First, give yourself three minutes to read this article:

The idea of colonizing asteroids has long been a topic of fascination and speculation in science fiction and popular culture. In recent years, however, the idea of asteroid colonization has become more realistic and feasible, thanks to advances in technology and space exploration. There are many potential benefits to colonizing asteroids, and these benefits make the pursuit of asteroid colonization a worthwhile endeavor.

One of the most obvious benefits of asteroid colonization is the scientific potential. Asteroids provide a unique environment for scientific research due to their small size, low gravity, and lack of atmosphere. Research conducted in these environments could provide valuable insights related to many different academic fields. Not only that, but asteroids could also serve as stepping stones for future missions to other destinations in the solar system, such as Mars or the moons of Jupiter and Saturn.

Another benefit of asteroid colonization is the potential for economic growth and development. Natural resources mined on asteroids could create new industries and job opportunities, which would generate significant revenue for both governments and private companies. Asteroid mining could also reduce the need for resource extraction on Earth, which could help to preserve our planet’s natural environment.

In addition to economic benefits, asteroid colonization could also have important implications for the long-term survival of humanity. Asteroids could serve as potential refuge for humans in the event of a large-scale disaster on Earth, such as an asteroid impact or a nuclear war. Even if such a disaster doesn’t occur, asteroids could provide valuable information regarding the origins and evolution of the solar system, and how life emerged here in the first place.

Next, listen to the following lecture:


You have twenty minutes to answer the following question.  You can refer to the article as you write your essay.  You may not listen to the lecture again.

Summarize the points made in the lecture, being sure to explain how they oppose specific points made in the reading passage

To get feedback on your essay, check out our evaluation program.

Here is a sample essay:

The reading and the lecture are about the possibility of starting colonies on asteroids. The author feels that this is a good idea, due to scientific benefits, economic benefits and the long-term survival of humans. The lecturer does not believe that the author’s claims are correct.

First of all, the author argues that asteroids are a great environment for scientific research because they are small, with low gravity and no atmosphere. Moreover, the article notes that they could be a way to start missions to more distant locations in the solar system. On the other hand, the lecturer says that we just don’t know enough about asteroids to be sure of their scientific value. We don’t know how many exist, or about conditions on their surfaces so it is difficult to really predict the scientific benefits of colonizing them.

Second, according to the article, there could be great economic benefits of colonizing asteroids because they contain natural resources. Mining the resources could be very profitable, and reduce the need to mine them on Earth. The lecturer challenges this idea as well. He notes that we don’t know exactly how many resources asteroids contain, nor how much they would be worth back on Earth. As a result, it isn’t clear if mining in space is more cost-effective than doing so on Earth.

Finally, the author claims that colonies on asteroids could ensure the long-term survival of humanity. To be more specific, we could survive on them if a war or disaster affects the Earth. In contrast, the lecturer notes that human settlements would have to be designed to deal with the unique challenges of the gravity found on asteroids. These challenges could make living on them extremely uncomfortable and dangerous in the long run.

This was featured in my YouTube video: