Popular Planetary Science Books

22+ [Hand Picked] Popular Books On Planetary Science

Discover the list of some best books written on Planetary Science by popular award winning authors. These book on topic Planetary Science highly popular among the readers worldwide.

4.4/5

The Holocene: An Environmental History by Neil Roberts

In its first edition, The Holocene provided undergraduates with a much-needed coherent scientific account of the great transformation of nature that had taken place during the Holocene, the last 10,000 years in the history of the planet and the period in which we are all now living. This period has included major shifts in climate and human culture, and in the natural envi In its first edition, The Holocene provided undergraduates with a much-needed coherent scientific account of the great transformation of nature that had taken place during the Holocene, the last 10,000 years in the history of the planet and the period in which we are all now living. This period has included major shifts in climate and human culture, and in the natural environment at every level. Completely revised and updated to take full account of the most recent advances, the new edition of this established text includes substantial material on scientific progress in the understanding of climate change and abrupt climatic events, of disturbance effects on the landscape, and of ice core records. Not only have improved dating methods, such as luminescence, been included but the timescale for the book has been moved to calendar (i.e. real) years. Coverage and supporting case study material have also been broadened and extended.

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4.2/5

Chasing New Horizons: Inside the Epic First Mission to Pluto by Alan Stern , David Grinspoon

Alan Stern and David Grinspoon take us behind the scenes of the science, politics, egos, and public expectations that fueled the greatest space mission of our time: New Horizons' misison to Pluto. On July 14, 2015, something amazing happened. More than 3 billion miles from Earth, a small NASA spacecraft called New Horizons screamed past Pluto at more than 32,000 miles per h Alan Stern and David Grinspoon take us behind the scenes of the science, politics, egos, and public expectations that fueled the greatest space mission of our time: New Horizons' misison to Pluto. On July 14, 2015, something amazing happened. More than 3 billion miles from Earth, a small NASA spacecraft called New Horizons screamed past Pluto at more than 32,000 miles per hour, focusing its instruments on the long mysterious icy worlds of the Pluto system, and then, just as quickly, continued on its journey out into the beyond. Nothing like this has occurred in a generation--a raw exploration of new worlds unparalleled since NASA's Voyager missions to Uranus and Neptune--and nothing like it is planned to happen ever again. The photos that New Horizons sent back to Earth graced the front pages of newspapers on all 7 continents, and NASA's website for the mission received more than 2 billion hits in the days surrounding the flyby. At a time when so many think our most historic achievements are in the past, the most distant planetary exploration ever attempted not only succeeded but made history and captured the world's imagination. How did this happen? Chasing New Horizons is the story of the men and women behind the mission: of their decades-long commitment; of the political fights within and outside of NASA; of the sheer human ingenuity it took to design, build, and fly the mission; and of the plans for New Horizons' next encounter, 1 billion miles past Pluto. Told from the insider's perspective of Dr. Alan Stern--the man who led the mission--Chasing New Horizons is a riveting story of scientific discovery, and of how far humanity can go when people focused on a dream work together toward their incredible goal.

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3.6/5

The Surface of Mars by Michael H. Carr

Our knowledge of Mars has grown enormously over the last decade as a result of the Mars Global Surveyor, Mars Odyssey, Mars Express, and the two Mars Rover missions. This book is a systematic summary of what we have learnt about the geological evolution of Mars as a result of these missions. It describes the diverse Martian surface features and summarizes current ideas as Our knowledge of Mars has grown enormously over the last decade as a result of the Mars Global Surveyor, Mars Odyssey, Mars Express, and the two Mars Rover missions. This book is a systematic summary of what we have learnt about the geological evolution of Mars as a result of these missions. It describes the diverse Martian surface features and summarizes current ideas as to how, when, and under what conditions they formed, and explores how Earth and Mars differ and why the two planets evolved so differently. The author also discusses possible implications of the geologic history for the origin and survival of indigenous Martian life. Up-to-date and highly illustrated, this book will be a principal reference for researchers and graduate students in planetary science. The comprehensive list of references will also assist readers in pursuing further information on the subject. Colour images can be found at www.cambridge.org/9780521872010.

