Astronomy Final Paper

Term Paper Due on the Last Day of Class (No exceptions – sorry, really no exceptions).

The term paper question changes every year— yep, you guessed it, a plagiarism check…sigh—so please to organize your paper around the question below.

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You MUST use the assigned topic and format for your paper or you risk getting a 0.

For your term paper you will be writing a ‘scientific brief’ to a Hollywood studio who wants to make a realistic movie about discovering extraterrestrial life. They want to know what types of conditions they will need to animate and what types of lifeforms they should consider as examples of what might be found. They have a series of specific questions that will guide your paper.

You are to use the information you have learned in this course from the textbook and from discussion articles, along with new information that you find from scientific resources on the Internet or in the library. All your information must be grounded in actual scientific discoveries.

Please use the headers below to guide your writing. A paper with headers is readable and helps you organize your thoughts, and thus likely makes it better.

Once more, term papers that do not follow this format risk getting a 0!

Briefing for Lyra Studios

Thank you for offering your advice on our movie called We Found It! We hope you will provide us with the latest research to help us create a realistic movie about the discovery of the first extraterrestrial life form.

Please answer the following questions in a brief of about 2500 words. Please provide references and citations – we suggest you use APS, MLA, or another accepted citation format that you are most familiar with.

1. Where Do We Find It? (about 1000 words)

We would like to base our film on places and conditions within our own solar system that may support life. Please provide us with information about at least 3 worlds (moons or planets) in our solar system that scientists have evidence that life might be possible. Explain what evidence is known and any other advice you would provide the studio about creating a realistic extraterrestrial environment that could support life.

2. What Do We Find? (about 1000 words)

The organism discovered must be the most realistic choice of what scientists think would be discovered first on another world. Please provide us with at least 3 discoveries of extremophiles on Earth that provide examples of the types of organisms that might be discoverable on the worlds described in the earlier question. Explain how their metabolism, respiration, and other biological functions are thought to be managed in these extreme conditions?

Thank you for your input. This is all that is required of your term paper. However…if you are interested, we have a bonus offer.

3. How Do We Find It? (about 1000 words – up to 20 bonus points added to Term Paper Grade)

To be considered as the scientific director on the film, We Found It, we invite you to submit an example press release that might go out if a lifeform were be discovered sometime in the next 8 years. You must image a scenario that has not occurred, but we ask that you use information about real spacecraft, telescopes, or other forms of technology required for the discovery, the location where it could happen, and a description of the discovery itself.

Criteria for a successful paper: A successful paper will be at least 2000 words (3000 with the bonus) and will include:

  • A coherent scientific argument that uses scientifically valid articles (from the Internet or journals) – and many of the main concepts used in the textbook, articles, and assignments. These concepts might include: metabolism, respiration, reproduction, habitability zones, extremophiles, methods of searching for extrasolar planets, carbon-based life, universal solvents, planetary atmospheres, or many other concepts that are key to the search for life. Your paper should demonstrate your understanding of these concepts, not just the awareness of the terminology.
  • A clear organization and correct grammar to provide a readable and intelligent paper. It should be easy and pleasurable to read. This should include an introduction, conclusion, and the suggested headers to help make clarify your argument.
  • Individuality and creativity to show how you have digested and interpreted the information, and to show me it is your OWN work. Papers that read like a bunch of cut and paste text without any personality will be poorly graded.
  • A complete and consistent set of citations and references in APA, IEEE, or similar academic format. I don’t care which format you use, but be consistent and thorough.
  • Pride in your work. If you don’t love it, I won’t love it.

You MUST do original work. I will be very strict on anything that is copied from the Internet or another student’s paper – it is plagiarism. Don’t go there.

This paper is worth 33% of your course grade.