After two false starts, the Americans have sent a special probe on a long journey to Pluto. This will be the last planet in our solar system to get a visit from one of our robot reporters. There are so many things we do not know about planet number nine. We don’t even know for certain if it is a planet. We know it is extremely cold (minus 220 degrees Celsius, colder than Wroc³aw was a couple of weeks ago). We know it has no atmosphere and takes 248 years to go round the sun. Hopefully we’ll get more information in a few years.
If you are planning a holiday on another planet, remember to prepare carefully. You will need a lot of sunscreen for Mercury, as temperatures can rise as high as 420 degrees. The other side of the planet is colder, minus 180 degrees, and the nights are over 4000 hours long, so bring a torch.
Although it is further away from the sun, Venus is hotter on average (460 degrees). It also has an atmosphere. Unfortunately it’s an atmosphere of carbon dioxide and sulphuric acid, so remember not to do any breathing while you visit.
Why not visit Jupiter? This is the second brightest planet and it’s pretty big and heavy (318 times the mass of Earth), so parking is not a problem. The fact that it is a large ball of liquid and gas might be a problem if you are looking for somewhere to pitch a tent. And the gravity will crush you to death, so you might have difficulty finding a company that will sell you holiday insurance.
Mars is my favourite, but it doesn’t seem to like us. Did you know that 60 perc. of probes sent there have gone wrong? One Russian probe pointed its transmitter in the wrong place and missed Earth by thousands of kilometres. An American one crashed after a few seconds because of a missing minus sign
(-) in a long list of numbers.
The British joined in with one of the cheapest: Beagle 2. It’s lying on the surface of the red planet somewhere but we do not know in how many pieces. An American photograph last month showed it might be sitting safely, but asleep, in a crater, but it might just be a photograph of another crater. Never mind. Maybe next time.
lift off! – rakieta wystartowała!
atmosphere – atmosfera
sunscreen – filtr słoneczny
a torch – latarka
mass – masa
to crush – zgnieść
insurance – ubezpieczenie
a transmitter – nadajnik radiowy
a crater – krater
There are many ways to remember lists of things.
Here is one of them:
My Very Excellent Mother Just Served Us Nine Pizzas
The initial letters MVEMJSUNP stand for
Mercury Venus Earth Mars Jupiter Saturn Uranus Neptune and Pluto, which are in the correct order from the sun outwards.
Here are some others. What do you think they are used to remember?
1. Noisy Elephants Squirt Water
2. Richard Of York Gave Battle In Vain
3. I Saw Our Sherpas Climb Everest Last Easter Sunday
4. How I need a drink, alcoholic of course, after the heavy lectures involving quantum mechanics!
1. North, South, East and West on a compass (going clockwise).
2. Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet, the colours of a rainbow.
3. The spelling of the word ‘isosceles”, which is a type of triangle.
4. This one is not to do with the first letters but the number of letters in each word. It gives you the first fifteen digits of pi: 3. 141 592 653 589 79.
Did you know?
If you celebrated Christmas the traditional Polish way, you will have seen Venus.
When people see the first ‘star” in the sky, it is usually this planet. You can still see it in the morning, brighter than any star.
A probe made by Europe and the USA together went wrong just before getting to Mars because one part was built in metric (centimetres) and the other in imperial measurements (inches).
Before 1962 astronomers thought one side of Mercury always faced away from the sun. We now know it turns three times every two Mercury years. This is why one side is so cold.
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