Term Paper for ASTR10000: The Solar System Summer 2020
General Information and Guidelines
Objectives of the term paper assignment:
1. To provide students with the opportunity to develop in-depth expertise in an aspect of
the Solar System that is of particular interest.
2. Apply some of the basic concepts learned during the course
3. Practice writing skills
4. Practice and develop critical thinking ability and synthesis and analytical skills
5. Become familiar with scientific literature and scientific sources
The term paper must be based on some appropriate subject related to the Solar
System. It is critical to select a topic that is sufficiently narrow that it can be adequately
addressed in the paper, yet sufficiently broad that there is literature available.
1. Here are some examples that you can choose as a starting point and narrow
Meteorites (you can select a specific type)
The origin of the Solar System
The Hubble Space Telescope
Mars (or any of the planets of the Solar System)
The Kuiper Belt
Radio Astronomy (or X-Ray astronomy, Gamma-Ray astronomy, etc.)
The Origin of Earth
2. The term paper is to be TEN pages, typed, double-spaced, not counting any
diagrams, figures, footnotes or bibliography. You will be submitting your work as a
single document that is in either Microsoft Word (.doc) or PDF (.pdf) format so I can
open it. I will create a link on Blackboard so that you can upload your paper before the
deadline indicated in our course calendar.
3. The textbook for this course in NOT an acceptable source for your term paper.
4. Wikipedia, encyclopedias or non-scientific websites or resources are not
acceptable as sources for this term paper.
5. You may use books (avoid obsolete material) or appropriate astronomy journals
or magazines. Visit the library website to download (or obtain via interlibrary loan)
astronomy articles from journals (examples of acceptable magazines and journals are:
Sky and Telescope; Scientific American; Science; Advances in Space Research;
Planetary and Space Science). It is recommended that you use a minimum of three
or four references for your paper, being one of them a paper published in a peer
6. Include a Bibliography list at the end of your paper with a list of the sources that
you used to write your paper.
Term Paper: General Format and Outline
1- Title Page (Your Name and Title of Report)
2- Body of the Paper. A common structure in a scientific paper includes:
• An abstract (short summary of the topic covered in your paper and the
• An Introduction where you state your purpose (1-what are you going to
talk about, 2-why is it important/relevant to the scientific community and
the world; 3-what the reader should expect)
• A section on Background Information (where you synthesize information
on previous knowledge of the subject/ facts known/ previous research
done on the topic that you are going to talk about)
• Results, where you present the basic findings, numerical data or
observations without editorial comment. You will base your discussion on
• A Discussion section, where you analyze and interpret the results or
discuss their implications or importance.
• The last part should consist of a short Summary and/or Conclusions to
emphasize the main points. Potential applications of results and a final
impressive statement(s) may be included.
3- Illustrations, graphs, tables or diagrams, are good for conveying data
quickly. Captions should explain briefly the information conveyed in the figures/
tables/ graphs without duplication of the information in the main text. Also
figures/ graphs/ tables should be appropriately numbered and referenced in the
4- You should also include a References Cited section that credits the sources of
all facts that are not common knowledge and interpretations that are not your own, as
well as indicating the sources for all illustrations you have not created yourself.
References should be cited throughout the text of the term paper.
The references at the end of the paper should be alphabetized by the fist author’s last
name. The general format of the references consists on the first author’s last name,
followed by the initials, the title of the paper, the journal, the year of publication, the
volume number and the pages. Please, see the references listed at the end of the paper
that I uploaded as an example.
To get full marks the paper must be well-written, analytical, organized and wellresearched.
The essential aspects that I will be evaluating are:
1. The paper should present a critical review of the available literature. This means
that you should both summarize and analyze what your read.
2. The content should be coherent, accurate and reflect some depth in thinking. The
main ideas should be clearly developed and presented in a logical sequence. A
good paper should relate ideas, support the main points of discussion and use
different sources. Quatitative analysis should be desired.
3. The text should be 10 pages long and additionally it should include figures
(properly referenced throughout the text) with their appropriate captions, and a
list of references at the end of the manuscript.
4. The paper should be well-organized and structured and should include the
different parts mentioned above (an Abstract, Introduction, Background Info,
Results, Discussion, and Final Summary).
5. Creativity and effort will also be evaluated.
The paper will be due Wednesday, AUGUST the 5th at Midnight.