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VOA慢速英语:泰坦上存在生命?新NASA任务将找到答案

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Life on Titan? New NASA Mission Will Find Out

泰坦上存在生命?新NASA任务将找到答案

Titan, a moon around the planet Saturn, has the right materials for life, NASA research has shown. The US space agency's newly announced Dragonfly mission will explore the icy space object to learn if it ever did hold life.

泰坦是土星周围的一个卫星。NASA的研究显示其存在生命所需的物质。美国太空机构新宣布称"蜻蜓"任务将探索这个满是冰的太空物体来了解它是否有生命存在。

Titan is similar to a very early Earth, and NASA says it can provide clues to how life may have started on our planet.

泰坦与最早期地球很相似,并且NASA表示它能提供关于我们星球上的生命可能是如何起源的线索。

In some ways, Titan looks like Earth. There are lakes and seas across the northern half, and sometimes rain hits the sandy surface. But this is where the similarities end.

在某些方面,泰坦看起来像地球。在其北半球有许多湖泊和海洋。有时雨会下到满是沙的星球表面。但是这是相似处结束的地方。

Titan is so cold that water is rock-hard ice, and oily methane falls from the sky and into the seas. The beaches are different too. Titan's sand is made up of carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen and oxygen, unlike any beach on Earth.

泰坦太冷了以致于水以像石头一样硬的冰的形式存在并且像油一样的甲烷雨从天上降落至海里。这里的沙滩与我们的也不同。泰坦的沙子的组成成分为:碳、氢、氮和氧,这跟地球上的任何一个沙滩都不像。

“One of the things I think is so exciting about Titan is how it can be alien and familiar at the same time,” said Elizabeth Turtle, Dragonfly's lead investigator. At -179 degrees Celsius, “it's totally different material than what we're used to interacting with on a daily basis.” For example, there is water-ice bedrock—the material under the surface of the ground and large areas of liquid methane.

“我认为关于泰坦令人特别兴奋的一件事儿是它是如何同时兼具外星特质和相似之处的,”蜻蜓的首席调查员伊丽莎白·特特尔说。在零下179摄氏度,“它便变成了与我们日常环境中接触到的物质完全不同的一种物质。”例如,这里有冰水相间的基岩,它是地表下的一种物质以及大面积的液体甲烷。

Titan's surface is hidden below its atmosphere which is four times as dense as Earth's. But its lower level gravity makes Titan a good place for a flying explorer.

泰坦的地表藏在其大气层下。它的大气层厚度是地球大气层的四倍!但是它上面的重力很小,这为飞行探索提供了很好的环境。

Drones are small aircrafts that fly without a pilot. With the progress in drone technology, the Dragonfly team recognized that they could make what was once a dream—flying on Titan—a reality.

无人驾驶飞机是没有飞行员驾驶的小型飞机!随着无人驾驶飞机技术的发展,蜻蜓团队意识到他们能将曾经想在泰坦上飞行的梦想变为现实。

Dragonfly will be three meters long and more than a meter tall. It will fly with the help of two sets of four propellers. The design will permit Dragonfly to take pictures from above the moon, and to land on Titan's frozen surface for a closer look.

蜻蜓将被制成三米长,一米多高。它将在两组四个螺旋桨的协助下飞行。这种设计可支持蜻蜓从该卫星的上方拍照,同时也可以降落在泰坦结冰的地表进行近距离观测。

At first, it will target an area near the moon's equator, or middle. It is covered in huge sand hills, similar to what is found in Earth's deserts. From there Dragonfly will move out and explore the moon by taking large jumps to see what lies ahead.

首先,它将定位到该卫星赤道即中心附近的一片区域。它上面覆盖着巨大的沙丘,类似于地球沙漠中发现的沙丘。从那里开始蜻蜓将向外移动并靠大的跳跃探索该卫星,去看看前方都存在什么事物。

When it lands, it will study samples of the surface, take photographs and look for “titanquakes”— like earthquakes.

当它着陆时,它将研究地表层的样品,拍照并寻找类似于地震的“泰坦震”。

Dragonfly will travel at eight kilometers per jump, and make its way to Selk crater, more than 100 kilometers away. The crater was formed when a large object hit the area. Scientists think that the heat from the hit would have turned the ice to water in Titan's crust. That could have created an environment that would have all the necessary elements for life.

蜻蜓每次跳跃将前进八公里的距离,并向100多公里外的Selk坑前进。这个坑是由大型物体撞击其表面时形成的。科学家认为撞击过程中产生的热量就会将地壳中的冰化成了液体水。那将创造一种包含所以生命所需元素的环境。

The Dragonfly team hopes to learn whether combining organic material with liquid water and energy in the form of heat could have caused complex molecules to develop – or even life itself.