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3.7/5

Oxygen: A Four Billion Year History by Donald E. Canfield

The air we breathe is twenty-one percent oxygen, an amount higher than on any other known world. While we may take our air for granted, Earth was not always an oxygenated planet. How did it become this way? "Oxygen" is the most current account of the history of atmospheric oxygen on Earth. Donald Canfield--one of the world's leading authorities on geochemistry, earth histo The air we breathe is twenty-one percent oxygen, an amount higher than on any other known world. While we may take our air for granted, Earth was not always an oxygenated planet. How did it become this way? "Oxygen" is the most current account of the history of atmospheric oxygen on Earth. Donald Canfield--one of the world's leading authorities on geochemistry, earth history, and the early oceans--covers this vast history, emphasizing its relationship to the evolution of life and the evolving chemistry of the Earth. With an accessible and colorful first-person narrative, he draws from a variety of fields, including geology, paleontology, geochemistry, biochemistry, animal physiology, and microbiology, to explain why our oxygenated Earth became the ideal place for life. Describing which processes, both biological and geological, act to control oxygen levels in the atmosphere, Canfield traces the records of oxygen concentrations through time. Readers learn about the great oxidation event, the tipping point 2.3 billion years ago when the oxygen content of the Earth increased dramatically, and Canfield examines how oxygenation created a favorable environment for the evolution of large animals. He guides readers through the various lines of scientific evidence, considers some of the wrong turns and dead ends along the way, and highlights the scientists and researchers who have made key discoveries in the field. Showing how Earth's atmosphere developed over time, "Oxygen" takes readers on a remarkable journey through the history of the oxygenation of our planet.

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4.2/5

Paleoclimate by Michael L. Bender

Earth's climate has undergone dramatic changes over the geologic timescale. At one extreme, Earth has been glaciated to the equator for periods that may have lasted millions of years. At another, temperatures were once so warm that the Canadian Arctic was heavily forested and large dinosaurs lived on Antarctica. Paleoclimatology is the study of such changes and their cause Earth's climate has undergone dramatic changes over the geologic timescale. At one extreme, Earth has been glaciated to the equator for periods that may have lasted millions of years. At another, temperatures were once so warm that the Canadian Arctic was heavily forested and large dinosaurs lived on Antarctica. Paleoclimatology is the study of such changes and their causes. Studying Earth's long-term climate history gives scientists vital clues about anthropogenic global warming and how climate is affected by human endeavor. In this book, Michael Bender, an internationally recognized authority on paleoclimate, provides a concise, comprehensive, and sophisticated introduction to the subject. After briefly describing the major periods in Earth history to provide geologic context, he discusses controls on climate and how the record of past climate is determined. The heart of the book then proceeds chronologically, introducing the history of climate changes over millions of years--its patterns and major transitions, and why average global temperature has varied so much. The book ends with a discussion of the Holocene (the past 10,000 years) and by putting manmade climate change in the context of paleoclimate. The most up-to-date overview on the subject, "Paleoclimate" provides an ideal introduction to undergraduates, nonspecialist scientists, and general readers with a scientific background.

