In Searching for Water in the Solar System, Thérèse Encrenaz takes
the reader on a journey through the Universe in search of water.
She begins by introducing the most well-known of molecule H2O, its
physical and chemical characteristics and its cosmic Formation and
abundance. She examines the methods by which the presence of water
is detected, both within the solar system and beyond. One by one
she visits a diversity of locations in the cosmos, from the nearest
planets to the furthest galaxies, where water has been discovered.
In the formation of the solar system, she explains how the water
molecule played a major part, with the so-called ‘ice frontier’
determining the natures of the terrestrial and giant planets. The
book explores the presence of water in the various bodies of the
Solar System: in the giant planets, with their rings and systems of
satellites, in comets, asteroids and in the terrestrial planets. By
tracing the history of water in the atmospheres of Mars, Venus and
the Earth, the author explains how small differences in
temperatures, causing water to exist in different states on
different planets – vapour on Venus, liquid on Earth and solid ice
on Mars – have led to a great divergence in the evolutions of the
three planets. The story of water on Mars, an aspect of great
topical interest, offers an insight into the possibility (still
only a theory) that there was once life on that planet. The book
concludes by looking at the important role played by water in
studies of habitable exoplanets.