Session 3

Do you fancy life on Mars? Read about a plan to start a human colony on the red planet, and practise the future perfect tense!

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    Activity 1

Activity 1

One-way ticket to Mars

140 million miles from home...

Would you like to visit Mars? What about a one-way ticket to the red planet – with no chance of ever coming home? In this session you're going to read about a project that aims to start the first human colony on Mars. And just for you, there will be plenty of examples of the future perfect to test you, along with other future forms for revision. Get ready to take one giant step into the future (perfect!)

To do

Read the article. As you read, try to answer this question: When will the first humans arrive on Mars?

Read the text and complete the activity


Part One
How would you feel about living out the rest of your life on the planet Mars? After all, it's a mere 140 million miles away and has lots of beautiful red dust to enjoy. What's more, scientists' recent discovery of running water there means you wouldn't even have to go thirsty.

So, you're tempted? The thing is, if you fancy a future on the red planet, you're not alone. When the Mars One project asked for volunteers to make a one-way trip with them, over 200,000 people applied.

Part Two
Mars One? It's an organisation with the goal of creating a "permanent human settlement" on Mars. The Dutch not-for-profit body believes that establishing a colony on the planet is the "next giant leap for mankind", and that it will help us understand the solar system and inspire generations to come.

Their ambitious project has attracted both worldwide attention and heavy criticism. Scientists have questioned the technical feasibility and large questions remain about the ethics and funding of the project. But Mars One are adamant they can overcome all the obstacles in their way.

Part Three
So, what about those 200,000 applicants? Well, that number has now been whittled down to 100, and this in turn will be reduced to 24 after a stringent selection process. This will involve filmed interviews, group activities and a survival challenge in a mocked-up Martian environment, before successful candidates train for the mission itself.

Part Four
So what's the plan? And what's the timeline? According to Mars One's website, if everything goes according to the script:

  • By 2016 they will have selected final crew and training for the mission can begin. Mars One says this will not only test the group's ability to "deal with prolonged periods of time in a remote location" but also it will teach them medical procedures and enable them to grow their own food.
  • Between 2020-2025, unmanned spacecraft will land on Mars and prepare a base for the human crew. A rover will scout the planet for a suitable home. And life support units will create an atmosphere suitable for life. By the time the first crew set off, this technology "will have produced a breathable atmosphere of 0.7 bar pressure, 3000 litres of water, and 240 kg of oxygen."
  • This first group of 12 astronauts will themselves have completed training by 2026, and will make the journey to Mars that year, landing in 2027.
  • A second group of 12 is scheduled to depart in 2028.

Part Five
Time will tell if the project will be a success. But for R. Daniel Golden and Yari Rodriguez, a trip to Mars might even be a romantic destination. In an interview with American broadcaster WGBH, the couple revealed that they had both been selected among the final 100 applicants, and they hoped they could make the cut and continue their life together as astronauts on Mars. If that happens, could we even see the first ever 'Martian' baby?

Answer: The first humans will arrive on Mars in 2027, if the project goes to plan.

To do

Now, try to answer these questions which test your understanding of the article and of this unit's grammar.

Martian quiz

7 Questions

Blast off with our quiz and test your understanding of our Martian story and of the future perfect...

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End of Session 3

We hope you enjoyed reading about this project. Do you think it could be successful? And would you like to visit Mars?

In Session 4 we continue to practise the future perfect tense - by going out onto the streets of London and asking people about their future plans. Hear some authentic English and improve your grammar!

Session Grammar

  • The future perfect

    Positive and negative forms:

    subject + 'll/will/won't + 've/have + past participle

    I'll have done it by then.
    I won't have finished by then.

    Question form:

    will / won’t + subject + have + past participle

    Will you have read all the reports by the end of the day?

    Time phrases with the future perfect

    By + year / month / season / event / this time next year (etc.)

    In + month / year / (time period's) time

Session Vocabulary

  • colony
    place where a group of people live, away from their home country

    go thirsty
    suffer from thirst for a period of time

    living out
    spending the rest of your life

    a place where people live


    the solar system
    the system of planets that move around our Sun

    possibility that something can be done

    moral situation

    sure, impossible to persuade

    whittled down to
    reduced to


    created to look like something else

    from Mars

    according to the script
    according to plan

    very long

    (of a vehicle) without a human driver inside

    vehicle which drives across land (here, across planet Mars)

    able to be breathed

    make the cut
    be chosen or successful in a competitive situation