Thursday, 19 September, 2019

Moon sees first cotton-seed sprout — China Focus

Seeds have sprouted on the moon for the first time. Pic CLEP Seeds have sprouted on the moon for the first time. Pic CLEP
Kristen Harrington | 17 January, 2019, 13:45

This is the first plant shoot that grows on the moon after experiencing severe environmental tests such as low gravity, strong radiation and high temperature.

Liu Hanlong, who is leading the experiment, said that the cotton seeds were the first to sprout, in comments to the South China Morning Post.

First, it's a wolf moon, a traditional name for full moons in winter.

Matt Damon, eat your heart out - China's growing plants in space!

After landing the first spacecraft on the dark side of the moon, China made another history by sprouting cotton seeds on the lunar surface.

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As for why they chose these plants specifically for the lunar experiment, Liu explained that this is part of their long-term goal of eventually building a base on the Moon.

Carried by the Chang'e-4 mission, the scientists succeeded in bearing fruit on the moon. "Whether the probe will land on the near side or the far side of the moon, we will make the decision according to the performance of Chang'e 5", he said.

The image of the experiment, released by the China National Space Administration (CNSA), shows the cotton seeds sprouting in a sealed container.

Once the probe landed, the Chinese space agency sent it a signal to begin watering the seeds.

The seeds include cotton, rapeseed, and potatoes.

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The lunar mini biosphere was designed in a canister to test photosynthesis. The greatest challenge according to Chinese scientists is the constant weather changes on the moon. The data that will be collected could be useful for future human missions on the far side of the moon. The growth period of Arabidopsis, a small flowering plant related to cabbage and mustard, is short and easy to observe. 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.

To the Australian Astronomical Association astronomer-at-large, Fred Watson, the development was "good news", reports the BBC.

"It suggests that there might not be insurmountable problems for astronauts in future trying to grow their own crops on the moon in a controlled environment", he said.

China's Chang'e-4 probe has successfully germinated seeds on the dark side of the Moon in a miniature, artificial biosphere, providing hope for the future of sustainable, long-distance manned space travel.

The probe is shown adjusting its altitude, speed and pitch as it seeks to avoid obstacles on the ground.

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The China National Space Administration also is planning its first mission to Mars in 2020.

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