IELTS|Adults|Advanced|Unit 8|1. Worlds to explore

Worlds to explore


1. Read these comments about space exploration and discuss how far you agree with each opinion.

  • Space exploration is ridiculously expensive, considering how little we get for the money wasted on it.
  • It’s stimulating to think about what exists beyond, but what are the chances of getting something useful out of space exploration? It should be scaled down.
  • We’ve got our priorities wrong. It’s about time science turned its eye back to this planet and set about doing something about poverty, disease and pollution. Once we’ve sorted out our own problems, let the exploration continue.

1. This passage is adapted from a web page of the Astronomical Data Center, which used to be a branch of the American space agency, NASA. Skim through it, and choose the best sentence A, B, C or D to summarise it.

A Space exploration can encourage collaboration on earth.

B Space exploration is justified by the gains we have already made from it.

C Space exploration may help us to avoid potential problems on earth.

D Space exploration provides better value for money than most people realise.

* about 625 words



Why should mankind explore space? Why should money, time and effort be spent exploring, investigating and researching something with so few apparent benefits? Why should resources be spent on space rather than on conditions and people on Earth? These are questions that, understandably, are very often asked. Perhaps the best answer lies in our genetic makeup as human beings. What drove our distant ancestors to move from the trees into the plains, and on into all possible areas and environments? It appears that we are driven to ensure the success and continuation of not just our own genes, but of the species as a whole. The wider the distribution of a species, the better its chance of survival. Perhaps the best reason for exploring space is this genetic predisposition to expand wherever possible.

Nearly every successful civilisation has explored, because by doing so, any dangers in surrounding areas can be identified and prepared for. These might be enemies in neighbouring cultures, physical features of the area, a change in the area which might affect food supplies, or any number of other factors. They all pose a real danger, and all can be made less threatening if certain preparations are made. Without knowledge, we may be completely destroyed by the danger. With knowledge, we can lessen its effects.

Exploration also allows minerals and other potential resources to be located. Additional resources are always beneficial when used wisely, and can increase our chances of survival. Even if we have no immediate need of them, they will perhaps be useful later. Resources may be more than physical assets. Knowledge or techniques acquired through exploration, or preparing to explore, filter from the developers into society at large. The techniques may have medical applications which can improve the length or quality of our lives. Techniques may be social, allowing members of society better to understand those within or outside the culture. Better understanding may lead to more efficient use of resources, or a reduction in competition for resources. We have already benefited from other spin-offs, including improvements in earthquake prediction — which has saved many lives — in satellites used for weather forecasting and in communications systems. Even non-stick saucepans and mirrored sunglasses are by-products of technological developments in the space industry!

While many resources are spent on what seems a small return, the exploration of space allows creative, brave and intelligent members of our species to focus on what may serve to save us. While space may hold many wonders and explanations of how the universe was formed or how it works, it also holds dangers. The chances of a large comet or asteroid hitting the Earth are small but it could happen in time. Such strikes in the past may account for the extinction of dinosaurs and other species. Human technology is reaching the point where it might be able to detect the possibility of this happening, and enable us to minimise the damage, or prevent it completely, allowing us as a species to avoid extinction. The danger exists, but knowledge can help human beings to survive. Without the ability to reach out across space, the chance to save ourselves might not exist.

In certain circumstances, life on Earth may become impossible: over-population or epidemics, for instance, might eventually force us to find other places to live. While Earth is the only planet known to sustain life, surely the adaptive ability of humans would allow us to inhabit other planets and moons. It is true that the lifestyle would be different, but human life and cultures have adapted in the past and surely could in the future. The more a culture expands, the less chance there is that it will become extinct. Space allows us to expand and succeed: for the sake of everyone on the Earth, now and in the future, space exploration is essential.

2. Questions 1-3

Choose THREE letters, A-F.

Which THREE of the following reasons for exploring space are mentioned by the writer?

A It is natural for us to do so.

B We may find new sources of food.

C It will help us to prevent earthquakes.

D It has side-effects that improve the quality of our lives.

E It may enable us to find alternative homes.

F We will discover whether other planets are inhabited.

3. Questions 4-11.

Complete the summary below.

Choose NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS from the passage for each answer.

One example is given.

