China sprouts the first plants on the moon


Reports from China indicate that the cotton seeds have germinated while the lander is parked on the far side of the moon.

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.

China's ruling Communist Party's official newspaper, the People's Daily tweeted an image of a sprouted cottonseed with the caption "the completion of humankind's first biological experiment on the Moon". They also added yeast, fruit fly eggs and the seeds of cotton, rapeseed, potato and rock cress-a flowering plant in the mustard family. The plants produced oxygen and food that are used to sustain the fruit flies.

Xie Gengxin, chief designer of the biological experiment payload for the Chang'e-4 mission, told CCTV that, "There are animal, plants and microorganisms in this payload, creating a micro-ecosystem in a closed environment". The container was equipped with a small but powerful control system to keep the interior around 25 degrees Celsius.

The experiments designed by Chongqing University Crops have been successfully grown on the International Space Station, but they have never before been grown on the moon.

Once the probe landed, the Chinese space agency sent it a signal to begin watering the seeds.

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"In addition, the yeast can decompose the waste of plants and drosophila melanogaster and grow, and can also serve as food of drosophila melanogaster".

The ability to grow plants on the Moon will be integral for long-term space missions, like a trip to Mars which would take about two-and-a-half years.

That makes it the first truly otherworldly plant in history. China shared video of the Chang'e 4 landing on the moon this week.

The landing is a milestone for China's fledgling space program, marking the first time that China has completed a significant space mission that was not already performed previously by the USA or Russian Federation.

Permanently lit regions around the south pole are considered prime locations for a lunar base, particularly because permanently shadowed craters nearby are judged likely to hold the reserves of frozen water needed for crewed operations.