Friday, 22 February, 2019


China sprouts the first plants on the moon

China sprouts the first plants on the moon China sprouts the first plants on the moon
Kristine Garrett | 15 January, 2019, 19:57

Ability to grow plants on the moon would be key for long term missions like a trip to Mars.

Chang'e 4 touched down on the far side of the moon on 3 January with equipment, and a rover meant to explore the moon's surface and to conduct the biological growth experiments.

Researcher Xie Gengxin said, 'This is the first time humans have done biological growth experiments on the lunar surface'.

It touched down on 3 January, carrying instruments to analyse the region's geology.

The space agency's deputy director, Wu Yanhua, said NASA shared information about its lunar orbiter satellite in hopes of monitoring the landing of the Chang'e 4 spacecraft, which made China the first country to land on the far side of the moon earlier this month.

Inside are cotton, potato, and arabidopsis seeds - a plant of the mustard family - as well as fruit fly eggs and yeast.

It would mean that astronauts could potentially harvest their own food in space, reducing the need to come back down to Earth to resupply. So far, the cotton seeds are the only ones to sprout.

Fred Watson, Australian Astronomical Observatory's astronomer-at-large was also encouraged by the progress.

He said cotton could eventually be used for clothing while the potatoes could be a food source for astronauts and the rapeseed for oil.

The lunar mission by Chang'e 4 and its rover, Jade Rabbit 2, was a triumph for China's growing space program, which has been rapidly catching up with those of Russian Federation and the US President Xi Jinping has placed space exploration among the country's national development priorities and the far side mission offered a chance for China to do something not done before by any other country.

"We have given consideration to future survival in space", Liu told the Hong Kong-based news outlet.

There are also plans for the missions to explore the possibility of building a lunar research base possibly using 3D printing.

The biosphere also contains a tiny camera, and as the tweet above shows, it beamed back an image of the seeds sprouting and growing buds.

Pictures released by the China National Space Administration released pictures showing a rocky surface with the jagged edge of craters in the background, posing a challenge for controllers in plotting the rover's travels, the official Xinhua News Agency said. This media house does not correct any spelling or grammatical error within press releases and commentaries.

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