Sci-tech

China might just have grown the first plant ever on the moon

China might just have grown the first plant ever on the moon

Cotton seeds transported to the moon earlier this month have sprouted, marking the first time humans have grown biological matter there, Chinese researchers have announced.

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.

The Chinese spacecraft carried a sealed metal canister containing potato seeds, oilseed rape seeds, cotton seeds, arabidopsis, drosophila melanogaster, and yeast.

The state-run China Daily said that was the first such form of cooperation since the 2011 U.S. law was enacted.

Finally, the Chang'e-8 mission will test technologies and do "some preliminary exploration for countries to jointly build a lunar research base in the future", Wu said. The plants release oxygen and provide food for the fruit flies, while the yeast converts the oxygen into carbon dioxide for the plants, among other processes. But one of the challenges, say Chinese scientists, is to keep the temperature favourable for growth when conditions on the Moon swing wildly between -173C and 100C or more.

More news: United States official says troop withdrawal from Syria has started

The future launches will culminate with a mission to test equipment for an worldwide moon research base, Wu Yanhua, deputy chief commander of China's Lunar Exploration Programme, said at a press briefing.

The Chang'e 4 probe - named after the Chinese moon goddess - made the world's first soft landing on the far side of the moon on 3 January, a major step in China's ambitions to become a space superpower.

Regardless of whether the soil could support plants, the far side of the moon has high mountains, craters and few large, flat areas, said Sun Zezhou, chief designer of the Chang'e-4 lunar lander. Chongqing University calls the experiment a "lunar mini biosphere". We could probably make some nice sweaters from moon-grown cotton.

The total lunar eclipse will last approximately 1 hour and 2 minutes, Space.com reports.

Still, that might well be a giant leap for mankind, since it hints at the possibility of growing food on the moon to feed astronauts on long space missions without requiring them to return to Earth for additional supplies.