《科學英聞》火星探測計畫超支 前途未卜

中國時報 B4/科學周報 2008/10/12

 【王道還】
  Will NASA’s flagship mission to Mars fly next year? The space agency could decide as early as Friday whether to cancel, delay or proceed with plans to launch a nuclear-powered , SUV-size rover to the red planet.
  NASA has already sunk $1.5 billion into the Mars Science Laboratory, which is pricier than expected. The mega-rover will roam the surface and drill into rocks for clues to whether the planet ever possessed an environment capable of supporting primitive life.
  Doug McCuistion, who heads the Mars exploration program at NASA headquarters, told scientists in recent public meetings that he expects the mission’s total cost to run over by more than 30 percent. If it goes over that threshold, Congress would have the right to intervene and use its power to end the project on its own. (AP)
  譯文
  NASA最重要的火星任務明年會成行嗎?NASA最快在星期五(10/10) 就能做出決定,是否取消、延期,還是按計畫進行,發射一個以核能驅動,並有休旅車大小的越野車到火星去。
  NASA已經花了15億美元製造「火星科學實驗室」,比原先預期的貴多了。這輛巨型越野車不但會在火星上四處跑,還能鑽探岩石,尋找線索,看火星的環境是否曾支持原始的生物。
  NASA總部負責火星計畫的麥枯思勳在最近的公開會議上告訴科學家,他預計這個計畫的總花費會超出預算30%。一旦如此,國會就有權干預,並逕自終止這個計畫。(美聯社)
  單字
  flagship n.旗艦;(喻)最好的或最重要的事物
  nuclear-powered adj.以核能為動力的
  SUV=sport utility vehicle運動型多功能車;流行的譯名是運動休旅車
  rover n.越野車;按,現在火星上已有3輛rovers,但都很小
  sink v.投入,投資
  pricy adj.昂貴的
  mega adj.巨大的
  roam v.遊蕩
  drill v.鑽(洞、孔)
  clue to針對……的線索
  headquarters n.總部
  run over = exceed超過
  threshold v.門檻
  intervene v.干預;介入
  說明
  這輛正在建造中的探測車全長2.7米,預定明年發射。由於是全新的設計,而且個兒大多了,與已經在火星上的3輛完全不同,難怪會超出預算。科學界擔心,繼續砸錢會排擠其他的研究計畫。現在全世界都籠罩在金融風暴中,看來這個計畫的前途不妙。這叫屋漏偏逢連夜雨。