China might have just grown the first plant ever on the moon

Federico Mansilla
Enero 18, 2019

The Chang'e-5 mission will collect samples from the near side of the moon at the end of the year while another probe will be sent to Mars by 2020, the deputy head of China's space administration, Wu Yanhua, wrote in an official transcript online.

The probe conducted the first-ever soft landing on the dark side of the Moon on January 3 following a 20-day journey from Earth. These tiny seeds are enclosed in a sealed container on the Chang'e 4 lander, and these crops could eventually form a self-sustaining biosphere on the moon. It successfully deployed the Jade Rabbit 2 rover and has now once again made history by sprouting the first seedlings on the moon.

Cotton seeds transported to the moon earlier this month have sprouted, marking the first time humans have grown biological matter there, Chinese researchers have announced.

Cotton sprouts seen close-up under a protective cover on board the Moon lander.

The Chang'e 4 lander and Yutu 2 rover have now entered lunar night, and have gone into a sort of sleep mode as a result.

Weighing below three kilograms, the test payload includes six organisms including seeds of cotton, potatoes, Arabidopsis and rapeseeds, as well as fruit fly pupa and yeast.

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Another point of interest is that Chinese scientists managed to design containers that were able to transport natural Earth light in an effort to "aid photosynthesis".

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.

Liu Hanlong, who is leading the experiment, said Tuesday that potato seeds and rapeseeds also had sprouted, according to the South China Morning Post. The series of missions will also lay the groundwork for the construction of a lunar research base, possibly using 3D printing technology to build facilities.

It would mean that astronauts could potentially harvest their own food in space, reducing the need to come back down to Earth to re-supply, the BBC reported.

The world's second-biggest economy is doubling down on its space program as the race with the U.S. to explore Mars and beyond heats up at a time both the powers are vying for economic, technological and military dominance.

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