Astrobiology, a new exciting interdisciplinary research field, seeks to unravel the origin and evolution of life wherever it might exist in the Universe. The current view of the origin of life on Earth is that it is strongly connected to the origin and evolution of our planet and, indeed, of the Universe as a whole.
We are fortunate to be living in an era where centuries of speculation about the two ancient and fundamental problems: the origin of life and its prevalence in the Universe are being replaced by experimental science. The subject of Astrobiology can be approached from many different perspectives. This book is focused on abiogenic organic matter from the viewpoint of astronomy and planetary science and considers its potential relevance to the origins of life on Earth and elsewhere.
Guided by the review papers in this book, the concluding chapter aims to identify key questions to motivate future research and stimulate astrobiological applications of current and future research facilities and space missions. Today's rich array of new spacecraft, telescopes and dedicated scientists promises a steady flow of discoveries and insights that will ultimately lead us to the answers we seek.
1 The Synthesis of the Elements and the Formation of Stars; M. Spaans.
2 Organic Molecules in the Interstellar Medium; T.J. Millar.
3 Chemistry of Protoplanetary Disks Relation to Primitive Solar System Material; A.J. Markwick and S.B. Charnley.
4 Planet Formation: Problems and Prospects; G. Wuchterl.
5 From Elemental Carbon to Complex Macromolecular Networks in Space; F. Cataldo.
6 Organic Molecules in Planetary Atmospheres; M. Roos-Serote.
7 Observations and Laboratory Data of Planetary Organics; T.L. Rousch and D.P. Cruikshank.
8 The Molecular Complexity of Comets; J. Crovisier.
9 Kuiper belt: Water and Organics; C. de Bergh.
10 Interplanetary Dust Particles and Astrobiology; F.J. Molster.
11 The Prebiotic Atmosphere of the Earth; F. Selsis.
12 Early Life on Earth: The Ancient Fossil Record; F. Westall.
13 Highly Altered Organic Matter on Earth: Biosignature Relevance; B.A. Hofmann.
14 Insoluble Organic Matter in Carbonaceous Chondrites and Archean Cherts. An Insight into their Structure by Electron Paramagnetic Resonance; L. Binet, D. Gourier, A. Skrzypczak, S. Derenne, and F. Robert.
15 The Chemistry of the Origin of Life; O. Botta.
16 A Novel Synthesis of Biomolecular Precursors; R. Saladino, C. Creestini, F. Ciciriello, G. Costanzo, R. Negri, and E. Di Mauro.