Seeds Start Sprouting on the Moon

15 January, 2019, 22:02 | Author: Dwayne Harmon
  • Eugene Garcia  EPA FILE

This of course marks the first time that a plant has ever grown on the Moon, with the seeds naturally sprouting in a specially designed and concealed container.

Video captured by China's Chang'e-4 lander shows the Yutu 2 rover roaming the surface of the moon's far side. En route, the craft was carrying cotton, rape, potato, arabidopsis (rock cress) seeds, as well as fruit fly eggs and yeast, kept in an artificial dormant state in a 7-inch-tall sealed container with air, water, and soil.

Experts say that the latest accomplishment-which builds on the work of astronauts who have previously grown plants on the International Space Station-is a substantial boost for humanity's hopes of accomplishing long-term space exploration. If they do, then a synergy could be formed between the plants releasing oxygen and the insects producing carbon dioxide.

The lunar mini biosphere experiment on the Chang'e-4 lander is created to test photosynthesis and respiration - processes in living organisms that result in the production of energy.

An image of the Chinese biology experimental capsule now on the far side of the moon aboard the Chang'e 4 lander.

Being able to grow food makes the idea of using the moon as a base for Mars exploration more viable. 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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Potatoes could be a main source food for space explorers, cotton could be used for clothing, and rapeseed could be a source of oil, Liu said.

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

"Learning about these plants' growth in a low-gravity environment would allow us to lay the foundation for our future establishment of space base". It's also exploring options for a crewed moon mission.

"China, the U.S., Russian Federation and countries from Europe are all studying whether to set up a research base or station on the moon, like if we can build houses with lunar soil via 3-D printing technology", China's CGTN network quoted Wu as saying.

While China has insisted that the probe prevents any organisms on its lunar lander from contaminating the surface, earlier space explorers were not so cautious.

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