For the First Time, Plants Have Been Grown On the Moon

Gwen Vasquez
January 18, 2019

Though plants are grown inside International Space Station, it is for the first time a seed is being sprouted on a solar system outside the earth in a lunar mini biosphere.

The Chang'e 4 lander is the first to visit the far side of Earth's natural satellite, sometimes called "the dark side of the moon".

Another goal of the mission was to test whether plants could grow in a low-gravity environment, a test which appears to have already yielded results.

The Chinese spacecraft carried a sealed metal canister containing potato seeds, oilseed rape seeds, cotton seeds, arabidopsis, drosophila melanogaster, and yeast. "Learning about these plants' growth in a low-gravity environment would allow us to lay the foundation for our future establishment of a space base", Professor Xie Gengxin, the experiment's chief designer, told the press.

"(It) is of great significance", he concluded.

The plans underscore China's ambitions in space at a time when the U.S. is curtailing NASA's budget and increasingly handing over space exploration to commercial adventurers, the Washington Post reported on Monday.

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China plans to launch the Chang'e-5 probe to the moon later this year, with three more in the offing, said Wu Yanhua, vice administrator of the China National Space Administration, at a briefing in Beijing on Monday. But the closest that terrestrial vegetation has come to the moon before now was in 1971, when Apollo 14 astronaut Stuart Roosa carried hundreds of tree seeds to orbit the moon with him.

Shortly after the successful landing of the Chang'e-4 probe on the far side of the moon on January 3, China's spacecraft is going back at the end of this year to make its second of the four missions to the moon.

After making the first-ever soft landing on the far side of the moon, China's Chang'e-4 mission pioneered the first mini biosphere experiment 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.

"From the images sent back from Chang'e-4, we can see the area surrounding the probe is dotted with craters of different sizes, and it's very hard for the rover to drive in the region", said Sun Zezhou, chief designer of the Chang'e-4 probe, Xinhua news agency reported on Monday.

A cylindrical view of the first panorama returned from the Chang'e-4 lander within Von Kármán crater on the far side of the Moon. As the experiment is officially ended now, it is pretty clear that the sprouted cotton plant is dead and it failed to grow as the first known extraterrestrial plant.

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