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The Case of Life On Mars

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Report 1 – Astronomical discovery

You are going to write an essay on the subject of “The case of Life on Mars?” using a scientific viewpoint. Since this will be a Science report, reliable and recent material and discoveries should be included. The goal of this practice is to learn how to find reliable sources and collect facts which can be supported with real observations/experiments. Not everything you find on web is reliable, specially the first few links on your google search may not be reliable unless otherwise evaluated. It is very important to check the facts you report from any sources (including from NASA website). You must search and investigate the claims to make sure that they are correct (do not assume that you read them on NASA website so they MUST be correct!). For example, if you read in many sources that “ … Galileo discovered the planet Mars in 1610 AD…” and you report this incorrect fact on your essay then you will lose full mark on that section of your report simply because Mars was known to Babylonians and Greeks thousands of years before Galileo. You have to try your best to distinguish between real facts and made up facts!


The report MUST be submitted in D2L as a Word or PDF document any time before the due date. You can upload your essay multiple time to check the similarity criteria, however, only the last upload will be marked. Your essay should be between 400 to 800 words long, approximately 2.0 pages, double-spaced. There will be a cut of 10% for every 50 words more or less than the range. The late submission penalty is also 5% per day. Essays submitted by email won’t be accepted or marked.

Sections in your Report

Your report should be broken down into the following sections, using these exact headings:

• Cover page

— The title of you report, your name and ID. “Astronomical discovery” is not a proper title for your essay. “The case of Life on Mars?” or any alteration of that is a proper title.

• Introduction – Briefly introduce your topic (do not summarize what you’re about to discuss). Define the focus of your essay. You can have a little history of the topic here. Why are you writing about this topic? Why this topic is interesting to you or other people?

• Discovery and Observation – When/how was this fact investigated or discovered, and by who? What technology was used to investigate it? Was there anything challenging in discovering/studying it? You can ask these questions about every fact/discovery/investigation you present. For example, the existence of water, methane, volcanic activity, ozone layer, bacteria etc.

• What We Know – Describe the most interesting characteristics and features related to the topic, and the discoveries. Do not just list facts, consider the origins of the features and the reason why they are there and relevant to the topic. Make sure you talk about water, methane and the Viking missions to Mars as well as the most recent missions!

• What We Don’t Know – What are some unanswered questions yet to be determined about the topic? And why are these questions hard to answer? Is there any future or current research going on to answer these questions?

• Conclusion – Do not summarize what you’ve just wrote. Make a final conclusion about the main CPCS181 – Introduction to Astronomy 2 question in the topic. For example, Did we find life on Mars? Are there any convincing results? What is the next step? Sections can vary in length. Make sure to try to discuss the science of the topic in all sections, and discuss things that will challenge us, not just basic historical or observational facts.


Scientific Referencing is required in AIP (American Institute of Physics) style, whereby ONLY integers are used in the Report text: a superscript number matching the reference list number. The reference list is at the end of your report and should contain all your sources (once only – do not duplicate). You must have at least four different properly presented sources/references/citations, three of which MUST be non-internet based (weblogs, Wikipedia, or newspapers), i.e., three references MUST be paper-based (book, journal). This is the minimum effort for a minimum grade. To get a maximum grade on this section you must exhaust your reliable resources. I will check every single reference you provide. You will lose mark for “not found references”, “irrelevant or fake references” as well as “unreliable references”. Please provide the URL link in addition to AIP citation for paper-based references if possible.

Do NOT use the class notes or readings, or Wikipedia.

Note 1: If a reference was initially paper-based, and then placed on the internet for easy access, this is acceptable as a non-internet-based source, but it must be properly cited (to the paper-based article)

Note 2: The reference list is NOT part of the 400-800 word count.


Everything you write must be in your own words – do not copy, and do not quote at all. The report will be scanned by Turnitin and the percentage match must be less than 35%, or you may lose 10% mark for every 5% over the limit (excluding the matches in the reference list).