Test spot

When you are asked to complete a summary by choosing words from the passage, you must use the exact words that are given, and must write no more than the maximum number of words. The answers usually follow the order of the passage, but may not. Read the summary before you start completing it.

Personal qualities

1. Imagine that you have answered this advertisement, and been chosen for the mission.

Volunteers wanted for one-month manned mission to the moon, so that doctors can research the effects of space travel on human beings. You must have plenty of stamina, and show initiative. You should also be determined, self-confident and co-operative, and keep calm under pressure.

Beside each of the following questions, write the relevant personal quality from the advert. Then discuss whether you have these qualities.

Expressing opinions, expanding your ideas and responding to each other’s comments will help you to do well in the Speaking Module.

  1. Do you avoid panicking in an emergency?
  2. Can you do what is necessary without being told?
  3. Are you a team player?
  4. Can you endure long periods of hard work?
  5. Are you sure of your ability to perform well?
  6. Do you make sure you achieve what you set out to do, without giving up?

2. Here are adjectives describing other personal qualities. Choose the five that you consider most important for an astronaut and put them in order.

well-organised resourceful obedient conscientious a good leader decisive brave optimistic supportive

3. The verbs in the box come from the reading passage. Complete the sentences below using the verbs in the correct form. Use each verb once only.

carry out endanger make offset promote seek shape take test underlie

1. The Life Aquatic is a film set at sea. Would you like to travel under water, as in the poster?


2. You are going to hear part of a lecture, as in Section 4 of the Listening Module.

It is a brief history of submersibles — that is, vessels for carrying people under water. As you listen to the first part of the lecture, answer questions 1-4. Each question should have a different answer.

Questions 1-4

Questions 1-4

There ire two main types of device in which people can travel under water: diving bells, which are lowered and raised surface, and can’t be propelled forwards, and submarines, which do have a means of propulsion.

It’s possible that Alexander the Great descended into the sea m a diving bell 2,300 years ago, although this hasn’t be proved, and some sort of submarine may also base existed in China not long afterwards.

The first workable submarine of recent times was designed and built in 1620 by a Dutch doctor living in London. Cornelius Van Drebbel. This was a fully enclosed boat, propelled by the crewwho used oars, as in a normal rowing boat. The crew breathed air through tubes from the surface of the water. The submarine travelled along the River Thames for several hours, at a depth of over four metres

Later in the seventeenth century, the British astronomer Edmund Hallev patented a diving bell linked by pipes to barrels of air. Manned descents to depths of over 18 metres, lasting up to 90 minutes, proved that diving hells were practicable devices.

A number of experiments look place in the next two or three centuries, including one submarine in which the crew turned a hand crank to propel the vessel mechanically. Jumping now to the 1930s, two United States explorers, William Beebe and Otis Barton, developed a bathysphere — which meant ‘deep sphere’ — in which they dived to 922 metres. The bathysphere was just large from a ship by a steel cable. Electricity reached along a power line  enough for two people, and was raised and lowered from the mother ship, and the two tanks fitted to the interior They had a telephone link with the ship, and were broadcast on the radio all over the USA.

What is said about the following people’s underwater vessels?

Choose your answers from the box and write the letters A-F next to questions 1-4.

A A mechanism was built into it to move it forwards.
B A supply of air was carried inside the vessel.
C Air was supplied from external containers.
D It may or may not have existed.
E It was moved forwards by human physical effort.
F Power for moving it was transmitted from a surface vessel.

Now  listen to the second part of the lecture, which describes Alvin, the vessel shown in the diagram below.

Test spot

There are several formats for labelling maps and diagrams. First read the instructions, then look carefully at the graphic and note what any numbers or letters on it refer to. Look at the words in the box, if any. They may be different from the ones in the reading or listening passage.

In the Listening Module the numbered questions are in the order in which you will hear the information. When you decide on an answer, write only its letter.

Questions 5-9

Questions 5-9

Nowadays we have submersibles that can withstand the immense water pressure far below the surface One of these ‘Deep Submergence Vehicles’, as they are called, is Alvin, which has been in use since 1964. A typical dive lasts eight hours, and descends to 4.500 metres below sea level. Alvin is used for various scientific purposes, including, in 1985-86). surveying the wreck of the Titanic, the ocean liner that sank in the Atlantic in 1912.

