NASA Reveals Recent Photo of Pluto

September 9, 2015

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. surface /ˈsɜr fɪs/ (n.) – the outside or outermost layer of something
Example: The surface of the Earth is covered mostly in water.

2. vividly /ˈvɪv ɪd li/ (adv.) – in a manner that is clear and detailed
Example: The journalist vividly described the fireworks display.

3. venture /ˈvɛn tʃər/ (v.) – to go to an unknown and dangerous place
Example: The team ventured into the depths of the ocean aboard a submarine.

4. investigate /ɪnˈvɛs tɪˌgeɪt/ (v.) – to study or examine something in detail
Example: Scientists are still investigating how fossil fuels affect the environment.

5. comparable /ˈkɒm pər ə bəl/ (adj.) – having similarities with something else
Example: The old satellite is comparable to the new one.


Read the text below.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has released its most recent photo of Pluto in mid-June this year.

Through its New Horizons spacecraft, NASA took the first close-up and most detailed photo of Pluto. On July 13, the New Horizons took the shot at around 476,000 miles away from the surface. This recent achievement by NASA gives the United States bragging rights, as it is the only country that was able to explore all planets in the solar system.

NASA’s photo of Pluto has a resolution that is 1000 times better than what any telescope in the world can capture. The heart-shaped region of the dwarf planet can even be seen vividly. This was possible because the spacecraft turned off communications with Earth in order to maximize all the data it could get as it passed through the planet at 30,800 miles per hour.

The New Horizons spacecraft was launched in 2006 to venture toward the edge of the solar system and to further investigate Pluto. By learning more about Pluto, NASA hopes that it will get insights on the process by which planets form.

Another recent discovery from NASA’s exploration around Pluto was the mountains in the Kuiper [KAHY-per] Belt or the third zone in the solar system. This region is where Pluto is located, along with 100,000 tinier ice objects. According to mission scientist John Spencer, the mountains in the said region spread as far as a hundred miles and are estimated to be 11,000 feet high. Interestingly, these mountains are comparable to the mountain ranges on Earth.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         In your opinion, how else can the technology used to photograph Pluto be useful?
·         What are the advantages of knowing more about different planets?

Discussion B

·         Why do you think scientists are very interested in outer space?
·         Given the chance, would you want to visit outer space? Why or why not?

September 9, 2015