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Lesson 4 – Skimming and Scanning 2 I’m Wilf . I will tell you “ w hat I ’ m l ooking f or” in this unit. This means I want to know if you can do what I am looking for by the end! I’m Walt . I will tell you what we will be learning, after all: w e a re l earning t o…work well in Meldrum Academy!
As the spaceship approached the surface of the earth, how did the changing environment affect the astronauts?
They were trailing a comet tail which had a light, orange-yellow centre and blue-green and lavender edges. It grew more intense as the atmosphere became denser, finally expanding so the core of the tunnel became so brilliant that Collins felt he was in the centre of a huge million-watt light bulb. As they entered the atmosphere the spacecraft began to decelerate as it encountered air resistance. A heat shield over its base prevented it from being burnt up (as meteors are) by the friction thus caused.
Their weightlessness began to give way to gravity, gently at first, nudging the astronauts back into their couches, and then began to build up uncomfortably. After eight days at zero gravity, their bodies weren’t accustomed to gravity or deceleration. By the time the force peaked at 6.5G, Collins felt as though a gigantic hand was pushing against his chest. But it didn’t last long, and he had other matters to occupy his attention.
Now was the time for Columbia’s two small drogue parachutes to open, to slow the spacecraft down sufficiently to release the main parachutes. As the drogues came out, they jerked back and forth, but then the three huge main parachutes replaced them, and Columbia was floating down towards what the astronauts hoped was a calm ocean.