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Learning resources from INTO UEA

Essay structure

The introduction
starts with some general statements, which are followed by the thesis statement.
General statements
introduce the general topic of the essay (e.g. colonization of outer space) and try to get the reader interested.
The thesis statement
states the specific thesis or main idea (e.g. why we should colonize the Moon). It may also list the subtopics (need for space colonies; why choose the Moon; difficulties to be overcome).
A body paragraph
consists of a topic sentence, some supporting points and a concluding sentence.
A topic sentence
expresses the main idea of the paragraph. It also tells the reader what information will follow in the rest of the paragraph.
Supporting points
expand the main idea that is contained in the topic sentence. They provide supporting evidence and examples.
A concluding sentence
signals the end of the paragraph with a phrase such as To sum up or therefore. It reminds the reader of the main idea in the paragraph. (It can basically be the same as the topic sentence, but in different words.)
The conclusion
indicates that the essay is about to end, with a phrase such as In conclusion. It reminds the reader of the main points and makes a final comment.

Should we be planning to colonize the Moon?

A simple five-paragraph essay. Click on the headings to expand the sections.

1. Introduction
General statementsThe dinosaurs became extinct, according to the science fiction writer Larry Niven, because they did not have a space programme (Chaikin, 2001). The Earth may one day become similarly uninhabitable by humans, which raises the question of whether we should find other worlds to colonize. The nearest of these, a body that people have already succeeded in visiting, is the Moon.
Thesis statementThe project would be extremely expensive and the money could be used for more pressing problems here on Earth. However, in the long-term there are several reasons why humanity should colonize outer space, in particular the Moon, if certain obstacles can be overcome.
2. Body paragraph A
Topic sentenceThe colonization of other planets could provide not only extra living space for humanity (besides other species) but also protection in the event of a planetary catastrophe.
Supporting point 1Our population is continuing to expand at an alarming rate, causing environmental degradation and scarcities in resources such as food, water and fuel. At some point we will have to restrict our population size and consumption patterns or find new lands to occupy.
Supporting point 2Furthermore, there are various disasters that could threaten human survival on Earth, such as a global nuclear war, a pandemic, collision with an asteroid and severe climate change.
Supporting point 3In the event of such a disaster an off-world colony could eventually recolonize the Earth.
Concluding sentenceIn short, space colonization of space would give us both extra room and a “backup” for human civilization.
3. Body paragraph B
Topic sentenceIn the search for suitable worlds to colonize, the main reason for choosing the Moon is its proximity, which brings several advantages.
Supporting point 1First, the journey between the Earth and the Moon is short. It took the Apollo 11 astronauts only three days in 1969 and would probably take even less time now. This would be very convenient for moving people and supplies to the colony and back, particularly in an emergency.
Supporting point 2Second, light and radio waves take only 1.3 seconds to reach the Moon from the Earth (NASA, 2000). This permits virtually normal conversation and means remote equipment can respond almost instantaneously.
Supporting point 3Third, with its proximity and low gravity, a lunar colony would be an ideal training ground and “jumping off point” for expeditions to Mars and beyond.
Concluding sentenceTo sum up, the closeness of the Moon is a major plus.
4. Body paragraph C
Topic sentenceAlthough there are certain difficulties that may make the Moon hard to colonize, all of these can be overcome.
Supporting point 1The lunar nights are long - up to 334 hours in some places, according to Wittry (2007). While this would make it unwise to depend entirely on solar power, there are areas near the two poles which receive light nearly all of the time (Spudis, 2009), which could be suitable sites for solar panels.
Supporting point 2Lack of water would pose problems, with a continuing demand for expensive water imports from the Earth as the lunar colony grew. However, in 2009 water ice was discovered in the permanently shadowed region of Cabeus crater near the south pole (NASA, 2009).
Supporting point 3The absence of an atmosphere on the Moon results in temperature extremes and also leaves the surface exposed to radiation, meteors and moondust. Consequently, all structures would have to be built to resist these environmental hazards, perhaps from concrete or cast regolith. Regolith is the layer of loose and broken rock and dust on the Moon (Ridpath, 2018).
Concluding sentenceAll of these obstacles, therefore, while posing serious difficulties for a new colony, are not insuperable.
5. Conclusion In conclusion, it is vital for us to settle other worlds, starting with our nearest neighbour, once various difficulties have been solved. The journey will be hard and costly, but by failing to take it we risk the extinction not just of the human species, like the dinosaurs before us, but of all life in the known universe.
Reference list

Chaikin, A. (2001) ‘Meeting of the minds: Buzz Aldrin visits Arthur C. Clarke’, Space.com. Available at: https://web.archive.org/web/20010305074947/http://www.space.com/peopleinterviews/aldrin_clarke_010227_2.html (Accessed: 17 February 2021).

NASA (2000) ‘“Seeing” the Earth, Moon, and Sun to scale’, Mathematical Thinking in Physics. Available at: https://www.grc.nasa.gov/WWW/K-12/Numbers/Math/Mathematical_Thinking/seeing_the_earth_moon.htm (Accessed: 17 February 2021).

