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A Planetary Perspective of Life


Wong, Michael L. (2018) A Planetary Perspective of Life. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/KVBE-HJ52.


Join me on my journey to Jupiter, Titan, Pluto, Earth, and Mars as I seek a deeper understanding of life through the lessons that I learn from each world. How should we define life? What does life do? Why does life exist, and how did it begin? And what do the answers to these questions mean for the prospect of life beyond Earth? No, you’re not going to get any spoilers here. Yes, you actually have to read the manuscript. I spent a lot of time weaving this story together, adding supplementary material to each chapter, connecting the dots between the five planetary bodies that I’ve chosen to tell this tale. There’s a lot in here besides just my published work, including two essays on the origin of life (presented in the Interlude) and two scientific works in progress (presented in the Prologue and the Epilogue). I encourage you to follow the wending tale of my graduate school career from start to finish as I build a planetary perspective of life that I now proudly present to you.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:Planetary science; Titan; Pluto; Earth; astrobiology; origin of life
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Geological and Planetary Sciences
Major Option:Planetary Sciences
Awards:Caltech Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition, 2018: 1st Place.
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Yung, Yuk L.
Group:3MT Competition (Caltech)
Thesis Committee:
  • Ingersoll, Andrew P. (chair)
  • Knutson, Heather A.
  • Ehlmann, Bethany L.
  • Blake, Geoffrey A.
  • Yung, Yuk L.
Defense Date:31 May 2018
Non-Caltech Author Email:tinkertenordoctorspy (AT)
Record Number:CaltechTHESIS:06052018-220558731
Persistent URL:
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription"Pluto’s Implications for a Snowball Titan""The Photochemistry of Pluto’s Atmosphere as Illuminated by New Horizons""Nitrogen Oxides in Earth’s Early Atmosphere as Electron Acceptors for Life"
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:11026
Deposited By: Michael Wong
Deposited On:13 Jun 2018 00:33
Last Modified:08 Nov 2023 00:36

Thesis Files

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