This report is worth 20% of your final grade and the mark breakdown is listed in the table below. Remember, you don’t have to write a lot (be as concise as possible), but you MUST check your facts and sources. Marks Introduction + Cover page /1 Discovery and Observation /3 What We Know /3 What We Don’t Know /3 Conclusion /1 Writing (Grammar, Style, Level of Effort)* /2 Citations and reliability of References /8 Total: /20 *Writing evaluation will be based on the overall quality of the report: grammar, spelling, creativity of writing, effort, organization, accuracy and style. Avoid fillers (do not include words or sentences that are redundant, unnecessary, repetitive, and unimportant). CPCS181 – Introduction to Astronomy 3 AIP (American Institute of Physics) citation style is commonly used for papers and publications in physics and related disciplines. In-text citation: • Cite references in the order of appearance using Arabic numbers in superscript format, e.g. 1, 2, 3. • Refer to authors in text by Surname only • Use all authors’ names if there are no more than three authors. • If there are four or more authors, use the first author’s name and “et al” for other authors, e.g. Jazen at al. Reference List – General Rules References are listed in the order of appearance in the text. Below are examples of commonly used AIP citation formats. Reference to a journal/magazine article Basic format (use abbreviated source title when appropriate) # F. M. Surname, Source Volume, start page (Year). One author: 1 A. Witze, Nature 542, 279 (2017). Two authors: 2 C. Guite and V. Venkataraman, Phys. Rev. Lett. 107, 166603 (2011). Several authors (e.g., ten or fewer): 3 U. Schneider, L. Hackermüller, S. Will, T. Best, I. Bloch, T. A. Costi, R. W. Helmes, D. Rasch, and A. Rosch, Science 322, 1520 (2008). Reference to a book Regular book: use italic for book title; additional information (Vol., Chap., Sec., p.,etc.) as appropriate 4 C. D. Murray and S. F. Dermott, Solar System Dynamics (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1999), p.126 Edited book: use italic for book title; for edited works use form “in” and “by” 5 J. L. Bishop, in Water on Mars and Life, edited by T. Tokano (Springer, Berlin, 2005), p. 65 Website: AIP style manual does not give instructions for referencing online source. The essential thing is to include the URL of the website and the access date. The following format has been used in articles published in Physical Review D: Author (or corporate author), Title of web page, (Accessed date). Example: 6 NASA. Jupiter: In Depth. (Accessed 12 May 2017) More information on AIP Citation Style for other formats CPCS181 – Introduction to Astronomy 4 REFERENCE SAMPLE – this is how you should reference your paper (using superscript numbers throughout the text, and listing those numbers as references at the end of your report). Excerpted from Canadian Journal of Physics, Volume 62, Number 2, Page 134 Introduction In this paper, we present the experimental cross sections and rates for the endoergic Si(α, p)P and Fe(α, p) Co reactions over the range of energies relevant to nucleosynthesis. The Si(α ,p) P reaction is primarily of interest in the determination of the freeze-out abundance of P in explosive carbon and oxygen burning, but makes a minor contribution to silicon burning as well1,2. At the other extreme, details of element synthesis just beyond iron are still unclear Reaction studies in the iron group are particularly important because these elements occupy a transition region between iron peak nuclei formed by charged-particle reactions and the remainder of the periodic table formed mainly by neutron capture reactions. Since heavier nuclei are equally capable of being synthesized in diverse events (seed reaction3 , the s processs4 , particle-rich freeze-out1 ), it is hoped that the body of information accrued by studies on various heavy nuclei might ultimately provide insight into the nature of the explosions. Our measured cross sections and rates provide additional experimental data for such nucleosynthesis considerations. Furthermore, these data are used to generate the reverse reaction rates, thereby providing realistic experimentally-based values for the P(p, α)Si and Co(p, α)Fe reactions. Detailed determination of a cross section over a wide energy range is very time consuming if small energy steps are employed. Recent work indicates strong support for an alternative approach. High resolution (5 keV) cross sections obtained by Flynn et al5 . for The Al(p, n) Si reaction provided evidence of considerable resonance structure near threshold. In contrast, Cheng and King6 measured cross section values for this reaction at rather wide energy intervals of 250 keV (laboratory energy). References (PLACED AT THE END OF YOUR REPORT) 1. D. D. Clayton and S. E. Woosley, Rev. Mod. Phys. 46, 755 (1974.) 2. S. E. Woosley, W. D. Arnett, and D. D. Clayton. Astrophys. J. Supp. Ser.26, 231 (1973). 3. W. M. Howard, W. D. Arnett, D. D. Clayton, and S. E. Woosley. Astrophys. J. 175, 201 (1972). 4. J. G. Peters, W.A. Fowler, and D. D. Clayton. Astrophys. J. 173, 637 (1972). 5. D. S. Flynn, K. K. Sekharan, B. A. Hiller, H. Laumer, J. L. Weil, and F. Gabbard. Phys. Rev. C. 18 , 1566 (1978). 6. C. W. Cheng and J. D. King. Can. J. Phys. 58, 697 (1980). Steps to Submit to Turnitin 1. Under the Assessment tab, select Assignment 2. Select Research Report. 3. Add a File, Upload.




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