This is Mary Tillotson.
And this is Steve Ember with the VOA Special English program
EXPLORATIONS. Today, we tell about plans to build a new international
space research center at Cape Kennedy. We tell about new pictures
of a star that exploded ten-thousand years ago. And we begin
with a report about a new space communications system that is
being built in Spain.
Spanish workers are building a huge communications device near
Madrid. It will soon be used to communicate with all spacecraft.
It will also help NASA study the planet Mars and comets that
travel through space.
The large device looks like a huge round dish. It is thirty-four
meters across. It weighs more than five-hundred tons. The device
is a radio antenna. It sends and receives radio signals to and
from spacecraft. It also guides the radio signals to a protected,
underground electronics room.
The antenna is part of NASA¡¯s Deep Space Network.
NASA¡¯s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California
is responsible for the Deep Space Network.
The network connects different kinds of radio communications
for spacecraft exploring the solar system. It operates huge
antenna dishes in California, Spain and Australia. These communications
stations take turns linking with different spacecraft as the
The Deep Space Network antennas catch information sent from
spacecraft. These spacecraft can be as near as an orbit around
Earth, or millions of kilometers away. The antennas also send
commands to spacecraft. The new antenna in Madrid will increase
the communicating power of the center in Spain by thirty-three
Finishing the new antenna on time is extremely important. NASA
needs this antenna to communicate with several new projects.
The need for space communications will greatly expand by November
of next year. NASA says that for three months beginning in November,
two-thousand-three, the Deep Space Network will be very busy.
The network will be communicating with three devices that will
land and explore some of the surface of Mars. It also will communicate
with two other spacecraft in orbit around Mars. The five spacecraft
orbiting and landing on Mars are from the United States, Europe
At the same time, two other new spacecraft will be gathering
information about comets. The Deep Space Network will also have
to keep in communication with all of the other spacecraft that
are already traveling through the galaxy.
The device that is being built in Spain will join five other
thirty-four meter antennas. Three are at the network¡¯s
Goldstone station near the city of Barstow in the western American
state of California. One is already at the communications station
near Madrid. Another is near Canberra, Australia. Each of the
three communications stations also has a seventy-meter antenna
and several smaller antennas.
The new addition to the Deep Space Network will help provide
exciting new discoveries to report in the future.
((MUSIC BRIDGE ))
Once there was a huge star, millions of kilometers from Earth.
This huge star was almost twenty-five times larger than our
Sun. Space scientists say large stars like this do not live
long. They burn their fuel a thousand times faster than our
Sun. They use up their supply of nuclear fuel in tens of millions
When their fuel is almost gone, a series of events takes place.
The star first begins to cool. In the end, the material of the
star begins to fall back into itself. This causes gravity to
increase by large amounts. In the end, a huge explosion results.
The material from the explosion travels into space at more than
seventy-two million kilometers per hour. A star that explodes
like this is called a supernova.
NASA¡¯s Hubble Space Telescope has sent to Earth
photographs of the remains of a huge star. NASA scientists say
it exploded more than ten-thousand years ago.
Light from that explosion first reached Earth in the sixteen-hundreds.
That light had traveled ten thousand light years. It was so
bright it could even be seen during the day.
All that is left of the huge star are long, thin clouds that
look like ribbons. The Hubble pictures show them as long pieces
of red, green, pink and blue. NASA scientists say the colors
are caused by different chemicals. The dark blue color is caused
by oxygen. The color red is created by sulfur.
The photographs were made by the Hubble's Wide Field and Planetary
Camera Two. NASA¡¯s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, in
Pasadena, California, designed and built the camera. The remains
of the dead star are called Cassiopeia A, or just ¡°Cas
A¡± for short. Cas A is the youngest known supernova
that remains in our Milky Way galaxy.
The new photographs of Cas A are permitting scientists to study
the supernova¡¯s remains very clearly. For the first
time, scientists can study the material from the dead star.
Scientists say the new pictures show this material has become
thousands of small groups of gas particles which are slowly
cooling. They say each group will someday become new stars and
NASA officials say the new Hubble photographs were taken in
January two-thousand and January two-thousand and two.
If you have a computer that can link with the Internet, you
can see Hubble¡¯s beautiful picture of Cas A. Type
in w-w-w dot v-o-a-n-e-w-s dot c-o-m and follow the link to
In February two-thousand-one, NASA¡¯s Kennedy Space
Center and the state of Florida agreed to design, build and
operate a new science center.
The building is named the Space Experiment Research and Processing
Laboratory. It will serve as a major link to the International
Space Station for science experiments. It will also be used
for experiments in biological science here on Earth. And it
will be used for research about the ecology of the area surrounding
Kennedy Space Center.
Scientists who work in life science research being done on
the International Space Station will use the new building. They
will prepare experiments to be launched on the Space Shuttle
from the Kennedy Space Center to the Space Station.
The Space Experiment Research and Processing Laboratory represents
a joint effort between NASA and Florida. The state will provide
thirty-million dollars to build the science laboratory. The
building is expected to be ready for use in two-thousand-four.
The new science laboratory is the first building in the International
Space Research Park at NASA¡¯s Kennedy Space Center.
The new space research park is to be a research and development
center for the exploration of space. NASA says it will combine
research strengths in areas such as space technology, energy,
ecology sciences and biology sciences.
The International Space Research Park will be the major area
where science experiments are prepared for the International
Space Station. NASA would like it to provide a base for groups
interesting in working in space science and space exploration.
It hopes to include both government and private groups. These
private groups would include major research universities and
industries involved in advanced technology.
NASA planners say they believe that top scientists and space
technology engineers will want to work at the new center. They
will want to do this because the new research center will be
linked to the Kennedy Space Center.
NASA officials say the International Space Research Park will
be built on more than one-hundred-sixty hectares of land. They
hope the space research center will be used by countries around
the world that are interested in space research.
NASA says it will provide the most modern structures for this
kind of research. It also says the research center will not
be used for the building of large space vehicles or equipment
that might be a danger to others who use the strutures.
NASA says the International Space Research Park will support
the exploration of space and help improve the economy of the
state of Florida. Officials say the new research center will
make the Kennedy Space Center the world¡¯s leader
in space science, development and exploration.
This program was written by Paul Thompson. Our director was
Cynthia Kirk. Our studio engineer was Keith Holmes. This is
And this is Steve Ember. Join us again next week for EXPLORATIONS,
a program in Special English on the Voice of America.
This V-O-A Explorations Report is published
courtesy of VOAnews.com