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Ironically, it was the ambitious reach of NASA's Viking spacecraft

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Ironically, it was the ambitious reach of NASA's Viking spacecraft  [#permalink]

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New post Updated on: 13 Oct 2018, 22:40
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Ironically, it was the ambitious reach of NASA's Viking spacecraft that set back the exploration of Mars for so many years. As proffered by such enthusiastic visionaries as Carl Sagan, the question that Viking would answer seemed not to be whether Mars was home to life but to what kind. Would it be bacteria? Algae? Lichen? Or other, more complex forms? The two landers carried suites of astrobiological life detection apparatuses that were marvels to behold: tiny growing chambers packed with nutrients to awaken ancient Martian spores, radioactive tracers to identify the metabolic activities of microbes, and chemical analysis systems to identify the expected respiratory byproducts.

Alas, save for some narrowly held dissenting opinions, no interpretation of the data supported the existence of viable life forms on Mars. Instead, the probes found an atmosphere so harshly oxidizing that biotic matter, as then understood, could scarcely survive. And so, like a rebuffed suitor retreating across the room to collect his composure, the American exploration of space was left hunting for new directions to explore. Mars was dead.

But time heals all shame and the allure of the red planet could not long remain at bay. It took a series of events to bring Martian exploration back into the limelight. The discovery of extremophiles, forms of life here on Earth that existed in conditions previously considered completely inhospitable to any biological process, combined with a new understanding of the limitations of Viking's sensors (which, it turned out, had been somewhat oversold in an effort to secure backing for the missions) to awaken the possibility that life could still exist on Mars, albeit perhaps in forms we would scarcely recognize. The competitive spirit of the Reagan presidency then provided the necessary political will to return to Mars, for the Russians had suffered no shame from the American frustration and were then pursuing an ambitious program of Martian exploration.

These factors combined to bring about the launch of Mars Observer, a mission almost as grandiose as Viking had been. Technical shortsightedness caused the Mars Observer craft to explode while preparing to enter orbit around Mars. But by then the spirit was relit and a sequence of missions, some humble and some ambitious, some successful and some not, flew throughout the late 1990's and into the new millennium. Today's goals are less dramatic. No surefire detection of life is promised or looked for. Instead, a methodical tracing of the biologic, climatologic, and geologic history of Mars is slowly expanding our understanding of our close planetary neighbor. This systematic exploration may even one day progress to a reexamination of the great question that has haunted man's imagination for centuries: Is there life on Mars?

1 : Based on the information in the passage, which of the following best characterizes the results of the Viking missions?

a) A methodical understanding of the biologic, climatologic, and geologic history of Mars.
b) Undisputed proof that no life could possibly exist on Mars.
c) Widely disputed and inconclusive results regarding the biological potential of Mars.
d) A general belief that life, as then recognized, was unlikely to exist on Mars.
e) Widespread enthusiasm towards continued Martian exploration.

2: The passage discusses which of the following as a reason why the Viking landers failed to detect signs of life on Mars?

a) Their life detection apparatus was not designed to detect traces of the sort of life now believed to exist on Mars.
b) Subsequent investigations proved that there was no life present for them to detect.
c) The Viking landers only surveyed two small areas of the planet and might have missed locations more favorable to biological activity.
d) The instruments were not as sensitive as originally claimed and, if life on Mars does exist, it may do so in a form they would not have correctly identified.
e) The Viking landers could only identify complex forms of life such as bacteria and algae.

3 : Which of the following would most effectively and accurately title this article?

a) Viking and Mars Observer - Two Studies in Hubris
b) Back to the Red Planet, One Step at a Time
c) Beat the Russians!
d) Astrobiological Possibilities of Martian Extremophiles
e) Moving On - Why Space Exploration Must Abandon a Dead Mars

4. According to the passage, the competitive spirit of the Reagan presidency played what role in the exploration of Mars?

a) It provided political impetus to move forward with the launch of the Viking Landers.
b) It ensured the flight of a sequence of missions from the late 1990's through the new millennium.
c) It led to the opposition of Russian efforts to explore Mars.
d) It was like a rebuffed suitor retreating across the room.
e) It contributed to the launch of the Mars Observer mission.



Official Explanations :

Correct Answer: 1

The Viking missions resulted in the generally, though not universally, held belief that life did not exist on Mars, matching answer choice D. Answer choice A is incorrect because it describes the current approach. Answer choice C overstates the dissenting opinions regarding the Viking results and is incorrect whereas answer choice B fails to acknowledge this minority view. Answer choice E is opposite of the actual outcome of the Viking results.

