© 2004

Life in the Solar System and Beyond


Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xxv
  2. Barrie W. Jones
    Pages 1-24
  3. Barrie W. Jones
    Pages 25-52
  4. Barrie W. Jones
    Pages 53-76
  5. Barrie W. Jones
    Pages 99-125
  6. Barrie W. Jones
    Pages 127-136
  7. Barrie W. Jones
    Pages 137-147
  8. Barrie W. Jones
    Pages 149-163
  9. Barrie W. Jones
    Pages 165-184
  10. Barrie W. Jones
    Pages 185-210
  11. Barrie W. Jones
    Pages 211-235
  12. Barrie W. Jones
    Pages 237-255
  13. Barrie W. Jones
    Pages 257-279
  14. Back Matter
    Pages 281-317

About this book


In Life in the Solar System and Beyond, Professor Jones has written a broad introduction to the subject, addressing important topics such as, what is life?, the origins of life and where to look for extraterrestrial life.

The chapters are arranged as follows: Chapter 1 is a broad introduction to the cosmos, with an emphasis on where we might find life. In Chapters 2 and 3 Professor Jones discusses life on Earth, the one place we know to be inhabited. Chapter 4 is a brief tour of the Solar system, leading us in Chapters 5 and 6 to two promising potential habitats, Mars and Europa. In Chapter 7 the author discusses the fate of life in the Solar system, which gives us extra reason to consider life further afield. Chapter 8 focuses on the types of stars that might host habitable planets, and where in the Galaxy these might be concentrated. Chapters 9 and 10 describe the instruments and techniques being employed to discover planets around other stars (exoplanetary systems), and those that will be employed in the near future. Chapter 11 summarizes the known exoplanetary systems, together with an outline of the systems we expect to discover soon, particularly habitable planets. Chapter 12 describes how we will attempt to find life on these planets, and the final chapter brings us to the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, and the question as to whether we are alone.


astrobiology astronomy biology earth evolution extrasolar planet Extraterrestrial life galaxy instruments planet solar system

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Physics and Astronomy DepartmentThe Open UniversityMilton KeynesUK

Bibliographic information


From the reviews:

"This book … provides a comprehensive overview of astrobiology. It is a course textbook, suited for a first year undergraduate course … . The book is supported by a glossary, a bibliography of similar textbooks on similar and related areas, and a list of useful websites. The textbook has a strong emphasis on astronomy … making this suitable as a course text in this subject with an emphasis on astrobiology. … highly appropriate for courses in UK first year undergraduate programmes." (Alex Ellery, International Journal of Astrobiology, Vol. 3 (1), 2004)

"Bulging with concise explanations and 142 clarifying diagrams and photos, the book probably represents some of the best pedagogy in the solar system on these topics. … Jones’s book … just the right level for most undergraduates. … Open-minded scientists looking for an authoritative tour of astrobiology will enjoy the book … . The author’s summary of exoplanet detection techniques is excellent … . Jones keeps us interested with simple explanations … . His approach is quite an achievement … . " (Charley Lineweaver, Physics Today, February, 2005).

"This book centres on the search for life in the Solar System and beyond. It includes an overview of many of the disciplines involved in this field of research, which include astronomy, biology and geology. … It was good to see that the astronomy has been kept fairly descriptive and not too mathematical. This keeps the flow of the book. … As an overview of the key subjects involved in astrobiology for a university course, I think this book is successful." (James Silvester, Astronomy Now, March, 2005)

"This is a textbook suitable for university use. … this is one of the best. … includes excellent recent images of Mars, Europa and elsewhere, and is richly illustrated with explanatory diagrams. … There is a useful index, a glossary and a list of ‘resources’ (websites and books)." (Malcolm Walter, Australian Physics, Vol. 42 (3) July/August 2005)

"The author of this book … has definitively influenced the content and the presentation of this book. … The public to which this book is directed is very diverse … . The prerequisite knowledge is minimal … . this book reveals some very fascinating observations. … Reviewers found it very interesting to read that the earliest undisputed evidence for life … . The book is nicely illustrated … . this book can be highly recommended to all those interested in the scientific origins of life." (Fernande Grandjean, Gary J. Long, Physicalia, Vol. 57 (3), 2005)

"What is required for life, and where might it have evolved? … These are the questions that are addressed in this wide ranging, well written and thought provoking book. … memory is not overly taxed due to the inclusion of helpful summaries at the end of each chapter which identify the key points. ... It draws on all sorts of scientific knowledge … . No great demands of the reader are made in terms of prior knowledge … . But for anyone wishing to follow … Jones’ book is an excellent start." (Dr. C.M.Linton, Contemporary Physics, Vol. 46 (3), 2005)

"Can life exist anywhere other than on Earth? Jones (Open Univ., UK) works with well-defined parameters in the search for possible alien life forms, developing these parameters from a study of Earthly evolution of life and geological forms, and the evolution of the solar system as it is presently understood. He includes what data are available from studies on Earth, through telescopes, and from data available at the time of writing on space flights to the planets. He then searches data on solar system planets and the planetary satellites, trying to find conditions similar enough to those on Earth to support some form of life, before going beyond the solar system to search for nonsolar star systems that could contain such conditions. Jones set himself an imposing task that demands either a very large volume or concise writing; although written very well, his book does require some background in science to be completely understood. It contains much detail, including some mathematical derivations, together with excellent diagrams and photographs, references to pertinent Web sites, and summaries and questions at chapter-ends. Summing Up: Recommended. General readers; lower-division undergraduate through graduate students; two-year technical program students. -- P. R. Douville, emeritus, Central Connecticut State University

"Certainly, Barrie Jones covers a lot of ground in this concise summary of our state of knowledge with regard to extraterrestrial life. … The book is generally very readable and easy to follow … . each chapter includes a final summary and questions/answers that would be of value for students. … as a one-stop reference on exobiology it is hard to beat." (Peter Bond, The Observatory, Vol. 125 (1188), 2005)