A student discussion

Listen to two students comparing Mars and Earth to practise and improve your listening skills.

Do the preparation task first. Then listen to the audio and do the exercises.


Teacher: So you've got a few minutes to discuss with your partner.

Student 1: So, as far as I know, the main similarity between Mars and Earth is that they can both support human life.

Student 2: Yeah, but do we know that's actually true? I mean, Mars is much colder than Earth, isn't it? It says here it's about minus 55 degrees most of the time, whereas on Earth only places like Antarctica get that cold.

Student 1: True. Well then, I suppose you could say both planets are a similar distance from the Sun?

Student 2: No way! Mars is much further away! It says here it's about 228 million kilometres, while Earth is about 150 million.

Student 1: Yes, but in space that's not that far. Jupiter is, like, almost 780 million kilometres. That's why we use astronomical units when we talk about distances in space. Earth is 1 astronomical unit from the Sun and Mars is 1.3. The difference doesn't sound so big when you look at it that way.

Student 2: I see what you mean. Jupiter is 5.2 astronomical units so I guess you're right. What other similarities are there between the two planets?

Student 1: Let's see … not the colour, obviously!

Student 2: Yeah! Earth is called the blue planet and Mars is called the red planet for pretty obvious reasons!

Student 1: Their sizes are pretty different. Mars is about half the size of Earth.

Student 2: What about this? It looks like the days on both planets are almost the same length. Earth's day is 24 hours but Mars's is about half an hour longer.

Student 1: You're right. OK, any other things they both share?

Student 2: I suppose you could say they have water in common.

Student 1: Could you? How?

Student 2: Well, Earth is 70 per cent water and Mars probably had huge oceans in the past. It's just that most of the water there now is probably frozen.

Student 1: Ah, I see. I don't think we can say the air is the same, though. Most of Earth's air is nitrogen and oxygen, but Mars …?

Student 2: Mars doesn't really have air, not compared with Earth. It's got about one per cent as much air as Earth.

Student 1: Right, and it's mostly carbon dioxide.

Student 2: Gravity is another difference. I didn't know this, but Mars has higher gravity than the Moon. But it's much less than on Earth, of course.

Student 1: Oh, yes. It says Mars has about 38 per cent of Earth's gravity.

Teacher: OK, let's see what you've found …

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Worksheet82.41 KB

Language level

B1 English level (intermediate)

Submitted by Haiza Supian on Tue, 17/09/2019 - 08:29

I have completed the following lessons of A student Discussion, A weather Forecast, and Making a Decision. The level that I chose was Intermediate B1 Listening.

Submitted by Widad Damia' on Tue, 17/09/2019 - 08:26

I have completed the following lessons of A student Discussion, Meeting an old friend , and Making a Decission. The level that I chose was intermediate B1 Listening.

Submitted by Izzah Athirah on Tue, 17/09/2019 - 08:25

I have completed the following lessons of A student Discussion, Meeting an old friend and Making a Decision. The level that I chose was intermediate B1 Listening

Submitted by nurain khalisah on Tue, 17/09/2019 - 08:04

i have completed the following lessons of A student Discussion,A weather Forecast,and making a Decesion .The level that i choose was Intermediate B1 Listening.

Submitted by hsyazhyra on Tue, 17/09/2019 - 07:58

I have completed the lesson of A Student Discussion.The level that I chose was Intermediate B1 Listening.

Submitted by hafiyaqil on Tue, 17/09/2019 - 07:26

I have completed the lesson Student Discussion the level i choose was B1 listening
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Submitted by kamicounciler on Sat, 31/08/2019 - 20:26

probably mars is one of the most similar planets to the earth but not the best one for human to live so i think there are certainly planets (maybe outside our galaxy even) that are more likely to earth and people can live there in the future.
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Submitted by Magedelabd on Wed, 28/08/2019 - 18:37

I do not think so . Unless the Mars specification changed , like having Oxygen as an example .

Submitted by myavari on Tue, 27/08/2019 - 10:09

I think it is too soon to answer this question. Many research need to solve the problem.

Submitted by popo1011 on Tue, 27/08/2019 - 07:21

Certainly, this occurs. But with this situation that human destroys everything, I afraid of annihilating the mars.

Submitted by kseniwerdy on Sat, 24/08/2019 - 03:43

I wonder about this sentence: "It's got about one per cent as much air as Earth." Doesn't it mean that "There is 1 percent of air more on Mars than on Earth."?..