蜻蜓团队希望了解以加热的形式将有机物质、液态水和能量融合结合在一起是否可以形成复杂的分子甚至是生命。

“We have this chance to explore a world that we know has all the ingredients for life, but how far did it get towards life?” said Melissa Trainer, the mission's deputy lead investigator.

“我们有这样的机会去探索我们知道包含生命所有组成成分的一个世界,但是多久它才能形成生命?”此次任务的副调查员梅丽莎·特雷纳说。

If life is, or has been on Titan, Dragonfly should be able to find it. Its instruments will be searching for is a class of molecules called amino acids, which are found in all life on Earth.

如果生命已经存在于泰坦,蜻蜓应该能够发现它。它的设备将寻找一组被称为氨基酸的分子。氨基酸存在于所有地球生物中。

Dragonfly is expected to launch in 2026 and arrive at Titan in 2034. The science and engineering teams are designing and building the spacecraft.

蜻蜓预计于2026年发射并于2034年抵达泰坦。这些科学和工程团队正在设计和建造宇宙飞船。

The trip may be a long way off, but the team believes the mission will be worth the wait.

这次行程可能会很长,但是该团队认为此任务将值得被期待。

I'm Anne Ball.

安妮·鲍尔为您报道。

Life on Titan? New NASA Mission Will Find Out

Titan, a moon around the planet Saturn, has the right materials for life, NASA research has shown. The US space agency's newly announced Dragonfly mission will explore the icy space object to learn if it ever did hold life.

Titan is similar to a very early Earth, and NASA says it can provide clues to how life may have started on our planet.

In some ways, Titan looks like Earth. There are lakes and seas across the northern half, and sometimes rain hits the sandy surface. But this is where the similarities end.

Titan is so cold that water is rock-hard ice, and oily methane falls from the sky and into the seas. The beaches are different too. Titan's sand is made up of carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen and oxygen, unlike any beach on Earth.

“One of the things I think is so exciting about Titan is how it can be alien and familiar at the same time,” said Elizabeth Turtle, Dragonfly's lead investigator. At -179 degrees Celsius, “it's totally different material than what we're used to interacting with on a daily basis.” For example, there is water-ice bedrock—the material under the surface of the ground and large areas of liquid methane.

Titan's surface is hidden below its atmosphere which is four times as dense as Earth's. But its lower level gravity makes Titan a good place for a flying explorer.

Drones are small aircrafts that fly without a pilot. With the progress in drone technology, the Dragonfly team recognized that they could make what was once a dream—flying on Titan—a reality.

Dragonfly will be three meters long and more than a meter tall. It will fly with the help of two sets of four propellers. The design will permit Dragonfly to take pictures from above the moon, and to land on Titan's frozen surface for a closer look.

At first, it will target an area near the moon's equator, or middle. It is covered in huge sand hills, similar to what is found in Earth's deserts. From there Dragonfly will move out and explore the moon by taking large jumps to see what lies ahead.

When it lands, it will study samples of the surface, take photographs and look for “titanquakes”— like earthquakes.

Dragonfly will travel at eight kilometers per jump, and make its way to Selk crater, more than 100 kilometers away. The crater was formed when a large object hit the area. Scientists think that the heat from the hit would have turned the ice to water in Titan's crust. That could have created an environment that would have all the necessary elements for life.

The Dragonfly team hopes to learn whether combining organic material with liquid water and energy in the form of heat could have caused complex molecules to develop – or even life itself.

“We have this chance to explore a world that we know has all the ingredients for life, but how far did it get towards life?” said Melissa Trainer, the mission's deputy lead investigator.

If life is, or has been on Titan, Dragonfly should be able to find it. Its instruments will be searching for is a class of molecules called amino acids, which are found in all life on Earth.

Dragonfly is expected to launch in 2026 and arrive at Titan in 2034. The science and engineering teams are designing and building the spacecraft.

The trip may be a long way off, but the team believes the mission will be worth the wait.

I'm Anne Ball.

____________________________________________________________

mission – n. a task or job that someone is given to do

clue – n. something that helps a person find something, understand something, or solve a mystery or puzzle

beach – n. an area covered with sand or small rocks that is next to an ocean or lake

alien – n. from somewhere other than the planet Earth

familiar – adj. frequently seen, heard, or experienced

propeller – n. a device with two or more blades that turn quickly and cause a ship or aircraft to move

crust – n. a hard layer on the surface of something


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