GEOS204: Life, the Universe and Everything: ASSIGNMENT 2 (2018) – Lander Project

By March 6, 2019Academic Papers

GEOS204: Life, the Universe and Everything: ASSIGNMENT 2 (2018) – Lander Project Report of 1,500 words minimum, maximum 3,000. 25% of final course mark. Due: Wednesday 16th May 2018, 17:00 (Week 10)

Objectives of the assignment

After this assignment you will have:

  • Learnt how to search for and download scientific papers,

  • Gained specific knowledge on the moon Europa, methods for reaching it using a lander and methods for analysing samples

    on it to look for life,

  • Gained insights into aspects of the scientific method,

  • Developed your evaluation techniques and critical reviewing strategies,

  • Developed your writing and referencing skills.


    To propose a search site for life on Europa, one of the moons of Jupiter, and plan an unmanned landing mission. Extra marks will be awarded for the originality of your proposal, including the design for the lander. Write a report IN YOUR OWN WORDS on your chosen site and include your suggestion for the nature of the mission and the type of scientific experiments to be conducted on the mission. The mission will not be a “sample return mission”, ie the analyses you plan will have to be done on the surface of the moon.

The report should include the following four main topics:

  1. Science aims and strategy

  2. Geology

  3. Logistics

  4. Sampling and analysis techniques

Include a discussion and evaluation of:

1. Science aims and strategy – Basically, a proposal justification.

  • What is the aim of this proposal?

  • What previous exploration has been carried out?

  • What information suggests that Europa is a possible place to harbour / have harboured life?

  • What is the probability of occurrence of ancient or extant life?

    2. Geology – You may use information and images from recent space missions to help you with this section. You need to select an approximate position on Europa for your landing mission. Include discussion of:

    • The overall geology of Europa,

    • The general geology of the chosen site,

    • The type of site and evidence for its interpretation as such (e.g. lake bed, palaeo-sea, palaeo-hydrothermal deposit, etc…),

    • Nature of expected evidence for life (chemical, morphological, etc…).

      3. Logistics – You may look at past or planned landing missions on other planets or moons to get ideas, but your concept for the lander should be your own design. You are strongly encouraged to include either hand-drawn sketches or your own computer- generated sketches of the lander. Do not copy and paste images or data from existing web sites – this would be plagiarism and will score zero for the assignment. Include discussion of:

    • Topography of the selected region,

    • Engineering requirements/landing access, including how to land the lander and the nature of the access once on the surface

      (e.g. lander & rover, just lander, or other),

    • If using a rover, discuss the travel capabilities of the rover.

    • Note, you do NOT need to cover the logistics of the space flight from Earth to Europa, just start this section with the descent

      from orbit around Europa.

      4. Sampling and Detection Techniques – You may utilise some existing small, lightweight instrumentation used on existing missions. However, you must explain why this is suitable for your mission and explain how it will be integrated into and operate with YOUR lander.
      Include discussion of:

    • Instrumentation,

    • Nature of experiments to be carried out (this is not a sample return mission, so all experiments will have to be carried out as

      part of this mission).

    • How will present or past life on Europa be detected?

      Use these topics as the structure of your report, ie the main headings and sub-headings. Also include a short conclusion section at the end, and of course include references. The report on the project will be 1,500 words minimum, maximum 3,000.

GEOS204 Assignment 2 (2018) – Lander Project Page 1

Include relevant maps, diagrams and figures. You may also include data in any other format suited to your proposal. All sources must be fully referenced. See the unit handout, especially for advice on how to properly reference web sites. The report must be typed, but can include hand-drawn sketches.

Note: All sources of data MUST be referenced. Not doing so is plagiarism and will result in zero marks.

Marking scheme (out of 20):

Science aims and strategy, and proposal justification 4
Understanding of the geology of the moon 5*
Understanding and justification of the logistics involved 4*
Choice and justification of sampling and detection techniques 5*
Spelling/grammar and report structure 1
Correct referencing 1
* To score top marks on these three, you need to demonstrate plenty of in-depth research on the topic.

Handing in: Please submit this assignment electronically to turnitin. Please note: There is no need to hand a physical copy of the assignment in.


The following web sites may be helpful:

NASA Solar System Exploration:
NASA Mars Exploration Homepage:
Beagle 2 Mission Homepage:
ESA Mars Express:
NASA PDS imaging node:
NASA Cassini Equinox Mission to Saturn and surrounds NASA Galileo Journey to Jupiter:
Jules Verne Voyager

GEOS204 Assignment 2 (2018) – Lander Project

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Originally posted 2018-05-11 15:02:57.



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