescopes capable of capturing the entire solar wind-obstacle interaction. Originally published in Space Science Reviews, Volume 214, Issue 4, Article 79, 2018
Simone Marchi presents the emerging story of how cosmic collisions shaped both the solar system and our own planet, from the creation of the Moon to influencing the evolution of life on Earth. The Earth emerged out of the upheaval and chaos of massive collisions in the infancy of the Solar System, more than four billion years ago. The largest of these events sent into orbit a spray of molten rocks out of which the Moon coalesced. As in ancient mythological tales, this giant catastrophe marks the birth of our planet as we know it. Space exploration has shown that signs of ancient collisions are widespread in the Solar System, from the barren and once-habitable Mars to the rugged asteroids. On Earth these signs are more subtle, but still cataclysmic, such as the massive asteroid strike which likely sparked the demise of the dinosaurs and many other forms of life some 66 million years ago. Signatures of even more dramatic catastrophes are concealed in ancient rocks. These events wreaked havoc on our planet's surface, influencing global climate and topography, while also enriching the Earth with gold and other rare elements. And recently, modern science is finding that they could even have contributed to developing the conditions conducive to life. In Colliding Worlds, Simone Marchi explores the key role that collisions in space have played in the formation and evolution of our solar system, the development of planets, and possibly even the origin of life on Earth. Analysing our latest understanding of the surfaces of Mars and Venus, gleaned from recent space missions, Marchi presents the dramatic story of cosmic collisions and their legacies.
Every rock has a story tell, and none more so than those which have fallen from the sky: meteorites. Originating in the Asteroid Belt between Mars and Jupiter, these rocky fragments offer clues not just to the earliest origins of the Solar System but also to Earth's very survival into the future. Sky at Night presenter, Dr Tim Gregory takes us on a journey through the very earliest days of our Solar System to the spectacular meteorite falls that produced 'fiery rain' in 1792, to the pre-solar grains (literally stardust) that were blown in from other solar systems and are the oldest solid objects ever discovered on earth. Meteorites reveal a story much bigger than ourselves or our planet. As Tim says, 'it is an epic beyond compare'.
Carbon plays a fundamental role on Earth. It forms the chemical backbone for all essential organic molecules produced by living organisms. Carbon-based fuels supply most of society's energy, and atmospheric carbon dioxide has a huge impact on Earth's climate. This book provides a complete history of the emergence and development of the new interdisciplinary field of deep carbon science. It traces four centuries of history during which the inner workings of the dynamic Earth were discovered, and documents extraordinary scientific revolutions that changed our understanding of carbon on Earth forever: carbon's origin in exploding stars; the discovery of the internal heat source driving the Earth's carbon cycle; and the tectonic revolution. Written with an engaging narrative style and covering the scientific endeavours of more than a hundred pioneers of deep geoscience, this is a fascinating book for students and researchers working in Earth system science and deep carbon research.
From deep ocean trenches and the geographical poles to outer space, organisms can be found living in remarkably extreme conditions. This book provides a captivating account of these systems and their extraordinary inhabitants, 'extremophiles'. A diverse, multidisciplinary group of experts discuss responses and adaptations to change; biodiversity, bioenergetic processes, and biotic and abiotic interactions; polar environments; and life and habitability, including searching for biosignatures in the extraterrestrial environment. The editors emphasize that understanding these systems is important for increasing our knowledge and utilizing their potential, but this remains an understudied area. Given the threat to these environments and their biota caused by climate change and human impact, this timely book also addresses the urgency to document these systems. It will help graduate students and researchers in conservation, marine biology, evolutionary biology, environmental change and astrobiology better understand how life exists in these environments and their susceptibility or resilience to change.
Illustrated with breathtaking images of the Solar System and of the Universe around it, this book explores how the discoveries within the Solar System and of exoplanets far beyond it come together to help us understand the habitability of Earth, and how these findings guide the search for exoplanets that could support life. The author highlights how, within two decades of the discovery of the first planets outside the Solar System in the 1990s, scientists concluded that planets are so common that most stars are orbited by them. The lives of exoplanets and their stars, as of our Solar System and its Sun, are inextricably interwoven. Stars are the seeds around which planets form, and they provide light and warmth for as long as they shine. At the end of their lives, stars expel massive amounts of newly forged elements into deep space, and that ejected material is incorporated into subsequent generations of planets. How do we learn about these distant worlds? What does the exploration of other planets tell us about Earth? Can we find out what the distant future may have in store for us? What do we know about exoworlds and starbirth, and where do migrating hot Jupiters, polluted white dwarfs, and free-roaming nomad planets fit in? And what does all that have to do with the habitability of Earth, the possibility of finding extraterrestrial life, and the operation of the globe-spanning network of the sciences?