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3.4/5

Atmosphere, Clouds, and Climate by David A. Randall

The atmosphere is critical to climate change. It can amplify shifts in the climate system, and also mitigate them. This primer offers a short, reader-friendly introduction to these atmospheric processes and how they work, written by a leading expert on the subject. Giving readers an overview of key atmospheric processes, David Randall looks at how our climate system receiv The atmosphere is critical to climate change. It can amplify shifts in the climate system, and also mitigate them. This primer offers a short, reader-friendly introduction to these atmospheric processes and how they work, written by a leading expert on the subject. Giving readers an overview of key atmospheric processes, David Randall looks at how our climate system receives energy from the sun and sheds it by emitting infrared radiation back into space. The atmosphere regulates these radiative energy flows and transports energy through weather systems such as thunderstorms, monsoons, hurricanes, and winter storms. Randall explains how these processes work, and also how precipitation, cloud formation, and other phase changes of water strongly influence weather and climate. He discusses how atmospheric feedbacks affect climate change, how the large-scale atmospheric circulation works, how predicting the weather and the climate are fundamentally different challenges, and much more. This is the ideal introduction for students and nonspecialists. No prior experience in atmospheric science is needed, only basic college physics. Authoritative and concise, Atmosphere, Clouds, and Climate features a glossary of terms, suggestions for further reading, and easy-to-follow explanations of a few key equations. This accessible primer is the essential introduction to atmospheric processes and the vital role they play in our climate system.

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3.7/5

Astrobiology: A Very Short Introduction by David C. Catling

Astrobiology is an exciting new subject, and one, arguably, more interdisciplinary than any other. Astrobiologists seek to understand the origin and evolution of life on Earth in order to illuminate and guide the search for life on other planets. In this Very Short Introduction, David C. Catling introduces the subject through our understanding of the factors that allowed l Astrobiology is an exciting new subject, and one, arguably, more interdisciplinary than any other. Astrobiologists seek to understand the origin and evolution of life on Earth in order to illuminate and guide the search for life on other planets. In this Very Short Introduction, David C. Catling introduces the subject through our understanding of the factors that allowed life to arise and persist on our own planet, and for the signs we are looking for in the search for extraterrestrial life. About the Series: Oxford's Very Short Introductions series offers concise and original introductions to a wide range of subjects--from Islam to Sociology, Politics to Classics, Literary Theory to History, and Archaeology to the Bible. Not simply a textbook of definitions, each volume in this series provides trenchant and provocative--yet always balanced and complete--discussions of the central issues in a given discipline or field. Every Very Short Introduction gives a readable evolution of the subject in question, demonstrating how the subject has developed and how it has influenced society. Eventually, the series will encompass every major academic discipline, offering all students an accessible and abundant reference library. Whatever the area of study that one deems important or appealing, whatever the topic that fascinates the general reader, the Very Short Introductions series has a handy and affordable guide that will likely prove indispensable.

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4.7/5

Mapping Mars: Science, Imagination, and the Birth of a World by Oliver Morton

How can you make sense of a world where no one has ever lived? Acclaimed science writer Oliver Morton tells the story of the heroic landscapes of Mars, now better mapped in some ways than the Earth itself. Mapping Mars introduces the reader to the nineteenth-century visionaries and spy-satellite pioneers, the petroleum geologists and science-fiction writers, the artists an How can you make sense of a world where no one has ever lived? Acclaimed science writer Oliver Morton tells the story of the heroic landscapes of Mars, now better mapped in some ways than the Earth itself. Mapping Mars introduces the reader to the nineteenth-century visionaries and spy-satellite pioneers, the petroleum geologists and science-fiction writers, the artists and Arctic explorers who have devoted themselves to the discovery of Mars. In doing so they have given a new world to the human imagination, a setting for our next great adventure.

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5/5

Climate and Ecosystems by David Schimel

How does life on our planet respond to--and shape--climate? This question has never been more urgent than it is today, when humans are faced with the daunting task of guiding adaptation to an inexorably changing climate. This concise, accessible, and authoritative book provides an unmatched introduction to the most reliable current knowledge about the complex relationship How does life on our planet respond to--and shape--climate? This question has never been more urgent than it is today, when humans are faced with the daunting task of guiding adaptation to an inexorably changing climate. This concise, accessible, and authoritative book provides an unmatched introduction to the most reliable current knowledge about the complex relationship between living things and climate. Using an Earth System framework, David Schimel describes how organisms, communities of organisms, and the planetary biosphere itself react to and influence environmental change. While much about the biosphere and its interactions with the rest of the Earth System remains a mystery, this book explains what is known about how physical and chemical climate affect organisms, how those physical changes influence how organisms function as individuals and in communities of organisms, and ultimately how climate-triggered ecosystem changes feed back to the physical and chemical parts of the Earth System. An essential introduction, Climate and Ecosystems shows how Earth's living systems profoundly shape the physical world.

