life in the universe


The term paper is a chance for you to bring the key points you learned in the course all together into one scientific argument. It is 2031 and the samples have just been returned to Earth from the Mars Perseverence Explorer. You are to write an imaginary, but scientifically plausible, article that announces the first findings from that mission.

Your paper must include the following (with headers to label each of these sections):

  • An overview of the Perseverance mission with a detailed explanation of how and from where the samples were gathered.
  • A description of the samples gathered.
  • A scientific explanation of indicators of past or current life on Mars that are being examined from the samples.
  • A scientific explanation of how the lifeform is thought to survive (metabolism, nutrients, energy source, protection from extreme conditions).
  • Examples on Earth that help scientists understand the potential lifeforms from the sample.

You are expected to use information you have learned on the course to EXPAND upon the information from the NASA website and current articles on the Perseverance mission. Cutting and pasting from these sites, or simple re-writes of what is there, does not constitute a term paper. You must demonstrate your OWN learning of the material in the course.

This will be strictly enforced.

All papers MUST follow this format or it risks getting a 0.

Criteria for a successful paper:

A successful paper will be at least 2000 words and will follow the format above. It will include:

  • A clear, accurate, and coherent scientific argument that uses scientifically valid information (from the Internet or journals) and many of the main concepts used in the course. 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 must include an introduction, conclusion, and the mandatory headers to help make clarify your argument.
  • Within this format, your paper should demonstrate 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.

All papers must be received by midnight on the last night of the course.

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