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Reading Comprehension Worksheet

Space

A robotic NASA explorer is poised to set sail Monday, July 30 on a mission to catch the solar wind and then return to Earth with a representative sampling of the primordial stuff that seeded the solar system.

Some 4.6 billion years after an interstellar cloud of gas, dust and ice collapsed and spawned the Sun and its attendant planets, the spacecraft will blast off in late July for a distant space harbor where conditions remain much the same as those at hand when the solar system formed.

Pristine material tossed off the turbulent sun then will be snatched up before the spacecraft swings back by Earth, flinging a sample return capsule toward a daring helicopter recovery over the Utah desert in September 2004.

The scientific prize: A cache of interplanetary matter that could enable 21st century researchers to decipher the elemental and isotopic make-up of the original solar nebula.

1. What is solar wind?

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2. How long ago do scientist feel the "BIG BANG" took place?

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3. Why is it important to know how the solar system was formed?

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4. Why is material just falling off of the Sun?

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