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3.8/5

Climate and the Oceans by Geoffrey K. Vallis

The oceans exert a vital moderating influence on the Earth's climate system. They provide inertia to the global climate, essentially acting as the pacemaker of climate variability and change, and they provide heat to high latitudes, keeping them habitable. Climate and the Oceans offers a short, self-contained introduction to the subject. This illustrated primer begins by b The oceans exert a vital moderating influence on the Earth's climate system. They provide inertia to the global climate, essentially acting as the pacemaker of climate variability and change, and they provide heat to high latitudes, keeping them habitable. Climate and the Oceans offers a short, self-contained introduction to the subject. This illustrated primer begins by briefly describing the world's climate system and ocean circulation and goes on to explain the important ways that the oceans influence climate. Topics covered include the oceans' effects on the seasons, heat transport between equator and pole, climate variability, and global warming. The book also features a glossary of terms, suggestions for further reading, and easy-to-follow mathematical treatments. Climate and the Oceans is the first place to turn to get the essential facts about this crucial aspect of the Earth's climate system. Ideal for students and nonspecialists alike, this primer offers the most concise and up-to-date overview of the subject available. The best primer on the oceans and climate Succinct and self-contained Accessible to students and nonspecialists Serves as a bridge to more advanced material

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4/5

Planetary Atmospheres by F.W. Taylor

The emphasis of Planetary Atmospheres is on comparative aspects of planetary atmospheres, generally meaning comparison with the Earth, including atmospheric composition, thermal structure, cloud properties, dynamics, weather and climate, and aeronomy. The goal is to look for common processes at work under different boundary conditions in order to reach a fundamental unders The emphasis of Planetary Atmospheres is on comparative aspects of planetary atmospheres, generally meaning comparison with the Earth, including atmospheric composition, thermal structure, cloud properties, dynamics, weather and climate, and aeronomy. The goal is to look for common processes at work under different boundary conditions in order to reach a fundamental understanding of the physics of atmospheres. As part of a general Physics course, the material is chosen to emphasise certain aspects that will be of broad topical interest: - evolutionary processes, setting the Earth in its context as a planet and a member of the Solar System - the properties of atmospheres that affect the climate near the surface of each planet - measurement techniques and models, where the same experimental and theoretical physics is applied under different conditions to investigate and explain atmospheric behaviour. These might be thought of as the astronomical, environmental, and technical sides of the discipline respectively. The book covers the basic physics of planetary atmospheres in a single text for students or anyone interested in this area of science. The approach is the same as in the author's previous book Elementary Climate Physics: an overview, followed by more detailed discussion of key topics arranged by physical phenomenon and not planet by planet as usually found in this field. There is an emphasis on acquiring and interpreting measurements, and the basic physics of instruments and models, with key definitions and some historical background in footnotes and in the glossary at the end of the book.

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3.6/5

Cosmic Biology: How Life Could Evolve on Other Worlds by Louis Neal Irwin , Dirk Schulze-Makuch