Hello kseniwerdy,

'It has one percent as much... as...' means it has 99% less.



The LearnEnglish Team

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Submitted by Steve Zarv on Fri, 23/08/2019 - 17:05

At first glance it looks kind of "easy" to answer, but it's not. This topic should be adressed from various topics so the question can be answered. For example, assumming that we will be able to live in there, there should've had several changes before that as far as we are concerned, our body has to evolve so that it has the correct conditions for living there as for instance to withstand the temperatures, gravity,etc. So it is not just matter of advanced technology, besides, Mars is far from being an habitable planet according to the NASA's list of the most habitable planets in the Milky Way.

Submitted by _maryam_ on Mon, 19/08/2019 - 09:19

I think it's impossible. this is so expencive and the earth is our home.We can't leave it and go forever. Poor earth! We destroy it and now we are looking for another home for take down!

Submitted by Afki on Fri, 16/08/2019 - 14:41

When you see the speed of knowledge and tegnology its possible one day to see some people that imigrate to the mars.

Submitted by starfish2019 on Thu, 08/08/2019 - 18:02

Do you think people will live on Mars one day? Yes, I also believe that certain portion of the Earth's Population will definitely live on Mars one day, because certain parts of our World's Natural Resources are depleting and overuse, therefore people will always look for alternative or replacements elsewhere, as part of our human nature. May be NASA Mars missions will find some kind of precious metals, minerals or elements on Mars to give great incentive for people to colonize the Mars and will be helped by great people like Elon Musk :)
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Submitted by Caterina Siligardi on Fri, 02/08/2019 - 18:15

Why not? But it has to be clear that human life on Mars will be different. I love you, Earth !!
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Submitted by Anaitat on Thu, 01/08/2019 - 12:51

Today Mars is the most and in more depth studied planet of the Solar System. For the idea, people will live on Mars, I can response that nowadays the people can use the Red Planet for scientific research and development only. As far ahead as anyone can see there is no such possibility.

Submitted by Mamai on Tue, 30/07/2019 - 09:53

I think is possible for human to life in Mars. But is better if they didn’t because humain will destroy evrething he touch.

Submitted by Alaamajed on Tue, 23/07/2019 - 17:24

It is better to maintain our planet from all that destroy it and destroy the beauty of its nature than we spend numerous amounts of money to discover what is in mars
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Submitted by Mercedes Quicano on Sat, 20/07/2019 - 13:18

Yes I do, investigations are being developed, and results has shown that It could be possible, because there are necessary factors and resources for human being. These factors are important to be processed, and so finally obtain the enviroment suitable that allow this places be habitated by human life. Most of these places won't be the same that we have khown here in earth, but human life can stay there,like we have seen nowadays.

Submitted by Montze on Thu, 18/07/2019 - 19:27

i think this a very far possibility for the most of people live in earth, you nedd so much money to travel into the space
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Submitted by Tony son of Gondor on Tue, 09/07/2019 - 19:00

I think that could be a real possibility, but in a very further future!!

Submitted by OmarAdelSherif on Sun, 09/06/2019 - 13:28

By analyzing the current situation of the planet, we can say that it’s difficult to live on such planet because the water which is considered the main factor of human living is so cold there. What makes Earth appropriate for life is its placement not so far from the sun and also the presence of oxigen. The absence of these two elements means life is impossible in Mars. However, human technology as I think can find some solutions to have life on such planet like having water not so frozen and providing oxygen on it.

Submitted by anitanoumea on Mon, 03/06/2019 - 08:19

Hi, the best that we must do is to protect our earth, before explore and live on Mars.
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Submitted by Tony son of Gondor on Tue, 09/07/2019 - 19:04

In reply to by anitanoumea

I totally agree!! There are a lot of problems here in our planet without solution, and I think it's more important try to solve them before thinking abandone Earth

Submitted by Luis Quiroa on Sun, 02/06/2019 - 22:44

Yes, I agree. One day the water and food in the earth are will not enough for the people in the world. We have to travel and to explore another planet in the universe for survive.

