quarta-feira, 22 de outubro de 2014

85. How did Mars lose its atmosphere?

Scientists working on the year-long1 American mission to explore Mars hope that2 it will “help solve the mystery3 of how the Red Planet lost most of4 its atmosphere.” Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, the scientists said they are surprised and excited5 by the amount6 and quality of the information the spacecraft7 MAVEN has provided so far8.

MAVEN reached9 Mars in late September after a 10-month-long journey. It had traveled 711-million kilometers from Earth to the Red Planet. NASA says MAVEN is the first spacecraft ever made10 to study the upper11 atmosphere of Mars. MAVEN will measure the rates12 at which gases leave13 the Martian atmosphere. Scientists hope the information the spacecraft gathers14 will help them learn15 how the climate of Mars has changed over time16.

Scientists say carbon dioxide and water control the climate. They believe if they can discover the history of Mars over the past four billion years, they will come to understand17 how the planet changed “from a warm and wet18 climate to the cold, dry19 climate present today.” 

Scientists began20 working on the project 11 years ago. One of the mission’s top scientists said the mission will look at “how the processes involving the sun and the solar wind21 affect the gas at the top of the atmosphere and strip it away22 to space.”

Bruce Jakosky leads23 the mission. He is a professor in the geological sciences department at the University of Colorado in Boulder. He said Tuesday that seven of the spacecraft’s eight instruments are already providing24 information to scientists. He says much more will be received from25 the instruments in the next few weeks. “What we’re seeing so far is really just a tantalizing26 teaser27 of what’s to come28.”

Even this early29 in the mission, when the instruments are only being tested30, scientists now have the most complete picture of the Red Planet’s upper atmosphere that they have ever had31. The instrument testing will continue for about32 two weeks. Scientists hope to begin the actual33 science mission early next month.

But Professor Jakosky says the quality of information already sent back34 from MAVEN is better than he and his colleagues expected they would get35. “I’m looking at the science team -- some here in the room with me, some distributed -- and just seeing an incredible36 number of really excited people that are, are just "beside themselves"37 with the quality of the data38 we’re seeing already.

Just this morning my administrative assistant told me that for the first time in months she’s hearing me whistling again39 as I walk down the corridor. This is gonna really be40 an exciting mission and we’re, we’re just ready to get on with it41.”

Five times42 during the mission, the spacecraft will move to 125 kilometers above the surface43 of the Red Planet. During these “deep-dip campaigns,” MAVEN will travel in an area where the upper and lower44 atmospheres meet45. This will give scientists information about the differences between the two atmospheres.

The spacecraft will also try to find out46 if human beings47 can survive48 on Mars. The space agency is working on plans to send humans to the planet in the 2030s. I’m Christopher Cruise.


  1. year-long = um ano de duração
  2. hope that = esperam que
  3. solve the mystery = solucionar o mistério
  4. lost most of = perdeu a maioria de
  5. surprised and excited = surpresos e empolgados
  6. amount = quantia
  7. spacecraft = nave espacial
  8. has provided so far = tem fornecido até agora
  9. reached = alcançou
  10. ever made = já feito
  11. upper = superior
  12. measure the rates = medir os índices
  13. leave = deixam
  14. gathers = reúne
  15. learn = aprender
  16. over time = ao longo do tempo
  17. will come to understand = virão a entender
  18. warm and wet = quente e úmido
  19. dry = seco
  20. began = começaram
  21. solar wind = vento solar
  22. strip it away = lança fora
  23. leads = lidera
  24. are already providing = já estão fornecendo
  25. received from = recebido de
  26. tantalizing = tentador(a)
  27. teaser = provocação
  28. what’s to come = o que está por vir
  29. Even this early = mesmo tão cedo
  30. only being tested = apenas sendo testados
  31. they have ever had = Eles jamais tiverem
  32. about = aproximadamente
  33. actual = real
  34. sent back = enviada de volta
  35. would get = conseguiriam
  36. incredible = incrível
  37. beside themselves = fora de si
  38. data = dados
  39. hearing me whistling again = ouvindo-me assobiar novamente
  40. This is gonna really be = isto será realmente
  41. ready to get on with it = prontos para seguir em frente com isso
  42. Five times = cinco vezes
  43. above the surface = acima da superficie
  44. lower = inferior
  45. meet = encontram-se
  46. will also try to find out = também tentará descobrir
  47. human beings = seres humanos
  48. survive = sobreviver