Life may unfold in various forms throughout the universe, constrained by universal physical laws and consistent principles of organic evolution, but propelled to great variety in detail by local conditions and the specifics of planetary history. What is known of the chemical and physical conditions of any planetary environment and its history enables us to make educated an Life may unfold in various forms throughout the universe, constrained by universal physical laws and consistent principles of organic evolution, but propelled to great variety in detail by local conditions and the specifics of planetary history. What is known of the chemical and physical conditions of any planetary environment and its history enables us to make educated and plausible speculations about the nature and history of life on that world. Within our Solar System, there is an enormous diversity of planetary environments. On Earth, life evolved on a geologically complex, water-rich world, which today has an oxidizing atmosphere, although this was not always the case. On Mars, the surface is bitterly cold and dry, and the atmosphere very thin. Whether or not life ever existed on the Red Planet is a matter for speculation, but we do know that early in its history, Mars was a warmer, wetter world. Today Venus is a planet with an incredibly hot surface and a dense choking atmosphere, and it seems unlikely, although not impossible, that life could ever evolve here. On the gas giant planets, such as Jupiter and Saturn, it is possible that life might exist in the dense atmospheres of these cloud covered worlds, and might even have evolved on some of their exotic moons such as the sulphur-rich, volcanic world Io, Icy Europa with its possible sub-surface ocean, or Titan with its lakes of liquid petroleum gas on the surface. Discussions of the great variety of life forms that could evolve in these diverse environments have become particularly relevant in recent years with the discovery of around 300 exoplanets in orbit around other stars and the possibilities for the existence of life in these planetary systems.

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3.1/5

Unmasking Europa - The search for life on Jupiter's ocean moon by Richard Greenberg

Jupiter's ice moon Europa is widely regarded as the most likely place to find extraterrestrial life. This book tells the engaging story of Europa, the oceanic moon. It features a large number of stunning images of the ocean moon's surface, clearly displaying the spectacular crack patterns, extensive rifts and ridges, and refrozen pools of exposed water filled with rafts of Jupiter's ice moon Europa is widely regarded as the most likely place to find extraterrestrial life. This book tells the engaging story of Europa, the oceanic moon. It features a large number of stunning images of the ocean moon's surface, clearly displaying the spectacular crack patterns, extensive rifts and ridges, and refrozen pools of exposed water filled with rafts of displaced ice. Coverage also features firsthand accounts of Galileo's mission to Jupiter and its moons. The book tells the rough and tumble inside story of a very human enterprise in science that lead to the discovery of a fantastic new world that might well harbor life.

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4.5/5

The Cryosphere by Shawn J. Marshall

The cryosphere encompasses the Earth's snow and ice masses. It is a critical part of our planet's climate system, one that is especially at risk from climate change and global warming. The Cryosphere provides an essential introduction to the subject, written by one of the world's leading experts in Earth-system science. In this primer, glaciologist Shawn Marshall introduce The cryosphere encompasses the Earth's snow and ice masses. It is a critical part of our planet's climate system, one that is especially at risk from climate change and global warming. The Cryosphere provides an essential introduction to the subject, written by one of the world's leading experts in Earth-system science. In this primer, glaciologist Shawn Marshall introduces readers to the cryosphere and the broader role it plays in our global climate system. After giving a concise overview, he fully explains each component of the cryosphere and how it works--seasonal snow, permafrost, river and lake ice, sea ice, glaciers, ice sheets, and ice shelves. Marshall describes how snow and ice interact with our atmosphere and oceans and how they influence climate, sea level, and ocean circulation. He looks at the cryosphere's role in past ice ages and considers the changing cryosphere's future impact on our landscape, oceans, and climate. Accessible and authoritative, this primer also features a glossary of key terms, suggestions for further reading, explanations of equations, and a discussion of open research questions in the field.

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3.7/5

Rare Earth: Why Complex Life Is Uncommon in the Universe by Peter D. Ward , Donald Brownlee

What determines whether complex life will arise on a planet, or even any life at all? Questions such as these are investigated in this groundbreaking book. In doing so, the authors synthesize information from astronomy, biology, and paleontology, and apply it to what we know about the rise of life on Earth and to what could possibly happen elsewhere in the universe. Everyo What determines whether complex life will arise on a planet, or even any life at all? Questions such as these are investigated in this groundbreaking book. In doing so, the authors synthesize information from astronomy, biology, and paleontology, and apply it to what we know about the rise of life on Earth and to what could possibly happen elsewhere in the universe. Everyone who has been thrilled by the recent discoveries of extrasolar planets and the indications of life on Mars and the Jovian moon Europa will be fascinated by Rare Earth, and its implications for those who look to the heavens for companionship.

