Cotton seeds are growing on the far side of the Moon

by Fredrick Graves January 16, 2019, 4:44
Cotton seeds are growing on the far side of the Moon

Some other seeds that reportedly sprouted include rapeseed and potato seeds.

"It is the first technical demonstration that we can grow plants on another planetary body", he said.

The lunar atmosphere is too thin to sustain life itself, but it had not previously been known whether it was possible for plants to grow within controlled conditions on the moon - although they had been grown on the International Space Station.

Global discussions about sending humans to the Moon and Mars have brought many challenges waiting to be solved, and among them is food supply.

While it's certainly been determined that human interaction will be a big hurdle for long-term space faring missions, the engineering side of sustainable food production off-Earth is still facing challenges of its own and will continue to need development efforts. The green shoots are the first time any biological matter has been grown on the moon. And even the cotton plant is looking pretty peaky compared to seedlings in a control setup the scientists established on Earth.

Incidentally, the Chang'e 4 lander first touched down on the far side of the Moon earlier this month, an impressive achievement in and of itself.

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"This (mission) has achieved the first biological experiment on the moon of human history, to sprout the first bud on the desolate moon".

A photograph taken on January 7 and released on Tuesday by China's National Space Administration showed the seeds sprouting on the far side of 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.

"All these are first-time breakthroughs for humankind", Wu said, adding "they are bound to make significant impacts on both China and the world". Chongqing University calls the experiment a "lunar mini biosphere".

"We have given consideration to future survival in space", Liu Hanlong, the seed experiment's head professor, told the South China Morning Post. He said that the cotton and rapeseed were chosen because they could provide the astronauts with the raw material needed to produce clothing and oil. On Monday, China's space agency announced the Chang'e 5 lunar mission would launch by the end of the year with a goal to bring moon samples back to Earth.

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