For the First Time, Plants Have Been Grown On the Moon

For the First Time, Plants Have Been Grown On the Moon

For the First Time, Plants Have Been Grown On the Moon

As of Tuesday, Chinese state media report that the cotton seeds have sprouted aboard the lander.

The cotton along with potato seed, fruit-fly eggs, arabidopsis - a small, flowering plant of the mustard family - and yeast landed on the moon January 3 aboard the Chang'e 4 lander.

The Chang'e-4 probe - named after a Chinese moon goddess - made the world's first soft landing on the moon's "dark side" on Jan 3, a major step in China's ambitions to become a space superpower.

The mission is part of China's ambitious push to explore the Moon's resources and its potential as a space base. The lunar probe and its rover, Yutu-2, transmitted the first-ever "close range" image of the far side of the moon last week.

CNSA hopes that this experiment will be useful for exploring future long-term missions to space. Professor Xie Gengxin, of Chongqing University and chief designer of the experiment, said a canister installed on the lander of the Chang'e-4 probe contained the seeds of cotton, rapeseed, potato and Arabidopsis, as well as eggs of the fruit fly and some yeast, to form a simple mini biosphere.

Xie said the experiment would allow scientists to learn how plants can grow in the "low gravity, strong radiation and natural lighting conditions of the Moon", according to the university. So far, only the cotton seeds have sprouted.

Images sent back by the probe showed that a cotton sprout had grown well, though no other plant was found growing, the Xinhua news agency reported. The plants will make oxygen and food which is used to sustain the flies, while the...

"It suggests that there might not be insurmountable problems for astronauts in future trying to grow their own crops on the Moon in a controlled environment", he said, adding, "I think there's certainly a great deal of interest in using the Moon as staging post, particularly for flights to Mars, because it's relatively near the Earth".

After Chang'e-5 returns lunar rocks from the surface the next mission, China will launch Chang'e-6 to bring samples back from the south pole of the moon.

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