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4.5/5

Caesar's Last Breath: Decoding the Secrets of the Air Around Us by Sam Kean

It's invisible. It's ever-present. Without it, you would die in minutes. And it has an epic story to tell. In Caesar's Last Breath, New York Times bestselling author Sam Kean takes us on a journey through the periodic table, around the globe, and across time to tell the story of the air we breathe, which, it turns out, is also the story of earth and our existence on it. With It's invisible. It's ever-present. Without it, you would die in minutes. And it has an epic story to tell. In Caesar's Last Breath, New York Times bestselling author Sam Kean takes us on a journey through the periodic table, around the globe, and across time to tell the story of the air we breathe, which, it turns out, is also the story of earth and our existence on it. With every breath, you literally inhale the history of the world. On the ides of March, 44 BC, Julius Caesar died of stab wounds on the Senate floor, but the story of his last breath is still unfolding; in fact, you're probably inhaling some of it now. Of the sextillions of molecules entering or leaving your lungs at this moment, some might well bear traces of Cleopatra's perfumes, German mustard gas, particles exhaled by dinosaurs or emitted by atomic bombs, even remnants of stardust from the universe's creation. Tracing the origins and ingredients of our atmosphere, Kean reveals how the alchemy of air reshaped our continents, steered human progress, powered revolutions, and continues to influence everything we do. Along the way, we'll swim with radioactive pigs, witness the most important chemical reactions humans have discovered, and join the crowd at the Moulin Rouge for some of the crudest performance art of all time. Lively, witty, and filled with the astounding science of ordinary life, Caesar's Last Breath illuminates the science stories swirling around us every second.

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3/5

Lucky Planet: Why Earth is Exceptional-and What That Means for Life in the Universe by David Waltham

Humankind has long fantasized about life elsewhere in the universe. And as we discover countless exoplanets orbiting other stars—among them, rocky super-Earths and gaseous Hot Jupiters—we become ever more hopeful that we may come across extraterrestrial life. Yet even as we become aware of the vast numbers of planets outside our solar system, it has also become clear that Humankind has long fantasized about life elsewhere in the universe. And as we discover countless exoplanets orbiting other stars—among them, rocky super-Earths and gaseous Hot Jupiters—we become ever more hopeful that we may come across extraterrestrial life. Yet even as we become aware of the vast numbers of planets outside our solar system, it has also become clear that Earth is exceptional. The question is: why? In Lucky Planet, astrobiologist David Waltham argues that Earth’s climate stability is one of the primary factors that makes it able to support life, and that nothing short of luck made such conditions possible. The four-billion-year stretch of good weather that our planet has experienced is statistically so unlikely, he shows, that chances are slim that we will ever encounter intelligent extraterrestrial others. Describing the three factors that typically control a planet’s average temperature—the heat received from its star, how much heat the planet absorbs, and the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere—Waltham paints a complex picture of how special Earth’s climate really is. He untangles the mystery of why, although these factors have shifted by such massive measures over the history of life on Earth, surface temperatures have never fluctuated so much as to make conditions hostile to life. Citing factors such as the size of our Moon and the effect of an ever-warming Sun, Waltham challenges the prevailing scientific consensus that other Earth-like planets have natural stabilizing mechanisms that allow life to flourish. A lively exploration of the stars above and the ground beneath our feet, Lucky Planet seamlessly weaves the story of Earth and the worlds orbiting other stars to give us a new perspective of the surprising role chance plays in our place in the universe.

