美国航天局在2015年7月24日凌晨宣布发现了另一个地球,在太阳系中是否存在与地球同样适合生命存在的星球呢?为大家带来托福阅读素材之寻找外星生命 1,希望对大家的托福阅读背景知识提升有所帮助:

  TOPIC:天文;宇宙;科技

  场景

  科技进步;航天;外星生命;

  思维方式:理论的推测和限制性;

  【阅读】科普文

  FOR decades, researchers looking for life elsewhere in the solar system have stuck to a simple rule: “follow the water”. The stuff is essential to life on Earth, and its peculiar properties mean those hunting aliens think the same will be true else where. This is one reason that Mars has received so much of their attention. Mars has water vapour in its atmosphere, and water ice in the shining cap at its north pole. Liquid water—which is the form life needs—may well exist underground, and may still sometimes be seen at the surface, where dried-up rivers and lakes suggest it was once commonplace. Orbiting spacecraft have seen mysterious dark channels appear on crater walls; recent results from Curiosity, the newer of the two American rovers now exploring Mars, suggest these could be trickles of brine, kept liquid in the bitter cold by their high salt content.

  几十年来,在太阳系之外找寻其他生命体的学者们都遵循着这样一条简单的规则:“追随水”。对地球上的生命体来说,水是必不可少的物质,其特殊的性质让寻找外星人的学者认为这一定律在其他星球也同样适用。这也是火星受到如此多关注的一个原因。火星的大气中有水蒸气,其北极极冠中有水冻冰块。火星地下很可能存在生命所需的液态,有时甚至在表层都能看见液态水——表层中干涸的河流湖泊表明其一度很普遍。绕火星飞行的航天器曾发现火星火山口坑壁上出现了神秘的黑色沟渠;正在探索火星的两架美国漫游车中较新的一架“好奇号”最近的观测结果表明这些沟渠有可能是潺潺流动的小股盐水,由于其高盐分含量得以在如此冰冷的气候下保持液态。

  【经典句式】

  the solar system 太阳系

  stick to sth 坚持……

  be essential to sth 对……来说是必不可少的

  peculiar奇怪的

  property性质;财产

  water vapour 水蒸气

  atmosphere大气

  cap(极)冠;(冰)冠

  liquid液体

  form形态;形式

  may well很可能

  commonplace常见的(事物)

  orbit轨道;绕……飞行

  spacecraft航天器

  channel河道;海峡;频道

  crater火山口;陨石坑

  rover(火星)漫游车

  trickle细流

  brine盐水

  content内容;容量

  But for all that, Mars is at best a desert with afew wet patches.Farther from the sun there area number of icy bodies that seem to boast whole oceans of liquid water beneath theirsolid surfaces. Even by the standards of space exploration, this water—billions of kilometres away and hidden from direct inspection—is a challenging subject for study. But there are plans afoot to meet that challenge. On May 26th NASA announced the suite of scientific instruments it has selected for Europa Clipper,a $2 billion mission which could be launched in the early 2020s. Despite its nicely nautical name, it will not actually sail the seas of Europa, an icy moon of Jupiter. But it might be able to find out something of their chemistry—and, just possibly, their biochemistry.

  尽管如此,火星充其量是一个有几块湿润区域的沙漠。在远离太阳的地方有许多冰体,他们的坚固表面下似乎有着几个海洋之多的液态水。即便以太空探索的标准来衡量,这些几十亿公里以外且不能直接检测的水也是一个相当有挑战性的研究课题。但我们已经有了一些计划来应对这个挑战。美国航天宇航局(NASA)于5月26日宣布了为探测器“EuropaClipper”选定的科学仪器套件。这一探测器将耗资20亿,发射日程定于2020年到2025年之间。Europa(木卫二)是木星的一颗卫星,温度很低。尽管“Europa Clipper”的名字听上去很有海魂范儿,但它实际上并不会在木卫二的海洋中航行。然而它也许能发现木卫二的海洋的一些化学属性,以及如果海洋中真有生命的话,他们的生物化学属性,当然这一可能性是微乎其微的。

  【经典句式】

  at best 最多;充其量

  patch小块;补丁

  a number of 许多;大量

  boast以……为豪;自夸

  by the standard of … 以……标准来衡量

  space exploration太空探索

  inspection检查

  subject for study研究课题

  afoot在进行中

  announce宣布

  mission任务

  launch发射;开始

  moon卫星

  Jupiter木星

  instrument工具;乐器

  sail航行