Written by a leading planetary scientist, this book tells the remarkable story of how our solar system came into existence. It provides a fast-paced and expert tour of our new understanding of the Earth, its planetary neighbours and other planetary systems.
In a whirl-wind adventure, we are shown 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 that chance events have shaped the course of the history of our solar system. Dramatic collisions, for example, have 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 harbouring 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.