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4.9/5

Astrobiology: A Very Short Introduction by David C. Catling

Astrobiology is an exciting new subject, and one, arguably, more interdisciplinary than any other. Astrobiologists seek to understand the origin and evolution of life on Earth in order to illuminate and guide the search for life on other planets. In this Very Short Introduction, David C. Catling introduces the subject through our understanding of the factors that allowed l Astrobiology is an exciting new subject, and one, arguably, more interdisciplinary than any other. Astrobiologists seek to understand the origin and evolution of life on Earth in order to illuminate and guide the search for life on other planets. In this Very Short Introduction, David C. Catling introduces the subject through our understanding of the factors that allowed life to arise and persist on our own planet, and for the signs we are looking for in the search for extraterrestrial life. About the Series: Oxford's Very Short Introductions series offers concise and original introductions to a wide range of subjects--from Islam to Sociology, Politics to Classics, Literary Theory to History, and Archaeology to the Bible. Not simply a textbook of definitions, each volume in this series provides trenchant and provocative--yet always balanced and complete--discussions of the central issues in a given discipline or field. Every Very Short Introduction gives a readable evolution of the subject in question, demonstrating how the subject has developed and how it has influenced society. Eventually, the series will encompass every major academic discipline, offering all students an accessible and abundant reference library. Whatever the area of study that one deems important or appealing, whatever the topic that fascinates the general reader, the Very Short Introductions series has a handy and affordable guide that will likely prove indispensable.

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3.2/5

Red Rover: Inside the Story of Robotic Space Exploration, from Genesis to the Mars Rover Curiosity by Roger Wiens

In its eerie likeness to Earth, Mars has long captured our imaginations—both as a destination for humankind and as a possible home to extraterrestrial life. It is our twenty-first century New World; its explorers robots, shipped 350 million miles from Earth to uncover the distant planet’s secrets. Its most recent scout is Curiosity—a one-ton, Jeep-sized nuclear-powered spac In its eerie likeness to Earth, Mars has long captured our imaginations—both as a destination for humankind and as a possible home to extraterrestrial life. It is our twenty-first century New World; its explorers robots, shipped 350 million miles from Earth to uncover the distant planet’s secrets. Its most recent scout is Curiosity—a one-ton, Jeep-sized nuclear-powered space laboratory—which is now roving the Martian surface to determine whether the red planet has ever been physically capable of supporting life. In Red Rover, geochemist Roger Wiens, the principal investigator for the ChemCam laser instrument on the rover and veteran of numerous robotic NASA missions, tells the unlikely story of his involvement in sending sophisticated hardware into space, culminating in the Curiosity rover's amazing journey to Mars. In so doing, Wiens paints the portrait of one of the most exciting scientific stories of our time: the new era of robotic space exploration. Starting with NASA’s introduction of the Discovery Program in 1992, scrappier, more nimble missions became the order of the day, as manned missions were confined to Earth orbit, and behemoth projects went extinct. This strategic shift presented huge scientific opportunities, but tight budgets meant that success depended more than ever on creative engineering and human ingenuity. Beginning with the Genesis mission that launched his career, Wiens describes the competitive, DIY spirit of these robotic enterprises, from conception to construction, from launch to heart-stopping crashes and smooth landings. An inspiring account of the real-life challenges of space exploration, Red Rover vividly narrates what goes into answering the question: is there life elsewhere in the universe?

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4.8/5

The Third Horseman: Climate Change and the Great Famine of the 14th Century by William Rosen

