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英语世界文摘:Five Reasons to Explore Mars

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2021年04月19日

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Five Reasons to Explore Mars

探索火星的五大理由

By Darrell M. West

文/达雷尔·M. 韦斯特

The recent launch of the Mars rover Perseverance is the latest U.S. space mission seeking to understand our solar system.

近期,美国发射了毅力号火星车,这是美国最新开展的太空探索活动,旨在了解我们所在的太阳系。

Mars is a valuable place for exploration because it can be reached in 6½ months, is a major opportunity for scientific exploration, and has been mapped and studied for several decades. The mission represents the first step in a long-term effort to bring Martian samples back to Earth, where they can be analyzed for residues of microbial life. Beyond the study of life itself, there are a number of different benefits of Mars exploration.

从地球飞行6个半月即可抵达火星,因此火星极具考察价值,探索火星也是进行科学探索的重要机会,而人类绘制火星地图和研究火星已经有几十年时间。火星探索的长期任务是将火星样本带回地球,在地球上进行分析以搜寻火星微生物的残留物,此次活动就是这一任务的第一步。除了研究生命本身,火星探索还有许多其他益处。

Understand the origins and ubiquity3 of life

了解生命的起源及普遍性

The question of the origins of life and its ubiquity around the universe is central to science, religion, and philosophy. For much of our existence, humans have assumed that even primitive life was unique to Planet Earth and not present in the rest of the solar system, let alone the universe. We have constructed elaborate religious and philosophical narratives around this assumption and built our identity along the notion that life is unique to Earth.

生命的起源及其在宇宙中的普遍存在是科学、宗教和哲学关注的核心问题。在人类存在的大部分时间里,我们一直认为,即使是原始生命也是地球独有,在太阳系的其他地方没有生命存在,更不用说宇宙了。我们围绕这一假设构建了复杂的宗教和哲学体系,并根据生命是地球独有这一理念构建了人类的身份。

If, as many scientists expect, future space missions cast doubt on that assumption or outright disprove it by finding remnants of microbial life on other planets, it will be both invigorating and illusion-shattering. It will force humans to confront their own myths and consider alternative narratives about the universe and the place of Earth in the overall scheme of things.

如果像许多科学家预期的那样,未来的太空探索在其他星球上发现微生物生命的遗迹,以此对这一假设提出质疑或彻底否定,那将既令人振奋,又让人幻觉破碎。人类将被迫面对他们自己编织的神话,考虑换一种方式去描述宇宙和地球在大千世界中的位置。

Develop new technologies

开发新技术

The U.S. space program has been an extraordinary catalyst for technology innovation. Everything from Global Positioning Systems and medical diagnostic tools to wireless technology and camera phones owes at least part of their creation to the space program. Space exploration required the National Aeronautics and Space Administration to learn how to communicate across wide distances, develop precise navigational tools, store, transmit, and process large amounts of data, deal with health issues through digital imaging and telemedicine, and develop collaborative tools that link scientists around the world. The space program has pioneered the miniaturization7 of scientific equipment and helped engineers figure out how to land and maneuver a rover from millions of miles away.

美国的航天计划一直是技术创新极佳的催化剂。从全球定位系统和医疗诊断工具到无线技术和可视电话,所有这些创新都至少部分归功于航天计划。空间探测要求NASA了解如何实现远距离通信,开发精确的导航工具,存储、传输和处理大量数据,通过数字成像和远程医疗处理健康问题,以及开发将世界各地科学家联系起来的合作工具。航天计划开创了科学设备小型化的先河,帮助工程师们找到了从亿万英里外让探测车着陆并加以操控的方法。

Going to Mars requires similar inventiveness. Scientists have had to figure out how to search for life in ancient rocks, drill for rock samples, take high resolution videos, develop flying machines in a place with gravity that is 40 percent lower than on Earth, send detailed information back to Earth in a timely manner, and take off from another planet. In the future, we should expect large payoffs in commercial developments from Mars exploration and advances that bring new conveniences and inventions to people.

