Cottoning on: Chinese seed sprouts on moon

Christopher Davidson
January 18, 2019

Seeds taken up into space by the lander have sprouted, becoming the first biological matter to grow on the moon.

The capsule and its seeds are stored on the Chang'e 4 lander, which is perched inside Von Kármán Crater on the far side of the moon.

Chinese scientists describe the mini biosphere as an "outer space ecosystem experiment" that will "reveal the growth and development status of plants and animals under the low gravity, strong radiation and natural lighting conditions of the moon".

The experiment's chief designer, Xie Gengxin of Chongqing University, told Xinhua that life inside the canister would not survive the lander's first lunar night, which started on Sunday.

The People's Daily, the official state media for China's ruling Communist Party, tweeted a picture of the experiment, and claimed it is "humankind's first biological experiment on the Moon".

"(It) is of great significance", he concluded.

The Chang'e 4 mission is also set to discover if there is water at the Moon's poles.

Dr Wu Yanhua, deputy director of the National Space Administration and deputy commander of lunar exploration projects, said in a press conference: "Chang'e-5 will return mission sampling from the surface of the moon around the end of this year".

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China has sprouted the first seed on the Moon.

China National Space Administration (CNSA) led Chang 'e-4 landed moon's far side on 3rd January, it also has a lunar biosphere developed by Chongqing University. The far side is the one that is not seen from the Earth.

After becoming the first country in the world to land a spacecraft on the far side of the moon, China is planning four more missions to get samples back before studying the feasibility of a lunar research base.

However, plants have successfully been grown on the global Space Station (ISS).

Global discussions about sending humans to the Moon and Mars have brought many challenges waiting to be solved, and among them is food supply.

Images sent back by the probe showed that a cotton sprout had grown well, though no other plants were found growing.

The state-run China Daily said that was the first such form of cooperation since the 2011 USA law was enacted. It also deployed a mini-rover called Yutu-2, or Jade Rabbit-2, to explore the surrounding terrain on the moon.

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