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Scientists are considering the possibility of sending humans to Mars in the coming decades. Although there have been successful manned missions to the Moon in the 1960s and 1970s, Mars is 150 times further away from Earth than the Moon is. Thus the project of sending humans to Mars would require solving an array of problems the Moon missions did not have to face.
One problem is that a round-trip to Mars and back is likely to take at least two years. The trip to the Moon lasted only a few days, and it was easy to bring enough supplies of food, water, and oxygen; but the cargo capacity of space vehicles is too limited to put on board the food, water, and oxygen required by a crew for a period of two years. Without those essentials, though, a Mars mission is impossible.
A second problem is that astronauts on the Mars mission would be in the zero-gravity environment of space for many months at a time. Spending a long time in the zero-gravity environment has negative effects on the human body, such as decreased muscle mass and lower bone density. Over the course of a two-year mission, the effects would be so severe; they would make it impossible for humans to make the trip without experiencing grave medical problems.
Finally, astronauts on a mission to Mars would be exposed to dangerous levels of space radiation, much of which comes in the form of charged particles emitted by the Sun. Earth's magnetic field, which normally protects us from dangerous solar radiation, would not be able to protect a spaceship traveling in interplanetary space. Constructing a shield that would protect the whole spaceship from space radiation is at present impossible because it would add too much weight to the ship.
Directions: You have 20 minutes to plan and write your response. Your response will be judged on the basis of the quality of your writing and on how well your response presents the points in the lecture and their relationship to the reading passage. Typically, an effective response will be 150 to 225 words.
Summarize the points made in the lecture, being sure to explain how they respond to the specific concerns presented in the reading passage.