Term Paper Instructions

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Paper Topic: Make an argument about the most likely extraterrestrial life to be found before 2050.

You paper MUST follow this format:


Header 1: The most likely place life will be found is….

This section should describe a location in our solar system or an extrasolar planet that should be explored for indicators of life (1000+ words). You may discuss multiple possible worlds, but at least 1000 words should be dedicated to one location and what we know about it.

Header 2: The most likely type of life form we would find at this location is….

This section should describe an organism that could thrive in the location you selected for section 1 (1000+ words). You may discuss multiple possible lifeforms, but at least 1000 words should be dedicated to one location and what we know about it’s energy usage, adaptation to its environment, and its biosignatures (how we would know if we found it).

Header 3: What we’d need to do to explore this world is….

This section should describe a method to explore this world. It could be a space mission or it could be using telescopes from Earth (500+ words). You should choose a method that is appropriate to the world you are describing and describe any existing plans for exploring to this location or a location like it.


Criteria for a successful paper:

A successful paper will be at least 2500 words and will follow the format above. It 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 course. These concepts might include: habitability zones, extremophiles, methods of searching for extrasolar planets, carbon-based life, 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 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.

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