First plants on moon, China says it has done the job

First plants on moon, China says it has done the job”

In a first for humankind, plants are growing on the surface of the moon, the South China Morning Post reports.

A photograph taken on January 7 and released on Tuesday by China's National Space Administration showed the seeds sprouting on the far side of the moon.

A team led by Chinese scientists from Chongqing University in southwest of China sent seeds of cotton, rape, potato and Arabidopsis, as well as fruit fly eggs and some yeast, according to Xinhua news agency. This of course marks the first time that a plant has ever grown on the Moon, with the seeds naturally sprouting in a specially designed and concealed container.

He added: "Our country's first Mars exploration mission will take place before and after 2020". Light was channeled into a tube in the canister, allowing a cotton seed to sprout. It's the first time - as far as we know - that a plant has germinated on a Solar System object other than Earth.

The Chang'e 4 lander is the first to visit the far side of Earth's natural satellite, sometimes called "the dark side of the moon". Launch payloads could be reduced if crews could grow food during the trip and the photosynthesis process could reduce carbon dioxide, help manage moisture levels within the spacecraft, and of course, produce breathable air.

North America hasn't had a decent view of this special scene in at least three years and another total lunar eclipse - which occurs when the entire Moon enters Earth's shadow - isn't expected to happen again until 2021, NASA predicts. It is hoped the organisms could eventually form the basis of a simple mini biosphere.

Earlier, space travelers grew plants on the International Space Station (ISS) and China's Tiangong-2 space lab in low Earth orbit (400 Km above the Earth) but the moon was a much more challenging environment to grow plants which was also hard to simulate on the Earth. But one of the challenges, say Chinese scientists, is to keep the temperature favourable for growth when conditions on the Moon swing wildly between -173C and 100C or more.

Pictures sent back showed plant shoots growing well nine days after the experiment was initiated.

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