The First Seeds on the Moon Are Sprouting

Jan 16, 2019, 04:41
The First Seeds on the Moon Are Sprouting

China has sprouted a cotton seed on the moon - and hopes to be growing potatoes on the dark side of Earth's neighbor within the next 100 days, it's been revealed.

The Chinese National Space Administration (CNSA) released images on Tuesday showing how cotton seeds taken to the lunar surface by the lander have sprouted.

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". Inside you'll find soil, yeast, fruit fly and silkworm eggs, as well as cotton, potato, tomato, and (flowering) thale cress seeds.

Before this study, plants had been successfully grown on the International Space Station by astronauts like lettuce, sunflowers and zinnia flowers.

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They were also selected to be able to adapt to the harsh conditions of the moon, where they will have to withstand powerful temperatures - both high and low - as well as radiation.

The agency said four more lunar missions are planned, confirming the launch of Chang'e 5 by the end of the year, which will be the first probe to return samples of the moon to Earth since the 1970s.

China has made space exploration a top priority in recent years, as it races to catch up with Russian Federation and the United States and become a major space power by 2030. "Learning about these plants' growth in a low gravity environment would allow us to lay foundation for our future establishment of (a) space base". "Professor Xie Gengxin, who designed the experiment, told the South China Morning Post" it could help establish a permanent base in space. China set up a relay satellite in May to receive communication from Chang'e 4.

Wu also revealed that China will send a probe to Mars around 2020.

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The total lunar eclipse will last approximately 1 hour and 2 minutes, Space.com reports.

Fred Watson, the Australian Astronomical Observatory's astronomer at large, described the development to the BBC as "good news".

Late on January 3, China's newest lunar rover - nicknamed the Jade Rabbit - rolled off its lunar lander and onto the far side of the moon.

It is popularly called the "dark side" because it can not be seen from Earth and is relatively unknown, not because it lacks sunlight.

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