Correct Answer: 2

The passage discusses a combination of reasons for the Viking failure. Answer choice A comes close but ends with the idea that a certain kind of life is now believed to exist on Mars, which is not supported by the passage. B discusses subsequent investigations but the passage does not mention any further biological probes. C may well be correct but is not mentioned in the passage. D matches the reasons put forward in the passage and is correct. E is not supported by the information in the passage.

Correct Answer: 3

The main idea of this passage is that the Viking missions held back Mars exploration but that new missions are proceeding. This is best supports answer choice B. Answer choices A and C are too narrowly focused. Answer choice D goes into a topic barely touched upon in the passage, and answer choice E is opposite of the author's tone.

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Originally posted by aashu4uiit on 29 Oct 2014, 13:34.
Last edited by workout on 13 Oct 2018, 22:40, edited 3 times in total.
Formatted, added timers, added Q4
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Re: Ironically, it was the ambitious reach of NASA's Viking spacecraft  [#permalink]

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New post 04 Oct 2018, 19:00
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Re: Ironically, it was the ambitious reach of NASA's Viking spacecraft  [#permalink]

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New post 05 Oct 2018, 00:41
1 : Based on the information in the passage, which of the following best characterizes the results of the Viking missions?

a) A methodical understanding of the biologic, climatologic, and geologic history of Mars. - no, this is the Mars Observer
b) Undisputed proof that no life could possibly exist on Mars -No
Quote:
Alas, save for some narrowly held dissenting opinions, no interpretation of the data supported the existence of viable life forms on Mars.

c) Widely disputed and inconclusive results regarding the biological potential of Mars. -not mentioned
d) A general belief that life, as then recognized, was unlikely to exist on Mars. -yes,
Quote:
Mars was dead

e) Widespread enthusiasm towards continued Martian exploration -wrong

2. The passage discusses which of the following as a reason why the Viking landers failed to detect signs of life on Mars?

Quote:
which, it turned out, had been somewhat oversold in an effort to secure backing for the missions) to awaken the possibility that life could still exist on Mars, albeit perhaps in forms we would scarcely recognize.
only option D perfectly mimics the idea

a) Their life detection apparatus was not designed to detect traces of the sort of life now believed to exist on Mars.
b) Subsequent investigations proved that there was no life present for them to detect.
c) The Viking landers only surveyed two small areas of the planet and might have missed locations more favorable to biological activity.
d) The instruments were not as sensitive as originally claimed and, if life on Mars does exist, it may do so in a form they would not have correctly identified.
e) The Viking landers could only identify complex forms of life such as bacteria and algae.

3. : Which of the following would most effectively and accurately title this article?

a) Viking and Mars Observer - Two Studies in Hubris - no
b) Back to the Red Planet, One Step at a Time - yes, so after failed NASA's Viking, they are starting humbly with Mars Observer
c) Beat the Russians! -too extreme
d) Astrobiological Possibilities of Martian Extremophiles -far
e) Moving On - Why Space Exploration Must Abandon a Dead Mars
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Re: Ironically, it was the ambitious reach of NASA's Viking spacecraft  [#permalink]

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New post 05 Oct 2018, 07:10
P1 - N spacecraft - life on mars, equipments to detect life.
P2 - no life harsh conditions.
P3 - hope for Martian exploration.
P4 - launch of new mission to mars, new hopes.

1 : Based on the information in the passage, which of the following best characterizes the results of the Viking missions?

a) A methodical understanding of the biologic, climatologic, and geologic history of Mars. - no
b) Undisputed proof that no life could possibly exist on Mars. - too extreme.
c) Widely disputed and inconclusive results regarding the biological potential of Mars. - no. too extreme choice.
d) A general belief that life, as then recognized, was unlikely to exist on Mars. - best of the lot. ask basic questions. is it A general belief? yes. was it recognized then ? yes. no life on mars ? yes .
e) Widespread enthusiasm towards continued Martian exploration. - not true, mission was not so much full of hopes.

-----------------------------------
2: The passage discusses which of the following as a reason why the Viking landers failed to detect signs of life on Mars?

which, it turned out, had been somewhat oversold in an effort to secure backing for the missions) to awaken the possibility that life could still exist on Mars, albeit perhaps in forms we would scarcely recognize.