NASA (2009) ‘LCROSS impact data indicates water on Moon’, LCROSS. Available at: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/LCROSS/main/prelim_water_results.html (Accessed: 17 February 2021).

Ridpath, I. (2018) A dictionary of astronomy. 3rd edn. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Spudis, P. (2009) ‘Back to the Moon’, Nature Geoscience, 2(4), pp. 234-236. doi: 10.1038/ngeo481.Wittry, J. (2007) ‘Lighting up the lunar night with fuel cells’, Beyond Earth. Available at: https://www.nasa.gov/exploration/home/lunar_fuel_cell.html (Accessed: 17 February 2021).

Should we be planning to colonize the Moon?

The Moon

The dinosaurs became extinct, according to the science fiction writer Larry Niven, because they did not have a space programme (Chaikin, 2001). The Earth may one day become similarly uninhabitable by humans, which raises the question of whether we should find other worlds to colonize. The nearest of these, a body that people have already succeeded in visiting, is the Moon. The project would be extremely expensive and the money could be used for more pressing problems here on Earth. However, in the long-term there are several reasons why humanity should colonize outer space, in particular the Moon, if certain obstacles can be overcome.

The colonization of other planets could provide not only extra living space for humanity (besides other species) but also protection in the event of a planetary catastrophe. Our population is continuing to expand at an alarming rate, causing environmental degradation and scarcities in resources such as food, water and fuel. At some point we will have to restrict our population size and consumption patterns or find new lands to occupy. Furthermore, there are various disasters that could threaten human survival on Earth, such as a global nuclear war, a pandemic, collision with an asteroid and severe climate change. In the event of such a disaster an off-world colony could eventually recolonize the Earth. In short, space colonization of space would give us both extra room and a “backup” for human civilization.

In the search for suitable worlds to colonize, the main reason for choosing the Moon is its proximity, which brings several advantages. First, the journey between the Earth and the Moon is short. It took the Apollo 11 astronauts only three days in 1969 and would probably take even less time now. This would be very convenient for moving people and supplies to the colony and back, particularly in an emergency. Second, light and radio waves take only 1.3 seconds to reach the Moon from the Earth (NASA, 2000). This permits virtually normal conversation and means remote equipment can respond almost instantaneously. Third, with its proximity and low gravity, a lunar colony would be an ideal training ground and “jumping off point” for expeditions to Mars and beyond. To sum up, the closeness of the Moon is a major plus.

Although there are certain difficulties that may make the Moon hard to colonize, all of these can be overcome. The lunar nights are long - up to 334 hours in some places, according to Wittry (2007). While this would make it unwise to depend entirely on solar power, there are areas near the two poles which receive light nearly all of the time (Spudis, 2009), which could be suitable sites for solar panels. Lack of water would pose problems, with a continuing demand for expensive water imports from the Earth as the lunar colony grew. However, in 2009 water ice was discovered in the permanently shadowed region of Cabeus crater near the south pole (NASA, 2009). The absence of an atmosphere on the Moon results in temperature extremes and also leaves the surface exposed to radiation, meteors and moondust. Consequently, all structures would have to be built to resist these environmental hazards, perhaps from concrete or cast regolith. Regolith is the layer of loose and broken rock and dust on the Moon (Ridpath, 2018). All of these obstacles, therefore, while posing serious difficulties for a new colony, are not insuperable.

In conclusion, it is vital for us to settle other worlds, starting with our nearest neighbour, once various difficulties have been solved. The journey will be hard and costly, but by failing to take it we risk the extinction not just of the human species, like the dinosaurs before us, but of all life in the known universe.

Reference list

Chaikin, A. (2001) ‘Meeting of the minds: Buzz Aldrin visits Arthur C. Clarke’, Space.com. Available at: https://web.archive.org/web/20010305074947/http://www.space.com/peopleinterviews/aldrin_clarke_010227_2.html (Accessed: 17 February 2021).

NASA (2000) ‘“Seeing” the Earth, Moon, and Sun to scale’, Mathematical Thinking in Physics. Available at: https://www.grc.nasa.gov/WWW/K-12/Numbers/Math/Mathematical_Thinking/seeing_the_earth_moon.htm (Accessed: 17 February 2021).

NASA (2009) ‘LCROSS impact data indicates water on Moon’, LCROSS. Available at: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/LCROSS/main/prelim_water_results.html (Accessed: 17 February 2021).

Ridpath, I. (2018) A dictionary of astronomy. 3rd edn. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Spudis, P. (2009) ‘Back to the Moon’, Nature Geoscience, 2(4), pp. 234-236. doi: 10.1038/ngeo481.Wittry, J. (2007) ‘Lighting up the lunar night with fuel cells’, Beyond Earth. Available at: https://www.nasa.gov/exploration/home/lunar_fuel_cell.html (Accessed: 17 February 2021).