Why are we trying to go to Mars? 人類為什麼要去火星?

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火星一直是科幻小說的主題。關於火星上是否存在生命、水甚至文明的理論一直存在。現在,人類似乎離登陸火星的日子越來越近,但我們究竟為什麼要去火星呢?

詞彙:space exploration 太空探索

It sounds like something from the realms of science fiction – a space expedition into the vast expanse of space, heading towards the Red Planet. While we’re not quite ready to put a person on terra firma, the question we ask today is: why are so many countries interested in going to Mars?

The space race saw the USA and USSR compete to achieve firsts in spaceflight. The Soviet Union released Sputnik 1, an artificial satellite, before anyone else, and the US landed on the Moon first. Now it appears that Mars is the celestial body of desire. While the kudos and bragging rights to be the first nation to touchdown is an obvious draw, there are other reasons we want to get there.

One of these could be the survival of our species. You only have to look at the fossilised remains of the dinosaurs to see the benefit of finding another habitable planet. While Mars doesn’t have the right conditions to call it home just yet, there’s always the concept of terraforming – changing the environment of a planet to suit our needs.

However, not everyone agrees. Leading astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson has said the concept of altering habitability of another planet because of the damage we have done to Earth makes no sense when we can simply terraform Earth.

It seems the main reason at the moment is the search for extraterrestrial life. It has long been believed that, at one time, Mars was abundant with life. Now seemingly dead, the potential fossils could answer questions about our own evolution and that of our planet. One theory is that bacterial life on our planet didn’t start here, but was transferred via asteroid from Mars.

One benefit championed by scientists like Neil deGrasse Tyson is that landing on Mars may inspire more people to become interested in science and astronomy. Surely inspiring a new generation to visit the stars is reason enough.

詞彙表

science fiction 科幻小說
space expedition 宇宙探險
vast expanse 廣闊的區域
the Red Planet 火星
terra firma 陸地
space race 太空競賽
spaceflight 宇宙飛行
artificial satellite 人造衛星
celestial body 天體
touchdown 著陸
species 物種
habitable 適於居住的
terraforming (外星環境)地球化
astrophysicist 天體物理學家
habitability 可居住性
Earth 地球
extraterrestrial 地球外的
bacterial life 細菌生命體
asteroid 小行星
astronomy 天文學

測驗與練習

1.  閱讀課文並回答問題。

1. Which two countries were involved in the space race?

2. What was the purpose of the space race?

3. Why does Neil deGrasse Tyson think terraforming Mars makes no sense?

4. Where do some people think bacterial life on Earth originated?

5. What benefit of heading to Mars does Neil deGrasse Tyson support?

2.  選擇意思恰當的單詞或詞組來完成下列句子。

1. Planets like Mars need to be _______ before they are habitable.

terraform                   terraformed              terraforms              terraforming

2. The _______ saw nations trying to achieve firsts in spaceflight.                       

space race                asteroid                    Red Planet             astronomy

3. I’m studying to be an _______ at university.

astronomy                asteroid                     terra firma               astrophysicist

4. We have _______. We have landed on the planet’s surface!

extraterrestrial          touchdown               celestial body          asteroid

5. Mars is an example of a _______.

celestial body            astronomy                space race              asteroid

答案

1.  閱讀課文並回答問題。  

1. Which two countries were involved in the space race?
The USA and the USSR (sometimes known as the Soviet Union).

2. What was the purpose of the space race?
The purpose was to achieve firsts in spaceflight.

3. Why does Neil deGrasse Tyson think terraforming Mars makes no sense?
Because we would probably want to terraform Earth instead.

4. Where do some people think bacterial life on Earth originated?
Some people believe bacterial life began on Mars and arrived via asteroid.

5. What benefit of heading to Mars does Neil deGrasse Tyson support?
The benefit of inspiring a new generation to be interested in the stars.

2 .  選擇意思恰當的單詞或詞組來完成下列句子。

1. Planets like Mars need to be terraformed before they are habitable.

2. The space race saw nations trying to achieve firsts in spaceflight.

3. I’m studying to be an astrophysicist at university.

4. We have touchdown. We have landed on the planet’s surface!

5. Mars is an example of a celestial body.