How a seven-year cycle of rain, cold, disease, and warfare created the worst famine in European history   In May 1315, it started to rain. It didn’t stop anywhere in north Europe until August. Next came the four coldest winters in a millennium. Two separate animal epidemics killed nearly 80 percent of northern Europe’s livestock. Wars between Scotland and England, France and How a seven-year cycle of rain, cold, disease, and warfare created the worst famine in European history   In May 1315, it started to rain. It didn’t stop anywhere in north Europe until August. Next came the four coldest winters in a millennium. Two separate animal epidemics killed nearly 80 percent of northern Europe’s livestock. Wars between Scotland and England, France and Flanders, and two rival claimants to the Holy Roman Empire destroyed all remaining farmland. After seven years, the combination of lost harvests, warfare, and pestilence would claim six million lives—one eighth of Europe’s total population.   William Rosen draws on a wide array of disciplines, from military history to feudal law to agricultural economics and climatology, to trace the succession of traumas that caused the Great Famine. With dramatic appearances by Scotland’s William Wallace, and the luckless Edward II and his treacherous Queen Isabella, history’s best documented episode of catastrophic climate change comes alive, with powerful implications for future calamities.

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4.8/5

Near-Earth Objects: Finding Them Before They Find Us by Donald K. Yeomans

Of all the natural disasters that could befall us, only an Earth impact by a large comet or asteroid has the potential to end civilization in a single blow. Yet these near-Earth objects also offer tantalizing clues to our solar system's origins, and someday could even serve as stepping-stones for space exploration. In this book, Donald Yeomans introduces readers to the sci Of all the natural disasters that could befall us, only an Earth impact by a large comet or asteroid has the potential to end civilization in a single blow. Yet these near-Earth objects also offer tantalizing clues to our solar system's origins, and someday could even serve as stepping-stones for space exploration. In this book, Donald Yeomans introduces readers to the science of near-Earth objects--its history, applications, and ongoing quest to find near-Earth objects before they find us. In its course around the sun, the Earth passes through a veritable shooting gallery of millions of nearby comets and asteroids. One such asteroid is thought to have plunged into our planet sixty-five million years ago, triggering a global catastrophe that killed off the dinosaurs. Yeomans provides an up-to-date and accessible guide for understanding the threats posed by near-Earth objects, and also explains how early collisions with them delivered the ingredients that made life on Earth possible. He shows how later impacts spurred evolution, allowing only the most adaptable species to thrive--in fact, we humans may owe our very existence to objects that struck our planet. Yeomans takes readers behind the scenes of today's efforts to find, track, and study near-Earth objects. He shows how the same comets and asteroids most likely to collide with us could also be mined for precious natural resources like water and oxygen, and used as watering holes and fueling stations for expeditions to Mars and the outermost reaches of our solar system.

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4.6/5

Oxygen: A Four Billion Year History by Donald E. Canfield

The air we breathe is twenty-one percent oxygen, an amount higher than on any other known world. While we may take our air for granted, Earth was not always an oxygenated planet. How did it become this way? "Oxygen" is the most current account of the history of atmospheric oxygen on Earth. Donald Canfield--one of the world's leading authorities on geochemistry, earth histo The air we breathe is twenty-one percent oxygen, an amount higher than on any other known world. While we may take our air for granted, Earth was not always an oxygenated planet. How did it become this way? "Oxygen" is the most current account of the history of atmospheric oxygen on Earth. Donald Canfield--one of the world's leading authorities on geochemistry, earth history, and the early oceans--covers this vast history, emphasizing its relationship to the evolution of life and the evolving chemistry of the Earth. With an accessible and colorful first-person narrative, he draws from a variety of fields, including geology, paleontology, geochemistry, biochemistry, animal physiology, and microbiology, to explain why our oxygenated Earth became the ideal place for life. Describing which processes, both biological and geological, act to control oxygen levels in the atmosphere, Canfield traces the records of oxygen concentrations through time. Readers learn about the great oxidation event, the tipping point 2.3 billion years ago when the oxygen content of the Earth increased dramatically, and Canfield examines how oxygenation created a favorable environment for the evolution of large animals. He guides readers through the various lines of scientific evidence, considers some of the wrong turns and dead ends along the way, and highlights the scientists and researchers who have made key discoveries in the field. Showing how Earth's atmosphere developed over time, "Oxygen" takes readers on a remarkable journey through the history of the oxygenation of our planet.

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