Talking of Space: MBOSE Class 11 English Supplementary notes

Talking of Space Report on Planet Three
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Get summaries, questions, answers, solutions, notes, extras, PDF of Class 11 Voices (English Supplementary reader textbook) chapter Talking of Space: Report on Planet Three by Arthur C Clarke, which is part of the syllabus of students studying under MBOSE (Meghalaya Board). These solutions, however, should only be treated as references and can be modified/changed.

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The story “Report on Planet Three” by Arthur C. Clarke is presented as a document deciphered by the Interplanetary Archaeological Commission from Mars, detailing Martian observations of Earth. Written during the Late Uranium Age of Martian civilisation, the report explores the scientific knowledge and perspectives of the Martians regarding Earth, highlighting their advanced astronomical capabilities and the mysteries they sought to uncover about their neighbouring planet.

The Martians, intrigued by Earth’s proximity and potential for life, discuss the planet’s various characteristics. Earth’s atmosphere, dense with oxygen, nitrogen, and water vapour, contrasts sharply with the thin, dry Martian atmosphere. The presence of large quantities of oxygen, which Martians find puzzling and potentially toxic, suggests a different chemical process at work, possibly linked to terrestrial life forms. Martian scientists speculate that Earth’s vast oceans, covering more than two-thirds of its surface, might host life, but the planet’s high gravity and frequent climatic extremes make this uncertain.

Observations reveal that Earth appears as a sickly blue-green crescent with its giant moon nearby. Due to its position relative to the Sun, Earth is best viewed as a morning or evening star from Mars. Despite the challenges of observing the planet, Martians have mapped its surface and noted its abundant water and thick atmosphere. They also consider the possibility of intelligent life unlikely, given the harsh conditions, including poisonous gases, high gravity, and violent weather patterns.

The report discusses the theoretical possibility of Earthly life forms, suggesting that if they exist, they would be robust, heavily armoured to withstand the planet’s gravity, and possibly residing in the oceans to avoid land-based hazards. The Martians also reflect on the idea of exploring Earth through spacecraft, acknowledging the potential of rocket propulsion to bridge the interplanetary gap.

Ultimately, the Martian report concludes that Earth is a hostile environment for life as they know it, though they remain open to future exploration to uncover its secrets.

Textual questions and answers

Answer these questions briefly

1. What is the most tantalising thing about Earth? Why is this so?

Answer: We cannot see it when it is closest because it is then between us and the Sun and its dark side is therefore turned towards us.

2. Why is the Earth described as being ‘sickly blue-green’?

Answer: The Earth is described as being ‘sickly blue-green’ due to its contrast in colour with the Moon, which is pure silvery-white. The term implies an unflattering appearance.

3. When can Earth be seen from Mars?

Answer: We have to wait until it is a morning or evening star.

4. What is the ‘violent controversy’ that has raged on Mars over centuries?

Answer: Whether the liquid on Earth is water.

5. Which physical feature on the Earth’s surface has been described as a ‘paradox’? Why?

Answer: The presence of mountains far higher than any that exist on Mars has been described as a paradox because Earth has a much higher gravity than Mars.

6. What has Martian research concluded about the possibility of intelligent life on Earth?

Answer: Martian research has concluded that the question of intelligent life on Earth must be regarded as settled and that Martians are the only rational beings in the Solar System.

7. Why is migration easier on Mars than on Earth?

Answer: On Mars, all mobile life forms can easily escape the winter by migration. There are no mountains or seas to bar the way. The small size of our world-as compared with Earth and the greater length of the year make such seasonable movements a simple matter, requiring an average speed of only some ten miles a day.

8. How are the Martians planning to unravel the last secrets of the Earth?

Answer: By building a spacecraft that can escape from Mars and head across the cosmic gulf towards our mysterious neighbour.

Answer these questions in a paragraph

1. What factors make the Earth a world of ‘violent climatic extremes’?

Answer: Its dense, moisture-laden atmosphere, high gravity, and closeness to the Sun make Earth a world of violent climatic extremes.

2. According to the Martians, if at all life forms were to exist on Earth, what would they be like?

Answer: If they exist at all, they must be extremely powerful and massively built to resist the high gravity, probably possessing many pairs of legs and capable only of slow movement. Their clumsy bodies must be covered with thick layers of protective armour to shield them from the many dangers they must face, such as storms, fire, and the corrosive atmosphere.

Answer these questions in detail

1. What is our belief about the possibility of life on Mars? What do the Martians believe about the possibility of life on Earth? Compare the two viewpoints.

Answer: Our belief about the possibility of life on Mars is largely speculative and based on scientific research. We are exploring Mars for any signs of past or present life, focusing on the planet’s history of water and its potential to support microbial life. The Martians, on the other hand, believe that the possibility of life on Earth is extremely poor due to the planet’s intense climatic conditions, poisonous atmosphere, and high gravity. They consider the presence of intelligent life highly unlikely. The two viewpoints contrast in their conclusions: we remain hopeful and curious about life on Mars, while Martians view Earth as largely inhospitable.