For many years, planetary science has been taught as part of the astronomy curriculum, from a very physics-based perspective, and from the framework of a tour of the Solar System - body by body. Over the past decades, however, spacecraft exploration and related laboratory research on extraterrestrial materials have given us a new understanding of planets and how they are shaped by geological processes. Based on a course taught at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, this is the first textbook to focus on geologic processes, adopting a comparative approach that demonstrates the similarities and differences between planets, and the reasons for these. Profusely illustrated, and with a wealth of pedagogical features, this book provides an ideal capstone course for geoscience majors - bringing together aspects of mineralogy, petrology, geochemistry, volcanology, sedimentology, geomorphology, tectonics, geophysics and remote sensing.
Meteorites are fascinating cosmic visitors. Using accessible language, this book documents the history of mineralogy and meteorite research, summarizes the mineralogical characteristics of the myriad varieties of meteorites, and explains the mineralogical characteristics of Solar System bodies visited by spacecraft. Some of these bodies contain minerals that do not occur naturally on Earth or in meteorites. The book explains how to recognize different phases under the microscope and in back-scattered electron images. It summarizes the major ways in which meteoritic minerals form - from condensation in the expanding atmospheres of dying stars to crystallization in deep-seated magmas, from flash-melting in the solar nebula to weathering in the terrestrial environment. Containing spectacular back-scattered electron images, colour photographs of meteorite minerals, and with an accompanying online list of meteorite minerals, this book provides a useful resource for meteorite researchers, terrestrial mineralogists, cosmochemists and planetary scientists, as well as graduate students in these fields
Discover the mysteries of the Universe and journey to galaxies beyond our own in this fact-packed companion to space. From icy worlds and hot, fiery giants to the biggest telescopes and latest spacecraft, this book covers more than 40 profiles of the planets, stars, and objects in our universe. Find out all about our neighboring planets, from tiny Mercury to gigantic Jupiter. Discover what lies beyond our solar system and the stars we can see in the night sky. Learn about the latest space technology and when humans may finally land on Mars. Broken down by type, each object is presented in a clear, engaging way, with stunning images and bite-sized chunks of information. Detailed NASA photography brings the mysteries of outer space to life, while pronunciation guides help with tricky names, and a visual index gives a quick overview of all the key objects in the book. Filled with fascinating details for every young stargazer and budding astronaut, My Book of Stars and Planets is the perfect first reference book on space and the universe for kids.
Full of personal insights and accounts of the long journey to getting a man on the moon, Missions to the Moon is the perfect companion for anyone with a love of space travel, the moon landings, or NASA, CNSA, RFSA, and the rest of the world's space programs. With dozens of stunning photographs and fascinating memorabilia - such as Apollo 11 Mission Reports and Flight Director's Logs - track the birth of the space race and Yuri Gagarin's first space flight, to the many successes and failures of the Apollo mission, all the way to that boots-on-the-ground moment we have come to know so well. Uniquely complemented by ground-breaking digital technology you can become fully immersed in this interactive story of mankind's ongoing journey into the final frontier.
Not long ago, the Solar System was the only example of a planetary system - a star and the bodies orbiting it - that we knew. Now, we know thousands of planetary systems, and have even been able to observe planetary systems at the moment of their birth. This Very Short Introduction explores this new frontier, incorporating the latest research. The book takes the reader on a journey through the grand sweep of time, from the moment galaxies begin to form after the Big Bang to trillions of years in the future when the Universe will be a dilute soup of dim galaxies populated mostly by red dwarf stars. Throughout, Raymond T. Pierrehumbert introduces the latest insights gained from a new generation of telescopes that catch planetary systems at the moment of formation, and to the theoretical advances that attempt to make sense of these observations. He explains how the elements that make up life and the planets on which life can live are forged in the interiors of dying stars, and make their way into rocky planets. He also explores the vast array of newly discovered planets orbiting stars other than our own, and explains the factors that determine their climates. Finally, he reveals what determines how long planetary systems can live, and what happens in their end-times. Very Short Introductions: Brilliant, Sharp, Inspiring ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.
