China’s Chang’e 4 lunar probe hit headlines earlier this month after it successfully landed on the far side of the moon in a world first. Now seeds carried by the lunar lander have sprouted, marking the first instance of biological matter growing on the moon.
China’s Chang’e 4 lunar probe hit headlines earlier this month after it was reported that it had successfully landed on the far side of the moon in a world first.
A cotton seedling that sprouted on the moon has been left to die as China’s historic lunar lander continues a freezing night-time nap that will last as long as two earth weeks, scientists said.
First in human history: A cotton seed brought to the moon by China’s Chang’e 4 probe has sprouted, the latest test photo has shown, marking the completion of humankind’s first biological experiment on the moon pic.twitter.com/CSSbgEoZmC
— People’s Daily, China (@PDChina) January 15, 2019
The mini biosphere which operated for over 212 hours was shut down as planned on Saturday, said Chongqing University, which designed the experiment.The lander also carried potato and arabidopsis seeds a plant of the mustard family as well as fruit fly eggs and yeast.
Temperatures inside the ecosystem were expected to plunge below minus 52 degrees Celsius, and the organisms will be “in a frozen state”, the university said in a statement on Tuesday.The experiment ended hours before Chang’e-4 entered “sleep mode” on Sunday as the first lunar night fell since the probe’s landing. Temperatures plummet to about minus 170 degrees Celsius.
Chang’e-4 is also equipped with instruments developed by scientists from Sweden, Germany and China to study the lunar environment, cosmic radiation and the interaction between solar wind and the moon’s surface.
China’s space agency said it is planning four more lunar missions, confirming the launch of a probe by the end of the year to bring back samples from the moon.Beijing wants to establish a lunar research base one day, possibly using 3D printing technology to build facilities, the agency said on Monday.
The sprouting is “good news,” Fred Watson, the Australian Astronomical Observatory’s astronomer-at-large, tells the BBC. “It suggests that there might not be insurmountable problems for astronauts in the future trying to grow their own crops on the moon in a controlled environment.”