Submitted by Ademola on Sat, 01/06/2019 - 12:16

I find it difficult to navigate from one question page to another. I would appreciate if you can explain to me how I can go about it.
Hello Ademola, I'm not sure what kind of difficulty you mean, I'm afraid. Could you explain what exactly the problem is, please? If we can understand this then we'll be better able to give you some help. ~ Peter The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by parisa1995 on Fri, 31/05/2019 - 17:43

Hello In the grammar part in this site you have said that for planets we have to use capital letters except for "earth" , moon and sun. But here these words were written with capital letters. Could you please explain it? Thanks
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Submitted by Kirk on Mon, 03/06/2019 - 07:47

In reply to by parisa1995

Hello parisa1995 I'm sorry about the confusion here. We are working on updating all of our grammar pages and the page you refer to will soon change to reflect the spelling that you see on this page here. In other words, the spelling on this page (A student discussion) is correct. All the best Kirk The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by leoci on Thu, 30/05/2019 - 16:43

Excuse me, admin, I've some problems about task1 and task2...the windows can't include all the items ( firefox )...can you help me ? thanks
Hello leoci To add items to the boxes, first click on the item and then click on the box itself (the grey border), not on the middle of the box. If you click inside the box, you will swap one item for another; if you click on the box itself you will add new items. ~ Peter The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Sarah-njzh on Sun, 26/05/2019 - 07:01

it may be not in this situation.as science developed it is possible even it's a long-term project. but who knows, everything is possible. including human living on Mars or other planets of curse.

Submitted by maria.khazaee on Sat, 25/05/2019 - 18:45

Living in Mars,has been a scietific dream for a long time.a lot of budgets and money have been spent on this challenge. Maybe one day, by special and highly_cost Eqiupment it become possible to simulate the earth condition on Mars for living but certainly it won't be at my time! in my opinon,another issue to consider,is mental situation of people there.it is like a huge immigration and need to evaluate carefully.

Submitted by clau2461 on Fri, 24/05/2019 - 21:33

I´m not really sure. But I think some one day that could be possible. There are a lot of things that we saw on tv series as a fantasy many years ago, and now, many of them became so real!

Submitted by hiba saadi on Thu, 23/05/2019 - 11:08

As far as i'am concerned it's impossible to live in Mars since it's poor on oxygen

Submitted by Nyi Nyi Min Htet on Thu, 23/05/2019 - 02:38

May be people will live there one day because they have critical power how to be stay alive where thay are.

Submitted by Charis Chang on Wed, 22/05/2019 - 04:40

I think it is possible that people move to another planet or appear in another planet. Because of species evaluation, everything is possible.

Submitted by pointofnoreturn on Mon, 20/05/2019 - 20:06

I don't think people will live on Mars one day. People have to cover up around Mars with oxygen. To be honest It seems like it will be with current technologhy.I hope to buy field in Mars in the future.

I think they can.Now science is so developed and may be it will be possible to make the right conditions for life on Mars later.But I wish they could save the Earth first...

Submitted by liaben on Sun, 12/05/2019 - 19:27

In my opinion it won't be possible soon. There are should be many advances to reach it.

Submitted by Nattage on Sun, 12/05/2019 - 17:31

Now it is very difficult to say! The technology is grow every day. And may be whenever people will on the Mars!

Submitted by Anderson de Azevedo on Sat, 04/05/2019 - 10:16

I believe that the human will live on Mars, when it is will be economically interesting for bigger companies in the Earth.
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Submitted by mehrazin on Fri, 03/05/2019 - 17:36

Hello dear, the British Council team One of the requirements for traveling to Mars is access to highly equipped rockets to protect passengers from radiation that is very harmful to their bodies. I think people will live on Mars on the future, but in different physical capacities or situations. Mars is very different from Earth. carbon dioxide is much larger than Earth. the weather degrees are in -55 degrees, so its waters are frozen because its farther from the sun. there isn't any suitable air in it so it's so hard to live in. It is very difficult to reach the mars because there are much more ion rays around it. It may be possible for people to live on it in future but not for us . Different people in different physical systems. Best Wishes Mehrzain

Submitted by Ghali on Thu, 02/05/2019 - 00:54

definitlly .I dont think that..

Submitted by cadu on Wed, 01/05/2019 - 20:34

Of course. Actually we have the technology to support life there. We have the issue of develop travel whit ships that could be reused, because that is important in terms of the mission costs. Ironically we find the way for support the life in Mars but don’t in earth when the use of natural resources exceed the capacity of regeneration

Submitted by pizzy78 on Mon, 29/04/2019 - 11:53

"What about this? It looks like the days on both planets are almost the same length. Earth's day is 24 hours but Mars's is about half an hour longer." I'd like to understand the meaning of this part of the discussion. It says that on both planets the days are almost the same length first, but there's a big difference at the end of the sentence.