Humans are quite remarkable. Unhappy with the wonder of travelling through our solar system on a blue spaceship called earth, we seek to go beyond what seems impossible and make it possible. So imagine launching a spaceship from earth, the size of a van, 200 million miles into space to meet a huge rock travelling at over 60 thousand miles an hour. Today we learn how to speak English through listening to English being spoken by native English speakers oh and find our more about OSIRIS REx.
Many people, like me, suffer from an inability to visualising very large numbers. I read ‘2 hundred million miles’ and I can’t really imagine that distance. Planning for such space missions, stops being about our normal physical reality and move into pure mathematics. How else could it all work? Listen to today’s lesson to find out more.
Well, as interesting as these things are, they are not why we are here today, today we are going to practice English listening comprehension. Just sit back and enjoy the simple way of improving your English fluency. All you have to do is listen and learn. Listen to this English podcast lesson several times, remember to monitor what you do and don't understand without having to look up words, and remember to spend time being conscious of the vocabulary you remember.
There are no passengers on spaceship earth. We are all crew.
⭐ Marshall McLuhan, Canadian Sociologist
You need to keep repeat listening so you can train your brain to identify the English language sounds, the cadence of the language. Your brain will recognise the repeated information and automatically see it as more important (because you keep repeating it) and your brain will store the information in longer term memory. Which is exactly where you want it for automatic language recall and improving your English fluency?
Spacecraft Asteroid Orbits
|Might Actually Hit||2|
|The Word Craft||2|
|The Seven Rules||2|
|First Of All||2|
|Piece Of Rock||2|
|Orbits The Sun||2|
Hi and welcome to this podcast from Adept English.
If you’re looking for ways to improve your English and move you towards being fluent in spoken English, then Adept English is here to help you. We supply you with listening material, because becoming fluent in a language means that you first of all have to be a ‘fluent listener’.
You have to be able to understand English automatically, without effort. And that takes quite a lot of listening practice – so that’s what we help you with, in the podcasts and with our courses.
You won’t become fluent in English without doing this listening, no matter how many years you try and you continue to learn English – you have to listen! If you would like more tips, more advice on how to achieve fluency in English, then sign up for our free course, the Seven Rules of Adept English. If you follow the tips in the Seven Rules Course, you will know exactly what to do to become fluent in English. It’s really valuable information.
Anyway, today’s podcast. Did you see the news item on the Osiris-Rex? You’ve possibly heard something about it. This is a tiny spacecraft, called the Osiris-Rex, and it has managed to collect rock samples from an asteroid called Bennu, 200 million miles away from earth. Osiris-Rex was launched by NASA in the US. So let’s do some vocabulary here, first of all. Planet earth, that’s E-A-R-T-H that’s our planet, where we live.
And a spacecraft, S-P-A-C-E-C-R-A-F-T is obviously the word ‘space’ and the word ‘craft’ joined together – it’s a ‘compound’ word. ‘Space’ in this context means anything that isn’t on earth. Anything that’s not on our planet is ‘space’. And ‘craft’ in this context means a spaceship – a machine, a vehicle capable of travelling in space. The other time in English when you might hear the word ‘craft’, C-R-A-F-T is when you’re talking about boats. ‘Watercraft’ are vehicles which can travel on water.
And an asteroid? A-S-T-E-R-O-I-D – that is a piece of rock which is travelling around out there in space. Bennu, B-E-N-N-U is the piece of rock concerned, in this story, an asteroid which orbits the sun. ‘To orbit’, O-R-B-I-T means to go round, to travel in a circle or an ellipse around a bigger planet or a star, like the sun. So the earth orbits around the sun – that’s normal. That’s what creates our year and our seasons.
So what about some stats here, some numbers? You can practice with numbers in English. Bennu orbits the sun every 1.2 years – and it’s travelling, this asteroid at 63,000 mph. So quite a bit of maths involved in landing a spacecraft on something travelling that fast! Bennu comes near to Earth every six years in its orbit – and there’s a small chance in the future that it might actually hit us, might actually hit earth, but small enough not to be worth worrying about!
The chance is about 1 in 2,700 in the late 2100s, so maybe we don’t need to worry too much about that! Bennu is of interest to scientists, because it’s estimated to be at least 4.5 billion years old.
A photograph of Tektite (meteorite glass) Closeup. Let us hope that we never see the Bennu asteroid this close up.
So it’s thought to hold interesting information about how the universe began. It’s called a ‘primitive asteroid’ – so it’s a lump of rock formed very early on in the development of our solar system and not much has changed since. The ‘solar system’ is our little corner of the universe – the planets and rocks orbiting our sun. So samples of rock from Osiris-Rex may contain information of interest to scientists about how our solar system was formed.
The word solar, S-O-L-A-R, just means ‘of the sun’. ‘Sun’ is often S-O-L in other European languages, so ‘solar’. The size of Bennu, the asteroid has been compared with lots of things, but to give you an idea, it’s 67m greater in length than the height of the Empire State Building in New York. So in the whole of space, it’s quite tiny.
And the name Bennu? Well, the University of Arizona ran a ‘Name that Asteroid’ competition, in 2012. And a boy from North Carolina called Michael Puzio suggested the name Bennu. ‘Bennu’ comes from ancient Egypt and was the name of a phoenix, a type of bird.
And the Osiris-Rex spacecraft or probe, as it’s sometimes called? Well, it set off in September 2016 and it’s been orbiting the asteroid Bennu since arriving near it in December 2018. So we’re talking big time scales here, big distances. The journey from Earth is over 200 million miles – so it took a bit of time to get there.
Osiris-Rex was in the news recently because it landed, very briefly for just a few seconds on the surface of the asteroid and took samples. That means little bits of rock and dust. Then the Osiris-Rex took off again, so it’s again circling the asteroid. It’s not due to set off back to Earth until March 2021 and it won’t arrive back here until September 2023. So it’s a seven year journey all-told and the project cost $800 million.
So why are these samples of rock so important? Osiris-Rex scientist Jason Dworkin, who works for NASA said "People not yet born, with ideas that we didn't have now, can test these samples in ways that we couldn't even conceive of". So it’s thought that the samples will give us information about the solar system way into the future, when science has moved on from where it is now.
Apparently, rocks which were collected from the Apollo moon landings in the 1960s and 1970s are still being worked on and are still giving out new information. Tests that we can do now, or scientists can do now, that they didn’t have back then.
So with all of this, you can imagine the dismay when it became apparent that Osiris-Rex had succeeded in landing and collecting rock and dust samples, but the door hadn’t closed properly and the sample was spilling out and being lost! Aaaahh. Apparently a piece of rock had wedged in the door and stopped it shutting properly and the sample risked being lost.
Can you imagine? So there were some tense hours, while NASA scientists worked to get that door closed, [the door] of the sample compartment – and in fact it took 2 days to complete this. But they’ve done it now and the samples are safely stored inside. Phew! I bet that was a stressful couple of days. It puts a bad day at the office into perspective, perhaps? All sorted now and scientists can look forward to getting their hands on some lovely, interesting rock samples in 2023.
It’s hard to imagine the amount of effort, the knowledge, the amount of design of hardware and software to achieve such a project. Designing something which is going to work, in such difficult conditions, over such distances and be reliable for the next seven years - I guess that’s where the $800 million goes – but it’s amazing what we can achieve.
Anyway, I hope that that’s given you some new English words to practice with and hopefully given you some interesting information that you didn’t know!
Enough for now. Have a lovely day. Speak to you again soon. Goodbye.