The first thing you notice about Alvin is its bright red sail, displaying  the name of the vessel. The sail is on top of the vehicle, at the  front, and helps to maintain stability. Alvin is about seven metres long and just over 3.5 metres high, but only a small portion of that space is available for people. This is in the pressure sphere, which is located under the sail at the front of the vessel. With a diameter of about two metres, there’s room for three people, but it’s a tight squeeze. Usually there’s a pilot and two scientists. From here they can look out in various directions, through four viewing ports.

Alvin carries a large number of instruments, including video and still cameras, mounted on the exterior at the front, along with lights for illuminating the ocean, as of course sunlight doesn’t penetrate this far down. Usually there’s a stowage basket mounted on a frame at the front, used to hold tools and scientific equipment.

Immediately under the sail is the hatch, which has a diameter of only 50 cm. This is the way into the vessel. On top of the sail there’s a current meter, to measure the movement of the ocean. Propulsion is provided by six electric thrusters, which make Alvin very manoeuvrable. Three of them are for forward and reverse movement, two for vertical motion, and a final thruster, right at the back of the vessel, turns the submersible round.

Now we’ll turn to…

Label the diagram below.

Choose five answers from the box and write the letters A-H next to questions 5-9.

A camera
B current meter
C forward and reverse thruster
D hatch
E pressure sphere
F rotation thruster
G stowage basket
H vertical thruster

It replacing a clause

Look at these sentences, which contain a clause (underlined) as the subject or object of the main verb in the sentence.

Holding your breath under water for more than a few minutes is impossible.

Until he met Barton, Beebe found raising enough money to construct a vessel difficult.

Although these sentences are grammatically correct, it is more usual to place the clauses later in the sentence, and to use it in the subject or object position. Notice the change from the -ing form to the infinitive.

It is impossible to hold your breath under water for more than a few minutes.

Until he met Barton, Beebe found it difficult to raise enough money to construct a vessel

In similar structures when the object is a that- clause, it must be used, for example:

Beebe thought it unlikely that Barton’s design would work.

(NOT Beebe thought that Barton’s design would work unlikely.)

Structures like these are particularly common in academic writing.

1. In each sentence, underline the clause which is acting as the subject or object of the main verb in the sentence. Then rewrite the sentence, using it, and moving the clause to the end. Make any other changes you think necessary.

💡You can use 🔗Page Marker for this task.

2. Complete the sentences in any suitable way.

  • It is never easy to…
  • It was once thought that…
  • It seems unlikely that…
  • It has sometimes been claimed that…
  • Many people find it difficult to…

3. Combine these pairs of sentences by making the first one the subject or object of the other, and using it. Make any other changes that are necessary.

EXAMPLE: Nearly every successful civilisation has been willing to explore. This has been noted.

It has been noted that nearly every successful civilisation has been willing to explore.


get sth out of sth phrasal verb
to enjoy something or think something is useful
It was a really boring course and I don’t think I got much out of it.
set about sth phrasal verb
to start to do or deal with something
[ + -ing verb ] I’ve no idea how to set about chang ing a tyre on a car.
I tried to apologize, but I think I set about it the wrong way.
make-up /ˈmeɪk.ʌp/ noun [ U ] PARTS
2. The make-up of something or someone is the combination of things that form it
They argue that the membership of the Council does not reflect the racial make-up of the city.
Organizational ability is not one of the most obvious parts of his make-up.
predisposition /ˌpriː.dɪ.spəˈzɪʃ. ə n/ noun [ C ] FORMAL
the state of being likely to behave in a particular way or to suffer from a particular disease
She has an annoying predisposition to find fault.
There is evidence that a predisposition to(wards) asthma runs in families.
pose /pəʊz/ /poʊz/ verb CAUSE
1. [ T ] to cause something, especially a problem or difficulty
Nuclear weapons pose a threat to everyone.
The mountain terrain poses particular problems for civil engineers.
assets /ˈæs.ets/, noun
[ C usually plural ] something valuable belonging to a person or organization which can be used for the payment of debts
A company’s assets can consist of cash, investments, buildings, machinery, specialist knowledge or copyright material such as music or computer software.
liquid assets (= money or things which can easily be changed into money)

