Read the Space Exploration passage set

Read the “Space Exploration” passage set.

Space Exploration

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Source 1: Why Explore Space?

1 Why should we explore space? Why should money, time and effort

be spent researching something with apparently so few benefits?

Why should resources be spent on space rather than on conditions

and people on Earth?

2 Perhaps the best answer lies in our history. Nearly all successful

civilizations have been willing to explore and adapt. Earth is the

only planet known to sustain life, but our ability to adapt could

eventually allow us to inhabit other planets and moons. By

studying alien worlds, such as Venus, Mars or Saturn’s moon Titan,

we can focus on understanding the Earth’s relationship with the

other planets, essential stepping stones for exploring the wider

Universe. Space allows us to expand and succeed.

3 In exploring, the dangers of surrounding areas may be identified

and prepared for. Without knowledge, these dangers have the

ability to harm us. With knowledge, their effects or consequences

may be lessened. While space may hold many wonders and

explanations of how the universe was formed or how it works, it

also holds dangers. The chance of a large asteroid or comet hitting

the Earth is small. But given time, it will happen. Some

explanations for extinctions include strikes by asteroids or comets.

Our technology is reaching the point where we can detect such a

threat and might be able to do something about it. The dangers

exist, and knowledge of space can allow us as a species to survive.

4 While many resources are spent on what seems a small return, the

exploration of space allows new resources to be created. Resources

translate into success at survival. Resources may be more than

physical things. Knowledge or techniques acquired in exploring

space always filter from space programs to the general population.

Such knowledge includes new medicines, medical procedures, and

medical equipment. With the space program, scientists from many

nations can function in co-operation rather than competition to

create new ideas and products.

Go OnSource 2: Space Exploration Has Given

Us New Viewpoints

5 Throughout history, the study of stars and planets has inspired new ideas.

As we meet the challenges of space exploration, we gain valuable

technology. Space exploration is also an exciting adventure.

6 Space science has advanced knowledge in other scientific fields, such as

physics. For example, observations of the Moon and other bodies in space

helped scientists understand how gravity works. Scientists figured out that

the same force that causes an object to fall to the ground causes the Moon

to orbit Earth.

7 Finally, the study of other worlds can teach us about our own. Earth has

changed considerably since its formation. By comparing Earth with

different worlds, scientists can learn more about the history of Earth’s

surface features and atmosphere.

8 Surface Features

Exploration of other worlds has helped us learn about the impacts of space

objects. Earth has little evidence of impacts because its surface is

constantly being worn down by wind and water and altered by forces

beneath the surface. However, impact craters remain on the Moon,

Mercury, and many other bodies that have no wind or liquid water.

9 Atmosphere

We are also learning about Earth’s atmosphere from space exploration.

Mars and Venus, the planets closest to Earth, have no liquid water on their

surfaces. By comparing Earth with those planets, we can see how liquid

water has affected the development of Earth’s atmosphere. Another area

of study involves the energy Earth receives from the Sun. Many scientists

think that small changes visible on the Sun’s surface can affect weather on

Go On10

Earth. These changes may have caused periods of cooling in Earth’s


10 Space technology has practical uses.

Space exploration has done more than increase our knowledge. It has also

provided us with technology that makes life on Earth easier. Each day you

probably benefit from some material or product that was developed for the

space program.

11 Satellite Views of Earth

One of the most important benefits of space exploration has been the

development of satellite technology. Satellites collect data from every

region of our planet. Weather satellites show conditions throughout

Earth’s atmosphere. Images and data from weather satellites have greatly

improved weather forecasting. Scientists can now provide warnings of

dangerous storms long before they strike populated areas. Other satellites

collect images of Earth’s surface to show how it is being changed by

natural events and human activity. Satellite data are also used for wildlife

preservation, conservation of natural resources, and mapping.

12 Technology Spinoffs

Have you ever come up with a new way to use something that was

designed for a different purpose? NASA often creates advanced technology

to meet the special demands of space travel. Many spinoffs of technology

from the space program can be found in homes, offices, schools, and

hospitals. Everything on a spacecraft must be as small and lightweight as

possible because the heavier a spacecraft is, the more difficult it is to

launch. Design techniques developed to meet this need have improved

devices used on Earth, such as tools for diagnosing diseases and devices

that help people overcome disabilities. Materials and parts on a spacecraft

Go On11

have to endure harsh conditions, such as extreme heat and cold. Many

new homes and buildings contain fire-resistant materials developed for the

space program. Firefighters wear protective suits made from fabric

originally used in space suits. NASA has also helped design devices that

allow firefighters to avoid injury from inhaling smoke. Humans need a safe

environment in spacecraft and space stations. NASA has developed

systems for purifying air, water, and food. These systems now help protect

people on Earth as well as in space.

Source 3: The Dangers of Space Travel

13 It is probably every rookie astronaut’s nightmare, and probably even a

veteran astronaut’s nightmare…scratch that it’s probably every single

astronaut’s biggest fear that their spacecraft is destroyed whilst out on a

space walk and he or she is stranded in space completely alone with no way

of contacting Earth! What must it be like to be stranded alone in space

awaiting whatever fate the dark, vast universe has in store for him or her!

But what does it have in store? What are the realistic dangers of space

travel? Let’s find out, to see what potential hazards await us on those future

space holidays we all hope becomes normal practice in the not so distant


14 Space debris is a growing problem with space travel. Space debris can be

literally anything, from tiny flecks of paint, a metal bolt, or a fully-sized

defunct satellite. Thousands of satellites have been launched into space

since the first, Sputnik in 1957. But these are usually big objects that can

be easily spotted, right? Well imagine the mess if two satellites collided! In

Earth’s orbit now, there are millions of pieces of trash. These pieces of

trash are “floating” at roughly 4 miles per second, turning a tiny fleck of

Go On12

paint into the equivalent of a bullet! So imagine the damage it could do to

space suits or to space ships!

