How to Find a Habitable Planet (Science Essentials Series)
  • How to Find a Habitable Planet (Science Essentials Series)
  • How to Find a Habitable Planet (Science Essentials Series)

How to Find a Habitable Planet (Science Essentials Series)

5.0 2
by James Kasting
     
 

ISBN-10: 0691138052

ISBN-13: 9780691138053

Pub. Date: 12/28/2009

Publisher: Princeton University Press

Ever since Carl Sagan first predicted that extraterrestrial civilizations must number in the millions, the search for life on other planets has gripped our imagination. Is Earth so rare that advanced life forms like us--or even the simplest biological organisms--are unique to the universe? How to Find a Habitable Planet describes how scientists are testing

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Overview

Ever since Carl Sagan first predicted that extraterrestrial civilizations must number in the millions, the search for life on other planets has gripped our imagination. Is Earth so rare that advanced life forms like us--or even the simplest biological organisms--are unique to the universe? How to Find a Habitable Planet describes how scientists are testing Sagan's prediction, and demonstrates why Earth may not be so rare after all.

James Kasting has worked closely with NASA in its mission to detect habitable worlds outside our solar system, and in this book he introduces readers to the advanced methodologies being used in this extraordinary quest. He addresses the compelling questions that planetary scientists grapple with today: What exactly makes a planet habitable? What are the signatures of life astronomers should look for when they scan the heavens for habitable worlds? In providing answers, Kasting explains why Earth has remained habitable despite a substantial rise in solar luminosity over time, and why our neighbors, Venus and Mars, haven't. If other Earth-sized planets endowed with enough water and carbon are out there, he argues, chances are good that some of those planets sustain life. Kasting describes the efforts under way to find them, and predicts that future discoveries will profoundly alter our view of the universe and our place in it.

This book is a must-read for anyone who has ever dreamed of finding other planets like ours--and perhaps even life like ours--in the cosmos.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780691138053
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
Publication date:
12/28/2009
Series:
Science Essentials Series
Pages:
326
Product dimensions:
6.40(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.30(d)

Table of Contents

Preface xi

Part I: Introduction 1

Chapter 1: Past Thinking about Earth-Like Planets and Life 3

The Habitable Zone and the Importance of Liquid Water 5

Carl Sagan and the Drake Equation 9

Other Perspectives on Planetary Habitability: Rare Earth and Gaia 11

Part II: Our Habitable Planet Earth 15

Chapter 2: Critical Updates on How Planets Are Built 17

The Conventional Wisdom regarding Planet Formation 18

Where Did Earth's Water Come From? 21

New Models for Planetary Accretion and Delivery of Water 23

Could Earth's Water Have Come from Comets? 25

An Up-to-Date Simulation of Planetary Accretion 28

Chapter 3: Long-Term Climate Stability 32

Solar Evolution Theory 32

Solar Mass Loss? 36

Electromagnetic Radiation and the Greenhouse Effect 37

Planetary Energy Balance 41

The Faint Young Sun Problem 42

Possible Solutions to the Problem 45

The Carbonate- Silicate Cycle and Controls on Atmospheric CO2 49

The CO2-Climate Feedback Loop 53

Chapter 4: More Wrinkles in Earth's Climate History 57

The Phanerozoic Climate Record 58

Precambrian Climate 63

Geologic Evidence for the Rise of Atmospheric O2 65

Cause of the O2 Rise: Cyanobacteria 68

Methane, Methanogens, and the Universal Tree of Life 71

The Archean Methane Greenhouse 75

The Paleoproterozoic Glaciation 77

Chapter 5: Runaway Glaciation and "Snowball Earth" 80

Milankovitch Cycles and the Recent Ice Ages 81

Ice Albedo Feedback and Climatic Instability 86

Evidence for Low- Latitude Glaciation 88

Mechanisms for Explaining Low- Latitude Glaciation 90

Snowball Earth 92

Part III: Limits to Planetary Habitability 97

Chapter 6: Runaway Greenhouses and the Evolution of Venus' Atmosphere 99

The History of Water on Venus 100

The Classical Runaway Greenhouse Effect 103

An Alternative Runaway Greenhouse Model 106

Evolution of Venus'Atmosphere 111

Chapter 7: The Future Evolution of Earth 116

High- CO2 Atmospheres and Temperature Limits for Life 116

Future Solar Evolution and Lifetime of the Biosphere 118

A Geoengineering Solution to Solar Luminosity Increases 121

Chapter 8: The Martian Climate Puzzle 125

Evidence for Liquid Water near Mars'Surface 126

CH4 in Mars'Atmosphere? 130

Evidence That Water Flowed in Mars'Distant Past 131

When Did the Martian Valleys Form? 135

How Warm Was Early Mars? 136

Mechanisms for Warming Early Mars 138

Where Are the Carbonates? 144

Chapter 9: Is the Earth Rare? 147

Planetary Size / Magnetic Fields 147

Ozone and Ultraviolet Radiation 152

Availability of Nitrogen and the Importance of N2 155

Is Plate Tectonics Common? 157

A Planet's Impact Environment 161

Stabilization of Earth's Obliquity by the Moon 164

Chapter 10: Habitable Zones around Stars 171

Historical Attempts to Defi ne the Habitable Zone 171

A More Modern Model for the Habitable Zone around the Sun 176

Hertzsprung- Russell Diagrams and Main Sequence Stars 179

Habitable Zones around Other Stars 181

Problems for Planets Orbiting Early- Type Stars 185

Problems for Planets Orbiting Late- Type Stars 188

Further Extensions of the Habitable Zone Concept 191

The Galactic Habitable Zone 192

Part IV: How to Find Another Earth 195

Chapter 11: Indirect Detection of Planets around Other Stars 197

Barnard's Star 198

The Astrometric Method 199

Pulsar Planets 205

The Doppler Effect 207

The Radial Velocity Method 210

Gravitational Microlensing 216

Chapter 12: Finding and Characterizing Planets by Using Transits 221

Transits of Mercury and Venus 221

Transits of Extrasolar "Hot Jupiters" 222

Space- Based Transit Searches: CoRoT and Kepler 227

Observing Exoplanet Atmospheres during Transits 229

Secondary Transit Spectroscopy 233

Characterizing Earth- Like Planets around M Stars 235

Chapter 13: Direct Detection of Extrasolar Planets 239

What Wavelength Region Should We Choose? 240

Infrared Interferometers: TPF- I and Darwin 245

Searching for Planets at Visible Wavelengths TPF- C 248

The Visible Occulter: TPF- O 253

Nearby Target Stars 254

Chapter 14: The Spectroscopic Search for Life 258

Spectral Resolution 259

The Visible / Near- IR Region: TPF- C or -O 260

The Thermal- IR Region: TPF- I or Darwin 266

Looking for Life on Early Earth- Type Planets 269

Possible False Positives for Life 271

Polarization Measurements: Looking for the Glint of Surface Water 274

The Holy Grail: Simultaneous Detection of O and Reduced Gases 276

Chapter 15: Prospects for the More Distant Future 284

NASA's Life Finder Mission 284

Using the Sun as a Gravitational Lens 287

The Drake Equation Revisited: The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence 290

Notes 299

Index 317

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How to Find a Habitable Planet (Science Essentials Series) 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
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