Lucianne Walkowicz :Let's Not Use Mars as a Backup Planet
燕山大学 宋葳 刘立军 编写
Scientists have long been working so hard on interplanetary exploration, and we have been dreaming of living in another planet in the future. But which one is easier to achieve, to preserve the habitability of our earth or to bend the hostile environments of Mars for human habitation? The astronomer Lucianne Walkowics will show us her viewpoint.
TASK 1: VOCABULARY PREVIEW
1. poise v. to be or cause to be balanced or suspended (使)平衡; (使)悬着
2. terrestrial adj. relating to the Earth rather than to the moon or other planets地球的。例如：
○living on or relating to land rather than water陆地的；陆生的，陆栖的
○Forests are home to over 80% of terrestrial biodiversity. 森林是80%以上陆地生物多样性的家园。
3. sag v. to become weaker or less valuable衰退；下跌；萧条。
例如：attempts to revive the sagging economy 为振兴衰退的经济所作的努力
4. millennia n. millennium的复数, 一千年；千年庆典
5. planetary adj. relating to or belonging to planets. 行星的。
例如：Within our own galaxy there are probably tens of thousands of planetary systems. 在我们所在的银河系中，很可能存在数以万计的行星系。
6. rover n. 探测车。例如：Curiosity Rover 好奇者号火星探测车
7. tantalizing adj. making you feel a desire to have or do something逗引人的，撩拨人的。例如：
the tantalizing smell of fried bacon 诱人的煎熏猪肉的味道
8. exhale v. to breathe air, smoke etc. out of your mouth呼出。例如：Sweet odours exhale from the flowers. 鲜花散发出芳香。
9. self-inflicted adj. A self-inflicted wound or injury is one that you do to yourself deliberately. 自己造成的。例如：He is being treated for a self-inflicted gunshot wound. 他因开枪自残正在接受治疗。
10. hubris adj. too much pride傲慢，自大，目中无人。例如：One is hubris, and the other is the lack of people skills. 一个是傲慢，另一个是缺乏人际交往技巧。
11. surmount vt. to succeed in dealing with a problem or difficulty克服〔问题或困难〕。例如：He has had to surmount immense physical disabilities. 他不得不克服严重的身体残疾。
TASK 2: TOPIC PREVIEW
Discuss the following questions with a partner.
1. Have you ever worried about the future living condition on the earth?
2. If Mars is habitable, would you like to move there?
Read the following statements. Then watch the video clip and match the statements 1-6 to the objects A-F.
C. An astronomer
D. the private spaceflight company
E. Curiosity Rover
F. Fermi’s paradox
1. To study planetary habitability as influenced by stars
2. To offer a short trip to near space and the tantalizing possibility of living our lives on Mars
3. We should have found evidence for alien life by now since our universe has been around for a long
time and we expect that there’re many planets within it.
4. To have indicated that Earth is but one of billions of planets in our galaxy
5. To be a bit far from the sun, and habitable in the past
6. To crawl across its surface in order to scratch for clues about the origins of life
TASK 4: MATCHING
Read the following statements. Then watch the speech again and check (√) the true statements.
1. One of Kepler’s missions is to provide clues as to whether some planets we discovered might be habitable or not.
2. Compared to the deserts on the earth, Mars is a beautiful place to live.
3. The speaker believes that Mars will be there to back up for humanity.
4. The goals of interplanetary exploration and planetary preservation are to understand, preserve, and improve life into the future.
5. It's much easier to bend the hostile environments of Mars for human habitation.
TASK 5: DISCUSSION
Watch the video clip again and discuss the following question. Then present your ideas to the class.
As common people, what can we do for preserving the habitability of our earth?
1.Yes, I have. Our living conditions are getting worse and worse because of the pollution of our environment. Waste water running out of factories has polluted the sources of waters, such as rivers and seas. Waste gases coming from factories and car have polluted the air. Both polluted water and air are harmful to our health and are unfavorable to the growth of other living things. Although the law of environmental protection is still going on in many places, I think this problem cannot be solved until everybody realizes the seriousness of environmental pollution.
2.Yes. Our world is too crowded. The house price in China has been rising so high that it might be easier to afford a big house on Mars. So if it’s possible, I would like to have a try.
No. Mars is a complete new world. The environment must be totally different from the one
on our planet. I’m afraid I could not easily get used to a new environment and will be sick.
A - 4
B - 5
C - 1
D - 2
E - 6
F - 3
×2. 正确表达：Mars is a pretty terrible place to live.