PT - in simple terms life may still exists on mars, just in a form we do not recognize. probably we dnt have equipments to do that.

d) The instruments were not as sensitive as originally claimed and, if life on Mars does exist, it may do so in a form they would not have correctly identified. - on the same lines as in PT.
-------------------------------------

3 : Which of the following would most effectively and accurately title this article?

a) Viking and Mars Observer - Two Studies in Hubris ---------- not covering whole passage.
b) Back to the Red Planet, One Step at a Time --------- no
c) Beat the Russians! ----- haha .... no way.
d) Astrobiological Possibilities of Martian Extremophiles ----------- no
e) Moving On - Why Space Exploration Must Abandon a Dead Mars ----------- no, passage is hopeful.

At first i have eliminated all of the choices. in 2nd go lets find the choices that cant be the answer. i trim it down to B and D.

b) Back to the Red Planet, One Step at a Time
d) Astrobiological Possibilities of Martian Extremophiles

Out of these two, Astrobiological Possibilities --- para1 clearly discarded this. no possibility of life ever over here. I would choose B cause other can not be the answer.
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Re: Ironically, it was the ambitious reach of NASA's Viking spacecraft  [#permalink]

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New post 09 Oct 2018, 10:54
aragonn wrote:
-----------------------------------
2: The passage discusses which of the following as a reason why the Viking landers failed to detect signs of life on Mars?

which, it turned out, had been somewhat oversold in an effort to secure backing for the missions) to awaken the possibility that life could still exist on Mars, albeit perhaps in forms we would scarcely recognize.

PT - in simple terms life may still exists on mars, just in a form we do not recognize. probably we dnt have equipments to do that.

d) The instruments were not as sensitive as originally claimed and, if life on Mars does exist, it may do so in a form they would not have correctly identified. - on the same lines as in PT.
-------------------------------------


Hey aragonn,

Could you please explain your reasoning behind eliminating Option A for Q2?

Cheers!
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Re: Ironically, it was the ambitious reach of NASA's Viking spacecraft  [#permalink]

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New post 09 Oct 2018, 11:36
1
Diwakar003 wrote:
aragonn wrote:
-----------------------------------
2: The passage discusses which of the following as a reason why the Viking landers failed to detect signs of life on Mars?

which, it turned out, had been somewhat oversold in an effort to secure backing for the missions) to awaken the possibility that life could still exist on Mars, albeit perhaps in forms we would scarcely recognize.

PT - in simple terms life may still exists on mars, just in a form we do not recognize. probably we dnt have equipments to do that.

d) The instruments were not as sensitive as originally claimed and, if life on Mars does exist, it may do so in a form they would not have correctly identified. - on the same lines as in PT.
-------------------------------------


Hey aragonn,

Could you please explain your reasoning behind eliminating Option A for Q2?

Cheers!


the passage says "combined with a new understanding of the limitations of Viking's sensors (which, it turned out, had been somewhat oversold in an effort to secure backing for the missions) to awaken the possibility that life could still exist on Mars, albeit perhaps in forms we would scarcely recognize.

So A is wrong because it talk about Life detecting instruments where as passage tell us about limitation of sensors---i hope its clear now
The first para list more than one thing (life detection apparatuses, chemical analysis system etc etc,) that were taken to mars
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Re: Ironically, it was the ambitious reach of NASA's Viking spacecraft  [#permalink]

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New post 13 Oct 2018, 20:00
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workout - an extra question for this passage, please help to add it.

According to the passage, the competitive spirit of the Reagan presidency played what role in the exploration of Mars?

It provided political impetus to move forward with the launch of the Viking Landers.
It ensured the flight of a sequence of missions from the late 1990's through the new millennium.
It led to the opposition of Russian efforts to explore Mars.
It was like a rebuffed suitor retreating across the room.
It contributed to the launch of the Mars Observer mission.

OE:
Correct Answer: E

According to the passage the competitive spirit provided political support for renewed exploration in the form of the Mars Observer, supporting the correct answer, E. Answer choices A and B confuse the timeline since it would have been impossible for the competitive spirit to impact the earlier Viking missions, and the passage makes no specific connection between that era and the even later missions of the late 1990's and after. Answer choice C is unsupported by the passage since we are told only that the competitive spirit caused the Russian efforts to inspire new missions and are told nothing about opposition of Russian efforts. D uses a colorful phrase from another portion of the passage entirely.

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Re: Ironically, it was the ambitious reach of NASA's Viking spacecraft &nbs [#permalink] 13 Oct 2018, 20:00
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