Europe’s Cheops telescope launched to study far-off worlds 歐空局發射太空望遠鏡以探測系外行星

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歐洲的 「系外行星特徵衛星」(Cheops)太空望遠鏡已發射升空,以探索太陽系外的行星。這個觀測衛星將繼續跟進以往的探索工作,盡全力發掘關於遙遠世界的新見解。

Some 4,500 planets have been discovered orbiting other stars. But there’s a feeling now that the science has to move beyond just finding and counting worlds – it has to characterise them, to say more about their composition and structure.

人們已發現約4500顆環繞其它恆星運行的行星。但現在有一種看法:科學必須超越僅僅發現天體及計算其個數,必須要描述它們的特徵,進一步說明它們的成分和結構。

Cheops will do this by measuring the width of the planets. When combined with independent information about their mass, the new data should reveal insights on whether the worlds are rocky or have thick atmospheres, even whether they have rings and moons.

系外行星特徵衛星將通過測量行星的直徑來做到這一點。當這一數據與有關其質量的獨立信息結合起來時,所得出的新數據可揭示這些天體的表面是否崎嶇不平,有無厚厚的大氣層,甚至能告訴我們它們有無行星環或衛星。

Cheops will draw up a shortlist for later, more sophisticated telescopes that hope to probe atmospheres for the chemical signatures of life. Many of the planets to be studied by Cheops, are bigger than our Earth, but smaller than Neptune, an in-between size that seems dominant in our galaxy.

系外行星特徵衛星將為更精密的望遠鏡起草一份星體候選名單,這些望遠鏡將有望探測大氣中生命的化學特徵。系外行星特徵衛星將研究的許多行星體積都大於我們的地球,但小於海王星,這個大小居中的體積在我們的星系中似乎佔主導地位。

詞彙

orbiting 環繞……運行的
composition 構成,成分
structure 結構,構造
insights 深刻的見解
sophisticated (機械)精密的,複雜的
probe 探測
chemical signatures 化學標記,化學特徵
galaxy 星系

閱讀理解:請在讀完上文後,回答下列問題。

1. What do space scientists now want to understand about planets?

2. What information will scientists use to understand if other worlds are rocky or have thick atmosphere?

3. True or false? The Cheops telescope is looking for new worlds bigger than Earth.

4. Which planet seems to be one of the most noticeable in our galaxy?

答案

1. What do space scientists now want to understand about planets?
They want to characterise them, to say more about their composition and structure.

2. What information will scientists use to understand if other worlds are rocky or have thick atmosphere?
They will use independent information about their mass as well as measurements of the planets widths.

3. True or false? The Cheops telescope is looking for new worlds bigger than Earth.
False. Many, but not all, of the planets to be studied by Cheops, are bigger than our Earth, but smaller than Neptune.

4. Are planets that dominate our galaxy bigger or smaller than Earth?
Many of the planets to be studied by Cheops, are bigger than our Earth, but smaller than Neptune.