Please pick one from the following four topics:
Kuiper belt objects
Compare the atmospheres of the terrestrial planets
Mission and latest findings of NASA’s spacecraft Cassini
2.. Your paper must be at least four full pages. You will be penalized if your paper is shorter than
four full pages (not including your title and header!). Please use 12 pt Times New Roman font and double-space your text
3. You will be writing a brief paper about one of the topics given above. A good paper will focus
on the following:
• Some context – Why is this object or topic important and interesting to the field of
• What is the most current knowledge in the field (if applicable)? (You will not be able to
write about everything, so choose a few important discoveries. Please note the word
“current” – you should report on the most recent information you can find, not information
from a few decades ago.)
• What unanswered questions remain?
When creating your paper, start with an introduction paragraph. The last sentence of this paragraph
should be your thesis statement, which lays out your argument for the paper. The body paragraphs
of your paper should be arranged logically so that your writing flows from one topic to another.
Your paper should also end with a conclusion paragraph.
4. You must use at least three sources besides your text. Your text can be one of your sources, but
you must have at least three others in addition to it. Encyclopedias (either hardcopy or online)
are not appropriate sources. You can use them as starting points and links to other information, but
you cannot count them as one of your sources. Good sources include books, magazines, websites
from universities or NASA, etc. Be careful – not all sources are created equal, especially online!
5. Your paper will undergo originality checking upon submission against various databases, and
you will see an Originality Report which I will be checking. Please read carefully the final note
below regarding plagiarism. You may submit your paper as many times as you like until the due
date – I will only be grading the most recent submission.
Your Turnitin similarity score should be equal to or less than 25% in order to get points for
5. Please cite your sources in a Works Cited at the end of your paper and use MLA style. Make sure
you credit information you’re using properly using in-text citations, whether you’re directly
quoting or paraphrasing that information.
Note that a short paper should rely primarily on paraphrased information, not direct quotes.
6. Do not wait until the last minute to submit and upload your paper! You will not be able to submit
any revisions after the due date have passed.
You need to first submit a rough draft into the designated Rough draft for Research paper drop
box (by 11:59 pm, Wed, July 7
th) so that I can check for plagiarism and citation style. You can get
help from our librarian and make the appropriate corrections, you will submit your final paper in
the Final Research paper dropbox (by 11:59 pm, Sun, Jul 11th).
You may also bring your draft to the Writing Lab on campus (12.825) for grammar and style
editing, and you will have access to Upswing’s online tutoring resources (which supports both
astronomy and writing in general). You also have access to Grammarly for basic spelling/grammar
7. Finally, please take a look at the following link regarding plagiarism. This is a good source to
review. Read the information and take the short quiz. Plagiarism involves taking someone else’s
work as your own. It doesn’t just mean direct copying of an entire paper: it can also include
paraphrasing without an in-text citation, not properly citing your sources (in-text plus works
cited page), direct copying without using quotation marks (even if you cite), etc. Plagiarism is
grounds for a zero on your paper.
How Your Paper Will Be Evaluated:
A high-scoring paper will use at least 3 credible sources which are cited in-text and on a works
cited page. Your sources provide information, but direct quotes are kept to a minimum. Your paper
has a clear organizational structure with an introduction paragraph, body paragraphs flowing from
one idea to the next, and a proper conclusion paragraph at the end. Your writing is free of
grammatical and spelling errors.