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VOA慢速英语2018--Mars on Earth: Tests in Desert of Oman

时间:2018-02-19 23:59来源:互联网 提供网友:nan   字体: [ ]


Two scientists work together to test a geo-radar that was built to make a map of the planet Mars. They pull the flat box across rocky, sandy ground. They are wearing spacesuits, just like astronauts do in space. The bright white on their protective equipment stands out against the color of the sand and dirt.

When the geo-radar stops working, the two walk back to their vehicles and use a radio to contact scientists at a nearby base camp for guidance. They are unable to speak directly with their command station, which is far away in the European Alps. Communications from there are delayed 10 minutes.

The scientists are not on the planet Mars. They are in a desert in southern Oman, near the borders of Yemen and Saudi Arabia. The desert looks so much like Mars that scientists chose it to field-test technology for a manned space flight to the red planet.

Efforts to send astronauts to Mars

The United States government and a few American companies have established programs to send astronauts to Mars. Former U.S. President Barack Obama and SpaceX founder1 Elon Musk2 have both declared that astronauts would walk on the planet in just a few decades.

China is joining the U.S. and Russia in space with its own Mars program. And aerospace3 companies like Blue Origin have published plans for future bases, ships and spacesuits.

Last week’s successful launch of SpaceX's Falcon4 Heavy rocket “puts us in a completely different realm of what we can put into deep space,” says Kartik Kumar. He is an analog5 astronaut.

Analog astronauts carry out tests in preparation for a Mars space flight. The next step after the rocket test, Kumar says, is to deal with non-engineering problems, such as how to react to a medical emergency in space.

“These are things I think can’t be underestimated,” Kumar noted6.

Testing for possible Mars mission

Most of the work to prepare for interplanetary trips is being done on Earth. Our planet’s deserts provide some of the best environments to field-test equipment and people for the trip to Mars.

From space, the Dhofar Desert is a flat, brown area. Few animals or plants can survive in this part of the Arabian Peninsula. Temperatures can top 51 degrees Celsius7.

On the eastern edge of a seemingly endless sand dune8 is the Oman Mars Base. The base is a huge, self-contained area in which people live and work. It is surrounded by shipping9 containers, which serve as laboratories and living space for the crew.

The desert’s surface looks so much like Mars that it can be hard to tell the difference, Kumar said. Its salt domes10 and riverbeds, he said, look like “a lot of what we see on Mars.”

Oman’s government offered to host the Austrian Space Forum’s next Mars simulation. The offer came at a meeting of the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space.

Gernot Groemer, commander of the Oman Mars simulation, said his group quickly accepted.

Scientists from across the world sent ideas for experiments. The project quickly grew to 16 scientific experiments, including testing a new spacesuit called Aouda.

The spacesuit weighs about 50 kilograms. It is called a “personal spaceship” because one can breathe, eat and do complex science inside of it. The suit’s visor can show maps, communications and sensor11 information.

Unusual test sites

The Soviet12 Union’s 1957 launch of Sputnik led to a space race with the goal of putting people on the Moon.

But before the American space agency NASA got there, astronauts like Neil Armstrong trained while suspended on pulleys, or lifts, to simulate one-sixth of Earth’s gravity.

Scientists used hostile environments in places like Arizona and Siberia to test space capsules, landers, and suits — simulating dangers found beyond Earth.

Among many Mars scientists, a favorite book is “Packing For Mars,” by Mary Roach. The book notes that test space stations have been built underwater off the coast of Florida, in dark and cold deserts in Antarctica, and in volcanic13 craters14 in Hawaii.

NASA scientists used the Mojave Desert in the western U.S. to test vehicles meant for Mars. The scientists also found out a lot about how humans can adapt to different environments.

“Human’s adaptability15 in an unstructured environment is still far, far better than any robot we can send to space,” said Scott Hubbard, who once led the U.S. space agency’s Mars program.

Hubbard added that people, not just robots, are important to exploring Mars.

I'm Anna Matteo. And I'm Pete Musto.

