Academic English

“A Visitor from Space”

Level: Topic: Speakers: Length:
difficult astronomy one man 01:37

Pre-Listening Exercise

What threats exist in outer space that could affect life on earth?


“do without” = lacking something essential
If space travelers had to do without fresh water for very long, they wouldn’t be able to survive.”

“at the drop of a hat” = immediately, willingness to do something without delay
I’d travel to the moon at the drop of a hat if I had the chance.”

Listening Exercise

A. Listen to the recording and answer the questions.

What news event is being reported?

I've just arrived here in Barrow, Alaska, to bring you live coverage of what appears to be the results of a huge meteorite impact, perhaps the largest in recent history.

This event occurred about _______ kilometers south of Barrow, Alaska.

The exact location of the impact is unknown, but estimates put it about 20 kilometers south of Barrow based on shock waves felt throughout the region.

At the time of the incident, some witnesses reported ____.

Some witnesses say they saw a bright light streaking through the sky, accompanied by a roaring boom, moments before the impact.

A similar event 65 million years ago led to the ___.

A meteorite 10 kilometers in diameter crashed into Earth 65 million years ago which led to the mass extinction of many animal species including the dinosaurs.

Astronomers have focused their work on ___.

In recent years, astronomers have focused more of their attention on the paths of many uncharted space rocks or asteroids floating out there in space.

Post-Listening Exercise

What are three specific things that world governments can do, individually or collectively, to prevent or minimize the impact of future catastrophes such as huge meteors and asteroids of this kind on a global scale? Use the Internet to research the topic of asteroid avoidance strategies or plans for planetary defense of such events.