Written by a leading planetary scientist, this engaging book tells the remarkable story of how our solar system came into existence and provides an expert tour of the Earth, its planetary neighbors and other planetary systems. In a whirlwind adventure, we explore how the formation of mighty Jupiter dominated the solar system, why Mars is so small, where comets come from, how rings form around planets, why asteroids exist and why Pluto isn't a planet at all. En route, we discover the role of chance events in shaping the course of the history of our solar system. Dramatic collisions, for example, caused the tilts and spins of the planets, the extinction of the dinosaurs and the rise of man. Finally, we look at how suitable Earth is for harboring life, what other planetary systems look like and whether we are alone in the cosmos. For all those interested in understanding our solar system and its place in the cosmos, this is a lucid and compelling read. Stuart Taylor is the recipient of numerous academic awards, including the Norman L. Bowen Award from the American Geophysical Union for his important contributions to our understanding of the origins and early history of the Earth and Moon. In 1997, Asteroid 5670 was named Rosstaylor in his honor. He is the author of Solar System Evolution (Cambridge, 1992).
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