2. Does the Martian civilisation seem more advanced than ours on Earth? Give reasons to support your answer.

Answer: Yes, the Martian civilisation seems more advanced than ours on Earth. This is indicated by their ability to make precise astronomical observations, construct detailed maps of Earth’s surface, and analyze the composition of Earth’s atmosphere using spectroscopes. They have also developed advanced mathematical physics theories and are exploring the possibility of space travel using atomic energy. Phrases such as “development of new astronomical instruments,” “spectroscope has now solved this problem,” and “current work on rocket propulsion” support the view that Martian civilisation possesses advanced scientific and technological capabilities.

3. Why do you think that the author has written this story in the form of a report? Pick phrases from the text to support your answer.

Answer: The author has written this story in the form of a report to create a sense of scientific authenticity and objectivity. This format allows for a detailed and systematic presentation of observations and conclusions about Earth from a Martian perspective. Phrases such as “the translation is believed to be reasonably accurate,” “observations over a period of weeks,” “calculations indicate,” and “a brilliant piece of theoretical research” contribute to the report-like structure, emphasizing the analytical and factual tone of the narrative.


1. Write a note on Fire on Earth or The Importance of Ultraviolet Radiation for Martians.

Answer: Fire on Earth is a terrifying phenomenon known only in the laboratory on Mars. Many ordinary substances, when immersed in an atmosphere like that of Earth’s and heated to quite moderate temperatures, begin a violent and continuous chemical reaction which does not cease until they are completely consumed. During this process, intolerable quantities of heat and light are generated, together with clouds of noxious gases. This phenomenon, called ‘fire,’ makes it impossible for any possible form of life to exist on Earth.

2. The Romantics on Mars hope for evidence of life on Earth. Are you a Romantic? Do you hope for evidence of life on Mars? After reading this story, write a report on your point of view.

Answer: As a romantic thinker, I indeed hope for evidence of life on Mars. This story, presented as a report, gives an intriguing perspective on how Martians might view Earth and its potential for life. The Martians’ detailed observations and scientific reasoning reflect their advanced understanding and curiosity, much like our own.

The possibility of finding life on Mars has always been a fascinating concept. Despite the harsh conditions on Mars, with its thin atmosphere and extreme temperatures, the discovery of ancient water channels and seasonal methane emissions suggests that microbial life might have once existed, or could still exist, in subsurface environments.

My hope for evidence of life on Mars is driven by the potential to expand our understanding of biology and the origins of life. Discovering even the simplest life forms on Mars would profoundly impact our knowledge of the universe, indicating that life might be more common than we previously thought. It would also inspire further exploration and study, opening new frontiers for science and possibly providing insights into the future habitability of Mars for humans.

3. Assume that you are a Martian. Give details about:

a. The possibility of animals living in water on Earth
b. Flying in the Earth’s atmosphere

Answer: a. The possibility of animals living in water on Earth seems plausible. More than two-thirds of the planet is covered with liquid, likely water. The oceans may provide a less hostile environment compared to the land, shielding creatures from the high gravity and corrosive atmosphere. Animals in these oceans would not need to support their weight as much due to buoyancy, allowing for a variety of life forms to thrive underwater.

b. Flying in the Earth’s atmosphere appears unlikely due to the planet’s high gravity. Although the dense atmosphere might make flying easier, the powerful gravity would counteract this advantage, making sustained flight difficult. Creatures capable of aerial locomotion would need to be incredibly strong and efficient to overcome these challenges, and such adaptations seem improbable given the conditions described.

Extra fill in the blanks

1. The recent close approach of the planet Earth has revived ______ about the possibility of life there. (speculations/debates)

Answer: speculations

2. Earth’s day is just half an hour ______ than ours. (longer/shorter)

Answer: shorter

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25. The Martian report on Earth ends with a reference to the destruction of Oasis City by a ______ blast. (meteor/nuclear)

Answer: nuclear

Extra true or False

1. The document deciphered for the Interplanetary Archaeological Commission dates from the Late Uranium Age of the Martian civilisation.

Answer: True

2. The translation of the Martian document is believed to be highly inaccurate.

Answer: False

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25. The Martian manuscript was damaged by a thermonuclear blast that destroyed Oasis City.

Answer: True

Extra questions and answers

1. What instrument solved the problem of determining the composition of Earth’s atmosphere?

Answer: The spectroscope.

2. How does the Earth’s atmosphere compare in density to that of Mars?

Answer: Earth’s atmosphere is at least ten times as dense as that of Mars.

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30. How do Martian researchers view the prospects for intelligent life on Earth, and what are their reasons?

Answer: Martian researchers view the prospects for intelligent life on Earth as extremely poor. They believe that the intensely poisonous atmosphere, high gravity, and violent climatic extremes make it unlikely for any form of intelligent life to exist. The presence of large quantities of reactive oxygen in the atmosphere poses a major scientific problem, and the phenomenon of fire, common on Earth, is another obstacle. Martians conclude that if any terrestrial animals exist, they must be extremely powerful, massively built, and capable only of slow movement, with clumsy bodies covered in thick protective armor. Thus, the question of intelligent life on Earth is regarded as settled, with Mars being the only planet with rational beings in the Solar System.

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