China's Lunar Probe Sees First Cotton-seed Sprout

Pablo Tucker
January 18, 2019

The description reads: "After experimenting under the moon's high vacuum, large temperature difference, strong radiation and harsh conditions, mankind has grown the first plant sprout, realising man's first moon-based biological growth experiment".

On Jan. 3, China made history by successfully soft-landing a spacecraft on the far side of the Moon.

Chang'e-8 mission will conduct scientific experiments and test important technologies needed to construct a science and research base on the Moon.

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

Professor Xie Xin, dean of the Advanced Technology Research Institute of Chongqing University, highlighted the importance of the researchers' findings, during a press conference on Tuesday.

"(It) is of great significance", he concluded.

The self-reliant biosphere housed within China's Chang'e 4 lunar lander includes a supply of air, water, and varied nutrients needed to allow the plants to grow.

"We have given consideration to future survival in space", Liu told the Hong Kong-based news outlet.

The system started watering the seeds after the prober landed on moon and less than a week later, green shoot already started appearing. The plants produced oxygen and food that are used to sustain the fruit flies.

The China National Space Administration is working to send a probe to the Red Planet, said Wu Yanhua, deputy chief of the agency.

The Chang'e-4 biosphere experiment which produced the sprouting of cotton seeds on the far side of the Moon has ended, according to scientists involved in the pioneering test.

China's Chongqing University, who led the experiment along with 28 other universities, published pictures of the growing sprouts on their Weibo account.

"From the images sent back from Chang'e-4, we can see the area surrounding the probe is dotted with craters of different sizes, and it's very hard for the rover to drive in the region", Sun Zezhou, chief designer of the Chang'e-4 probe, said at a press conference of the State Council Information Office Monday.

The China National Space Administration also is planning its first mission to Mars in 2020. The state-run China Daily said this was the first such collaboration since an American law banned joint space projects with China that do not have prior congressional approval.

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