Science

China is growing crops on the far side of the moon

China is growing crops on the far side of the moon”

Camera IconIn this photo provided January 12, 2019, by the China National Space Administration via Xinhua News Agency, the lunar lander of the Chang'e-4 probe is seen in a photo taken by the rover Yutu-2 on January 11, 2019.

On Jan. 3, the Chang'e-4's lander became the first human-built spacecraft to touch down on the moon's so-called "dark side".

In a post from the South China Morning Post, we learn that the cotton seeds were transported in an airtight container comprised of soil, air, water, and more. The temperature in moon plummets during the night time, and near the moon's equator, it falls to -150 degree Celsius. The seeds were part of a biosphere experiment which, if it performs as intended, will provide helpful data towards the development of sustainable agriculture in environments other than Earth.

The probe has started its scientific exploration, focusing on studying the terrains and landforms, lunar environment, and substances composition, said Wu Weiren, chief designer of China's lunar program.

"Experts are still discussing and verifying the feasibility of subsequent projects, but it's confirmed that there will be another three missions after Chang'e 5", Wu Yanhua, deputy head of the China National Space Administration (CNSA), said at the press briefing.

The overarching implications of this successful experiment are huge. With the ability to grow edible plants, astronauts could grow and harvest their own food, enabling long-term habitation.

The seeds sent aboard the Chinese lander each have specific roles to play in a future colony: potatoes are calorie-dense and a resilient food source, cotton could help produce clothing, and the rapeseed plants could be a source of oil. The lunar probe and its rover, Yutu-2, transmitted the first-ever "close range" image of the far side of the moon last week.

"And with time moving on, it'll be the first plant with green leaves on the moon", he added.

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

The image of the experiment, released by the China National Space Administration (CNSA), shows the cotton seeds sprouting in a sealed container. "Plants have been grown on the International Space Station before but never on the Moon".

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.



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