Life on Earth - and Beyond: An Astrobiologist's Quest
Product Code: 91332
Binding Information: Hardback
Ages: 9 - 12
Grade Highest: 7th
Grade Lowest: 4th
Availability: In stock
Is there life beyond Earth?
NASA astrobiologist Dr. Chris McKay has searched the earth's most extreme environments on his quest to understand what factors are necessary to sustain life.
Pamela S. Turner offers readers an inside look at Dr. McKay's research, explaining his findings and his hopes for future exploration both on Earth and beyond. Behind-the-scenes photos capture Dr. McKay, his expeditions, and the amazing microbes that survive against all odds.
Researching Life on Earth—and Beyond
For more information on astrobiology and Mars, visit these websites:
If you like this book, you'll like:
Booklist - February 1, 2008Astrobiologists look outward from the Earth seeking evidence of life elsewhere in the universe. But, as this fascinating book shows, they also travel to places on Earth where extreme conditions may be similar to those on distant worlds. Turner follows astrobiologist Chris McKay as he looks for life in apparently hostile environments. He finds cyanobacteria and fungi on a sandstone cliff in Antarctica, collects microbes in Chile's Atacama Desert, thaws out bacteria 3.5 million years old frozen in Siberian permafrost, and finds cyanobacteria in rocks of the Sahara Desert. Finally, McKay returns to Antarctica to melt a hole through 16 feet of ice, dives down 100 feet of frigid water, and studies the algae living at the bottom of a lake. Turner's absorbing account gives enough detail to create vivid impressions of McKay's explorations and enough background of amusement or amazement let readers share her evident enjoyment in McKay's quest. Illustrated with many excellent color photos and other images, the book concludes with Turner's note on her research, as well as lists of recommended books, movies, and Internet resources. This beautifully designed volume offers an eye-opening look at an astrobiologist in action.
School Library Journal - February 15, 2008Following the lead of the exemplary “Scientists in the Field” series (Houghton), this is another handsomely packaged, profusely illustrated portrait of a researcher whose “lab” is the great outdoors–in this case, the driest deserts, coldest waters, and other most inhospitable environments on Earth. In order to explore the feasibility of life on other planets, NASA scientist Chris McKay travels in turn to Antarctica’s Dry Valleys and ice-covered Lake Hoare, to Chile’s Atacama Desert, Siberia, and the Sahara to study the bacteria and other microscopic organisms that call such climatic extremes home. The photographs, which are reproduced with unusual clarity, range from shots of McKay and his colleagues at work in various rugged settings to micrographs of bacteria, from satellite photos to side-by-side pairings of physical features in the Atacama and intriguingly similar formations on Mars. Closing with an author’s statement and digestible lists of multimedia resources, this profile is an engagingly written, visually appealing follow-up to more general introductions, such as Bill Doyle’s The Space Explorer’s Guide to the Universe (Scholastic, 2003).
Capital Choices: Noteworthy Books for Children - April 15, 2008Astrobiologist Chris McKay looks for life in remote areas like Antarctica, Siberia, and the Atacama and Sarahan Desert hoping to learn how life might survive on Mars and beyond. Turner has provided a splendid description of this scientist’s work in the field, illustrated with many of his own (excellent) photographs. I especially liked the examples of research cooperation – even to the point of joining an anthropological expedition investigating rock art in the Sahara. A clear explanation with fascinating details, this offers a new perspective on space exploration.
Horn Book Magazine - September 1, 2008NASA scientist Chris McKay has traveled to the ends of the earth to investigate the microscopic life that exists in extreme environments. Examining the conditions under which microbes survive (or not) in places that are very dry or cold may give him and other scientists information they can use to search for life on Mars and other extraterrestrial locales. More than just an explanation of the science, however, this is an in-depth look at the richly rewarding career of a field scientist and the questions that have unfolded for him over decades of research. Of course, there's also plenty of adventure to be had, as extreme conditions for microbes also mean extreme conditions for humans. McKay and colleagues camp in remote locations (shown on maps that open each chapter) such as the freezing Antarctic and arid deserts in Chile and Egypt, and use an array of inventive tools in their quest for knowledge about microscopic life. The first-rate color photographs and other illustrations, most provided by NASA or McKay, serve mainly as a travelogue of the scientists' expeditions, though there are also telling side-by-side comparisons of arid deserts on Earth and Martian landscapes photographed on recent missions. Further reading, movies, and Internet resources are appended, along with an index.