×3. 正确表达：Mars will not be there to back up for humanity.
×5. 正确表达：Compared to the difficulty of bending the hostile environments of Mars for human habitation, it's much easier to preserve the habitability of the Earth.
As common people, we can do a lot of things to protect our environment so as to preserve the habitability of our earth. We can save the paper, the water, the food in our daily life. We should protect the trees and plant more trees. We are not supposed to drop the litter anywhere. We can stop driving private cars and go to school on foot or by bus.
Lucianne Walkowicz :Let's Not Use Mars as a Backup Planet
We're at a tipping point in human history, a species poised between gaining the stars and losing the planet we call home.
Even in just the past few years, we've greatly expanded our knowledge of how Earth fits within the context of our universe. NASA's Kepler mission has discovered thousands of potential planets around other stars, indicating that Earth is but one of billions of planets in our galaxy. Kepler is a space telescope that measures the subtle dimming of stars as planets pass in front of them, blocking just a little bit of that light from reaching us. Kepler's data reveals planets' sizes as well as their distance from their parent star. Together, this helps us understand whether these planets are small and rocky, like the terrestrial planets in our own Solar System, and also how much light they receive from their parent sun. In turn, this provides clues as to whether these planets that we discover might be habitable or not.
Unfortunately, at the same time as we're discovering this treasure trove of potentially habitable worlds, our own planet is sagging under the weight of humanity. 2014 was the hottest year on record. Glaciers and sea ice that have been with us for millennia are now disappearing in a matter of decades. These planetary-scale environmental changes that we have set in motion are rapidly outpacing our ability to alter their course.
But I'm not a climate scientist, I'm an astronomer. I study planetary habitability as influenced by stars with the hopes of finding the places in the universe where we might discover life beyond our own planet. You could say that I look for choice alien real estate.
Now, as somebody who is deeply embedded in the search for life in the universe, I can tell you that the more you look for planets like Earth, the more you appreciate our own planet itself. Each one of these new worlds invites a comparison between the newly discovered planet and the planets we know best: those of our own Solar System.
Consider our neighbor, Mars. Mars is small and rocky, and though it's a bit far from the Sun, it might be considered a potentially habitable world if found by a mission like Kepler. Indeed, it's possible that Mars was habitable in the past, and in part, this is why we study Mars so much. Our rovers, like Curiosity, crawl across its surface, scratching for clues as to the origins of life as we know it. Orbiters like the MAVEN mission sample the Martian atmosphere, trying to understand how Mars might have lost its past habitability. Private spaceflight companies now offer not just a short trip to near space but the tantalizing possibility of living our lives on Mars.
But though these Martian vistas resemble the deserts of our own home world, places that are tied in our imagination to ideas about pioneering and frontiers, compared to Earth Mars is a pretty terrible place to live. Consider the extent to which we have not colonized the deserts of our own planet, places that are lush by comparison with Mars. Even in the driest, highest places on Earth, the air is sweet and thick with oxygen exhaled from thousands of miles away by our rainforests.
I worry - I worry that this excitement about colonizing Mars and other planets carries with it a long, dark shadow: the implication and belief by some that Mars will be there to save us from the self-inflicted destruction of the only truly habitable planet we know of, the Earth. As much as I love interplanetary exploration, I deeply disagree with this idea. There are many excellent reasons to go to Mars, but for anyone to tell you that Mars will be there to back up humanity is like the captain of the Titanic telling you that the real party is happening later on the lifeboats. (Laughter) (Applause)
But the goals of interplanetary exploration and planetary preservation are not opposed to one another. No, they're in fact two sides of the same goal: to understand, preserve and improve life into the future. The extreme environments of our own world are alien vistas. They're just closer to home. If we can understand how to create and maintain habitable spaces out of hostile, inhospitable spaces here on Earth, perhaps we can meet the needs of both preserving our own environment and moving beyond it.
I leave you with a final thought experiment: Fermi's paradox. Many years ago, the physicist Enrico Fermi asked that, given the fact that our universe has been around for a very long time and we expect that there are many planets within it, we should have found evidence for alien life by now. So where are they? Well, one possible solution to Fermi's paradox is that, as civilizations become technologically advanced enough to consider living amongst the stars, they lose sight of how important it is to safeguard the home worlds that fostered that advancement to begin with. It is hubris to believe that interplanetary colonization alone will save us from ourselves, but planetary preservation and interplanetary exploration can work together.
If we truly believe in our ability to bend the hostile environments of Mars for human habitation, then we should be able to surmount the far easier task of preserving the habitability of the Earth.