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NASA has launched a new rover to Mars. The rover, which is called Perseverance, is going to Mars to search for evidence of life on the planet. The rover will land at the Jezero crater, the crater is believed to have once been a lake billions of years ago when Mars still had water. Water on Mars now exists beneath the surface as ice but billions of years ago it is thought that lakes and rivers existed on the surface of the planet. It is hoped that Perseverance will find signs of past life on Mars in the rocks and sediment that remains in the crater, similar to how scientists find dinosaur fossils on earth.

The Mars 2020 mission will reach Mars on February 18, 2021. Although the mission will take six and a half months to reach Mars, this travel time is relatively short. The time it takes to travel to Mars varies from around 6 to 9 months depending upon the positions of Mars and the Earth in space. The proximity of Mars and the Earth in July 2020 meant that two other Mars missions were also launched, one from the United Arab Emirates and the other from China. Their missions will also land on Mars in February 2021.

The Perseverance rover isn’t the only machine that NASA is sending to Mars. Perseverance is accompanied by Ingenuity, a small helicopter that will be the first flying machine to ever land on Mars. Ingenuity represents a big step for exploration on Mars. When the Mars 2020 mission lands on the red planet, Ingenuity will separate from Perseverance and the two companions will never be reunited. Ingenuity will carry out its own mission on Mars. NASA is hoping to use Ingenuity to fly over the surface of Mars and scout out potential locations for future research. As this will be the first instance of a helicopter flying on Mars, there is some uncertainty surrounding it. NASA will begin by having Ingenuity make short flights between 3m and 10m from the ground and all for no more than 3 minutes. If the flights go as planned, then Ingenuity will be able to travel up to 300m per flight and Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), the designers of Ingenuity and Perseverance, will be able to build on the design for future missions.

Once Perseverance reaches Mars, it will begin its path through Jezero Crater. Perseverance will collect samples that NASA scientists believe may contain evidence of life on Mars. Perseverance will leave some samples in containers along its route. These containers are going to be collected by a future Mars sample-return mission. A Mars sample-return mission is where equipment is sent to Mars with the goal of collecting scientific material from the planet and returning it to Earth. This mission to collect Perseverance’s samples would be the first Mars sample-return mission and it is expected to launch in 2026, although the earliest return to Earth is not expected until 2031. In the meantime, Perseverance and Ingenuity will be working together in order to try and find life on Mars.

Difficult words

Rover (n): A machine built to drive around rough terrain and that can be remote controlled.

Perseverance (n): Never giving up, doing something despite the difficulty.

Crater (n): A large bowl-shaped cavity on land.

Sediment (n): Small pieces of rock and dirt.

Relatively (adv): In comparison to something else.

Proximity (n): The closeness of two things in space, time or relationship.

Accompanied (v): To have the company of something or someone else.

Scout (n/v): To look for something.

Propulsion (n): A thrust or action of pushing forward.

Activities

For listening practice, listen to the recorded article here:

British English: Coming Soon!

American English:

Match the Synonym!

1. Rover A. Persistence
2. Perseverance B. Dirt
3. Crater C. Together
4. Sediment D. Remote machine.
5. Relatively E. Nearness
6. Proximity F. Finder
7. Accompanied G. Large indentation.
8. Scout H. Push
9. Propulsion I. Comparatively

True or False?

1. NASA has sent a new rover to the Moon, which is called Perseverance. T / F

2. The rover will land in a crater which was once a volcano. T / F

3. Water has never existed on Mars. T / F

4. Scientists hope to find signs of past life in the sediment at the bottom of the crater. T / F

5. Six and a half months is a very long time to travel from Earth to Mars, it usually takes less time. T / F

6. NASA was the only organisation to send a rover to Mars in July 2020.  T / F

7.  NASA sent more than one machine to Mars. T / F

8. Ingenuity is a small helicopter that will be used to scout future research locations. T / F

9. Ingenuity and Perseverance will reunite near the end of their missions. T / F

10. Currently, no other missions are planned to go to Mars. T / F

Unscramble the sentence!

