China Is Growing Cotton Plants On The Dark Side Of The Moon

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China undoubtedly has the most ambitious space program at the moment, surpassing NASA by far, at least for now. Not only that the Chinese space agency sent a lunar lander to the far side of the Moon, but now China is growing plants on the dark side of the Moon, thanks to the mini-biosphere installed on the Chang’e-4 mission.

The mini biosphere placed inside the Chang’e-4 lander was developed by the scientists at China’s Chongqing University, and it is an aluminum alloy container, filled with water, air, and a heat-controlled soil. Besides cotton plants seeds, it also contains potatoes, rapeseed, thale cress seeds, fruit fly eggs, and yeast.

The experiment is of great significance for the future Moon colony, as it might deliver a minimum of foods to the first colonists. Also, “the mini biosphere is an outer space ecosystem experiment that will reveal the growth and development status of plants and animals under the low gravity, strong radiation, and natural lighting conditions of the Moon.

China Is Growing Cotton Plants On The Dark Side Of The Moon

“The plants would generate oxygen and food for other living things to ‘consume.’ Fruit flies, as consumers, and yeast, as decomposers, would generate carbon dioxide by consuming oxygen for photosynthesis of plants. With this circle, a mini biosphere comprising producers, consumers, and decomposers is formed,” explained Chongqing University scientists.

“Seedlings in space! First-ever cotton plants on the Moon growing in Chang’e-4 mini biosphere,” also reported Chinese Xinhua news agency on Twitter.

On January 3rd, 2019, China’s Chang’e-4 has become the first human-made spacecraft to land on the dark side of the Moon. Its mission is to conduct astronomical observations, exploring the lunar surface and estimating the minerals makeup, and measure the neutron radiation and neutral atoms to research the dark side of the Moon’s ecosystem.


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