Dr Carrie Nugent is an asteroid hunter - one of the select group of scientists working diligently to map our cosmic neighbourhood. For the first time ever we are reaching the point where we may be able to prevent a natural disaster resulting from an asteroid collision. Nugent will delve into the impact asteroids have had in the past: the extinction of the dinosaurs, the earth-sized hole Shoemaker-Levy 9 left in Jupiter just a few years ago, how the surprise hit on Chelyabinsk in Russia could have started a war and unlucky Ms Anne Hodges - the only person (that we know of) in modern history to be the victim of a direct hit. Nugent will also reveal the cutting-edge work that she is part of - using NASA's NEOWISE telescope to track down near-Earth asteroids. NEOWISE has seen over 158,000 asteroids and discovered over 30,000. We will also get a rare glimpse into the work of this band of asteroid hunters and their techniques. Asteroid orbits are chaotic which means a small early change has a big impact later on. The successful hunt and mapping of asteroids could mean nothing less than saving life on Earth.
The search for life in the universe, once the stuff of science fiction, is now a robust worldwide research program with a well-defined roadmap probing both scientific and societal issues. This volume examines the humanistic aspects of astrobiology, systematically discussing the approaches, critical issues, and implications of discovering life beyond Earth. What do the concepts of life and intelligence, culture and civilization, technology and communication mean in a cosmic context? What are the theological and philosophical implications if we find life - and if we do not? Steven J. Dick argues that given recent scientific findings, the discovery of life in some form beyond Earth is likely and so we need to study the possible impacts of such a discovery and formulate policies to deal with them. The remarkable and often surprising results are presented here in a form accessible to disciplines across the sciences, social sciences, and humanities.
Black holes. What even are they? In brief, a black hole is a region of spacetime so curved by gravity that even light cannot escape it. They're peculiar objects - and notoriously difficult to understand - but are actually a fascinating fusion of the simple and the complex. Although the mathematics describing their behaviour is fiendishly difficult, we can explore the subject by starting with basic principles and straightforward thought experiments. Read on to uncover what's inside a black hole, how scientists discovered this amazing phenomena, even what to do if you find yourself falling into one... and since no one is likely to turn up and help (you'll find out why), what you need to do to escape! Common myths about black holes are dispelled, there is guidance on how to win several Nobel prizes, and the eventual fate of the entire Universe is revealed (maybe)... A little bit of time travel might also be involved!
An enthralling exploration of the star on our doorstep, charting the journey from ancient superstition to the deep scientific mysteries yet to be resolved. The Sun examines how we've come to understand the features and processes at work in our star, starting with the earliest observations of mysterious sunspots and ending with the rich and complex investigation of the connected Sun-Earth system. It reveals the interconnected sciences involved in finding out more about the Sun and the practical importance of doing so for our modern world. It's a slow-burn tale of scientific discovery!
This book focuses on the specific mission planning for lunar sample collection, the equipment used, and the analysis and findings concerning the samples at the Lunar Receiving Laboratory in Texas. Anthony Young documents the collection of Apollo samples for the first time for readers of all backgrounds, and includes interviews with many of those involved in planning and analyzing the samples. NASA contracted with the U.S. Geologic Survey to perform classroom and field training of the Apollo astronauts. NASA's Geology Group within the Manned Spacecraft Center in Houston, Texas, helped to establish the goals of sample collection, as well as the design of sample collection tools, bags, and storage containers. In this book, detailed descriptions are given on the design of the lunar sampling tools, the Modular Experiment Transporter used on Apollo 14, and the specific areas of the Lunar Rover vehicle used for the Apollo 15, 16, and 17 missions, which carried the sampling tools, bags, and other related equipment used in sample collection. The Lunar Receiving Laboratory, which was designed and built at the Manned Spacecraft Center in Texas for analysis and storage of the lunar samples returned from the Apollo lunar landing missions is also described in detail. There are also descriptions of astronaut mission training for sample collecting, with the focus on the specific portions of the mission EVAs devoted to this activity.
Where do asteroids come from and what are they made of? What clues do they hold about the evolution of the Solar System? Scientists have catalogued hundreds of thousands of asteroids, and many are thought to contain water and amino acids, the building blocks of life. Michael K. Shepard tells the fascinating story of their discovery, and what they can tell us about the history of our own planet. He describes how we find and study asteroids, what they look like through the eyes of powerful telescopes and spacecraft, and plans for future sample return missions. This timely book interweaves accessible scientific explanations with historical background and personal narrative, providing an engaging read for anyone curious about asteroids and what they may mean for our future - both as threats and opportunities.
