Research

China germinates first seeds on the moon

China germinates first seeds on the moon

Photographs released by the Advanced Technology Research Institute at Chongqing University show emerging cotton sprouts within a canister aboard the Change'-4 lander.

"All these are first-time breakthroughs for humankind", Wu said, adding "they are bound to make significant impacts on both China and the world".

The mission was delayed after its planned carrier, the powerful Long March 5 Y2 rocket, failed in a separate launch in July 2017.

This experiment could also have some optimistic consequences for the space community worldwide. Yeast, fruit flies, and rock cress were also sent aboard Chang'e-4 as part of an experiment to investigate growth in low-gravity environments.

A hint of a cotton plant is growing on the moon, inside China's lunar lander, scientists in China say.

"Chang'e-5 will return mission sampling from the surface of the Moon around the end of this year", said Dr Wu Yanhua, deputy director of the CNSA and deputy commander of Lunar Exploration Programme.

The system started watering the seeds after the prober landed on moon and less than a week later, green shoot already started appearing. The germination of the cotton seeds alone has not yet been determined or specified by China's space agency, the China National Space Administration (CNSA).

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The plants grow inside a 18cm tall canister, designed by 28 Chinese universities, that has an air supply, water and nutrients. The temperature can range from -173C to 100C. Liu Hanlong, chief of the first biological growth experiments on the moon, said rapeseed and potato seeds have also sprouted, but cotton was first.

The ability to grow plant life on the Moon or in deep space could have a number of benefits for manned space voyages in the future.

Xie said potatoes could be a major source of food for future space travelers.

Fred Watson, the Australian Astronomical Observatory's astronomer at large, described the development to the BBC as "good news".

The State Council Information Office of China (SCIO) held a press conference Monday (Jan. 14) to discuss that epic touchdown, and to give an overview of the nation's future activities on Earth's nearest neighbor.

On January 3, the Chang'e-4 probe, including a lander and a rover, touched down on the Von Karman Crater in the South Pole-Aitken (SPA) Basin on the far side of the moon, with the rover driving onto the lunar surface late that night.