Astronaut Returns after 340-Day Space Mission

May 3, 2016

Unlocking Word Meanings

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

1. anticipate / ænˈtɪs əˌpeɪt / (v.) – to expect something to be a certain way
Example: The storm is anticipated to last for three days.

2. accumulate / əˈkyu myəˌleɪt / (v.) – to gather together in one place
Example: Turning an hourglass upside down will cause sand to accumulate at the bottom.

3. atrophy / ˈæ trə fi / (n.) – the weakening and degradation of something because of lack of use
Example: Because of insufficient exercise, bones may experience atrophy and become brittle through the years.

4. fatigue / fəˈtig / (n.) – extreme tiredness
Example: She fell asleep right away because of fatigue.

5. fine / faɪn / (adj.) – small and delicate; requiring extra care and exactness
Example: Painting is a skill that requires mastery of fine movements.


Read the text below.
Astronaut Scott Kelly has returned after a 340-day mission aboard the International Space Station (ISS).

The American astronaut, together with Russian astronaut Mikhail Kornienko, landed on Kazakhstan on March 2. The two astronauts are now undergoing several experiments under NASA’s Human Research Program to test the effects of a prolonged stay in outer space on the human body. The mission was in preparation for future missions to Mars, which are anticipated to take a long time.

The body undergoes drastic changes in outer space, where gravity is very weak. With little gravity to hold them, the body’s fluids shift toward the upper body. Fluid accumulates around the spine and causes it to expand temporarily. This leads to a temporary increase in height.

Astronauts also experience atrophy in their muscles and bones, due to a drastic decrease in the body’s activity. To avoid severe damages, astronauts are required to spend around 2 hours every day exercising.

Upon Kelly’s return, he was taller by around 1.5 inches, but he has now returned to his pre-flight height. Kelly also experienced a higher level of fatigue and soreness in his muscles this time compared to his previous mission, which lasted for only 159 days. Aside from these, he also experienced some problems with performing actions requiring finer movements, such as shooting a basketball.

Scientists from NASA will keep observing Kelly’s body in the following months. He will also be studied alongside his identical twin, fellow astronaut Mark Kelly, who remained on Earth. The twin study aims to see whether traveling in space causes genetic changes, and if psychological changes also take place.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         Do you think that exploring outer space is worth the health risks? Why or why not?
·         Which is better in your opinion, to keep trying to improve the planet Earth or to keep looking for a planet to relocate to? Discuss.

Discussion B

·         If you would be given the chance to explore any place, where would you like to go? Why?
·         If you could live in another place for the rest of your life, where would you choose to stay? Why?

May 3, 2016