February 21, 2019

China confirms seeds sprouting on dark side of moon

17 January 2019, 09:13 | Dale Webster

Image Seeds have sprouted on the moon for the first time. Pic CLEP

Seeds have sprouted on the moon for the first time. Pic CLEP

China's ruling Communist Party's official newspaper, the People's Daily tweeted an image of a sprouted cottonseed with the caption "the completion of humankind's first biological experiment on the Moon". Of these, only one of the cotton seeds sprouted after the lander was instructed from ground control to start watering the seeds and channeling natural light from the Moon's surface to them.

The lander released a rover, dubbed Yutu-2 (Jade Rabbit), that will perform experiments in the Von Karman Crater.

This handout photograph taken on January 12, 2019 and received from Chongqing University on January 15 shows a cotton sprout (left) growing in an experiment inside the Chang'e-4 moon probe on the far side of the moon.

When China landed a probe on the far side of the moon this month, it carried a small climate-controlled capsule containing cotton, rapeseed, potato and arabidopsis, which is related to cabbage. Previously, plants have been grown on the International Space Station, but this is the first time that any biological matter has grown on the moon, according to the BBC.

The "dark" side of the Moon may soon have a variety of vegetation growing there as China has begun its 100-day experiment to grow plants on the lunar surface.

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".

Potatoes could be a main source food for space explorers, cotton could be used for clothing, and rapeseed could be a source of oil, Liu said. They will need the ability to grow their own food, and this Moon experiment suggests they'll be able to with the right equipment.

The environment on the moon, 380,000 kilometers from Earth, is more complex.

The mission is part of China's ambitious push to explore the Moon's resources and its potential as a space base. It is hoped the organisms could eventually form the basis of a simple mini biosphere. "Learning about these plants' growth in a low gravity environment would allow us to lay foundation for our future establishment of (a) space base".

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