去火星需要类似的创造力。科学家们必须找到方法在远古岩石中寻找生命,钻取岩石样本,拍摄高分辨率视频,开发在重力只有地球上的40%的地方使用的飞行器,及时向地球发回详细信息,并从另一个星球起飞。未来,我们可以期待从火星探索中获得巨大的商业开发回报,以及给人们带来新便利和新发明的科技进步。

Encourage space tourism

促进太空旅游

The Mars program will help with space tourism by improving engineering expertise with space docking, launches, and reentry and providing additional experience about the impact of space travel

on the human body. Figuring out how weightlessness and low gravity situations alter human performance and how space radiation affects people represents just a couple areas where there are likely to be positive by-products for future travel.

火星探索计划将通过改善空间对接、发射和再入的工程专业技术,以及提供更多关于太空旅行对人体影响的经验,来促进太空旅游。弄清失重和低重力环境如何改变人的表现,以及太空辐射如何对人产生影响——对未来的太空旅行来说,这只是可能附带产生有益影响的两个领域而已。

The advent of space tourism will broaden human horizons in the same way international travel has exposed people to other lands and perspectives. It will show them that the Earth has a delicate ecosystem that deserves protecting and why it is important for people of differing countries to work together to solve global problems. Astronauts who have had this experience say it has altered their viewpoints and had a profound impact on their way of thinking.

正如国际旅行能让人们接触到其他地域的风土人情,太空旅游的出现将拓宽人类的视野。人们会明白,地球的生态系统是多么脆弱,多么需要保护,以及不同国家的民众携手解决全球问题为何如此重要。有过太空旅行经历的宇航员说,太空旅行改变了他们的观点,对他们的思维方式产生了深远的影响。

Facilitate space mining

促进太空采矿

Many objects around the solar system are made of similar minerals and chemical compounds that exist on Earth. That means that some asteroids, moons, and planets could be rich in minerals and rare elements. Figuring out how to harvest those materials in a safe and responsible manner and bring them back to Earth represents a possible benefit of space exploration. Elements that are rare on Earth may exist elsewhere, and that could open new avenues for manufacturing, product design, and resource distribution. This mission could help resource utilization through advances gained with its Mars Oxygen Experiment (MOXIE) equipment that converts Martian carbon dioxide into oxygen. If MOXIE works as intended, it would help humans live and work on the Red Planet.

太阳系的许多天体都是由矿物质和化合物组成的,这些物质与地球上存在的矿物质和化合物类似。这意味着一些小行星、卫星和行星可能富含矿物质和稀有元素。想出安全、可靠的方法来收集这些物质并将它们带回地球,这是太空探索可能具有的一个有益之处。地球上罕见的元素或存在于其他星球,这可能为制造活动、产品设计和资源分配开辟新的途径。这项任务携带的“火星氧气实验”(MOXIE)设备可以将火星上的二氧化碳转化为氧气,这样的科技成果可用于助力资源利用。如果MOXIE如愿正常工作,它将帮助人类在火星上生活和工作。

Advance science

促进科学发展

One of the most crucial features of humanity is our curiosity about the life, the universe, and how things operate. Exploring space provides a means to satisfy our thirst for knowledge and improve our understanding of ourselves and our place in the universe.

人类最重要的特征之一是我们对生命、宇宙和事物运行方式怀有好奇心。探索太空提供了渠道来满足我们对知识的渴望,同时让我们更加了解自身和我们在宇宙中的位置。

Space travel already has exploded centuries-old myths and promises to continue to confront our long-held assumptions about who we are and where we come from. The next decade promises to be an exciting period as scientists mine new data from space telescopes, space travel, and robotic exploration. Ten or twenty years from now, we may have answers to basic questions that have eluded8 humans for centuries, such as how ubiquitous life is outside of Earth, whether it is possible for humans to survive on other planets, and how planets evolve over time.

太空旅行已经打破了延续千百年的神话,并有望继续挑战长期以来我们对自己是谁和来自哪里的假设。随着科学家从太空望远镜、太空旅行和机器人探索中挖掘新数据,未来10年将是一个激动人心的时期。从现在起,10年或20年后,我们可能会找到千百年来人类一直未能找到的基本问题的答案,例如生命在地球之外有多普遍,人类是否有可能在其他星球上生存,以及星球是如何随着时间的推移而演化的。

(译者为“《英语世界》杯”翻译大赛获奖者)

注释:

3. ubiquity 到处存在,普遍存在。

7. miniaturization 小型化,微型化。

8. elude 把……难倒。


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