PTYS 411
Geology and Geophsics of the Solar System

Prof. Shane Byrne — 626-0407 — 524 Kuiper Building


Guidelines for PTYS 411 Class Project

When researching the project, an excellent tool for searching through abstracts and papers is NASA's ADS service. You can search by author, title words or abstract words etc... Below the search form are some check boxes to include/exclude results from non-reviewed sources (like conference abstracts, PhD thesis etc) and reviewed sources (like journal papers). Most of these papers (at least the recent ones) are linked in PDF form from this site.

Many people are wondering what's expected of them when creating their final project report/presentation. Here are a few guidelines:


  • Aim for 10-12 minutes in length
  • Expect 2-3 minutes of questions
  • Don't try to show more than 1 slide a minute
  • Use prepublished figures, include a note to say what paper it came from
  • Hand-drawn cartoons are worth a thousand words
  • Try and find time to practice your talk (even in an empty room) - speaking it out loud is the best way to figure out what parts are unclear

You can use the computer, transparency projector or the camera projector (for handwritten slides) to present your material. Don't take a laptop with you, put your presentation on a memory stick or CD. If this isn't possible them come a little early and we'll put the talk on my memory stick.

Structure the talk much like your report:
  • Statement of the problem
  • Why it's significant
  • What people think to date
  • Your take on these different opinions
  • Finish with some sort of recap of the problem

Written Report

  • Aim for whatever length you need to cover what you've done
  • Typically this will be about 5 single-spaced pages including references and figures
  • Include an abstract at the front, limit it to 200-250 words and make it the last thing you write
  • Pre-published figures are fine, but need to be referenced.
  • Even when using a prepublished figure write your own figure captions - the figure it there to support what you're saying
  • Summarize other people's findings - Don't repeat their whole arguement (except the relevant parts)
  • Don't copy and paste text from papers into these reports - they need to be in your own words
  • Put all the references in their own section at the end and in some consistent format - don't give the full reference in the text just the name and year
  • Be sure to come to some sort of conclusion and relate the implications of that back to the larger picture i.e. the reason this question was important in the first place

Example projects from 2010 class

Date Name Topic
Theo GatchellIo Magma Composition
Triana HenzVenus Impact Craters
Katrina JacksonGeophysics of SuperEarths
Courtney KingElement Partitioning in Meteorites
Greg Schmidt?
Jason DittmannHydrocarbon Lakes on Titan
John KiddTerrestrial Planet Impact Rate
Rita MorrisMartian Glaciers
Louis ScuderiVolcanism on SuperEarths
Patricio BecerraMartian Avalanches
Catherine ElderPit Craters on Mars and Ganymede
Jamie MolaroThermal Weathering in Arid Regions
Christa Van LaerhovenTidal heating of Enceladus

The background image is of Phoebe, a moon of Saturn. It was acquired by the Cassini spacecraft in June of 2004. See here for the original image and more info.