spin-off /ˈspɪn.ɒf/ /-ɑːf/ noun [ C ]
1. a product that develops from another more important product
The research has had spin-offs in the development of medical equipment.
2. a programme or other show involving characters from a previous programme or film
The stage show is a spin-off from a television programme.
non-stick /ˌnɒnˈstɪk/ /ˌnɑːn-/ adjective
describes a cooking pan or tool that has a special surface which prevents food from sticking to it
a non-stick frying pan
sustain /səˈsteɪn/ verb [ T ] CONTINUE
1. to cause or allow something to continue for a period of time
The economy looks set to sustain its growth into next year.
He seems to find it difficult to sustain relationships with women.
US The judge sustained (= accepted) the lawyer’s objection.
2. to keep alive
The soil in this part of the world is not rich enough to sustain a large population.
stamina /ˈstæm.ɪ.nə/ noun [ U ]
the physical and/or mental strength to do something which might be difficult and which will take a long time
The triathlon is a great test of stamina.
endure /ɪnˈdjʊə r / /-ˈdʊr/ verb EXPERIENCE
1. [ T ] to suffer something difficult, unpleasant or painful
We had to endure a nine-hour delay at the airport.
She’s already had to endure three painful operations on her leg.
endurance /ɪnˈdjʊə.r ə n t  s/ /-ˈdʊr. ə n t  s/ noun [ U ]
the ability to keep doing something difficult, unpleasant or painful for a long time
Running a marathon is a test of human endurance.
The pain was bad beyond endurance.

set out phrasal verb

  1. to start an activity with a particular aim

She set out with the aim of becoming the youngest ever winner of the championship.

[ + to infinitive ] They set out to discover a cure for cancer.

underlie /ˌʌn.dəˈlaɪ/ /-dɚ-/ verb [ T ] underlying, underlay, underlain

to be a hidden cause of or strong influence on something

Psychological problems very often underlie apparently physical disorders.

underlying /ˌʌn.dəˈlaɪ.ɪŋ/ /-dɚ-/ adjective [ before noun ] real but not immediately obvious

And what might be the underlying significance of these supposedly random acts?

childproof /ˈtʃaɪld.pruːf/ adjective

describes containers and locks that cannot be opened or operated by a child

Most bottles of bleach have childproof lids.

offset /ˌɒfˈset/ /ˌɑːf-/ verb [ T ] offsetting, offset, offset

  1. to balance one influence against an opposing influence, so that there is no great difference as a result

The extra cost of travelling to work is offset by the lower price of houses here.

UK He keeps his petrol receipts because petrol is one of the expenses that he can offset against tax (= can show to the government as being a business cost, and so not pay tax) .

  1. to pay for things that will reduce carbon in order to reduce the damage caused by carbon that you produce

We offset all our long-haul flights.

submersible /səbˈmɜː.sɪ.bl ̩/ /-ˈmɝː-/ noun [ C ] SPECIALIZED

a type of ship which can travel under water, especially one which operates without people being in it

vessel /ˈves. ə l/ noun [ C ] SHIP

  1. FORMAL a large boat or a ship

a cargo/fishing/naval/patrol/sailing/supply vessel

propulsion /prəˈpʌl.ʃ ə n/ noun

[ U ] a force that pushes something forward

wind propulsion

a propulsion system

descend /dɪˈsend/ verb POSITION

  1. [ I or T ] FORMAL to go or come down

The path descended steeply into the valley.

Jane descended the stairs.

  1. [ I ] LITERARY If darkness or night descends, it becomes dark and day changes to night.

ascend /əˈsend/ verb FORMAL GO UP

  1. [ I or T ] to move up or climb something

They slowly ascended the steep path up the mountain.

There’s a long flight of steps ascending (= leading up) to the cathedral doors.

enclosed /ɪnˈkləʊzd/ /-ˈkloʊzd/ adjective SURROUNDED

  1. surrounded by walls, objects or structures

He doesn’t like enclosed spaces .

barrel /ˈbær. ə l/ noun [ C ] CONTAINER

  1. a large container, made of wood, metal or plastic, with a flat top and bottom and curved sides that make it fatter in the middle

They drank a whole barrel of beer (= the contents of a barrel) at the party.

crank /kræŋk/ noun EQUIPMENT

  1. [ C ] a device which causes movement between parts of a machine or which changes backward and forward movement into circular movement

a crank handle

stowage /ˈstəʊ.ɪdʒ/ /ˈstoʊ-/ noun [ U ]

space for storing things on a boat or plane

hatch /hætʃ/ noun [ C ] (ALSO hatchway)

an opening through a wall, floor, etc., or the cover for it

an escape hatch

a serving hatch

current /ˈkʌr. ə nt/ /ˈkɝː-/ noun [ C ] FLOW

  1. a movement of water, air or electricity, in a particular direction

to swim against / with the current

He was swept out to sea by the strong current.

