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Learning English - Words in the News
13 March, 2006 - Published 16:11 GMT
Mars Orbiter Success
Mars orbiter
Mars orbiter

NASA scientists say that they are delighted that one of their spacecraft has successfully entered its orbit around the planet Mars. It can now begin its descent towards the planet to beam back a valuable new source of information. Duncan Kennedy reports from Los Angeles.

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Mission controllers erupted in cheers at their headquarters in Pasadena when the craft entered the exact orbit around Mars.

In the words of one watching, everybody was on pins and needles until the orbiter signalled it had reached the right position .

It has taken six months getting to the planet. Jim Graff, the project manager, spoke of his team’s delight.

It’s a great feeling to have another spacecraft orbiting Mars, especially with the payload this one is carrying. It is going to rewrite the science textbooks on Mars.

Two previous orbiter missions have failed to get to Mars. The latest project is costing around 720 million dollars – about 430 million pounds.

The orbiter will now make some 500 trips around Mars, studying the surface and the atmosphere in greater detail than ever before and trying to see if any kind of life existed there.

Listen to the words

mission controllers
the people working on the space project

craft entered the exact orbit around Mars
the space vehicle began to circle

on pins and needles


sent back information

cargo e.g. scientific equipment

rewrite the science textbooks on Mars
change the things we know about the planet

the surface and the atmosphere
the ground and the air

greater detail
with more precise information

had ever been

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