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Alien Oceans

The Search for Life in the Depths of Space

Kevin Hand



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Princeton University Pres
16 June 2020
Inside the epic quest to find life on the water-rich moons at the outer reaches of the solar system.

Where is the best place to find life beyond Earth? We often look to Mars as the most promising site in our solar system, but recent scientific missions have revealed that some of the most habitable real estate may actually lie farther away. Beneath the frozen crusts of several of the small, ice-covered moons of Jupiter and Saturn lurk vast oceans that may have been in existence for as long as Earth, and together may contain more than fifty times its total volume of liquid water. Could there be organisms living in their depths? Alien Oceans reveals the science behind the thrilling quest to find out.

Kevin Peter Hand is one of today's leading NASA scientists, and his pioneering research has taken him on expeditions around the world. In this captivating account of scientific discovery, he brings together insights from planetary science, biology, and the adventures of scientists like himself to explain how we know that oceans exist within moons of the outer solar system, like Europa, Titan, and Enceladus. He shows how the exploration of Earth's oceans is informing our understanding of the potential habitability of these icy moons, and draws lessons from what we have learned about the origins of life on our own planet to consider how life could arise on these distant worlds.

Alien Oceans describes what lies ahead in our search for life in our solar system and beyond, setting the stage for the transformative discoveries that may await us.
By:   Kevin Hand
Imprint:   Princeton University Pres
Country of Publication:   United States
Dimensions:   Height: 235mm,  Width: 155mm, 
ISBN:   9780691179513
ISBN 10:   0691179514
Pages:   304
Publication Date:   16 June 2020
Audience:   College/higher education ,  Professional and scholarly ,  General/trade ,  Primary ,  Undergraduate
Format:   Hardback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Kevin Peter Hand is a scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, where he has served as deputy chief scientist for solar system exploration and is leading an effort to land a spacecraft on the surface of Europa. He has helped lead expeditions to the glaciers of Kilimanjaro, the Dry Valleys of Antarctica, and the sea ice of the North Pole. He lives in Los Angeles. Twitter @Alienoceans

Reviews for Alien Oceans: The Search for Life in the Depths of Space

[Alien Oceans] describes why studying Earth's own ocean is a crucial chapter in the quest to explore the shores of extraterrestrial seas. ---Nadia Drake, National Geographic A thoughtful and thought-provoking treatise on the many facets that are being pursued in our quest to discover new worlds and search for life beyond our atmosphere. ---Milbry C. Polk, The Explorers Journal Alien Oceans offers a historical look-as well as a peek into the future-at one of the most exciting aspects of space exploration. With the technology at hand, we could determine whether there's life beyond Earth. ---Sid Perkins, Science News A NASA scientist looks to the water-rich moons of Jupiter and Saturn, such as Europa, Titan, and Enceladus, as promising sites for the search for life beyond the Earth. * Publishers Weekly * Alien Oceans successfully straddles a fine line between accessibility and scientific thoroughness. Hand's book is as fascinating as it is optimistic. ---Tobias Mutter, Shelf Awareness It's a tale full of scientific twists, and Hand proves an exemplary guide: never going quite where you expect him to go and confidently leading you to ideas that are, as you'd hope, not at all obvious. ---Corey S. Powell, American Scientist This book would make anyone excited about space. The research presented is thorough and the pictures included are amazing. Hand dives into every aspect of life imaginable. ---Rachel Dehning, Manhattan Book Review If you enjoy imagining a mission in which humans launch a rocket that contains a spacecraft that releases a lander that launches a space boat - or even a space submarine - Hand's book will help you grasp the full picture. ---Philip Ewing, NPR's best books of 2020 A maritime tale like no other. . . . For those who dream of plying the South Seas with Cook, or descending in the Bathysphere with Beebe, Alien Oceans provides an appealing guide to seas undreamt of until now. ---Andrew H. Knoll, Times Literary Supplement This is a fun, pretty cool book to read. . . . Hand's enthusiasm is clear to see, and he has written an accessible book that takes the general reader along with him to illustrate what we already know about Io, Callisto, Titan, Ganymede and Europa too. ---Simon Cocking, Irish Tech News To paraphrase Hamlet, there are more things in heaven and Earth than are dreamt in our philosophy. Hand calls on us to probe the depths of alien oceans to discover them. I agree. ---Robert Zubrin, National Review A book that is likely to prove one of the year's most enthralling first-person accounts of a life in science. ---Simon Ings, New Scientist Longlisted for the Young Adult Science Book Award, AAAS/Subaru SB&F Prize for Excellence in Science Books [Hand] has been to improbable places - at risk to his own life - and has managed to conduct science while not passing on the chance to drink in the awe and wonderment of being there. This book is laced with that unfiltered enthusiasm and awe for what we have learned, what we are learning, and what lies ahead. ---Keith Cowing, Astrobiology Web One of NPR's best books of 2020 What is so captivating about this book is that it isn't just a solid survey of what we've learned in recent decades about the icy moons, but that the narrative is told by an active researcher deeply embedded in these endeavours. Through Hand's eyes we meet many of the key personalities involved and feel the sting of disappointment at cancelled funding or a malfunctioning probe, as well as the soaring excitement of a new discovery. ---Lewis Dartnell, BBC Sky at Night Magazine The author discusses how we look for and study alien oceans and what the future holds for this increasingly popular field of research. This is a book well suited to the general public, with very accessible prose, and science interspersed with personal anecdotes and witty analogies. * Nature Astronomy * Alien Oceans represents an excellent introduction to the search for life in a newly defined zone of possibility. It is a good rendering of how scientific research in extreme environments is carried out, including examples of things that can go badly wrong, and comes across to the reader as the work of someone with a real enthusiasm for his subject. I very much hope that Hand will be our guide on future journeys. ---John Gilbey, Chemistry World

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