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Summary of space article

Is Outer Space Worth Exploring 太空是否值得探索

    Almost everyday we may see something in t he total destruction of the earth. Despite these disadvantages and potential dangers, the advantages are far GREater. We have already succeeded in using satellites for communications, weather forecast and oil exploration and with further space research, more problems we are having now can be solved. For instance, with the success of space shuttles and the feasibility of living in other planets, we may solve the population problem on the earth. Space projects will also enable us to find a few chemical elements to cure presently incurable diseases.

    Space exploration contributes not only to the improvement of the quality of human life, but also to our understanding of the interdependence of all beings; and therefore, of the need to take better care of each other.

    New Telescope to Search for Life Beyond Earth

This is SCIENCE IN THE NEWS in VOA Special English. I'm Bob Doughty. And I'm Faith


    This week, we will tell about an effort to search for intelligent life beyond our universe. We will tell about a method shown to increase attention and reduce tension. We will also

    report on new concerns about the health of children in Africa.

    The search for life in the universe took a step forward last month with the opening of the

    Allen Telescope Array in Hat Creek, California.

    The telescopes were partly made possible by a gift of twenty-five million dollars from Paul Allen. He helped start the computer software company Microsoft. He joined with the Radio Astronomy Laboratory of the University of California at Berkeley and the SETI Institute to provide money for the project. The total cost of the project is already fifty million dollars. Currently, there are forty-two radio telescopes working at the Hat Creek observatory. The

    signals they receive are combined to create what is equal to a single, very large


    Objects in space release radio waves that can be collected and studied. Astronomers can

    make pictures of objects using radio wave information. These pictures can show

    structures not observed in other wavelengths of light.

    The telescope will be used to observe objects like exploding stars, black holes and other objects that are predicted but have not yet been observed. Seth Shostak of the SETI

    Institute says this is the first telescope whose main purpose is to search for signals from

    intelligent life in space.

    What makes the Allen Telescope Array unusual is that it can collect and study information from a wide area of the sky. In addition, the forty-two telescopes can study information about several projects at the same time. That means studies of large areas of the sky can

    be made faster than ever before.

    The Allen Telescope Array uses parts that are not specially made. But they are easily available, including telecommunications technology. This helps keep the cost down. Each

    telescope is about six meters across.

    Some officials estimate the Allen Telescope Array will be completed in three more years.

    Three hundred fifty individual radio telescopes are planned.

    The SETI institute is based in Mountain View, California. The organization supports the search for other life forms in the universe. The new abilities of the Allen Telescope Array

    will make searching for stars similar to the sun much faster.

    An earlier search by SETI, Project Phoenix, studied about eight hundred stars to a distance of two hundred forty light years. The project ended in two thousand four. With the Allen Telescope Array, astronomers hope to gather thousands of times more information

    in the search for life beyond our planet.

    Recent studies have shown that performing intensive meditation for long periods can help to improve attention. They also showed meditation reduces emotional or mental pressure

    and makes it easier to deal with difficult activities.

    Meditation is a kind of guided thought. People who meditate often spend months or years in training. But an American study found that people can get the same helpful effects in five days if they use a process called integrative mind-body meditation. The process combines rest, controlled breathing, mental imagery and mindfulness training. In earlier

    studies, such activities have been shown to improve attention, emotion, and social


    Researchers at the University of Oregon developed integrative mind-body training. The researchers taught it to forty university students in China. They compared the results of

    the training to the results of deep rest in another group of students. The study found that the students in the trained group performed better than the others on measures like attention and emotion. The researchers also measured levels of the natural hormone cortisol. Cortisol has been called the worry hormone. The body produces it when we are afraid. The study found cortisol levels were much lower in the mind-body trained

    group than in the other group.

    Michael Posner is an expert on attention at the University of Oregon. He helped to write a report on the study. Professor Posner says he was surprised by the findings. He says he thought they might have resulted from where the study was carried out. He says many

    people in China are already believers in intensive meditation. But he says Chinese

    university students have concerns about traditional Chinese medicine. The report on the gains of short-term mind-body training is published in Proceedings of

    the National Academy of Science.

    The Evolution of Spacesuits

    Or download MP3 (Right-click or option-click and save link)

    I’m Steve Ember.

    And I’m Shirley Griffith with the VOA Special English program EXPLORATIONS. Today we tell about the special clothes astronauts wear that protect them while they work in


    Many questions had to be answered over sixty years ago when officials first began to think about placing a human being in space. One of the most important was how to design the special clothing needed to protect a person from the dangers of the space environment. A person cannot work in the extremes of space without many different kinds of protection. The cold of space will freeze skin in a short time. The fierce heat of the sun can cause severe burns. The lack of atmosphere can cause gases and fluids in the body to expand

    and even burst.

    And, with no oxygen to breathe, a human being will die in only a few moments. Any of these extreme conditions would mean a quick death for someone who did not wear special protective clothing. Ultraviolet radiation from the sun is another environmental risk

    in space. So is damage from small pieces of rock and objects like meteoroids.

    When humans explore and do useful work in space, they must take their natural environment with them. The American space agency, NASA, provides astronauts with a number of things that work together to create a protective environment. An astronaut who does work outside the space shuttle usually is wearing more than seventeen pieces of

    protective equipment.

