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Unit 12 Transforming Mars. Part II Reading Comprehension and Language Activities. Pre-reading Tasks What knowledge or information have you got about the geographic formation, atmosphere, and temperatures of Mars? What are the basic needs for man’s survival on an outer space planet?

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part ii reading comprehension and language activities
Part II Reading Comprehension and Language Activities
  • Pre-reading Tasks
    • What knowledge or information have you got about the geographic formation, atmosphere, and temperatures of Mars?
    • What are the basic needs for man’s survival on an outer space planet?
    • Which planet is more likely to become man’s new homestead on the future? (the Moon or Mars?)
    • What feasts have been accomplished in man’s space project? Do you think the project is worth all the money and endeavour?
Transforming Mars

Ever since the beginning of history, people have dreamed of interplanetary travel. For centuries, these dreams have remained dreams. But within about 30 years from now, the first people from Earth will have landed on Mars. And by the year 2170, people will have established cities and industries. You see, scientists are now making plans to transform Mars so that it will become possible for humans to live and work there. Those dreams will finally come true.

Mars has always fascinated us. There are many stories and films about “Men from Mars” attacking Earth. Unfortunately, the unmanned spacecraft which we sent there in 1976 found no signs of life on the Red Planet (so called because it is covered in iron oxide).

In many ways, Mars is the planet which is most similar to Earth. A Martian day lasts forabout 24 1/2 hours (although a year has 687 days).

Turn to p. 169, and listen to the text.

Transforming Mars

It is about half the diameter of Earth, and although there is no water, there is a lot of ice in the two polar ice-caps. Even though the average temperature is –60 C, it would be possible for humans to survive there. (Whereas Venus, for example, has a temperature of 465C, which makes it completely uninhabitable.)

The plan which scientists are now developing involves a process known as“transforming” Mars, i.e., changing Mars so that it becomes more like Earth. Ironically, this means using the “greenhouse effect” (which we are trying to stop on Earth). The suggested programme would have five main stages.

stage 1 (2015-2030)

The first expedition arrives on Mars, after a journey of about six to nine months. The members construct subterranean buildings and stay on Mars for about a year. They conduct experiments, look for good sites for future landings, and also check for signs of life.

Transforming Mars

They need to wear spacesuits because 95% of the atmosphere is carbon dioxide. But the low gravity (one-third of Earth’s ) means they are able to move around easily.

Stage 2 (2030-2080)

More expeditions arrive. Huge solar mirrors are put in orbit around Mars to heat the polar ice-caps. The ice-caps are sprayed black, so that they do not reflect the heat away. Chemicals are released into the air. As a result, the atmosphere becomes thicker and retains more of the Sun’s heat. The “greenhouse effect” begins. The ice-caps start to melt, releasing water vapour. The temperature rises to-40C.

Stage 3 (2080-2115)

Next, special plants are introduced from Earth. These can convert carbon dioxide into oxygen. The first clouds appear, and the sky slowly turns from pink to blue. The temperature goes up to –15.

transforming mars
Transforming Mars

Stage 4 (2115-2130)

The warming continues, melting more ice. Rivers and small oceans are made. More people migrate from Earth and live in towns. Forests of trees are planted. Mars is looking greener. The temperature is 0C.

Stage 5 (2130-2170)

Mars is getting more like Earth. The amount of oxygen in the air rises, and at last the air becomes breathable. The inhabitants can go outside without spacesuits. The temperature reaches 10C and stays at that level. (Since Mars is 228 million km from the Sun, it seems that it will never be as warm as Earth.) Cities, farms and industries develop all over Mars. The transformation is complete.




从许多方面来看,火星是与地球最相似的行星。火星上的一天有24.5小时(尽管它一年有687 天)。它的直径大约是地球的一半,虽说那上面没有水,但两极的冰帽上有大量的冰雪。它的平均温度虽然只有-60ºC,但人类在那儿生存还是可能的。(而其它行星,比如金星上的温度是465ºC,人类则根本无法居住。)














comprehension work questions for discussion
Comprehension work (Questions for discussion )

1. What have people dreamt of since the beginning of history? How long will it take for the dream to come true? How long will it take for people to live and work on Mars?

2. Why do scientists choose Mars as a possible place for human habitation? What is the scientists’ plan mainly about?

3. What are the major problems the scientists have to solve if humans are going to survive on Mars?

4. What are the tasks for the first expedition to Mars?

5. What is the purpose in the second stage? What actions should be taken for this purpose?

6. Why should some special plants be introduced onto Mars?

7. Why are the two polar ice-caps particularly important?

8. What results could be expected when the transformation is complete?

Language work
  • Rewrite the following sentences with the expressions in the box.
  • come true retain migrate convert
  • survive fascinate expedition conduct
  • 1. With very little water, some animals could still manage to live on African deserts.
  • 2. Since the late 19th century, teams of people from different countries have organized exploratory journeys to the Himalayan Mountains.
  • 3. Without water, people cannot turn deserts into arable land.
  • 4. The government is now making a national survey on the country’s mineral resources.
5. When war broke out in the region, a lot of local people moved to neighbouring countries.
  • 6. Some American Indians have kept their traditional customs and rites.
  • 7. The video game “Invaders from Mars” arouses great interest and curiosity among a lot of children.
  • 8. The Chinese people’s dream of takinf taking back Hong Kong has now been realized.