This encyclopedia provides a snapshot of our current geological knowledge on solid-surface Solar System bodies. Each entry contains information about the features' morphology, its interpretation, proposed formation models, distribution and occurrence, planetary or terrestrial analogs, and research history. The entries are fully referenced. All image captions include original image IDs. More than 600 named planetary feature types are discussed in the encyclopedia, covering a wide range of scales--from micrometers to global scale--and also include landform types (structural or topographic features), parts of landforms, terrain types or surface textures, surface patterns, and features identified at wavelengths extending from visible to radio waves (e.g., albedo, thermal infrared, and radar features). The book covers features formed by impact, aeolian, magmatic, volcanic, tectonic, fluvial, lacustrine, marine and coastal, mass movement, sedimentary, desiccation, liquefaction, periglacial, glacial, nival, sublimation, collapse, weathering, and selective erosion or other, including complex processes. Depending on the information and formation models available, the entries have different approaches. Some of them discuss their subject from the point of view of the inferred process or origin, others are morphology or description-based. As a default, entries focus on extraterrestrial landforms, while also mentioning their proposed terrestrial analogs. Most planetary landforms are not body-specific, but some have no known terrestrial counterparts. Named historic (obsolete) landform types are also included to provide reference for previous key research papers. To make it easier to find features with related origins, the encyclopedia contains entries that list landforms based on their formative processes. It also lists body-specific features on Mercury (5 feature types), Venus (40), the Earth (13), the Moon (15), Mars (87), Io (7), Europa (17), Callisto (7), Titan (9), Triton (2), mid-sized satellites (8), and small bodies (3). Also included are entries on the 51 planetary feature descriptor terms approved by IAU.
Planetary scientist and educator Ken Coles has teamed up with Ken Tanaka from the United States Geological Survey's Astrogeology team, and Phil Christensen, Principal Investigator of the Mars Odyssey orbiter's THEMIS science team, to produce this all-purpose reference atlas, The Atlas of Mars. Each of the thirty standard charts includes: a full-page color topographic map at 1:10,000,000 scale, a THEMIS daytime infrared map at the same scale with features labeled, a simplified geologic map of the corresponding area, and a section describing prominent features of interest. The Atlas is rounded out with extensive material on Mars' global characteristics, regional geography and geology, a glossary of terms, and an indexed gazetteer of up-to-date Martian feature names and nomenclature. This is an essential guide for a broad readership of academics, students, amateur astronomers, and space enthusiasts, replacing the NASA atlas from the 1970s.
The Mars Curiosity Rover is the most sophisticated mobile laboratory ever deployed on a planet. For over seven years, scores of investigators have planned its daily route and activities, poring over the overwhelming images and data and revising our understanding of planetary surfaces, geology, and potential habitability. This book takes readers right down to the surface of Mars, chronicling Curiosity's physical and scientific journey across the planet's Earth-like, yet strikingly alien vistas. Through dozens of images and descriptive accounts of the surface, you will gain a deeper knowledge of the Martian landscape, from the floor of Gale Crater up to the cliffs of Mount Sharp. Presented at the end of each chapter are the results and revelations from the science team spearheading the mission. Like any cross-country road trip, the rover has hit some unexpected hitches along the way. The book describes the obstacles faced by the rover and its scientists over the years and the difficult decisions and careful experimentation it took to solve them.
Are we alone in the universe, or are there other life forms 'out there'? This is one of the most scientifically and philosophically important questions that humanity can ask. Now, in the early 2020s, we are tantalizingly close to an answer. As this book shows, the answer will almost certainly be that life forms are to be found across the Milky Way and beyond. They will be thinly spread, to be sure. Yet the number of inhabited planets probably runs into the trillions. Some are close enough for us to detect evidence of life by analysing their atmospheres. This evidence may be found within a couple of decades. Its arrival will be momentous. But even before it arrives we can anticipate what life elsewhere will be like by examining the ecology and evolution of life on Earth. This book considers the current state of play in relation to these titanic issues.
This text expounds in a logical and scientific manner the idea that life did not originate on earth, but was added to it from the comets. When Fred Hoyle and Chandra Wickramasinghe first made this proposal in the 1970s, they had few takers - because the theory flew in the face of established beliefs. This text argues that in recent years, evidence to support this theory has accumulated from many different directions and grown to the point of being compelling. This work should be of value to readers interested in general science, the origin of man and the meaning of life.
The chemical composition of any planetary atmosphere is of fundamental importance in determining its photochemistry and dynamics in addition to its thermal balance, climate, origin and evolution. Divided into two parts, this book begins with a set of introductory chapters, starting with a concise review of the Solar System and fundamental atmospheric physics. Chapters then describe the basic principles and methods of spectroscopy, the main tool for studying the chemical composition of planetary atmospheres, and of photochemical modeling and its use in the theoretical interpretation of observational data on chemical composition. The second part of the book provides a detailed review of the carbon dioxide atmospheres and ionospheres of Mars and Venus, and the nitrogen-methane atmospheres of Titan, Triton and Pluto. Written by an expert author, this comprehensive text will make a valuable reference for graduate students, researchers and professional scientists specializing in planetary atmospheres.
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