Cotton seeds carried by China’s Chang’e 4 lunar lander have germinated on the far side of the moon, becoming the first plant shoots to grow there in what mission chiefs said was laying the foundation for a base on Earth’s only natural satellite.
A photo released on Tuesday by the China National Space Administration showed cotton shoots were growing well along with other germinated plants.
When Chang’e 4 landed on the far side of the moon on January 3, its cargo included an airtight container which carried bioscience test loads, including one called a “moon surface micro-ecological circle”.
Professor Liu Hanlong, head of the experiment, announced on Tuesday that the cotton seeds were the first to sprout, but the team did not give an exact time for that event.
Liu said that in addition to cotton, rapeseed and potato seeds had sprouted and were growing well as of Saturday.
Professor Xie Gengxin, the experiment’s chief designer, revealed that cotton, rapeseed, potato, arabidopsis – commonly know as rock cress – yeast and fruit flies were the six organisms chosen to go to the moon.
“We have given consideration to future survival in space. Learning about these plants’ growth in a low-gravity environment would allow us to lay the foundation for our future establishment of space base,” Liu said.
BDST: 1955 HRS, JAN 15, 2019