Switch off the electric current before touching that machine.

thrust /θrʌst/ verb [ I or T usually + adv/prep ] thrust, thrust

to push suddenly and strongly

She thrust the money into his hand.

They thrust a microphone in front of me and fired questions at me.

She thrust the papers at me (= towards me).

The bodyguards thrust past the crowd to get at the cameraman.

familiarity /fəˌmɪl.iˈær.ə.ti/ /-ˈer.ə.t̬i/ noun [ U ] KNOWLEDGE

  1. a good knowledge of something, or the fact that you know it so well

Ellen’s familiarity with pop music is astonishing.

I love the familiarity of my old chair.

incense /ˈɪn.sen t  s/ noun [ U ]

a substance that is burnt to produce a sweet smell, especially as part of a religious ceremony

an incense burner/stick

myrrh /mɜː r / /mɝː/ noun [ U ]

a sticky brown substance with a strong smell which is used in making perfume and incense

loot /luːt/ verb [ I or T ]

(usually of large numbers of people during a violent event) to steal from shops and houses

During the riot shops were looted and cars damaged or set on fire.

plunder /ˈplʌn.də r / /-dɚ/ verb

  1. [ I or T ] to steal goods violently from a place, especially during a war

After the president fled the country, the palace was plundered by soldiers.

Tragically, the graves were plundered and the contents scattered.

treaty /ˈtriː.ti/ /-t̬i/ noun [ C ]

a written agreement between two or more countries formally approved and signed by their leaders

a peace treaty

the treaty on European union

[ + to infinitive ] We’ve signed/concluded a treaty with neighbouring states to limit emissions of harmful gases.

upheaval /ʌpˈhiː.v ə l/ noun [ C or U ]

(a) great change, especially causing or involving much difficulty, activity or trouble

Yesterday’s coup brought further upheaval to a country already struggling with famine.

It would cause a tremendous upheaval to install a different computer system.

nutmeg /ˈnʌt.meg/ noun SPICE

  1. [ C or U ] the hard fruit of a tropical tree, or a brown powder made from this and used as a spice to add flavour to food

Grate some nutmeg on top of the pudding.

clove /kləʊv/ /kloʊv/ noun SPICE

  1. [ C or U ] a small dark-brown dried flower of an evergreen (= never losing its leaves) tree, which is used as a spice

The ham was studded with cloves.

sweet spices such as ginger and clove

ethos /ˈiː.θɒs/ /-θɑːs/ noun [ S ]

the set of beliefs, ideas, etc. about social behaviour and relationships of a person or group

national ethos

working-class ethos

The ethos of the traditional family firm is under threat.

quadrant /ˈkwɒd.rənt/ /ˈkwɑː.drənt/ noun [ C ] DEVICE

  1. SPECIALIZED a device for measuring the height of stars in the sky which was used in the past for calculating directions when travelling across the sea

conjecture /kənˈdʒek.tʃə r / /-tʃɚ/ noun [ C or U ]

(the forming of) a guess about something based on how it seems and not on proof

There’s been a lot of conjecture in the papers recently about the royal marriage.

feasible /ˈfiː.zə.bl ̩/ adjective SLIGHTLY FORMAL

  1. able to be made, done or achieved

With the extra resources, the scheme now seems feasible.

[ + to infinitive ] It may be feasible to clone human beings, but is it ethical?

  1. possible or reasonable

It ‘s quite feasible (that) we’ll get the money.

omen /ˈəʊ.mən/ /ˈoʊ-/ noun [ C ]

something that is considered to be a sign of how a future event will take place

England‘s victory over France is a good omen for next week’s match against Germany.

a bad omen

Many people believe that a broken mirror is an omen of bad luck.

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