Chinese Astronauts Hoping to Plant Vegetables on Mars

December 28, 2012

Unlocking Word Meanings
Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. cabin (n.)  [kab-in] – an enclosed space or room that is used as a temporary shelter
Example: Scientists in field work store food supplies inside a small cabin.

2. station (v.) [stey-shuh n] – to place or assign in a specific area, such as a post or a headquarter
Example: Police officers stationed near schools try to protect students.

3. harvest (v.) [hahr-vist] – to gather crops
Example: The farmers harvested crops to be sold in the market.

4. exploratory (adj.) [ik-splawr-uh-tawr-ee, -splohr-uh-tohr-ee] – intended for discovery or investigation
Example: They performed an exploratory experiment for their project.

5. take off (phrasal verb) [teyk-awf, -of] – to rise or fly into the air
Example: The plane takes off at exactly 6 in the morning.

Read the text below.

Chinese astronauts are studying the possibility of growing vegetables on the moon or on the planet Mars.

In Beijing, scientists created and tested a 300-cubic meter ecological life support cabin for space crafts. Inside the cabin, astronauts could produce their own supply of air, food and water while on space missions. Scientists have already successfully grown four kinds of vegetables inside the test cabin.

Deng Yibing, a researcher at Beijing's Chinese Astronaut Research and Training Center, says the life support system would be useful to future astronauts stationed for a long time on other planets or on the moon. Astronauts could harvest fresh vegetables from the cabin and have fresh meals. The system would not only be a source of food but would also be a source of oxygen.

The experiment is part of China’s long-term space goals. The country has increased its focus on space-related activities while United States, a leader in space exploration, has shut down some of its space programs.

One of China’s goals is to bring a man to the moon, something which Americans last accomplished in 1972.

China’s first exploratory space craft is set to take off to the moon next year. Chinese scientists are also hoping to send a manned spacecraft to the moon, but no official date has been planned yet.

Viewpoint Discussion
Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

·         How could growing food on the moon or on other planets benefit people who are not astronauts?
·         What may be some disadvantages to growing our food supplies on other planets?

Discussion B

·         Do you think it will be possible to live on other planets in the future? Why or why not?
·         What advantage would people gain if they could live on other planets?


December 28, 2012