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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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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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!
May be people will live there one day because they have critical power how to be stay alive where thay are.
I think it is possible that people move to another planet or appear in another planet. Because of species evaluation, everything is possible.
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...

Now it is very difficult to say! The technology is grow every day. And may be whenever people will on the Mars!
I believe that the human will live on Mars, when it is will be economically interesting for bigger companies in the Earth.
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
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
"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.
Hello pizzy78 'half an hour longer' means 24 hours plus half an hour. So the day on Mars is approximately 24 hours and 30 minutes. Compared to Earth, that's a difference of about 30 minutes, which Student 2 considers to be similar enough to say that their days are almost the same length. Does that make sense? All the best Kirk The LearnEnglish Team
yes, i think people will live on Mars one day, as population on Earth increase day by day so one day there is no space for building new houses so eventually people will shift on Mars.
Maybe in future people going to live in Mars but technicaly it is difficult to talk about it right now . Anyway I never going to live in Mars because I can't tolerate cold weather
I don't think the human can live on Mars, cause air and weather are too difference.
Be comfortable mars, for living on you we should be a superluxury man, nowadays I prefer to think about green earth.
I think it would be possible people will live on Mars one day.That day would be a day there are no any places on Earth for living!! Who are agree or disagree with this comment?Please share your opinion.
...How can I think something about it , whereas the special scientists know nothing or they are rather negative with this alternative prospect?....
Maybe in the long-term? In my opinion, this is possible even in the near future, but would need so much money that it is not sensible.
I think it's hard for human to live in Mars someday because there are more carbon dioxide than Earth.
I don't have idea about it, but I think with technology and researches we can live there soon.