1. a / new / NASA / rover / to / launched / Mars / has

2. the / Jezero / will / The / rover / crater / land / at

3. surface / beneath / as / the / exists / now / Water / ice / on / Mars

4. samples / leave / Perseverance / containers / some / will / in

5. be / going / These / collected / containers / to / are

Listening and Vocabulary

Listen to the article and fill in the words OR practice vocabulary and fill in the words.

British English: Coming Soon!

American English:

Represents Varies Samples
Evidence Meantime Ground
Material Remains Potential

NASA has launched a new rover to Mars. The rover, which is called Perseverance, is going to Mars to search for (1)_____________ of life on the planet. The rover will land at the Jezero crater, the crater is believed to have once been a lake billions of years ago when Mars still had water. Water on Mars now exists beneath the surface as ice but billions of years ago it is thought that lakes and rivers existed on the surface of the planet. It is hoped that Perseverance will find signs of past life on Mars in the rocks and sediment that (2)____________ in the crater, similar to how scientists find dinosaur fossils on earth.

The Mars 2020 mission will reach Mars on February 18, 2021. Although the mission will take six and a half months to reach Mars, this travel time is relatively short. The time it takes to travel to Mars (3)__________ from around 6 to 9 months depending upon the positions of Mars and the Earth in space. The proximity of Mars and the Earth in July 2020 meant that two other Mars missions were also launched, one from the United Arab Emirates and the other from China. Their missions will also land on Mars in February 2021.

The Perseverance rover isn’t the only machine that NASA is sending to Mars. Perseverance is accompanied by Ingenuity, a small helicopter that will be the first flying machine to ever land on Mars. Ingenuity (4)______________ a big step for exploration on Mars. When the Mars 2020 mission lands on the red planet, Ingenuity will separate from Perseverance and the two companions will never be reunited. Ingenuity will carry out its own mission on Mars. NASA is hoping to use Ingenuity to fly over the surface of Mars and scout out (5)_____________ locations for future research. As this will be the first instance of a helicopter flying on Mars, there is some uncertainty surrounding it. NASA will begin by having Ingenuity make short flights between 3m and 10m from the (6)____________ and all for no more than 3 minutes. If the flights go as planned, then Ingenuity will be able to travel up to 300m per flight and Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), the designers of Ingenuity and Perseverance, will be able to build on the design for future missions.

Once Perseverance reaches Mars, it will begin its path through Jezero Crater. Perseverance will collect (7)___________ that NASA scientists believe may contain evidence of life on Mars. Perseverance will leave some samples in containers along its route. These containers are going to be collected by a future Mars sample-return mission. A Mars sample-return mission is where equipment is sent to Mars with the goal of collecting scientific (8)____________ from the planet and returning it to Earth. This mission to collect Perseverance’s samples would be the first Mars sample-return mission and it is expected to launch in 2026, although the earliest return to Earth is not expected until 2031. In the (9)_____________, Perseverance and Ingenuity will be working together in order to try and find life on Mars.

Conversation Questions

Take turns speaking with a partner or try to answer on your own:

1. Did you find this article interesting? Why or why not?
2. Did you learn anything new from this article? If so, what?
3. What do you think of this story?
4. Do you think NASA will find evidence of life on Mars?
5. Do you think life exists in space?
6. If NASA finds evidence of life will our thinking of space change?
7. What do you think of the Mars helicopter, Ingenuity?
8. Where else should scientists look for life in space?
9. Do you think humans will live in space in the future?
10. What missions in space would you like to see?
11. Why is finding evidence of alien life important?
12. Is it better to send machines to Mars instead of humans?
13. Would you like humans to go to Mars?
14. Is space travel important?
15. Do you think Earth will be uninhabitable someday?
16. Do you think space travel will be as easy as taking a plane someday?
17. Should space travel be publicly or privately funded?
18. Does your country have any old stories or theories about UFOs?
19. If NASA found aliens, should people on Earth feel threatened?
20. If you were an astronaut, what is one item you would like to bring with you?