15 Not only is man-made space debris a very worrying issue, but so are the

natural space debris including meteoroids and micrometeoroids! These

pieces of rock and metal can get nasty! NASA’s Mariner 10 satellite ran

into one of these formidable cosmic clouds which resulted in part of its

insulation being ripped off and the impact of the cloud being so great it

changed the trajectory of the spacecraft! Imagine an astronaut caught up

in such a scary cloud and wonder if a space suit could withstand what a

heavy duty satellite couldn’t.

16 Space is a crazy place where in the shadow you could freeze to death in

seconds and boil in the sunlight the next! Your space suit is vital in keeping

you alive making it a mini space ship itself. It regulates the body’s

temperature to cancel the hot and cold temperatures outside. Near Earth

space itself is about -180˚C so it is extremely cold! But when in direct light

from our Sun it is a sizzling 115˚C. So space walks can be fine in space for

a short period of time, but if there’s a glitch in the space suit’s cooling

system or a tear happens from a piece of space debris hitting the suit,

things could go fatally wrong!

17 Another very big problem for humans and space travel is the risk of

radiation. On Earth, we are protected from 99.9% of the Sun’s radiation by

the planet’s atmosphere. But what will happen to us if we leave the

Earth’s protection and float freely in the vastness of space or visit another

planet in the Solar System? Radiation particles from the Sun and space

are moving at high speeds and can rip through our DNA molecules causing

damage or cancer and other diseases. It has been revealed that the level

of radiation that astronauts will be exposed to could raise their chances of

cancer! Accumulating dangerous doses of radiation would be hazardous

to crews on any long mission.

Go On13

18 One of the most dangerous places for an astronaut is the launch and reentry of their rocket. A lot of rocket fuel is required to attain even a low

Earth orbit. The spacecraft needs to get up to least 7 miles per second or

25,000 miles per hour, which is a very scary and dangerous speed. Proof

of such a thing is the Challenger disaster of 1986 when a Space Shuttle

blew apart 73 seconds into its launch costing the lives of all seven

members of its crew. Some may argue that the re-entry of a spacecraft is

even more dangerous. The friction of air on the rocket would cause the

rocket to burn up like a meteor and be destroyed in seconds, so spacecraft

have been designed to allow them to re-enter the atmosphere slowly by

gradually circling downward. Now this has not always ran smoothly with

Columbia disintegrating during its return to Earth in 2003 after a small part

of the Shuttle Orbiter’s wing was damaged on launch.

19 Finally, space is weightless! If an astronaut is sent hurtling through space,

by the time another Shuttle is sent up he will never be found. An accident

in space could send him flying through space at roughly 24,000 miles per

hour on top of his orbital velocity. He will have exceeded the Earth’s

escape velocity! Say it takes Earth a week to send a rescue mission to

retrieve him. By the time they are up there, he will be millions of miles

away. It is a very scary thought!

20 So hopefully this has not put you off the prospect of a future holiday to the

Moon and or becoming an astronaut but I am sure it has given you an

even deeper respect and admiration for the dangers astronauts face to

advance our knowledge of this vast and scary Universe!

Go On14

Source 4: The Space Race is a Waste of Money

21 Good sense means “down to earth.” Outer space, on the other hand,

means madness.

22 “Lunacy” and “lunatic” originate from lunar, or the idea that the Moon’s

gravitational pull adversely affects the brain. That perhaps explains the

insanity that typifies American space policy.

23 Forget giant leaps for mankind, NASA is a machine for spending money.

That fact has been driven home by the failure of the Orbiting Carbon

Observatory, a $278 million package which blasted off from Vandenberg

air force base on Tuesday and promptly crashed into the Pacific. The

satellite, we were told, would advance the study of global warming. But

NASA isn’t interested in global warming; it simply realizes that wearing

green is a way to get government money.

24 While most Americans have moved on, NASA is stuck in the 1960s. That

explains the desire to go to Mars, an aspiration given the seal of

presidential approval in 2004. Bush’s project, priced at $400 billion, was

inspired by his desire to stay ahead of the Chinese in the new space race.

During a recent radio program, a NASA astronaut asked me how the

American people might react if the next man on the moon were Chinese. I

replied with a question: “Why are Americans so insecure?” If the Chinese

want that worthless rock, so be it.

25 Extremely expensive manned missions mean that practical, earth-based

science suffers, as does the genuinely valuable satellite research so

essential to the way we live today. It is no wonder that the most articulate

opposition to the Apollo missions came from scientists who objected to the

way their budgets were cut in order to fund the trip to the moon.

Go On15

26 Recently, Stephen Hawking has argued that we must colonize other

planets to ensure mankind’s long-term survival. Much as I admire

Hawking, that’s nonsense. The Earth is indeed doomed, but where might

refugees go? Mars makes Antarctica seem like paradise. As for distant

galaxies, a spaceship capable of travelling at a million miles per hour (20

times faster than Apollo) would take 4,000 years to reach the nearest star

system that might possibly be inhabitable.

27 The time has come to pull the plug on meaningless adventures in space.

An expensive mission to the moon (especially at a time of global recession)

seems like lunacy when real problems such as disease, starvation and

drought cry out for more funding. Former President Eisenhower once

reminded Americans that “every rocket fired means a theft from those who

hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.”

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