1. A new bridge having been built, and crossing the river by ferry has become a thing of the past.

2. Once you pick up a bad habit, it is difficult to get rid of it.

3. Doctors are still trying out this new medicine to see if it is effective.

4. All the new products of this company were on show at the exhibition.

5. The color of brass is similar to that of gold.

6. Oxford Street is known as one of the busiest commercial streets in London.

7. The old building which survived the earthquake was retained in the newly-built district.

8. Children are often fascinated by the toys displayed in shop windows.

transform:vt. to completely change the appearance, form, or character of sth or someone, especially in a way that improves it transform sb/sth (from sth) into sth –synonym convert
  • e.g.
  • The witch transform the woman into pig.
  • 巫婆把那女人变成了猪。
  • The Greens have transformed/converted their garage into a guest house.
  • 格雷一家把他们的车库改成了客房。
  • 3. A generator transforms mechanical energy into electricity.
  • 发电机将机械能变成电。
last for:[vi always + adv/prep] to continue for a particular length of time last for/until/through etc

know as:know sb/sth as sth | know sb/sth for sth[usually passive] to think that sb/sth is a particular type of person or thing or has particular characteristics

know as:know sb/sth as sth[usually passive] to give sb/sth a particular name or title


1. I knew him as a hard-working, modest, and honest politician.


2. The heavy weight boxer known as “ The Greatest”.


convert:vt. to change sth into a different form of thing, or to change sth so that it can be used for a different purpose or in a different way convert (sth) (from sth) (to/into sth)

convert:vt.to persuade someone to change to a different religion(convert (sb) (from sth) (to sth)


1. The old barn we bought to convert into flats was practically tumbling down.

那个旧谷仓我们买下想改建住房的, 实际上已经快塌了.

2. The priest converted many natives into Christianity.


language work a p 171
Language work(A, p. 171)

1. spacecraft landed interplanetary establish similar migrate

2. fascinated expeditions signs diameter gravity retain uninhabitable

3. conducting solar known as reflect convert

language work b p 172
Language work(B, p.172)

1. With very little water, some animals could still manage to survive in African deserts.

2. Since the 19th century, expeditions from different countries have reached the Himalayan Mountains.

3. Without water, people cannot convert deserts into arable land.

4. The government is now conducting a national survey into the country’s mineral resources.

language work b p 1721
Language work(B, p.172)

5. When war broke out in the region, a lot of people migrated to neighboring countries.

6. Some American Indians have retained their traditional customs and rites.

7. The video game “Invaders from Mars” fascinates a lot of children.

8. The Chinese people’s dream of taking back Hong Kong has now come true.

language work c p 173
Language work(C, p.173)

1. a. Ancient Chinese novels such as Red Chamber Dreams always fascinate me.

b. The Disney cartoons fascinated the pupil so much that he forgot to do his homework.

c. I was fascinated to see the amazing size of the ancient Roman architecture.

language work c p 1731
Language work(C, p.173)

2. a. In writing, I think, German grammar is very similar to English grammar.

b. My opinion is similar to yours.

c. I’m not going to elaborate on my position because it is similar to that of the previous speaker.

language work c p 1732
Language work(C, p.173)

3. a. It is very difficult for a person to survive in a foreign country if he does not know the language.

b. It’s incredible that all the passengers survived the terrible plane crash.

c. How would you survive if you were left stranded on a tropical island after a shipwreck?

language work c p 1733
Language work(C, p.173)

4. a. In order to protect the environment, scientists are conducting experiments to substitute solar energy for fossil fuels.

b. Some countries are still conducting nuclear tests despite the serious criticism from the international community.

c. Many teachers are very skillful in conducting classroom activities.

language work c p 1734
Language work(C, p.173)

5. a. It is said that Buddhism was first introduced into China from India in the Han Dynasty.

b. Since the new approach of communicative teaching was introduced into our language classroom, our students’ spoken English has improved a lot.

c. The company decided to introduce the latest technology to its manufacturing section.

language work c p 1735
Language work(C, p.173)

6. a. With some alterations, we converted the hotel into an apartment building.

b. The extra food will be converted into fat stored in our bodies.

c. Physics teachers say that light can be converted into power in light cells.

  • Script of the Dictation

The computer performs simple and fast calculations under the control of a set of instructions called a program. The programs are usually stored within, and processed by, the computer. The calculation results which are sent to output devices, such as monitors or printers, are mechanically precise. Because of its extraordinary speed and accuracy, the computer finds application in a wide range of activities in business, industry, and scientific research. Besides, computers can also provide entertainment, creating sound on stereo systems or cartoons from a VCD. Computer programs can as well aid every level of education by teaching everything from simple addition or sentence construction to advanced courses.