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Second Genesis: The Quest For Life Beyond Earth

When Voyager launched in 1977, few besides Carl Sagan believed that the search for extraterrestrial life was anything more than fantasy. But in the decades that followed, new discoveries—volcanoes on Io, a liquid ocean on Europa, and nitrogen geysers on Triton, to name just a few—have turned that fantastical pursuit into a bona fide scientific endeavor. Second Genesis follows planetary scientist Carolyn Porco as she explores what it takes to look for life beyond Earth, and what conditions are required for life to exist. Porco makes the case that Saturn’s moon Enceladus—with its plumes of water vapor spewing into space, confirmed organic materials, and evidence of hydrothermal vents at the bottom of its liquid ocean—is the most promising place to look. Could Enceladus be the key to proving once and for all that life is not unique to Earth? And what it would mean—both scientifically, and spiritually—if we found evidence of a true second genesis right here in our own galactic backyard?

 

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