Saturday, 16 February, 2019

China lunar lander sprouts first plant seedlings on the moon

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On Friday, the Chinese Lunar Exploration Program (CLEP) released several images taken by the probe including panoramic images of the landing site as well as video of the vehicles touching down.

This marks the first time that humans have conducted a biological experiment on the moon's surface and the first time that any biological matter has grown on the moon - at least that we know of.

For the first time anybody is aware of, seeds have sprouted on a celestial body beyond Earth.

Images sent back by the probe show a cotton plant has grown well, but so far none of the other plants had sprouted, the university said.

Meanwhile, the silkworm eggs will also hopefully hatch into moths, reports the SCMP.

According to CNSA, the biological species screened to be sent on the moon mission had to pass strict requirements due to the extremely limited size allowed in the cargo. We guide the sunlight to the inside of the tin, which is much stronger than that on the Earth.

Before China finished packing up its Chang'e 4 lunar lander to be blasted off on a never-before-accomplished journey to the far side of the moon, scientists slipped in a small tank holding plant seeds.

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They were also selected to be able to adapt to the harsh conditions of the moon, where they will have to withstand powerful temperatures - both high and low - as well as radiation.

"Although it is a biological payload, it laid a foundation and technological support for our next step, that is, to build a lunar base for living".

A team from Chongqing University in China developed a sealed biosphere habitat stocked with seeds, fruit fly eggs and yeast that it hoped would create a mini-ecosystem.

The ability to grow plants on the Moon will be integral for long-term space missions, like a trip to Mars which would take about two-and-a-half years.

The experiment is being monitored 24 hours a day, with the data to be analysed and summarised in preparation for future experiments.

Permanently lit regions around the south pole are considered prime locations for a lunar base, particularly because permanently shadowed craters nearby are judged likely to hold the reserves of frozen water needed for crewed operations.

The azimuth (top) and cylindrical views of the Chang'e-4 panorama released on January 11, 2019.

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