Words in This Story

spacesuit – n. a protective covering with life supporting equipment to make life in space possible for its wearer

decade – n. a period of 10 years

realm – n. an area of activity of interest; a field of influence

analog – adj. involving a device or process in which information is represented by physical amounts

simulation – n. something is made to look or feel like something else

capsule – n. a small container or a small part of a spacecraft

adapt – v. to change behavior in reaction to one’s situation


1 Founder wigxF     
  • He was extolled as the founder of their Florentine school.他被称颂为佛罗伦萨画派的鼻祖。
  • According to the old tradition,Romulus was the founder of Rome.按照古老的传说,罗穆卢斯是古罗马的建国者。
2 musk v6pzO     
n.麝香, 能发出麝香的各种各样的植物,香猫
  • Musk is used for perfume and stimulant.麝香可以用作香料和兴奋剂。
  • She scented her clothes with musk.她用麝香使衣服充满了香味。
3 aerospace CK2yf     
  • The world's entire aerospace industry is feeling the chill winds of recession.全世界的航空航天工业都感受到了经济衰退的寒意。
  • Edward Murphy was an aerospace engineer for the US Army.爱德华·墨菲是一名美军的航宇工程师。
4 falcon rhCzO     
  • The falcon was twice his size with pouted feathers.鹰张开羽毛比两只鹰还大。
  • The boys went hunting with their falcon.男孩子们带着猎鹰出去打猎了。
5 analog yLDyQ     
  • The analog signal contains high-frequency video information,which helps make up the picture.模拟信号包括有助于构成图像的高频视频信息。
  • The analog computer measures continuously,without proceeding step by step.模拟计算机不是一步一步地进行,而是连续地进行量度。
6 noted 5n4zXc     
  • The local hotel is noted for its good table.当地的那家酒店以餐食精美而著称。
  • Jim is noted for arriving late for work.吉姆上班迟到出了名。
7 Celsius AXRzl     
  • The temperature tonight will fall to seven degrees Celsius.今晚气温将下降到七摄氏度。
  • The maximum temperature in July may be 36 degrees Celsius.七月份最高温度可能达到36摄氏度。
8 dune arHx6     
  • The sand massed to form a dune.沙积集起来成了沙丘。
  • Cute Jim sat on the dune eating a prune in June.可爱的吉姆在六月天坐在沙丘上吃着话梅。
9 shipping WESyg     
  • We struck a bargain with an American shipping firm.我们和一家美国船运公司谈成了一笔生意。
  • There's a shipping charge of £5 added to the price.价格之外另加五英镑运输费。
10 domes ea51ec34bac20cae1c10604e13288827     
n.圆屋顶( dome的名词复数 );像圆屋顶一样的东西;圆顶体育场
  • The domes are circular or ovoid in cross-section. 穹丘的横断面为圆形或卵圆形。 来自辞典例句
  • Parks. The facilities highlighted in text include sport complexes and fabric domes. 本书重点讲的设施包括运动场所和顶棚式结构。 来自互联网
11 sensor sz7we     
  • The temperature sensor is enclosed in a protective well.温度传感器密封在保护套管中。
  • He plugged the sensor into a outlet.他把传感器插进电源插座。
12 Soviet Sw9wR     
  • Zhukov was a marshal of the former Soviet Union.朱可夫是前苏联的一位元帅。
  • Germany began to attack the Soviet Union in 1941.德国在1941年开始进攻苏联。
13 volcanic BLgzQ     
  • There have been several volcanic eruptions this year.今年火山爆发了好几次。
  • Volcanic activity has created thermal springs and boiling mud pools.火山活动产生了温泉和沸腾的泥浆池。
14 craters 1f8461e3895b38f51c992255a1c86823     
n.火山口( crater的名词复数 );弹坑等
  • Small meteorites have left impact craters all over the planet's surface. 这个行星的表面布满了小块陨石留下的撞击坑。 来自《简明英汉词典》
  • The battlefield was full of craters made by exploding shells. 战场上布满弹坑。 来自《现代英汉综合大词典》
15 adaptability 6J9yH     
  • It has a wide range of adaptability.它的应用性广。
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