Published: Thu, January 17, 2019
Sci-tech | By April Francis

China successfully grows first plant on the moon

China successfully grows first plant on the moon

"A cotton seed brought to the moon by China's Chang'e 4 probe has sprouted ... marking the completion of humankind's first biological experiment on the moon", it tweeted. The cotton seeds were the first to sprout according to Professor Liu Hanlong, the head of the experiment.

The Chang'e-4 probe, which landed on the "dark" or far side of the Moon on January 3, is housing an airtight container designed for growing plants and crops in shocking conditions.

According to CNSA, the biological species screened to be sent on the moon mission had to pass strict requirements due to the extremely limited size allowed in the cargo.

The 18cm high aluminum alloy cylinder - called a moon surface micro-ecological circle - contains silkworm eggs and seeds for potatoes and cress. Of these only Cotton has germinated.

China has sprouted the first seed on the Moon.

The biosphere was also equipped with water, soil, air, two small cameras and a heat control system, said Xie Gengxin of Chongqing University, the experiment's lead designer.

The cotton seeds were the first to sprout but the rapeseed and potato seeds have now also sprouted, the mission team spokesperson told a press conference Tuesday.

After Chang'e-4 landed on the far side of the moon on January 3, the ground control center instructed the probe to water the plants to start the growing process.

Space fans who have been following the Chinese Chang'e 4 mission might have thought they knew everything about the mission at this point.

The experimental setup is encapsulated within a 19.8cm tall container designed by 28 Chinese universities. He said that the cotton and rapeseed were chosen because they could provide the astronauts with the raw material needed to produce clothing and oil.

For years, crew members aboard the International Space Station have been tending to a "space garden", a chamber that has grown lettuce, radishes and other foods.

Fred Watson, Australian Astronomical Observatory's astronomer-at-large, told the BBC that the development was "good news".

Harvesting food in space, ideally using locally extracted water, would mean astronauts could survive for far longer without returned to Earth for supplies. Tests on Earth show that viable, self-sustaining biospheres are exceptionally hard to build and maintain.

"China will carry out its first-ever exploration mission to Mars around 2020", he said.

This Apollo 15 image captures the planned landing locale of China's Chang's 5 lunar sample-return mission - the Mons Rümker region in the northern part of Oceanus Procellarum.

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