Chinese Cotton Seed Sprouts on the Moon


BEIJING (Reuters) – A tiny green sprout is growing on the moon in a first place in the world after cotton seeds germinated aboard a Chinese lunar module, scientists said on Tuesday.

The bud has emerged inside a can since Chang's e-4 module landed on the surface of the moon earlier this month

The bud emerged from a lattice structure inside a can since the Chang & e4-4 spacecraft landed earlier this month, according to a series of photos released by the Advanced Technology Research Institute of Chongqing University .

"This is the first time humans perform biological growth experiments on the lunar surface," said Xie Gengxin, who led the experiment.

The Chang-e-4 spacecraft – named after a Chinese moon goddess – made the world's first soft landing on the "dark side" of the moon on January 3, an important step in China's ambitions to become a spatial superpower.

Scientists at Chongqing University – who designed the "mini lunar biosphere" experiment – sent an 8-inch bucket-type container with air, water and soil.

Inside are the cotton, potato and arabidopsis seeds – a mustard family plant – as well as eggs and yeast from the fruit fly.

Images sent back by the probe show that a cotton bud grew well, but so far none of the other plants have picked up, the university said.

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 the solar wind and the surface of the moon.

The probe launched a jeep, dubbed Yutu-2 (Jade Rabbit), which will conduct experiments on Von Karman Crater.

The agency said four more lunar missions are being planned, confirming the launch of a probe by the end of the year to bring back samples of the moon.

China wants to establish a lunar research base one day, possibly using 3D printing technology to build facilities, the Chinese space agency said on Monday.


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