    The atmosphere is about twenty-percent oxygen and eighty percent nitrogen from Earth’s

    surface to where space begins at one-hundred-twenty kilometers up. Yet up at about

    five-thousand-four hundred meters the air pressure is only about half of what it is on the ground. At about nineteen-thousand meters, the air is so thin and the amount of oxygen

    so small that a person needs a lot of special equipment to survive. A well-known American flyer, Wiley Post, designed one of the first successful devices to

    protect a pilot at extreme heights. In nineteen-thirty-three, he developed protective clothing that made it possible for him to fly very high. Today, aircraft are designed to prevent air pressure changes at extreme heights. But this was not yet possible in nineteen


    Wiley Post made this protective clothing with the help of the Phillips Petroleum Company and the BF Goodrich Company. It appeared to be something a person would wear to stay underwater for long periods of time. A large device that looked like a can surrounded the

    pilot’s head. A small window in the front permitted him to see.

    Wiley Post’s protective clothing was made of rubber. It could hold oxygen and provide the needed air pressure to protect his body from the lack of pressure at extreme heights. This

    protective suit was only used a few times, but it permitted Mr. Post to fly as high as fifteen-thousand meters. That was higher than any person had ever flown. Mister Post did

    not know it, but he had designed the first real spacesuit. His suit is now part of the collection of the Smithsonian Institution’s Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC.

    Astronauts in NASA’s Mercury Program flew the first American space flights in the early nineteen-sixties. Each set of protective clothing was specially made for each astronaut. The clothing was similar to that invented by Wiley Post. And, it presented some of the

    same problems.

    When air pressure filled the early spacesuit, astronauts found it difficult to move their arms or legs. It was a little like trying to change the shape of a balloon. The pressure inside the suit provided protection, but made it difficult for the astronaut to move in a natural way.

    Mercury astronauts usually wore the suit without air pressure inside. The Mercury

    spacecraft had the needed atmospheric pressure to keep the astronauts safe. The

    astronauts wore the suit as a safety device in case the spacecraft suddenly lost air


    Today, astronauts wear very different protective clothing. It lets them move, do useful

    tasks, and stay outside their spacecraft in comfort and safety for several hours. For the next few minutes, imagine you are in the space shuttle about to go out to work in


    You will wear a spacesuit to work in the open cargo area of the Space Shuttle Discovery,

    which returned from its last flight last month. The spacesuit is called the shuttle

    extravehicular mobility unit or EMU. It was designed to last longer and to permit more

    movement than earlier spacesuits.

    The EMU has a number of parts that an astronaut can link together by using only one hand. The different parts are in different sizes. This makes it possible for each astronaut to

    select the parts that fit correctly.

    Wearing the whole EMU can add as much as ninety kilograms to your weight. Yet, the

    lack of gravity in space means you will not feel the added weight. You will be wearing equipment that will send medical information back to the NASA control center in Houston, Texas. Doctors will observe your medical condition while you

    work in space.

    You also will wear a device that will collect urine, the body’s liquid waste. You will be working outside the space shuttle for about five hours. This collection device can become

    very necessary.

    You will also wear something called the Liquid Cooling and Ventilation Garment. This piece of clothing is worn next to the skin. It helps keep the body cool by moving water through many small tubes that cover the device. The heat from the sun can reach one-hundred-twenty degrees Celsius in orbit. The material of the space suit helps protect against this heat. The liquid cooling device also works to keep your body from becoming

    too hot.

    You will also put on a container that holds water to drink. A small tube stays near your mouth so you can drink water during your stay in space. A special hat on your head is made of soft cloth. It also carries several communications devices including earphones

    and microphones. These communication devices will permit you to talk with other astronauts working outside the shuttle and with crew members inside the shuttle. You can

    also talk with the control center in Houston, Texas.

    The lower part of the spacesuit is next. It is called the Lower Torso Assembly. It is like

    putting on a large pair of pants that have boots built in the bottom of the legs. Next comes the upper part of the spacesuit. It is made of a hard plastic-like material. To put it on, you must hold your arms over your head, and rise up into the upper part of the

    suit. The upper part of the suit also holds the Primary Life Support System. The life support system supplies the oxygen needed for breathing and the air pressure

    necessary to protect your body. The upper part of the spacesuit also carries an

    emergency oxygen system in case the first system fails.

    An important part of your spacesuit is the control module. It lets you observe and control your oxygen system. It is also the place you find the controls for your communications

    equipment. And, it tells you if you are having a problem with any of the spacesuit’s


    NASA scientists are also considering the kind of spacesuits that would be needed for exploration on the planet Mars. Because of the gravity on Mars, spacesuits may have to be designed to be lighter than suits used in orbit or on the moon. The equipment may also have to protect astronauts from dust carried in the winds on Mars. And, they must be easy

    to repair and keep clean during a longer flight to and from the red planet. All of the spacesuits that have returned from space belong to the Smithsonian Institution.

    Most of the suits are stored in a building about ten kilometers from Washington. They are kept in a room where air temperature and moisture levels are carefully controlled. The old spacesuits break easily. They were designed to protect the astronaut, and how they would last after a space operation was not a big consideration. Smithsonian experts must pay special attention to protect these suits because they help to tell the story of

    space exploration.

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