First, give yourself three minutes to read this article:

The idea of living on other planets has captivated humanity for centuries, with the moon being an especially attractive destination. While the idea of a permanent human settlement on the moon is tantalizing, it is likely to remain unattainable for now. Despite the remarkable progress made in space exploration, numerous difficulties persist.

The moon’s environment presents a multitude of challenges for sustaining human life. Unlike Earth, the moon lacks a substantial atmosphere, which means people living there would be vulnerable to meteoroid impacts and solar radiation. Overcoming these hazards would require extensive advancements in radiation shielding and meteoroid defense systems far beyond our current level of technology.  It might take decades to reach a level that would make a permanent human settlement on the moon sufficiently safe.

Another crucial obstacle is the scarcity of essential resources on the moon. The moon lacks resources that sustain life on Earth such as breathable air and fertile soil. Without these things, maintaining a permanent human settlement would be difficult. For instance, transporting large quantities of vital supplies like water and soil from Earth to the moon would be an incredibly expensive process.  It is unlikely that nations on earth will want to take on this cost in the near future.

Beyond these challenges, the psychological and social implications of a permanent lunar settlement cannot be overlooked. Humans are inherently social beings, and isolation on the moon for extended periods could have detrimental effects on our mental health and interpersonal relationships. The absence of natural ecosystems, changing landscapes, and the artistic experiences common on Earth would likely lead to feelings of monotony, disconnection, and psychological distress among the lunar inhabitants.  These feelings could endanger the entire settlement.

Next, listen to the following lecture:


You have twenty minutes to answer the following question.  You can see 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.

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Sample Response

Here is a sample essay:

Both the article and the lecture are about the prospect of establishing a human settlement on the moon.  The article describes three reasons why it would be extremely difficult.  The lecturer challenges the author of the article.  He suggests solutions to each of the three problems.

Firstly, the author notes that the moon does not have a substantial atmosphere, so people living there could be harmed by solar radiation and meteorite impacts.  Moreover, the author says that it would take an extremely long time to develop technology to solve this problem.  The lecturer challenges this idea.  He argues that we could use low-tech solutions to protect settlers on the moon.  For instance, lunar soil could be used to protect people from solar radiation, and underground settlements could protect them from meteorite impacts.

Second, according to the article the moon lacks resources that settlers would need for their survival, like breathable air and soil.  Transporting them from earth would be so expensive that nations on earth wouldn’t want to take on the challenge.  In contrast, the lecturer notes that there is a lot of water in the polar regions of the moon.  The water could be used to produce breathable air, rocket fuel and even to farm food without soil using hydroponics.

Finally, the article suggests that there would be psychological problems associated with establishing a lunar colony.  This is because being constantly isolated on the moon and not having access to landscapes and artistic experiences would cause mental health problems for settlers.  On the other hand, the lecturer notes that this problem could be solved through regular communication with earth, and the use of virtual reality technology.  Not only that, but habitats could be designed with open-spaces and natural light and earth-like environments could be recreated on the moon to combat psychological stress.