Seeds just sprouted on the Moon for the first time in history

Cristina Cross
January 17, 2019

China's Chang'e 4 lander arrived on the Moon's far side on 3 January 2018.

Once Chang'e-4 touched down, the ground control center instructed the probe to water the seeds, Xinhua reported. These tiny seeds are enclosed in a sealed container on the Chang'e 4 lander, and these crops could eventually form a self-sustaining biosphere on the moon.

Inside are cotton, arabidopsis - a small, flowering plant of the mustard family - and potato seeds, as well as fruit-fly eggs and yeast. What scientists wanted to know is whether such an environment would function in low lunar gravity, and the initial signs are positive.

Planted among the cotton seeds are other biological experiments, including rapeseed and potato seeds.

Researcher Xie Gengxin said, 'This is the first time humans have done biological growth experiments on the lunar surface'. Put simply, it means that humans in the future might be able to establish a sustainable ecosystem on the Moon without having to exclusively rely upon replenishing supplies from trips back and forth between the Moon and Earth.

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Scientists will continue to watch the biosphere with their fingers crossed in the hope that the insect eggs manage to hatch. 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. "With this circle, a mini biosphere comprising producers, consumers and decomposers is formed", says the Chongqing University page.

"My firm belief is that we should integrate China into the International Space Station program". The arabidosposis seeds contribute via its photosynthesis and could be a food source, but the plant is generally considered to be weed with a short growth cycle that could be useful for observation.

Video taken from the Chang'e-4 probe shows its view as it hovered over Earth's rocky neighbor before quickly dropping toward its surface.

China has sprouted the first seed on the Moon. The development could be significant for future long-term space missions.

Because the far side faces away from Earth, it is also shielded from radio transmissions - making it the ideal place from where to study the universe.

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