Curriculum Connections - October 1, 2008NASA scientist Chris McKay takes the readers to Antarctica, Chile, Siberia, and the Sahara Desert, as he studies microbes to see if they can sustain life in the most inhospitable environments. Color photographs fill each page and chronicle the scientist at work around the world, as he speculates about the possibility of life on Mars and generates excitement about future investigations in microbiology and astronomy.
CALIFORNIA KIDS! Family Fun Guide - August 1, 2008Dr. Christopher McKay is an astrobiologist--a scientist who studies life in space. While McKay cannot travel to other planets to look for life, he does the next best thing: he searches out living organisms that have evolved to survive Earth's most extreme environments, knowing that such conditions may mirror those of extra-terrestrial sites. In this fascinating book, we follow McKay to the driest, coldest, and hottest places on the planet. He finds microbes living inside rocks in Antarctica, thriving in radioactive waste, and eating chemicals in deep sea volcanic vents. He resurrects microbes that have been frozen in permafrost for three million years. With a lively text filled with quotes and full-color photographs, Life on Earth may well inspire the budding scientist in your family.
Booklist Online - January 15, 2009Flashes of amusement and amazement light up the story of an astrobiologist's quest for life in hostile environments on earth. Illustrated with excellent photos, Turner's book offers an eye-opening view of a scientist at work.
National Science Teachers' Association Recommends - February 5, 2009Searching for life on other worlds can begin on Earth. This NSTA/CBC Outstanding Science Trade Book for 2009 provides an account of an astrobiologist’s search in areas on Earth that are similar to Martian environments; he explores such places as Antarctica, the Sahara Desert, and Siberia to find out how life can survive in such harsh earthly environments.
This interdisciplinary book has many applications in middle and secondary classrooms. Many maps and climate data support bioecology, while a thumbprint reference to solar system bodies that might have water will expand students' imagination. There is a good foundation of biology, including the vital role of water in the evolution and maintenance of life. Finally, the diverse areas of scientific expertise represented in the book will encourage students of many talents and intelligences to explore further.
CCBC Choices - April 1, 2009How do scientists today study life on Mars? One critical way is by studying the enviroments on earth that most closely mirror what scientists know and theorize about the biology of our nearest planetary neighbor. Pamela Turner's account of astrobiologist Chris McKay's work and research describes experiments he has conducted in some of earth's most hospitable and challenging climates, from frigid Antarctic ice and oceans to near-barren deserts to lush--and very buggy--Siberian forests. Today, because of his research, McKay advises NASA on where to land space probes, based on his theories about which regions of Mars are most likely to show signs of life. Turner writes with humor, including quirky subheadings and other chapter titles such as "Rip Van Microbe: Siberia, Northern Russia." McKay's personality also comes through. His hope is that if life is ever found on Mars, it will be different from life on Earth. "Truly alien life would be a lot more interesting. It would mean that there are lots of ways to get going in this universe. Who knows what we'll find?" Ample photographs of McKay's expeditions illustrate each chapter in this outstanding science volume.
School Library Journal's Fabulous Field Trips: Step into Science - September 22, 2009Want to link the study of the universe to that of our planet? Start with Pamela S. Turner’s Life on Earth–and Beyond: An Astrobiologist’s Quest (Charlesbridge, 2008; Gr 5-8). In this book, students can follow NASA’s Dr. Chris McKay to extreme environments including Antarctica and Africa’s Sahara Desert as he researches conditions that may also exist on Mars or the moon. Useful maps and excellent color photos bring a you-are-there perspective to these engaging journeys.