WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- Chang’e 4 is a Chinese spacecraft that is the first to land on the dark side of the moon, carrying a sealed container with plant seeds, aiming to grow life outside Earth.
- The 100-day experiment will help in the progress of making lengthy space missions, ones that don’t require astronauts to make a trip back to Earth to resupply, possible in the future.
- The moon lander made a success when cotton seeds sprouted, making it the first ever plant grown on the moon.
A Chinese moon lander, Chang’e 4, is carrying a special sealed container containing soil, cotton seeds, rock cress rapeseed and potato seeds. It also has yeast and fruit fly eggs.
The idea is to create a self-sustaining environment for life within the pod and off of our planet. The probe is the first to land on the side of the moon that faces away from the earth.
Like something out of Ridley Scott’s film, The Martian, the cotton seeds managed to sprout. Leading professor of the research, Liu Hanlong of Chongqing University, said that the rapeseed and potato seeds also managed to germinate.
According to the South China Morning Post, it was the cotton seeds that sprouted first. Previously, plants have also been grown on the International Space Station, however, not on the moon.
The aluminum container may way just 3kg, but according to the South China Morning Post, it costs more than 10 million yuan, around $1.50 million. Its design allows it to maintain its inner temperature from 1 and 30 degrees, allow in natural light, and has a supply of water and nutrient solution to be able to feed the plants. The components within were chosen to act as producers (plants), consumers (fruit flies), and decomposers (yeast).
China launched the unmanned lunar mission with the aim to aid in the future of long-term space exploration. Aside from successfully growing plants, the mission has the objective to make them these plants flower.
If all goes well during the 100-day experimental period, the seeds should flower towards the end of the experiment.
The success of the research would provide some vital information for space voyages that are lengthy and would need a food source for astronauts that wouldn’t require them to return to Earth for a supply run.
According to a professor who also worked on the experiment, Professor Xie Gengxin, the project’s success would also be a mark that China is catching up in the space exploration race.
Source: The Independent