Speed Reading — Astronauts' DNA - Level 3 — 300 wpm

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Scientists have found a new risk to space travel. They have discovered that our DNA can change when going into space. DNA mutations could increase the risk of space travellers getting cancer. The scientists did research on 14 NASA astronauts who took part in the Space Shuttle programme between 1998 and 2001. The astronauts provided blood samples ten days before they went into space and three days after returning to Earth. The blood has been frozen for the past 20 years. Professor David Goukassian said: "Astronauts work in an extreme environment where many factors can result in…mutations." He added: "Space radiation…means there is a risk that…mutations could develop."

Professor Goukassian said his study could be important for the future of space travel. In particular, several nations are working on sending astronauts to Mars. Other countries are preparing to build bases on the moon. There is also a race by commercial companies to start the business of space tourism. Goukassian said there were possible health risks to space travel and to exploring deep space. He said more research was needed to study the harmful effects of space travel on the body. This could be important for NASA's Artemis project. This aims to send people back to the moon for the first time in 50 years. The last time humans went to the moon was during the Apollo 17 mission in December 1972.

Comprehension questions
  1. What disease could astronauts get because of changed DNA?
  2. What programme did the astronauts in the article take part in?
  3. How long was the blood of astronauts frozen for?
  4. In what kind of environment do astronauts work?
  5. What means there is a risk of mutations developing?
  6. What do various countries want to build on the moon?
  7. What are commercial companies racing to start?
  8. Where might we explore that involve health risks?
  9. What is the name of NASA's new project?
  10. When was the last time humans walked on the moon?

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