Seeds just sprouted on the Moon for the first time in history

15 January, 2019, 22:01 | Author: Sherry Houston
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Before China finished packing up its Chang'e 4 lunar lander to be blasted off on a never-before-accomplished journey to the far side of the moon, scientists slipped in a small tank holding plant seeds.

The ruling Communist Party's official mouthpiece the People's Daily tweeted an image of the sprouted seed, saying it marked "the completion of humankind's first biological experiment on the Moon".

The green shoots are the first time any biological matter has been grown on the moon.

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".

In the biosphere, the plants are shielded from harmful radiation, and the temperature is maintained artificially, since the moon lacks a sufficient atmosphere to block radiation from space or to regulate heat.

Last night, they announced their first breakthrough publishing a picture of cotton seed, bought up on Chang'e 4 actually growing. If they do, then a synergy could be formed between the plants releasing oxygen and the insects producing carbon dioxide. Meanwhile, the yeast helps to regulate the gases in the canister and acts as a decomposing agent, processing waste from the flies and any dead plants.

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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".

Astronauts have previously cultivated plants on the International Space Station and China's Tiangong-2 space laboratory. Cotton could be used for clothing, rapeseed for oil, and the potatoes a source of food.

Once the probe landed, the Chinese space agency sent it a signal to begin watering the seeds. "With this circle, a mini biosphere comprising producers, consumers and decomposers is formed", says the Chongqing University page.

Chang'e-4 and its solar-powered Yutu 2 rover are hibernating during the 2-week-long lunar night, but their handlers are already thinking about sending probes to places where the sun nearly always shines.

There are also plans for the missions to explore the possibility of building a lunar research base possibly using 3D printing.



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