This slim, but rather expensive, volume emanates from the organization in charge of the famous Hubble Space Telescope, and this locale justifies the editors’ remarks that ‘Unlike other astrobiology symposia, the emphasis here was on astronomical observations and astrophysical research’ (p. xi). As such it forms a very welcome counterpart to the many other astrobiology volumes where other important topics such as origin of life, extremophiles, planetary atmospheres and the search for extraterrestrial signals are all well reviewed. To many these topics in astrobiology seem remote, but there are at least four reasons for any reader of Geological Magazine taking...

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